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The Cayman Islands offer unique food experiences, filled with fresh fish and local produce. One of our favorite ways to get a taste of the islands is by hitting up a fish fry on Grand Cayman. Traditional fish fry huts line the streets throughout the island; ask around for a good one or check out Chester’s Fish Fry, which is a popular spot with the locals. Another great food experience is attending a local festival, such as the Cayman Cookout, which was hosted by Eric Ripert in 2012. After Ripert opened his restaurants at The Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman, he decided to launch this food festival at the hotel and celebrate food, wine and, of course, the beauty of the island. The festival brings prestigious chefs, wine experts and mixologists to the islands to offer tastings and demonstrations.
Like other tropical locales, the Cayman Islands are all about seafood. Whether you prefer it in the form of fritters or ceviche, there's a seafood dish for you during your stay. I was recently in Grand Cayman (the largest of the three sister islands) and experienced some of the best cuisine I've had of late. First of all, it depends when you're visiting the Caymans — different species are in season at different times of year. If you're on island between November 1 and April 30, you'll be treated to plenty of conch. These giant mollusks are as delicious as their pink shells are beautiful, and you'll find it on tons of menus. While I was on island, I participated in a cooking class at the Discovery Centre at Camana Bay during which a visiting chef from sister island Little Cayman prepared conch pâté. It was amazing and unique. Between December and the end of February, spiny lobster is in season. It's much different than Maine lobster; it's a bit chewier, but also much bigger.
If you really want a taste of the Caymans, keep your eyes peeled for lionfish. It's a tiny little fish covered with venomous spines that has invaded the Atlantic and the Caribbean. Several chefs, including Thomas Tennant of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink at Camana Bay, have led a crusade against the lionfish because they eat other baby fish such as grouper. It's quite a feat to catch them (you have to be very careful and use a spear gun), a job you should leave to the pros, but it's so delicious.
And if you're looking for fine dining, head straight to Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. The seafood-focused restaurant serves up delectable dishes such as tuna-foie gras, which is a locally caught tuna that's pounded until it's paper-thin and served with foie gras and a toasted baguette.
For the ultimate in celebrity chefs, plan your trip during Cayman Cookout, which Eric Ripert hosts each year. Not only to top-tier chefs prepare amazing meals before your eyes, but it's also small enough that you can get some up-close-and-personal time with these top toques.