Seaside dining along Grand Cayman’s West Coast is a quintessential Caribbean experience. Feeling the ocean breeze on your skin, smelling the fresh air, hearing the waves lapping gently on the shore and, if you’ve arrived early enough, watching the sunset, is an experience that tourists and residents love.
Last month, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa launched a weekly activity that will run through July that provides the experiential part of seaside dining coupled with memorable food and authentic Caribbean entertainment. The Island Fest, as the event is called, is held every Monday at The Beach Deck at Seafire, which is the renovated space that used to be Tiki Beach. It starts at 6 p.m., early enough to get there and watch the sunset while enjoying a selection from a cocktail list specially created for the event.
FOOD AND DRINK
Kimpton Seafire Executive Chef Massimo de Francesca said the event’s theme is regional.
“We wanted to highlight the diversity of wonderful cuisines ranging throughout the Caribbean,” he said. “All the international influences, coupled with colourful and soulful style of preparation of foods, is truly what makes Caribbean food so pleasing for locals and visitors alike.”
At food stations set up on the beach — and you should really take your shoes off when you walk in the sand to get your food — you’ll find jerk chicken, which has its origins in Jamaica. You’ll find Cuban-spiced strip loin; Cayman-style fish; and a raw bar with an assortment of fresh ceviches. There are also tropical salads, Mexican corn and other side dishes that are unmistakably Caribbean, but all made with the epicurean artistry you’d expect from a boutique hotel chain that prides itself on its culinary offerings.
For dessert, you’ll find a mix of traditional Cayman Islands desserts like cassava cake and more recent international creations like banoffee pie. The cocktail list also has a Caribbean island slant. The “Paw Paw Mojito,” for example, uses papaya, which Caymanians call paw paw. The Cayman Passion is a take on the popular Cayman Lemonade cocktail, but uses passion fruit and hibiscus tea. The Seafire Sling uses allspice-infused rum along with pineapple, lime, ginger and pomegranate.
Beverage Manager John Stanton said the cocktail menu takes its cue from the culinary theme in featuring a selection of cocktails born or inspired in the Caribbean.
“Whether it be Cuba, Jamaica or right here in Cayman, the ingredients and classic recipes we drew from are rooted in the islands of the Caribbean and then infused with our in-house creativity and craft cocktail approach,” he said.
Stanton recommends guests try the coconut daiquiri.
“Don’t let its relatively simple name fool you,” he said. “We infuse Ron Santiago de Cuba rum with coconut, using a technique called fat washing, then shake it into a delicious cocktail with fresh lime, toasted coconut and just a touch of French white crème de cacao — a nod to the island of Martinique. The result is a classic Cuban daiquiri that is ripe with natural, toasted coconut flavor.”
But the experience of the Island Fest doesn’t end with the food and the setting. There’s a local band playing Caribbean music for the first two hours and then, around 8 p.m., there’s a fire-dancing show to music. That’s followed by salsa lessons for those interested, while those who are just looking to relax can take seats around the small bonfire set up on the beach.
The event’s goal is to create a true Caribbean experience, said Director of Food and Beverage Himanshu Jethi.
“When you think of vacation in the Caribbean, the first few things that come to mind are beach, dining under the stars, live grills, bonfires, dancing and fun,” he said.“We literally sewed this thought together and created Island Fest.”
Although the food, drink and service are sophisticated, the dress code isn’t, Jethi said.
“It’s an event on the beach and a fun casual affair,” he said.
“You can be dressed as desired. Linen fabric is truly your best friend here.”
The price for the Island Fest is CI$58 per person plus gratuities. Drinks are sold separately.