Saturday, January 21, 2017

I was already going to see Logan,

because I'm absolutely the right audience for it, and I love the characters, but I wasn't completely excited at the prospect of the film.  After this trailer, though, I now am.

Oh, yes.

Friday, January 20, 2017


I woke up after a long sleep, threw open the blinds, opened the door, and listened to the ocean.  I ate lunch on the beach, waded in the ocean, and walked in the pool, saying my good-byes to this beautiful island and amazing resort.

The bulk of rest of the day went to the usual travel rituals.

And now I'm home.  As always, I'm sad to have left the island, but I'm happy to be home.

Next year is the tenth Cayman Cookout.  I definitely hope to attend.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A typical day in paradise

Slept late, read, and headed to the beach.

Ate a grilled cheese sandwich, some salad, and a virgin mango daiquiri for lunch.

Splashed and walked in the ocean.

Moved to poolside and played in the pool.


Answered some email, wrote, and rested a little.

Enjoyed an amazing dinner at Blue by Eric Ripert.

Packed--tomorrow, I leave.

Watched some TV.


Crashed (that's coming next, as I write this).

I'm sure I'd get bored of this life in time, but it would take a while.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

In which I actually leave the resort property

In all the years I've been coming here for the Cayman Cookout, I've never left the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman property except to attend Cayman Cookout events.  Today, just to do it, I spent the middle of the day elsewhere, specifically at Caymana Bay, a collection of shops, restaurants, and apartments.

Wednesdays bring the local farmers' market there, so I wandered and admired the small collection of local produce.

Lunch was at the Waterfront Urban Diner, where I enjoyed a tasty and definitely spicy Thai salad beef salad

Click an image to see a larger version.

and shared a quite decent truffle mac-and-cheese.

As is common in these parts, a few chickens were on hand to provide added scenery.  This particular one knew no fear and wandered among the tables with nary a fuck to give.

The local iguanas were also fun to watch, including both this one hiding in plain sight on a rock

and meta-iguana, riding his giant metal counterpart to victory (or something).

As good fortune would have it, Caymana Bay also offers Gelato & Co., an artisanal gelato shop.  I sampled three flavors--dark chocolate, mango, and passion fruit--and all were very good, with the mango and passion fruit particularly strong.

I also have to commend the wonderful Books and Books bookstore at Caymana Bay.  I spent a fair amount of time wandering their stacks and admiring their curation.  Any community would be happy to have this bookstore.

All in all, a simple but satisfying adventure.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Re-evaluating Emeril

What little I've known about celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse has come from catching snippets of his early TV shows and eating in two of his restaurants, one in New Orleans and one in Las Vegas.  My overall impression from the few minutes of television was negative; I felt he came across more as huckster than as chef.  The food in the Las Vegas restaurant was good but not great, though its banana cream pie remains by far the best I've ever eaten in a restaurant.  The food in the New Orleans restaurant was quite good and made me wonder if I had misjudged him.

Here at the Cayman Cookout, I chose to attend a session of his to learn more about him.

Click an image to see a larger version.

Though the first dish he made--salmon cheesecake--struck me as not my type of food, the others intrigued me more, and his command of flavors and textures was superb.

When he opened the session to questions from the audience, though, he really won me over.  In person, he's a quiet man who speaks in carefully considered and measured sentences, with no hyperbole and a great deal of passion for both food and his charitable foundation, which focuses on helping children.  A man from New Orleans took the mic and told a story of meeting Emeril when he was first at Commander's Palace and of how great a guy Emeril had been then and still was, and how proud all the people from that neighborhood were, and Emeril teared up a little.

On Sunday night, he worked outside with his team preparing the appetizers for the finale dinner.

I caught him here in a rare moment looking away from the food.  He very politely turned down multiple photo and autograph requests until his team was done cooking all the appetizers and he had individually thanked all of the chefs working there with him.  He was gracious with the servers and praised them and the importance of what they were doing.  Then, he posed as much as people wanted, smiling the whole time--but the only times he looked genuinely happy were when he was working on the food with his team.

I leave the Cayman Cookout determined not only to seek out more of his food but also with the conviction that this is a decent man of great talent, a man I'd like to get to know further.  That's quite a change for me, and one I would not have gotten the chance to make without being here, so I am again grateful for the opportunity to attend this event.

I also learned again, as if I should need the lesson, that seeing only one aspect of a person is almost never enough to make a valid judgment about the person.

Not that this will ever matter to him or even reach his eyes, but I feel obliged to say it nonetheless:  Thank you, Chef Lagasse, for what you did here, for being a trailblazing chef, and for your charity work.

Monday, January 16, 2017

No matter how much I rest

I find myself able to rest and sleep some more.  On the one hand, I hate the weakness in this.  On the other hand, I am glad that I am catching up on sleep I clearly need.

Today, for example, I slept late, napped in a chair by the ocean, napped in a chair by the pool, and napped in the room.  I'm also going to bed early.

In between, I did sit on the beach, splash in the water, tiptoe in the pool, and so on.

Another rough day in paradise.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

From Cayman Cookout: Something I loved, something I despised

Something I loved:

Christina Tosi, the chef and owner of Milk Bar Bakery, possibly the most interesting bakery in the world right now, gave a presentation yesterday that I very much enjoyed--even though I don't bake.  I chose to attend her session so I could hear her talk about her work and the philosophy behind it, and I was not disappointed; she is an amazing and visionary chef.

What I didn't expect was to like so much her philosophy of business, which in many ways reminded me of PT.  She talked a great deal about her team as a team, and all the people from Milk Bar in attendance regularly nodded agreement.  At one point she talked about creating opportunities for her staff, paying people well, and providing them with benefits.  She said,

I want to create a business where no one ever has to sharpen their resume again.

Later, in discussing how we can have more businesses like hers, businesses that grow but that never lose touch with their roots and that will never be huge, she said that it's possible for those businesses to flourish if we will do one thing:

Support what you love.

I like that.  I like that a lot.  I do it to some degree by instinct, but I could do better.  When it's time to spend money, I should think a great deal about spending it with businesses I love.

I came away deeply impressed by Tosi and wishing I could sit and talk business with her for a while.

Something I despised:

Today at the brunch and cooking competition, Anthony Bourdain praised Jose Andres for being about to be the first chef sued by a sitting U.S. President.

A woman sitting next to me asked what the comment referred to, and I explained briefly, in the process noting Trump's many negative comments about Hispanics and other groups.

She responded,

[Trump's] only saying what everyone's thinking but are too afraid to say.


I most deeply hope she is wrong, and I am sad that she clearly agrees with Trump's awful comments.

Most of the foodies I have met share the same perspective on Trump, but clearly all do not.


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