At Blue By Eric Ripert, A Journey to Culinary Transcendence

Caribbean Travel Awards 2018

It might have been the sake or the Banyuls, the octopus or the scallops or the pre-dessert.

There was a moment when everything became one, when there was no longer a distinction between courses, when the gastronomic became the religious.

Somewhere in the lights of the reds and the whites and the purples I found culinary transcendence.

Here, beneath the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is Blue by Eric Ripert, the world renowned chef’s Caribbean outpost that is a regional Mecca for gourmands.

Led on the island by stellar French Chef Thomas Seifried, the menu has a seafood focus similar to Ripert’s signature Le Bernardin in New York, with a primary pair of tasting menu options and the suggestion of a wine pairing.

But this is no ordinary dinner, no ordinary tasting menu.

It is an undertaking, a journey that will take you to corners of the food continuum you may never have considered.

I began with the Tuna Foie Gras, the flagship dish that takes a slice of toasted baguette with terrine of foie grass then covers it with pounded Tuna tartare. It is a masterwork, impossibly nuanced, a light dish with an alchemical gravity.

Then it continued – scallop lightly seared with pear, radish and kimchi broth; bread crusted snapper with saffron mousseline and bouillabaisse sauce; poached halibut with radish, truffle and a parmesan emulsion. It went on and on.

And then there was the octopus, something so often misunderstood and wrongly prepared in the rest of the world. Not this, done a la plancha with tomato creme, gremolata and chorizo emulsion.

This wasn’t octopus, I maintain. How could it have been? It must have been chorizo, with its crispness and peppery edge. It must have been.

But that’s the thing with transcendent food – it plays with identity and convention. It redefines.

Everything was from the sea, but not for a moment here does one ever remember that other proteins exist.

Then there was the pre dessert, because this was a meal that required one; then the chocolate jewel box filled with rolls of ganache and gold leaf; then petits fours.

Flowing all the time was wine, from otherworldly sake to Sicilian red to thte aforementioned Banyuls, with a Japanese rice lager happily included.

There isn’t a culinary experience like this in the Caribbean — because this isn’t a restaurant. It is a sanctuary, a refuge for pilgrims who believe in the pantheon of flavor.

It is something every traveler should do once in his or her lifetime, taking a moment to be reminded that there is more to food than food. There is this.

— Alexander Britell, Editor in Chief