The Caribbean Food and Wine Festival was created to bring top chefs, sommeliers, and winemakers to Turks & Caicos, which, as any clued-in foodie knows, is etching its mark on the world culinary stage. The two-day feast began with the Welcome Dinner at Anacaona, featuring a debaucherous five-course dinner by visiting kitchen master Beau MacMillan, paired with wines from Duck Pond Cellars. The charming and likable McMillan, who decimated the competition on Iron Chef in 2006 (including Bobby Flay), introduced each dish and explained his dedication to simplicity; overworked food has no place on menus in his opinion. And the proof was on the plateâ€”though grand, each offering was accessible. The best: the second course with Seared Diver Scallop with Fragrant Black Beans, Creamed Corn, and Thai Lobster Curry, served with a 2009 Columbia Valley Block 97 Chardonnay; and, the fourth course of Miso Glazed Sea Bass with Forbidden Rice, Shitake Snap Pea Salad, Coconut Sake foam, and a 2009 Duck Pond Columbia Valley Syrah.
The second night, touted as the Gourmet Safari, consisted of a restaurant crawl.We began at the Infiniti Bar with passed horsdâ€™oeuvres (lobster mango roll, Tataki Beef-Soy Pickled Carrot, Diver Scallop with Green Tea jelly, and a Watermelon Shooter topped with Beet and Goat cheese) paired with the Seventy Five Wine Companyâ€™s 2010 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc. From there we headed to Coyaba (an Arawak Indian word meaning â€œheavenlyâ€), a gazebo-styled restaurant specializing in contemporary Caribbean cuisine that treated us to Ahi Tuna Smoked and Tartare with Pistachio Crusted Baby Back Ribs, paired with a 2009 Semper Ulises Chardonnay.
Next, we shuttled to Seven Stars and sampled the Wild Atlantic Halibut with a Spiced Pumpkin, Mango, and Chorizo Emulsion, which was only made better by a 2007 Semper Ulises Chardonnay. The Regent Palms was the next destination on our safari, and its New Zealand Lamb Cannon (oven roastedÂ with a herb crust) did not disappoint, nor did the 2007 Tuck Beckstoffer Cabernet Sauvignon. We ended the evening at the popular Gansevoort Hotel. With its Miami vibe and contemporary decor, it was definitely a party as we munched on the Chocolate Torte with Smoked Blackberry and Cinnamon Ice Cream. As I sipped on the last wine of the evening, the Seventy Five Wine Co.â€™s 2008 The Sum, and swayed to the reggae and hip-hop sounds blasting in surround sound, I was already planning my trip back to the island I adore for the second installation of a food and wine festival I now loved.