Over the past couple of years, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa has held a series of weekly dining events such as Island Fest, Pintxos + Paellas and Barbacoa. In addition to offering good beverages and good food — and plenty of it! — all of these events offered something else in common: good fun. All of those elements are there again in the resort's most recently launched dining series, the Voyage through the Mediterranean in Ave Restaurant on Thursday nights.
"Fun is truly an essential part of all our events," said Kimpton Seafire Director of Food and Beverage Himanshu Jethi. "While planning an event, we look at the complete experience for guests — one that goes beyond just food and drinks. We look for ways to involve guests and make them a part of the event."
The concept of the Voyage through the Mediterranean series mimics a cruise through the Mediterranean Sea in which stops are made in various ports. The menus, cuisine, entertainment, activities and décor are then themed to the country visited.
Each stop lasts six or seven weeks before the voyage sets sail for the next port of call.
The first seven-week stop of the voyage was Greece. Called "Simply Greek," the event involved three courses of food, starting with "orektika" — the Greek word for appetisers. This course, which was brought to the table and served family style, included marinated olives, stuffed grape leaves, smoked salmon dip, Greek salad, grilled vegetables, skewers of grilled lamb and chicken, and "saganaki" — pan-seared halloumi cheese flambéed with ouzo.
The appetisers alone would have probably been enough food for a satisfying meal, but the "kyria piata" — main courses — were the real stars of the dinner. These dishes, which were served from the chef's counter adjacent to the open kitchen, included grilled whole octopus, moussaka and two different kinds of grilled fish — local snapper and Mediterranean turbot — along with a vegetarian main course that incorporated couscous, vegetables and herbs. Side dishes included baby potatoes and wood-fired vegetables.
Finally dessert, which was also served on the chef's counter, included three traditional Greek options including "loukoumades" — deep fried fritters covered in honey, cinnamon and walnuts.
Four different cocktails, created specifically for the event, were also available, including one made with retsina, the traditional Greek wine infused with tree resin. Perhaps the most unique cocktail was the "Tzatzini," which blended juniper-infused vodka, lemon, cucumber dill syrup and Greek yogurt. The cocktail paired extremely well with the food, particularly with the lamb and moussaka.
"We were trying to integrate the flavours of Greek cuisine into the drinks in a way that would pair with the food and enhance the overall immersiveness of the experience," said Jim Wrigley, Kimpton Seafire's beverage manager.
Although the food and cocktails offer plenty of fun in themselves, it is the attention to other details that makes the Voyage through the Mediterranean a series of events, rather than a series of dinners.
For Simply Greek, there was Greek music playing in the background, with local violin player Kate Allenger playing along. Some of the Ave staff wore historical Greek costumes and two dancers, also in costume, performed a traditional Greek dance — and later invited guests to join them. Perhaps the most authentic and fun activity for guests was the opportunity to smash a plate — a famous Greek custom at celebratory gatherings — in a designated area for a donation of CI$5 to benefit the local Feed Our Future charity.
The culinary team has to start sourcing some of the elements for the events — including specialty food ingredients and activities props — months in advance, Jethi said, noting that the smashing plates for Simply Greek, for example, were sourced from Greece.
Jethi said that the planning process for the events is also fun for him and his staff.
"With a diverse and multicultural team, we take inspirations from people’s travels or their experiences in certain destinations and try to incorporate those," he said, adding that the hope is then to create a better guest experience. "It's all about the memories we can create."
Next stop on the Voyage through the Mediterranean is Spain, starting on 14 January.
Jethi said "Viva España" will also offer plenty of fun.
"Guests can enjoy a flamenco performance, drink wine from a porron or shake a leg doing Macarena."
This article appears in print in the January 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times.