As January rolls around, so too do the many foodie events like the annual Taste of Cayman Food & Drink festival.
The festival’s name, Taste of Cayman, got me thinking about how the various people who live and visit the Cayman Islands experience their individual taste of Cayman differently. Depending on where you’re from, you may have experienced Cayman’s local culinary offerings differently. There are numerous restaurants on Grand Cayman that offer local food, each with its own unique twist on well-known dishes. Honduran restaurants, Cuban restaurants, Filipino restaurants, you name it — I guarantee you will find at least something on the menu that has been adapted from a traditional Caymanian dish.
For me, the taste of Cayman is the leftover Cayman-style beef from the holidays, homemade of course. The taste of Cayman is fried fish, freshly caught by my grandfather who is still, to this day, an avid fisherman. I also love the taste of cool, marinated conch over saltines on a hot day at Rum Point, washed down with some strong swanky, the unique Cayman Islands twist on lemonade.
Every Caymanian has their favourite local restaurants. If I were showing fellow foodie friends around the island, I would take them to at least one restaurant in each district, just so they could try different foods.
Starting in North Side, I would have to stop at my long-time favourite north shore food joint, Over the Edge. There’s nothing quite like dining literally right on the edge of the water while enjoying warm johnny cakes.
Traveling to East End, I would take them to Eastern Star Bar & Fish Fry for a leisurely, long afternoon listening to the sound of the ocean while eating delicious fried fish.
Cruising through Bodden Town, I would point out how it used to be the capital of Grand Cayman and remind them that yes, it is my last name, before we stop at South Coast Bar & Grill for the drinks, fresh conch and maybe even some unsolicited karaoke.
Heading back into George Town, I would have to take them for some jerk chicken from Sam’s Quality Jerk & More. I’ve never had the “more,” but I can vouch that the jerk is exquisite.
Saving the best for last, as a recent migrant to West Bay, I have to say, in my humble opinion, it is indeed the best bay. I would call up some friends of mine to meet us at the ever popular Calypso Grill. Situated right on the water, this restaurant has some of the best local fish, straight from the dock, which I enjoy while listening to the gentle waves on the North Sound.