Camana Bay Flavour Tour

05
May 2016

As a travel writer, every once and a while an unexpected email arrives out of the blue to make my day. Such was the case as I recently toiled away in the Florida heat trying to organize my endless library of  photos. Dear Alison, ….Would you be available to join us in Grand Cayman to celebrate Slow Food Day next month?… So much for feeling sorry for myself; I’d be dishonest not to admit I did a happy dance.  My taxes were done on time (good motivation), and off I went from the sad, grey skies of New England spring into a sparkling piece of sunny paradise called the Caribbean. One of the many festivities for the visiting travel writers during our stay was the Camana Bay  Flavor Tour, also available weekly on Wednesday evenings to anyone visiting the island. I’m a big believer in food tours, especially if you are visiting a destination for a short period of time. Not only do they give you a great overview and introduce you to new tastes, if you are traveling alone as I often am, it’s a great way to have a meal in a foreign place with a group of like minded people. A little trick of the trade if you’re not a big fan of dining alone.

Flavour Tour Camana Bay

There’s no denying that culinary travel has had enormous growth in recent years. A recent study found that over 95% of Americans are looking for a unique food experience when they travel. Dear readers, let me present the Camana Bay Flavor Tour. Located in the town’s vibrant center and taking advantage of the water views from many directions, the restaurants are all centrally located within easy walking distance of one and other. Remarkable engineering of the architecture insures the breeze off the water keeps the area cool and comfortable.

waterfront harbor at cabana bay

Welcome champagne on Camana Bay Flavor tour

This particular tour was like a progressive dinner. We had the chance to sample courses from four different restaurants, and each course was accompanied by a special cocktail.  The tour began at the West Indies Wine Company with a complimentary glass of bubbly. Nothing better to get you into the spirit than a bit of champs right! Located right in the center of all the action at Camana Bay, the wine bar features over 80 different wines from which to choose. Using a high tech, futuristic  dispensing system called the Wine Station, visitors pay for a Smart card and can choose the size of the pour and taste a “perfectly served glass” every time. If you’re a wine lover like me, it’s a novel way to taste many different varieties during an evening. I’m sure we will see many more of this type of wine store/bar experience in the future.

wine station at West Indies Wine Company

Our first food stop was The Brooklyn, a restaurant that brings a bit of NY to the island. A chic, industrial interior features a pizza oven and family friendly space. The featured dish was a ravioli made with local spicy arugula and stuffed with braised truffle oxtail served in a red wine jus topped with gremolata. I was tempted, but since it was meat based,  the staff was gracious enough to accommodate my last minute vegetarian request with a caprese salad. I was more than happy to have this as a starter after tasting island tomatoes earlier in the day. You know that delicious summer taste so hard for New Englanders to find out of season? Call it found, here in Grand Cayman, with a capital F. A Sunset Park was the perfect cocktail as the sun began to set off in the distance.

Sunset Park cocktail at Brooklyn, Camana Bay

Caprese salad Camana Bay Flavor Tour

The next stop, Ortanique, was my favorite. Smoked local grouper fritters served with ackee and callaloo. Aside from the fact the dish was scrumptious, it featured two local ingredients that were new to my palate. Callaloo is a leafy green, similar to spinach/watercress that grows prolifically in the Caribbean and is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Ackee is actually the national fruit of Jamaica and found throughout this area of the Caribbean. In it’s raw state it is visually quite beautiful and  unlike any fruit I have ever had in both look and taste. Preparation is key, as the fruit has toxic qualities raw or when not cooked properly. When eaten solo, it has the consistency that I could compare to scrambled eggs, with a kick. For the dish preparation, it was a perfect match with the grouper, mild enough to let the fish shine, leaving you wondering what the other ingredient was. I love anything with a smokey flavor, and although I tried to squeeze the recipe from the chef, to date he was keeping the secret under wraps. This spot is a lovely one for drinks and bar bites, as they have an Al Fresco outdoor space right on the water. Combined with the Getaway (sexy Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw come to mind in this romantic setting and any cocktail made with St. Germain is a winner in my book) I was truly getting into the island vibe.

Smoked grouper fritters with akee and callaloo

Chef Will O’Hara of Abacus was a delight to meet. He is passionate about eating local and sustainability, so I was looking forward to eating his food. The roasted vegetables (baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, okra and tamarind) served with local turnip purée were cooked just the way I liked them. (carnivores in the group had local tamarind glazed pork tenderloin). Of course there was the accompanying cocktail-A Cherry Burst, a heady mix of Grey Goose Cherry Noir, local lime, mint and other ingredients.

Chef Will O'Hara connects with visitors to the food market .

roasted vegetables with turnip on Camana Bay Flavor Tour

Mizu, is an Asian fusion powerhouse, and the go to spot in Camana Bay for sushi. Tonight however, they delighted with dessert. If you’ve been following Green With Renvy, you know I am a sucker for Créme Caramel. Add in vanilla ice creme with toasted island coconut and you have a happy camper. Those crunchy coconut bits added such an island flavor to the dish.  An Elderflower Collins combing cucumber and the fragrant liqueur presented the perfect end to the Camana Bay Flavour Tour.

Camana bay flavor tour dessert at Mizu

And just in case you thought it was all fun and games for a food writer… No matter how good the food looks when it’s set down on the table, or how hungry you are-first things first, the entire group has to take photos from many different angles to get the right shot, ’cause this is how bloggers roll. Most likely it’s cold by the time you eat, unless you are mildly aggressive. The good part of getting to eat with us is all the great food presented. The down side is a bit of annoying homework that needs to take place during the process.

This is how food bloggers roll at a dinner

Oh, but wait, just in case you might need a night cap, you can make a last stop back at the West Indies Wine Company to finish off what I would call a perfect night of sampling the tastes of Grand Cayman. Could there be a better way to insure sweet dreams imagining the tastes the next day would provide as we Savored the South for Slow Food Day?

Wine pour at West Indies Wine Company Camana Bay, Grand Cayman

The 411 on Camana Bay Flavour Tour

The Flavor Tour – 5 stops + 5 Tastes $89/person (including tips)
Menu changes weekly and is seasonal.
Wednesdays 7-9pm
Camana Bay, Georgetown, Grand Cayman

If you are traveling to Grand Cayman in the future, i’d highly suggest taking in one of the Camana Bay Flavour Tours. It will give you a fun overview of what the restaurants have to offer in a brilliant, comfortable location.

Pin Me to your favorite Culinary Travel or Caribbean Board

Camana Bay Flavor Tour Grand Cayman

I’m so curious about how everyone heads down the culinary trail. Was Anthony Bourdain (one of my guilty pleasures) responsible in all those exotic locales, some glossy magazine with beautifully styled photos, or perhaps Andrew Zimmerm eating bugs in the Philippines. Maybe even Mom’s great cooking at home. Please fill me in on how your foodie interest began…

  1. Donna Janke says:

    It’s a good thing I read this on a full stomach. Food tours are a lot of fun. The Caribbean location had to make this one extra special. I’ve had callaloo (callaloo soup is excellent), but never tried Ackee. I too am a sucker for Créme Caramel, but all the dishes look great.

  2. Oh now I’m hungry! Great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Knycx says:

    Nice blog and thank you for sharing, for me, I don’t usually join a flavour tour our of all the available tours when I travel, but I might consider exploring a food tour next time I am visiting some places.

  4. Sounds and looks like a great food tour! I tasted callaloo in Jamaica and loved it!

  5. Sue Reddel says:

    You had me a grouper fritter! It looks absolutely delicious and Grand Cayman is just so beautiful. What a wonderful combination.