Update: Indian Tuesdays at Michael’s Genuine Grand Cayman is here! A favorite treat of our visits to the island is now available to customers on Tuesdays beginning December 13 from 5:30pm. Chef Tony will offer a weekly-changing prix fixe Indian dinner menu including 3 courses served family-style for CI $30. For reservations please call 345-640-6433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Come to Miami, too, Tony!
When we’re on island, we spend a lot of time eating at MGFD. It’s both important and fun to try all the new dishes and ingredients Thomas is working on, as well as old favorites. I am always so impressed, in fact from day one, as to how well this restaurant executes Michael’s food and recreates the experience we have all come to love so much at home in Miami. You can really taste its own character as well, as local ingredients express themselves in new ways. Throughout Michael’s and my stay of just three days, there are myriad examples of this, from a simple one like the Local Snapper BLT I had for lunch Wednesday – Thomas’ current take on the fish sandwich special I love to eat at home – to Lionfish Gumbo and the beginnings of a great chicken dish inspired by new free range birds farmer Patrick Panton is adding to his usual focus on produce at East End Garden in Bodden Town. And since we’re fed up with kids’ menus that pander to the myth that all they will eat is chicken fingers and fries, we have our own version rolling out, too, including classic favorites presented in a more balanced fashion. It was fun to sample that for lunch yesterday, including the menu itself which arrives to the table on a mini wooden clipboard with crayons.
But perhaps the best part of visiting the island is spending quality time with the staff, especially when bonding involves trying the off-the-menu, personal specialties of our cooks, like sous chef Eddie Guanzon and chef Tony Rozario!
Eddie just returned from the Philippines, from an apparently too long (!) vacation visiting his family. Chicharrones, or deep fried pork rinds, are a weak spot of mine, so when Eddie was frying them up and asking if I wanted them by themselves, my ears perked.
What was he hinting at? Of course I had to find out, and when pickled vegetables including Michael’s mix of turnip, radish and now here the Caymanian favorite, seasoning pepper (they look like habanero but are not as spicy, with a very distinctive flowery flavor,) as well as Eddie’s “special sauce” were on offer how could I refuse. I love condiments, especially pickled veg and special sauces. What followed was pig heaven, a huge plate of the fluffy crunchy stuff, and a revelation in the simple dipping sauce of champagne vinegar, diced raw shallot, garlic, chili flakes, and soy sauce. Add a Fischer Amber Ale to wash it all down, and what more do you need? Dangerous question!
When I first saw Michael’s Tweet many months ago about the amazing Indian food Tony, of Tamil Nadu, South India, had been making him as a special treat for lunch on his visits to the island, I longed for the day I would have the opportunity to try some. Having spent two summers in his home country, I suffer a constant longing for the authentic flavors and spices that only come from its home-cooked cuisine, impossible to find in restaurants, especially in North America. On my last visit, my prayers were answered with Aloo Gobi, Aloo Parantha and Saag Paneer. Yesterday, Tony really stepped it up when we were treated to my favorite yet, Jeera Pulao (cumin-scented basmati rice pilaf) and Chicken Bhuna, the original curry typically made with lamb. The chicken is ‘marinated’ dry with a mix of spices and cooked in its own juices in the pan. So simple, yet so intensely flavored. Just delicious.
To see some more off-the-menu dishes, visit our Flickr. In the meantime, lucky yours truly is going home this morning with a quart container full of pork rind chards and the special sauce recipe in mind for snacktime later. Watch out customs, here we come!