The Cayman Islands is renowned for its food, be it fine dining or casual fare, such as freshly-caught fish fried on the beach. Help yourself to the decadent international wine list, or perhaps you’d like to try a Caybrew or the famous Mudslide – a take on a White Russian invented at the Wreck Bar, Rum Point.
Unlike some other resort destinations which are all-inclusive, Cayman rewards independent, sophisticated and adventurous eaters.
There are over 200 restaurants, cafes and beach BBQs and, with more than 135 nationalities living on the island, many different influences. If authentic Caymanian cuisine is what you’re after, though, there are plenty of dishes you really ought to try. How about a meal of callaloo, which is an exotic spinach-like vegetable, Cayman-style mahi mahi, or lobster cooked the local way. Other piquant regional favourites include the famous conch in creole sauce or stew, swordfish or snapper in coconut sauce, or lobster tail cooked with scotch bonnet peppers.
Cayman’s moveable feast includes the weekly Flavour Tour at Camana Bay, where five small plates are prepared each Wednesday by five different restaurants, and the great value Cayman Restaurant Month, which is held every October. The epicurean event of the year, the Cayman Cookout, fires up the grill every January in front of the Ritz Carlton and is hosted by the award-winning Eric Ripert and his roster of famous chefs and sommeliers. The annual Taste of Cayman Food & Drink Festival follows with entertainment from steel pan bands and conch shell blowers, alongside open-air cookery demonstrations.
Extra marks go to anyone who orders lionfish. This is an invasive species in the Caribbean which devours small reef fish and crustaceans in large quantities, wiping out coral as they do so. Eating this delicious but disastrous creature therefore helps to protect Cayman’s beautiful reefs.
Those who fancy cooking themselves will find Cayman to be a mecca of markets and fresh produce, including a huge selection of spectacular fish straight off the boat, succulent organic meats, and vibrantly-coloured fruits and vegetables grown on the island. The ethos of Caymanian cuisine is very much land and sea straight to the plate.
Pioneers of farm/boat to table gastronomy are Thomas Tennant and the owners of The Brasserie. As well as having their own garden, beehives, chickens and deep-sea fishing boat, they have developed close relationships with the islands’ leading growers. They also use their own herbs and fruit for drinks. For example, Brasserie margaritas with spiced Cayman sea salt foam are flavoured with Cayman mango, local tamarind and watermelon.
There is a fabulous selection of five-star dining options in Grand Cayman, served in chic dining rooms or under the stars and which offer eclectic menus, unsurpassed service and award-winning chefs.
Sunday brunch is islanders’ favourite meal of the week and the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy the sun, sea and tropical landscape. There’s lots of choice, from beachside cafes to luxury hotels which offer multi-course brunches all served with the warmest of welcomes. For a view over Seven Mile Beach and the Caribbean Sea, try the upscale Luca or for a relaxed feel the Anchor & Den.
The Cayman Islands has a rich history of enjoying rum and has birthed Seven Fathoms, which is aged in barrels lowered 13m under the sea (at a secret location) where the gentle rolling of the waves create the perfect conditions for a smooth, pure rum. But the islanders don’t only drink it, they consume it in the form of sweet, sticky rum cake. This much-loved dessert is thought to have its origins in the colonial history of the Caribbean.
It’s the ideal way to round off a pleasing repast in this most colourful and exotic of culinary settings.