Sometimes talking to the person next to you on a plane pays off.
When the food and beverage team at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa was looking to add a unique and vibrant event to its culinary offerings, it took a discussion at 38,000 feet for the idea of Pintxos + Paella to emerge.
Kimpton Seafire F+B Director Himanshu Jethi explained how the concept came about.
“We wanted to find an event that showcased the Spanish style of cooking we’re doing in Avecita, and that did so in an energetic and communal way … something that would be interactive, tactile, and encourage friends and neighbors to rub elbows and mingle, all happening around a mouthwatering array of options, both in the culinary and in the beverage realm.”
The idea of Pintxos + Paella came when Jethi was having a discussion with Kimpton Seafire Executive Chef Massimo De Francesca on a flight to Miami in the fall of 2018.
“Chef Massimo and I were discussing our recent travels,” says Jethi. “Coincidentally we both were inspired by pintxos-style social dining experiences and wanted to introduce this at Avecita. By the time we had landed, we were excited about rolling out a new theme night offering gourmet pintxos, authentic paella, cocktails inspired by Spanish ingredients and live Spanish music.”
Most people know that “tapas” (the plural of “tapa”) are the Spanish snacks that consist of various small bites of food that can either be eaten as a snack or combined with other tapas to make a meal. In the Basque Country of northern Spain, however, tapas are usually called “pintxos,” which is pronounced “pin-chos.”
At Pintxos + Paella, the Avecita counter is lined with a variety of pintxos like Spanish cheeses and charcuterie — including Ibérico ham and chorizo — tortilla, codfish bites, garlic shrimp, chistorra hot dogs and marinated octopus. At a separate station, paella — the well-known Spanish rice dish — is continually being made for guests.
There are also sweets, including the famous Spanish almond cake dessert, “Tarta de Santiago.”
Creating authentic Basque Country pintxos in the Cayman Islands requires not only the proper ingredients, but also a good knowledge of traditional pinxtos preparation techniques, something Jethi says Kimpton Seafire has covered.
“Chef Massimo is always on the lookout for Spanish chefs to join his Avecita team and as a result over 50 per cent are from Spain, lending to direct and further inspirations of the cuisine,” Jethi says. “As it relates to products, we are lucky to have direct contacts from Europe. Our purchasing department works directly with our chefs to coordinate imports.”
Although typical Basque Country pintxos involves a lot of meat and seafood, De Francesca says Avecita can adjust the offerings to address various diets.
“We always cater to our guests’ needs,” he says. “We take pride in handling all allergies and dietary restrictions. Our procedure is that a chef will personally contact our guests to confirm and relay the info to the rest of our Food and Beverage teams. Guests truly love the personalisation.”
In addition to the food elements, Pintxos + Paella has also created a special cocktail for the event, says Kimpton Seafire Director of Bars John Stanton.
“The Regalo del Huerto — or Gift of the Orchard — is a great, Spanish brandy-based cocktail that showcases the apple through both unfiltered and hard cider, and is lightly complemented by rosemary and lemon, with just a touch of amaro,” Stanton says. “It has a great array of citrus, herbs and sweet apple that work really well with a variety of different foods, which is why it pairs so nicely with
The cocktail, which is meant to be shared between two to four people, is served in a “porron,” a traditional Spanish pitcher. “We chose the porron because it is a very Spanish vessel that is ideal for sharing,” Stanton says. “The Regalo del Huerto is shaken before it arrives at the table, but once it’s sat for a period of time, the porron will re-aerate the cocktail as it’s poured, making it feel and taste like it’s been freshly shaken.”
Initially, it was planned to offer Pintxos + Paella in Avecita restaurant on Wednesdays only in February and March. However, that could change, based on the popularity of the event.
“People love the energy and vibe in the dining room,” De Francesca says. “We have received compliments for the food as well as creative cocktails; hence, we are already thinking of extending the concept further through summer months.”
The cost of Pintxos + Paella is CI$42 plus gratuities and exclusive of beverages. Reservations for the event can be made by calling 746-4111.