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The holidays are a big deal on the Cayman Islands full of Christmas bus tours, big family gatherings, delicious meals, and a lot of fun. Caymanians spend months preparing for Christmas (and sometimes even months preparing dishes for the big day—Christmas Cake we’re looking at you). It’s truly a magical time of year, but if you aren’t able to celebrate in Grand Cayman, don’t worry—we’ve gathered up some traditional Caymanian recipes that will give you a little taste of Cayman while at home.

Main Course

Cayman Style Beef

One of the best ways to bring Cayman to your Christmas dinner is with Cayman Style Beef. This tradition holds a special place in Cayman culture, reminding us of a time beef and other foods weren’t easily accessible on island. Each family had their own recipe, adding different ingredients that fit their tastes. Even today, the beef takes all day to cook.

Making Cayman Style Beef takes patience, so if you’re up for the challenge, follow this recipe and don’t be afraid to add your own ingredients too!

Cayman Fish Rundown

Traditionally, Caymanians had little choice but to get most of their food from the sea. A popular dish was fish rundown. Rundown, a thick stew or sauce, has been popular on the island for a very long time but is most commonly referred to in tradition as Fish Stew or Fish Dinner. This simple yet hearty meal could be made in large batches and, again, could have a variety of ingredients based on available fish and preferred spices. Typically, the meal includes the gravy or sauce, fish, and starchy dumplings.

If you’re wanting to celebrate the holidays with a truly beachy flavor, try Fish Rundown for your Caymanian Christmas meal.

Photo of Fish Rundown courtesy of National Trust.

Photo of Fish Rundown courtesy of National Trust. 

Sides

Rice and Peas

Don’t let the name scare you away. Caymanian “rice and peas” are actually just a special twist on black beans and rice. Made with coconut milk, this side dish has a taste of the Caribbean you won’t find in other versions of rice and beans. It makes the perfect side for your holiday supper.

Cayman Style Potato Salad

Just like in the states, potato salad is a staple at Cayman events. Potato salad is served at Easter, casual weekend get-togethers, and, of course, Christmas. Cayman potato salad is similar to potato salad made in the states, but a distinct difference on the ingredient list are beets which add unique flavor and color.


Dessert

Macaroni Pudding

I know what you’re thinking: “macaroni for dessert?” It sounds crazy, but Macaroni Pudding is one of Cayman’s most popular desserts. Much like bread pudding, this pudding meal combines a delicious combination of sweet spices, raisins, and, yes, elbow macaroni. Trust us when we say it tastes great!

Christmas Cake

Christmas cake reportedly originated in England and eventually made its way to the Cayman Islands where it has remained a popular holiday staple. Comparable to a fruit cake, this dessert includes a variety of fruits, spices, and, of course, rum. Christmas cake can take anywhere from 48 hours to a year to prepare and is very customizable. Every family has a different way of making their Christmas Cake and the tradition is taken seriously. We found this basic recipe for you to follow and modify as you wish.

Photo courtesy of National Trust.

If you're interested in learning more about Caymanian style cooking, check out one of the National Trust's Traditional Cooking classes next time you're on island.

Caymanians love the holidays, and love sharing these traditions with others. By incorporating some of these traditional dishes into your holiday celebration, you can have a little bit of the islands in your own home.

If this taste of Cayman wanting more, then call Lisa or Josephine in our office at 345-945-4354 to book your stay with us in Cayman or you can book right now online.


Thank you to the National Trust for allowing us to use their photos in this article. If you're interested in learning more about the National Trust and their Traditional Cooking Classes, visit their website.

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Pizza is one of the ultimate crowd-pleasing meals, and when you’re visiting the island you will be spoiled for choice on where to enjoy your next slice. We busted out our foodie journals and tested several pizza places across the island to bring you these recommendations—it was a difficult job, but someone had to do it! :)

Cimboco

Best Salad to Go Along With Your Pizza

As soon as you walk in the doors of Cimboco, you’ll be warmly welcomed by delicious smells of crust being baked in their brick oven. In addition to crisp, Roman-style crusts, they also boast the best Caesar salad on the island, which is served in a chilled bowl and comes with the perfect crouton to lettuce ratio. Be careful, though—you just might be dreaming of Cimboco's for weeks to come! 

Recommendation: BBQ Jerk Chicken Pizza  

The Brooklyn

Top Post-Shopping Power Up 

A must-visit when you stop by Camana Bay to shop, The Brooklyn has a huge selection of specialty pizzas, like the nacho, the bacon double cheeseburger, the Hawaiian, and the chicken tikka, in addition to your standard build-your-own options. Their trendy decor is certainly Instagram-worthy, plus you can watch your pizza bake right before your eyes in their brick oven. They also have gluten-free crust available upon request.

Recommendation: The Fun Guy (featuring 3 different mushrooms and truffle oil)

Boggy Sand Caribbean Kitchen

Closest Pizza Fix

Located just a couple minutes down the road from CCC, you can get your pizza fix the very quickest at Boggy Sand. A TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner, you’re certain to love their beautiful decor and cheery service in addition to some top-notch ‘za. Served on a pizza board with an olive oil-covered crust, these pizzas are definitely something to write home about.

Recommendation: Margherita (mozzarella and fresh basil)

Casanova Ristorante

Authentic Italian

For a wholly authentic Italian dining experience, enjoy your meal on the waterfront in Georgetown at Casanova. Really do it up and order a glass of wine or some Limoncello to go along with your delicious pizza—you won’t regret it!

Recommendation: Focaccina (Garlic and Rosemary)

Gino’s Pizzeria

Delivery Right To Your Condo

After a long day splashing in the ocean and sightseeing, you might be ready to kick back, relax in your condo, and have the pizza come to you. Gino’s Pizzeria will deliver their signature pizza, pastas, salads, and sandwiches right to your door at CCC in West Bay—all with no delivery fee!

Recommendation: Gino’s Classic (double pepperoni!)

XQ's

Pizza + Live Music

If you’re looking for some quality entertainment while you enjoy your next piping hot slice of pizza, XQ’s is your place! Every Thursday XQ’s is host to live music by Jeff Japal in their piano bar, and they have a huge TV where you can watch live sports or special events like UFC fights. Plus, they also deliver to West Bay. 

Recommendation: The Godfather (sausage, pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, onions, smoked gouda, and tomatoes—oh my!)

Alfresco

Pizza Right on Seven Mile Beach

Soak in all the beautiful sights and sounds of Seven Mile Beach at Alfresco’s in West Bay. A quick drive from the condos, Alfresco’s is famous for their outdoor dining and local fare like turtle stew and oxtail, but we’re pretty big fans of their pizzas, too! Build your own pizza by choosing from premium toppings like calamari, Gorgonzola cheese, roasted garlic, and more, or keep it simple with a meat lovers or vegetarian pizza—and whole wheat crust is also available upon request.

Recommendation: Seafood pizza (smoked salmon, shrimp, and lobster)

Hungry Yet?

This just scratches the surface of some of the amazing pizza options you can find in Grand Cayman. Which pizza is your favorite—did we miss your go-to spot? Let us know where we should check out next in the comments below.

**And if you’re feeling like a familiar taste of home or have a picky kiddo with you, American staples like Pizza Hut and Dominos are also available for dine-in and delivery.
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The shiny, blue and orange Paradise Coffee bags are a morning staple for many of us while staying at CCC. Each bag’s label proudly says “Cayman Islands own boutique roaster.” As a huge coffee lover, I was excited to learn more about Cayman’s very own coffee roaster. Founder and owner, Fritz Sajovitz, kindly invited us to see where the coffee magic happens! We caught Fritz between batches of coffee, and he generously shared about himself and the coffee roasting process. 

Born in Austria, Fritz worked in the restaurant business in Bermuda for 25 years, where he got a lot of industry-level experience with coffee. Once he got married, he began looking for a new line of work to avoid the hectic schedules of the restaurant world. Coffee seemed like the perfect fit, so Fritz and a partner started Coffee Works Bermuda and learned the ropes over the next few years.

In 2006, Fritz made the move to Cayman and founded Paradise Coffee. Originally, Paradise Coffee provided the island with single-serve coffee products (think Keurig) and coffee-based water filtration systems for both the home and office. In 2012, Fritz added the in-house roasted coffee we know and love today, while still offering a full selection of other coffees and coffee-preparation products. 

To learn how to roast coffee, Fritz attended a few technical trainings across the western hemisphere—one in Stanford, Idaho, and another in the beautiful Blue Mountains of Jamaica. With roasting foundations in place, he began the fun part—tinkering. “You’ve got your basic knowledge and then there’s trial and error. You just keep on roasting and roasting and tasting and tasting. And you learn by making mistakes sometimes.”

In order to help ensure your perfect cup, there’s a lot to keep in mind. Fritz explained some of the ins and outs of roasting. “In the roasting process you make the coffee taste the way you want it to taste. It’s not just light, medium, and dark roast. It depends on air flow, on the increase of temperature. If it goes faster than 20 degrees per minute, the coffee will taste different than if it goes 17 degrees per minute.”

Quality and consistency are Fritz's top priorities. He mentioned that, unfortunately, many coffee drinkers are used to the stale taste that goes along with run-of-the-mill grocery store coffee. If you're in this camp, don't worry, Fritz can help. He sets a much shorter "best if enjoyed by" date on each bag of coffee so you can savor peak taste and freshness. 

If you want to hear more technical ins and outs of coffee roasts, check out this video excerpt of our interview.

A Diedrich roaster powers Paradise Coffee, and it can hold 26 pounds of beans per roast. One roast takes around 17-18 minutes, but that can change depending on the flavor profile that’s desired. All in all, this works out to around 3 roasts an hour, up to 500 pounds a day, and 18,000 to 20,000 pounds a year! After that much work, Fritz definitely deserves a cup himself, so I asked how he takes his coffee—with a little bit of milk and sugar in the morning and black in the afternoon.

Next time you’re on island, pick up one of these blue bags of happiness at one of the local grocery stores or stop by Paradise Coffee’s freestanding location off North Sound Road. Our personal favorite blend is Cayman Coconut, but other popular roasts include Cayman Gold, Seven Fathoms (rum-infused!), and Good Morning Cayman. If you stop in, say hi to Fritz, and be sure ask him about his classic Minolta camera—he’s also a camera and photography buff!

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Aside from the breathtaking scenery and the friendly people you meet on the island, one of my favorite parts of visiting Grand Cayman, is all the delicious food to choose from! There's the freshest seafood of course, authentic Italian, Mexican and so much more. You could dine out every night for a week and still not make a dent in all the food Cayman has to offer your willing taste buds.

What happens though, if don't want to go out for every meal or you're tired from a fun filled day on the beach? I say, take a trip to the grocery store first thing and when the time comes you can put that fully equipped kitchen in your condo to good use! 

While staying on the island there are great options to choose from when picking a grocery store. Even better, they are close to the condos! 

Here are the top 3 grocery stores I recommend stopping by to fill up your condo with quick snacks or ingredients to make a delicious meal for a night (or day) in.

1. Foster's Food Fair (Republix Plaza)

Foster's grocery store is your typical go to grocery store. They have a good selection of the food you're used to as well as food unique to the island, all at very affordable prices. This particular Foster's location also has a Priced Right  attached if you find yourself needing more than food. (Does anyone else forget to pack at least 1 thing when they go on a trip?) Priced Right is a warehouse shopping environment similar to Sam's Club or Costco.

Miles from Christopher Columbus Condos: 1 
Hours: 7am-11pm
*Closed on Sundays

2. Kirk Market 

I went to Kirk Market on my second trip to Cayman and was very impressed by the overall look, feel and selection. The store was so clean and organized, which I personally appreciate. Kirk Market's prices are a little bit higher than Foster's, so you'll want to keep that in mind when choosing which store to visit. 

Miles from Christopher Columbus Condos: 5
Hours: 7am-11pm
*Closed on Sundays





3. Hurley's 

If you happen to be in George Town and want to stop at a grocery store on your way back to CCC, Hurley's is a good option. Full disclaimer, Hurley's is the only store I haven't personally visited on this list however, from their website and Facebook page (and their motto) I can tell they are ALL about fresh food. Fresh produce, fresh seafood and freshly prepared entrees and sides ready to eat.

Miles from Christopher Columbus Condos: 8
Hours: 7am-11pm
*Closed on Sundays

Final tip: While you're at one of these stores keep your eyes peeled for the unique differences between the products and brands they carry on the island. It's fun to discover new treats and can be an educational trip if you have any kiddos in tow.

Happy Shopping (and eating)!

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In this month’s Cayman Kind, we would like to introduce you to Michele (pronounced “Mi Ke’ le” for those of us who do not know Italian), the proud owner of Vivo Cafe & Restaurant.

Michele, who is originally from Italy, boldly immigrated to England at the age of 31 without understanding a word of English, to fulfill his desire to study culinary arts. Although he loved the culture and vibrancy that London is famously known for, like many Londoners he longed for sunshine and warmth, which quickly brought him to Cayman. Although he only planned for a short stay, he fell in love with the Island that he has now called home for over 6 years.

organic sodasAfter working for various restaurants on the Island, Michele decided to pursue his dream of owning his own in 2015. Thus Vivo Cafe was born. The word VIVO originates from the Latin vīvō and means 'alive' or 'to live'. Michele’s greatest passion in life, other than his beautiful family, is to educate his customers on the incredible health benefits of ‘live’ foods by offering organic vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free cuisine. He also strives to do this in the most eco-friendly way to our planet, and claims to have what he terms as the only “360 degree sustainable” restaurant in Grand Cayman. As an example, the serving plates are made from Kasha wood from a sustainable forest, the utensils from bamboo, and the napkins from wheat straw.

Coming from North American, I was naturally skeptical of the the idea that vegetarian or vegan food could satisfy my traditional Midwestern taste, no matter how I felt about sustainability. Michele was quick to point out that Vivo’s biggest fans are often devout carnivores who have never experienced quality vegetarian options. Vivo’s Trip Advisor reviews certainly backed this up with an astounding 96% Very Good or Excellent rating, and they are currently ranked #1 out of 18 restaurants in West Bay. But as the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case the coconut. Since locally sourced coconut is abundant on Grand Cayman, it is one of the staples on the menu, and is often used as a meat substitute. From my personal experience, both the coconut ceviche and coconut bacon were surprisingly delicious.

Next time you are in Cayman, stop by the restaurant and say hello to Michele. He loves to welcome new guests. Vivo is located on the beautiful Northwest shore of West Bay, and offers a peaceful and breathtaking view of the ocean from tables and a bar-style counter that faces the sea. You can visit their website here for more info.

view at vivo restaurant

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Anique is a barista at Jessie's Juice Bar in Camana Bay. We ran into her while looking for an afternoon pick-me-up from the wholesome juice bar. I ordered the Harlem Express from Anique, and we quickly struck up a conversation. I discovered she has a huge passion for culinary studies and that she is in the middle of a culinary program offered through a school in Jamaica. She said because of her love for food and drink she really enjoys working at Jessie's, where she's been for 3 months now.

Anique is Caymanian, but said that most people don't think she sounds Caymanian. Either way, she definitely embodies the kind hospitality for which Caymanians have become known. She talked with me and my friends while making our smoothies and asked how our day was going. I asked her questions and she graciously juggled new customers entering while keeping our conversation in tact in between. My friend Rebekah told her about trying Coconut water for the first time, and Anique told us that Jamaicans say coconut water is the only water that can wash your heart which we all thought was really poetic and nice.

When I asked her if we could feature her in a CaymanKind piece, she laughed and sweetly agreed, telling us that her mom works for the Department of Tourism so she's always up for promoting the islands. She was such a good sport, allowing us to snap a photo right there on the spot, too!

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Camana Bay is a modern, walkable community with lots of shops, restaurants, recreational areas and even some residential opportunities. The newly developed island town (on the west side of Grand Cayman island near Seven Mile Beach) has been in the works for approximately 8 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

canvas tarp in Camana BayThe beautiful Caribbean inspired architecture and urban townscape are worth a visit alone. The commercial corridors are decorated with with multi-color lighting, lavish island landscaping, welcoming patios and courtyards, benches and water features. My favorite features, though, are the canvas tarps that are artistically stretched above the community in many shapes and colors and the exquisite main corridor that ends at the mouth of the bay.

view from observation towerWhen you visit the community you should come hungry and allow time for a meal, shopping and exploring. First, I suggest walking down the main corridor and appreciating the street view, then you'll want to make the 75 foot climb to the top of the seriously amazing Observation Tower. The views of Camana Bay and beyond are incredible, but the climb up is just as impressive as there is a mosaic mural (one of the largest of its kind in the world) that covers one of the walls for the entire climb up. If stairs aren't your thing, they also have an elevator that stops at each floor so that you can still enjoy the mosaic on the way up.

beet smoothie from JessesAfter a climb like that, it's time to reward yourself by indulging in some delicious cuisine. I suggest Waterfront for brunch. As its name implies it has awesome seating right on the waterfront. We went on a cheery Sunday morning and enjoyed ahhhmazing breakfast food and perfect mid-morning cocktails (extra-spicy bloody Mary and a mimosa made with grapefruit juice). Jesse's Juice Bar and Mizu are perfect lunch options. Really, the group I travel with has made several trips to Camana Bay just for Jesse's Juice Bar. They make healthy smoothies and can be conveniently accessed from one of the parking lots for quick "swing by's." Mizu has great sushi in a swanky little atmosphere. 

For dinner, try Karoo or Ortanique. Karoo has a Brie Burger that is to die for, but fair warning: It is huge! I also had a lemonade ginger cocktail that was made with fresh lemonade. Ortanique is also a culinary joy with desserts that are too good to be true including home made ice cream and warm bread pudding.

Books & Books shopAfter you've had your fill of food you can walk it off by visiting the local retail shops or strolling through the community. There's a cool independent bookstore appropriately called, Books & Books that is great for browsing. They also have regular events including a weekly children's story time. There's also a coffee shop that is conveniently joined to the shop.

If you're in the mood for clothes shopping, there are a couple of luxury shops - NKY Collection stores for men and women and The Jean Bar with premium denim. There are also several retailers that sell swimwear and resort-wear as well as several accessory shops and jewelers. 

If you're looking to chill out, there is a movie theater with regular showings as well as a multitude of special events to choose from on an ongoing basis. For example, every Wednesday night there's an event called Open Canvas where artists set up canvases and paint at will. It's fun to stroll by and see what they're creating. If you have kiddos with you, be sure to check out the water spouts which are popular play areas. With the holidays coming up you'll also want to make repeat visits to see the area transformed into one of the best decorated locations on the island. If you'd like more information about Camana Bay, they have a lively website that's updated daily:
www.camanabay.com

entrance to Camana Bay
   

tarp hanging over town
     

Mizu asian bistro
  sand angles swimsuit and resort shop
  creative tarps hanging over town
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If you've read the previous blog post about the Cayman Cookout by my friend Kay then you know that the Cayman Cookout was a huge success last weekend. It was an absolutely incredible event!

In addition to culinary events, I attended the annual Wine Fair and Winemaker's Lunch (two anticipated events of the Cayman Cookout), and I wanted to expand on Kay's post with a small feature on these events that are a little piece of heaven for wine lovers! The fair was sponsored by Jacques Scott and the chefs of the Ritz Carlton Hotel. It was held in the ballroom of the Ritz and showcased a wonderful collection of wines that were paired with culinary selections from the chefs of the Ritz. There was a live wine auction and a silent auction that benefited an area Arts Scholarship and the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.

The wine tasting station that I spent most of my evening at was that of Marchesi di Barolo, a wine maker out of Barolo, Italy. There they have historic wine cellars in a building that overlooks the Castle of the Marquis Falletti. The manager Valentina Abbona was serving wine at their station and telling us all of the notes and details of the Marchesi di Barolo wine which she was very proud of. All of the vendors were extremely knowledgeable and friendly.

The Winemaker's lunch at the elegant restaurant, Luca, was also a wonderful treat. This year Jon Conover from California's Plumpjack, Cade and Stags Leap wineries hosted a delicious contemporary Italian lunch accompanied by wine parings from the three Napa Valley wineries. He described the wines in great detail and also shared the history of the wineries as he served us during lunch.

I had a wonderful time at all of the Cookout events I was able to attend this year, and as you can see, the Cayman Cookout is not only a foodie paradise, but also a haven for wine lovers! I'm hoping to have the opportunity to return next year to once again enjoy amazing food, wine and friends.

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