Indulge in authentic, local food while visiting the Cayman Islands for a simple way of connecting with the islands’ culture and people. Here are a few quintessential Caymanian cakes, confections and condiments you should try:
Tortuga Rum Cake
Tortuga rum cakes are arguably the most popular among Caymanian treats. The original golden rum cake is made from basic cake ingredients like flour, eggs and sugar with the addition of Tortuga’s five-year-old oak barrel aged gold rum. The rich and moist cake is baked to perfection in a Bundt pan and topped with chopped walnuts and hand-glazed with even more rum. Also available in other flavours like chocolate, coconut and Jamaican Blue Mountain. (US$7 – US$32, all Tortuga locations)
The unofficial national dessert of the Cayman Islands, heavy cakes are a blissful marriage of a grated starch – such as cassava or yam – with coconut milk, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and many secret spices. Heavy cakes are denser than traditional light cakes and are perfectly prepared when firm enough to stand on its own when sliced, but also has a little jiggle. (US$3 per slice or US$36 per cake, Willie’s Fresh Fruits and Juices, Farmer’s Market at Agricola)
Coconut Drops and Plantain Tarts
Also favoured by locals are coconut drops, a simply prepared brittle of sorts made from chopped coconut, ginger and caramelised brown sugar. Or snack on a delightfully sweet plantain tart, where classic pastry dough is filled with a mixture of overripe plantains, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. (Either US$1.75 each, Willie’s Fresh Fruits and Juices, Farmer’s Market at Agricola)
Gourmet Pepper Jelly
Boasting a recipe of bold flavours beyond the super-spicy scotch bonnet pepper and milder seasoning pepper, Gourmet Pepper Jelly is superior. Fresh ground Jamaican pimento, nutmeg, cloves and garlic mellow out the scorching heat for a full-flavoured and smooth spread perfect for crisp crackers with cheese. It has also been known to top pizza, burgers and act as a marinade for meats. (US$10-26, all major supermarkets)
Hawley Haven Farm
As purveyors of jellies, jams and sauces, Hawley Haven Farm packages each container with a special Grand Cayman stamp on its label, which makes it the perfect gift for friends and family. The fresh jams are great for topping on pancakes, bagels or cake — or just to eat straight off of a spoon. The underlying flavour is due to locally grown produce, fresh sea air and harvesting and preserving the jam at just the right time. Available at Fosters Supermarket at The Strand, Kirks Supermarket and a range of gift stores in Grand Cayman.
Cayman Islands Sauce Company
Spice things up with hot sauce by the Cayman Islands Sauce Company. Based on a family recipe that has been tweaked over the years, Hotter N’ Hell was the first sauce to be produced and lives up to his name in heat level while Citrus Heat is a harmonious blend of hot peppers and citrus juice, resulting in a milder sauce. Top any dish with either sauce for an authentic local dining experience. (US$5, all major supermarkets)
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Published: Skies Magazine, January 2015
Featured Photo Credit: tastetheislandstv.com