birthday 2011: part two

Warning: Photo-laden post! You'll understand why in a moment.

NS outdid himself this year. In addition to the Spotts Beach snorkeling adventure, he made dinner reservations at a pretty special venue. We all know how much I love the Ritz Carlton here in Grand Cayman. They do everything with the utmost of class and luxury. So my expectations were pretty high when we set out for Blue by Eric Ripert - one of Cayman's premier dining experiences.

From the moment we stepped in, they referred to us by name and made mention of my day of celebration (a quick way to win points with me.)

I loved the simple, clean table decorations.
Blue is well known for its prix fixe tasting menus - basically, sets of six-course selections, allowing you to sample amazing cuisine without committing to only one of many delicious entrées. And trust me, I had a one-time shot at this lavish experience, so I was looking for all the variety I could find.

Before I get to the photos of each course (yes, each course), I'll just quickly highlight the island's best dinner rolls. Since we knew the portion sizes were going to be, shall we say, modest, we weren't shy about indulging in this amazing, melt-in-your mouth sea salt and cilantro dinner roll. Multiple times.

When you're spending a premium on dinner, I think small, unannounced touches really go a long way in adding to the total value you derive from the experience. We had a few "compliments of the chef" moments that made me smile that much wider. The first one was a little appetizer while we waited for our meals. I think this was a little grilled scallop, perhaps in something buttery? I honestly can't remember - but quite delicious. (Meanwhile, during this appetizer and throughout the meal, NS and I put on our best food airs for each other, using descriptions like "subtle", "delicate", "undertones", etc. Just Food Network stuff.)

Now, on to the menu.

I sampled the Eric Ripert Tasting menu, while NS tried the Blue Tasting menu. Both were divine. Above, my first course was tuna foie gras, while NS had the Peruvian-style conch ceviche. The tuna was placed on a very thin piece of toast, and the crunch was an unexpected addition to the normally chewy tuna. The ceviche was presented with an amarillo foam - so airy and light.

Second course: Mine was a king crab salad wrapped in zucchini topped with a mousseline sauce. NS ate a seafood ravioli with tomato chutney and soy butter. (Note one ravioli). The mousseline sauce on my salad was like a hollandaise sauce. The ravioli on his plate came with a parsnip puree. Both were incredible.

Next: I had olive oil poached escolar, while NS had pan seared yellowfin tuna with a green peppercorn sauce. I've never eaten escolar, but apparently it's a large tropical fish. On top my fish was a piece of white asparagus, which I really loved.

I'll interrupt foodie-heaven for a second just to once again show the difference between the two camera lenses I use. Our server offered to take both photos (one towards the beginning and one towards the end of the meal.) The first one was taken with my 18-300mm lens. I always put it on Auto for the miscellaneous photographer so as not to make the DSLR any more intimidating than it already looks.

This second photo was taken with my 50mm, which I prefer in dimly-lit restaurants (which is why all the food photos were taken with the 50). I'm also impressed with how well-lit we are, just due to the use of a different lens.

Anyway, enough about my photography hobby and back to my food hobby.

For our fourth course, I was served a seared jumbo scallop, while NS enjoyed grilled wahoo. This might have been my favorite course. I love scallops but am always hesitant to order them as an entrée, because it never seems like enough food. Trust me, I savored every (tiny) bite.

Our fifth courses consisted of snapper with a citrus broth for me, and snapper with sweet potato, avocado, and a spicy sauce for him. If we had to pick a least favorite, this course might have been it. Not that I don't love snapper. I think the sauces were just a bit overpowering. I probably would have liked the sweet potatoes (one of my favorite foods), but that were so tiny, I don't think we could have split them in half to share!

Our last course was dessert, but first, a bit of light yogurt and a mandarin orange to "refresh our palates."

A crisp little wafer tops it off.
Dessert, birthday style! Complete with a pink candle and a chocolate greeting.

The dessert itself was passion fruit mousse and mandarin sorbet in a mandarin lavender sauce. I'm partial to light, refreshing desserts, so this was perfect.

NS' chocolate-infused dessert included chocolate mousse, caramelized bananas, and chocolate sorbet. Oh, and a chocolate stick op top. (Every little morsel counts!)

As dinner ended (or so we thought), another "compliments of the chef" appeared - a plate of bite-sized desserts to nibble on while waiting for the check. My favorite was the little jelly - the size of a Jolly Rancher - so sweet and chewy.


Finally, I noticed that each woman was gifted with a red rose as she left the restaurant. What a nice gesture to end the night!

So, my birthday was a blast, just like every year. I believe that if you love birthdays, you'll always have great ones. I think way too many people miss out on this concept.

Two more little birthday nuggets:

NS made my favorite strawberry and raspberry trifle to share with our friends at Community Group on Sunday night. He also ordered a carrot cake from Paperman's Coffeehouse - my favorite coffee shop in Grand Cayman - to share with the group. Both were spectacular, but this one was photo-worthy.

Finally, MO's birthday card to me was on the back of an original piece of artwork! I could look at her perfectly-depicted Cayman palm tree for hours.

Thank you everyone for my birthday blessings!


  1. I love the little foodie you are becoming! But despite all those delicious looking pictures the only thing I'm craving right now is that 50mm lens!! I was planning to use my Christmas money to buy one ... until all my cash got stolen by those wretched burglars!! Your pictures have convinced me I NEED to get one stat!

  2. great pictures! did you take notes during your meal to remember all those courses??

  3. this is just awesome!! yeah for pampering! may have to try Rupie's next time. will you watch john-john?? ;-)