For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know I spent 5 days in the Cayman Islands a few weeks ago. The trip was amazing, filled with culinary adventures and ample beach hair. The humidity was something else. I went from Dara to Diana Ross the second I got off the plane. But I digress.
The main focal point of this trip was Camana Bay, a shopping and dining destination filled with bars, restaurants, and backdrop for the Slow Food Festival and Slow Food Dinner. “What is Slow Food?”, you might ask. Well, it’s a play on “fast food”, meaning that slow food is the opposite – local, organic, good for you food. The Cayman Islands wasn’t always known for it’s indigenous food, but thankfully this Slow Food movement is helping it get there a bit faster.
One of the highlights of the trip was the farm tour of Green Valley Plantation in Bodden Town with owner/farmer Clarence McLaughlin (aka Island Morgan Freeman). I don’t know if anyone has ever told him he looks like Morgan Freeman, but I’m happy to put that out there. Nicest guy too. He left his Wall Street job in NYC a few years ago to pursue life as an island farmer. I have so much respect for that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about getting out of dodge and living on an island somewhere. It usually occurs anytime I’m waiting for the L train during rush hour.
After the farm tour, we headed to Rum Point for lunch. Beautiful beach and fun spot to stop for a bite and a mudslide. Wasn’t blown away by the food here but the fried stuff did the trick (doesn’t it always?).
We also did some bucketlist stuff like swimming with stingrays at Stingray City. I held one!! They feel like portobello mushrooms and are super friendly. I even kissed one. Most action I saw on that trip, by the way. But don’t worry I don’t plan on forcing myself upon any other mammals in the future. I SWEAR this one WANTED to kiss me.
If I had to rank my favorite meals and activities from the trip, it would be the following, in no particular order.
Cayman Islands + Camana Bay: Highlights
- Kimpton Seafire Resort: This may be the nicest hotel I’ve stayed at in a LONG time. It’s a relatively new hotel, but the rooms were spacious, the staff was AMAZING, and the food was on point. My room overlooked the pool and the ocean, and the turn down service consisted of cookies on your bed and the TV set to a looping video of the sunset. Tranquility and relaxation at it’s finest. I’m also a big fan of room service and bathrobes when I go to a hotel – it’s sort of how I gauge the level of service and comfort. Thankfully, the Seafire nailed both of these – I am still fantasizing a little bit about the bacon. And the granola with yogurt, berries, and honey. So damn good. Also does anyone remember the days when sugar was just sugar?
- Flavor Tour: Our first night in Grand Cayman was spent on this tour at Camana Bay, getting to sip some wine and try some bites with fellow visitors. The menu changes each week, and it’s a great way to meet people. We visited 6 different spots: West Indies (wine store/tasting), Mizu Asian Bistro, The Waterfront, Abacus, Gelato & Co., and The King’s Head. If I had to pick a favorite, I’d say The lamb chops from Abacus and the Maple Salmon Salad from The Waterfront.
- Mizu Asian Bistro + Bar Teppanyaki Table: If you’ve ever been to Benihana, this is similar to that. Well, they have one hibachi table and that’s where we ate, but they also have regular dining tables with a menu for you to choose from. I loved the calamari, the spicy wings, and pretty much everything made for us on the hibachi. Lo mein is my weakness. And on an unrelated note, I thought it was interesting how much butter they used for cooking this stuff. Not in terms of quantity but I didn’t know they used butter at all. Stupid of me to assume that? Probably because butter is everything.
- Coccoloba: This beachy bar is right next to the Kimpton Seafire Resort, and it’s perfect for a mid-sun snack. And probably the BEST Pina Colada I’ve ever had. I don’t even really like those but occasionally when I’m in beach mode I like to have one. Or two. The jerk chicken tacos were delicious too.
- Bacaro: Beautifully plated tapas lunch – from shrimp pasta to lamb shanks to ceviche and tuna tartar. This “light lunch” turned into a mini feast. But then again, I guess that’s what happens when you go anywhere with me. I loved the Iguana sighting almost as much as the lunch itself.
- Jessie’s Juice Bar: Located in Camana Bay, this healthy spot was perfect for a morning breakfast before our day at Stingray City and Starfish Point, or after a trip into town for an afternoon pick me up. The avocado toast with cherry tomatoes and basil was perfection, and the juices were delicious. I also love a good coffee-based smoothie, and Jessie’s had the good sense to add PB and banana to it. YUM. Also, have you ever tried Breakfast Salad? Me neither, but I’m a BIG fan. The dressing was what made this, but I loved the healthy feel alongside my ham and cheese croissant. Sorry I’m not sorry.
- Slow Food Festival in Camana Bay: So. Imagine Smorgasburg, but without the panic attack. That’s what this was. Obviously on a much smaller scale, but there were quite a few vendors (including Blue by Eric Ripert) and it was easy to grab a bite from every booth. Which is exactly what we did. Rayna (@onehungryjew) also thought that “Slow Food” meant “slow cooked food”, but we’ll let that slide. The Hot Pepper Jelly is something you need to have in your life. Homemade and spicy, this stuff goes great on sandwiches, cheese boards, and basically anything.
- Slow Food Dinner at Abacus in Camana Bay: I’m not going to lie to you, this one tested my patience. It was a LONG dinner. They were not kidding about the Slow Food part. While I enjoyed this experience and the food, I would highly recommend cutting down the duration. It was such a beautiful space, sitting outside under the stars and the faint glow of string lights, but if you don’t feed me, I’ll get cranky. I’m basically an overgrown toddler in this department. The coolest part, believe it or not, was the “edible garden” placed in front of us. Various vegetables buried underneath, as well as many root vegetables poking out, ready to be “picked”. The dirt was made from breadcrumbs and unsweetened cocoa, I believe. Either way, Chef Clare Smyth did a wonderful job cooking for this event, and I am really grateful to have been a part of it.
- Ave Brunch: When someone invites me to a brunch and doesn’t tell me that it’s a buffet, I’d say my feelings about that are similar to waking up to presents on Christmas morning. OH HAPPY DAY! This was amazing. We did this brunch on our last day at the Kimpton Seafire and what an amazing way to cap off the trip. Bread, cheese, meat and sushi stations greet you as you walk in, and then just to the right, there are the hot food stations with everything from eggs benedict, bacon, and pancakes, to ethnic flavors like lamb curry and fried rice. There was even a tower of desserts, holding everything sweet and indulgent – cronuts, macarons, cookies, cheesecakes, and chocolate peanut butter mousse. Just roll me home.
Hope to get back there soon and catch this amazing view again: