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Home & Away Magazine - Easy Pickings

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Easy Pickings
Grand Caymans The Brasserie shows what the taste of the islands is all about.
By Patricia Harris and David Lyon Dean James Max is something of a mad gardener. When he became the consultant chef at The Brasserie on Grand Cayman Island, he built a kitchen garden, even though the local soil is too thin and salty to grow much and the island has never had a farming tradition. Located in George Town, the capital of the Cayman Islands, The Brasserie is popular with Caymanians and people with seasonal homes on the island. But George Town is also a major cruise ship port, and the restaurant attracts diners from the ships as well as vacationers looking for a change from resort dining rooms. People who come to the islands want to eat local, Max said. The Brasserie is as local as it getsa pioneer in the islands locavore dining. Garden-to-table Dining What began as the restaurants back-door herb patch has evolved into an amazingly diverse miniature farm. The raised beds are filled with a fertile mix of composted coffee grounds, eggshells and vegetable waste from the kitchen. Depending on the season, the beds overflow with cucumbers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, callaloo, garlic and even lemongrass. A Tahitian vanilla orchid twines around a tree trunk (the staff pollinate the flowers by hand to get vanilla pods), and a massive banana tree anchors one end of the garden. The kitchen garden is a screen house. This close to the equator, direct sun will burn most plants, so the netting provides just enough shade to protect them. But Max has also colonized the landscape around the restaurant, filling the tree wells with heat- and sun-tolerant plants such as the fiery Scotch bonnet pepper and its mild cousin, the Cayman seasoning pepper. During the cool months, white eggplants and bush-style summer squash and zucchini flourish. In the heat of summer, watermelons sprawl from the tree wells. Not a square inch of arable soil goes to waste.

Everything that grows is put to good use. For example, the restaurant serves a lot of callaloo. The green is eaten all over the Caribbean, usually boiled for a long time. By contrast, The Brasserie cooks pick the leaves young and saut them with olive oil and lemon for a bright, tasty vegetable side dish. Staff members also harvest fruit from the landscaping trees, which include mango, breadfruit and ackee. The fruit of the akee cooks up a lot like scrambled eggs, and codfish and ackee is the de facto national dish of Jamaica, Grand Caymans nearest Caribbean neighbor. The Brasserie doesnt serve salt cod, but the chefs have

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Home & Away Magazine - Easy Pickings

http://www.homeandawaymagazine.com/article_print.cfm?a=3290

been known to make a modern twist on the old-time dish by creating a sauce of ackee, onions and garlic to serve on freshcaught tuna. Harvesting the Sea Brasserie co-owner King Flowers is an avid sport fisherman, and he insisted on equipping the restaurant with its own fishing boat, even though Caribbean restaurants have traditionally bought their fish on the U.S. mainland. Now The Brasserie has two boats that fish exclusively for the restaurant. The fish are as seasonal as the produce. There is always some kind of tuna available, but the species varies. On a given day, the fishermen may catch red, gray, silk or mutton snapper. Some fish are great for ceviche, some for soup, and some inevitably end up on the grill. Around 3 p.m. each day, the fishermen call executive chef Niven Patel to literally let him know the catch of the day. Thats part of the excitement of dining at The Brasserie. While the general outlines of the menu are fixed in advance, the details are filled in at the last minute by what the fishermen have caught and whats ready to pick. Sometimes the staff even harvests fruit growing around their homessuch as the guava used for compotes and jellies, or the carambola (starfruit) used in vinaigrettes. Guava is also blended with Cayman seasoning pepper as a glaze on meat. The seasoning pepper is perhaps the most distinctive flavor of Cayman cooking; it has all the taste of a Scotch bonnet pepper with almost none of the heat. Its key to The Brasserie's Caribbean chicken pepper pot soup, a refined version of the island staple that includes red beans, young shoots of callaloo and fresh grated milk of coconuts harvested on the island. We put a modern twist on old-style traditional dishesthats what the Brasserie is about, Max said. Planning Your Trip For more information about The Brasserie, call (345) 945-1815 or visit www.brasseriecayman.com. For trip-planning assistance, contact your local AAA Travel Agent or visit AAA.com/travel. Try Chef Dean James Maxs recipe for Ahi Tuna Coconut Ceviche. PATRICIA HARRIS AND DAVID LYON are Massachusetts-based writers.

Published: Oct 10, 2012


2009 H&A Media Group - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Home & Away Magazine - Ahi Tuna Coconut Ceviche

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Ahi Tuna Coconut Ceviche


Chef Dean James Max serves this fresh tuna ceviche at The Brasserie on Grand Cayman and at his home base restaurant, Ocean 3030, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Tuna 1 pound sushi grade ahi (yellowfin) tuna, blood line removed Coconut Sauce 1 serrano or Scotch bonnet pepper 2 tablespoons ginger 1 can unsweetened coconut milk cup sugar 1 teaspoon fish sauce Ceviche Mix 1 bunch cilantro 1 red bell pepper 1 serrano pepper, seeds removed 1 bunch green onions 1 lime Preparation 1. Trim and cut tuna into workable portions. Slice tuna into thin strips and small dice. Refrigerate until ready to assemble. 2. Make the coconut sauce. Dice the pepper (keep seeds for extra spicy) and ginger. Add to a pot with the coconut milk, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down to a low simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Take off the stove and let sauce completely cool. Strain and refrigerate. 3. Make the ceviche mix. Chop the cilantro; thinly slice the bell pepper and serrano pepper. Slice the green onions and combine all the ingredients together. 4. In a bowl, combine the diced tuna, coconut sauce, and ceviche mix. Mix well and season with salt, pepper, and fresh lime juice. Serve in coconut shells over ice! Yields six servings. Return to Easy Pickings.

Published: Oct 10, 2012


2009 H&A Media Group - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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