Offering a whole new dining experience for the Cayman Islands, The Brasserie Market, situated next door to the restaurant itself, takes breakfast and lunch to a completely new level, as it combines the elements of quality, taste, organic produce, custom-made meals, a unique artisan coffee experience and the cleanest, most high tech kitchen and dining area you will have ever seen. Its fledgling vegetable garden adjacent to the property is also already yielding exciting results, feeding the kitchen with its marvelous organic produce. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull reports.
It takes a particular pioneering vision to create something quite new but this is what Brasserie owners King and Lisa Flowers have in abundance, and the fruits of this vision are evident all around if you visit The Brasseries Market and its vegetable garden.
“We are extremely aware of the importance of healthy eating and living a more sustainable lifestyle so we have incorporated some really interesting features in our new Brasserie Market,” Lisa explains. “We have established our vegetable garden full of organic produce which is evolving daily, our menu is all freshly prepared and cooked on the premises and we even have committed to using biodegradable cutlery, plates and cups or porcelain cups, which can of course be reused.”
Top chefs at The Market
The owners have employed a whole host of individuals who are at the top of their game to assist with the establishment of their new venture. One of Fort Lauderdale’s top chefs, Dean Max, had been brought in to re design The Brasserie’s kitchen, so that it is open to Brasserie diners and expanding it further so that it is also open to The Brasserie Market as well.
Dean says: “The kitchen has been a dream to create. We’ve got every high tech kitchen appliance we need and the entire kitchen has been created to incorporate clean lines and efficiency. There is a particular energy here which is really exciting.”
Dean’s Chef from Fort Lauderdale is Brad Phillips and he is now The Brasserie’s Executive Chef, overseeing both the restaurant and the market.
Brad says the opportunity to run the kitchens is one which he has been waiting for his entire professional career. “It is absolutely fantastic to work in such a well designed kitchen. We have all the right ingredients to make this a huge success – the best facility, equipment, and of course the freshest ingredients, particularly those organically grown produce straight out of our garden.”
Translating their energy into the Brasserie Market itself, the chefs have created an ever-changing menu for both breakfast and lunch.
Dean says: “Breakfast consist of freshly made yoghurts as well as pre-made varieties to suit everyone’s palate. Then diners can choose from whichever fresh fruit we have prepared that morning. We also have a delicious array of home made pastries and breads to choose from. Hot breakfast items will also change daily but will most likely nearly always include eggs, rice and beans, curried chicken, egg white, feta and spinach or regular egg and cheddar frittatas, etc. We have tried to suit a wide range of tastes.”
Diners can ‘grab and go’ or sit at one of the tables and enjoy a more leisurely meal.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 11am, at which time the lunch menu kicks in and the yoghurts are replaces with a variety of lettuces to which diners can add their choice of freshly prepared vegetables for a quick, nutritious midday meal.
“All our vegetables are prepared on the day and might include beets that we have roasted or sweet young grated carrots pulled from their earthy beds that morning. We might have a selection of green beans freshly steamed or heirloom tomatoes just picked from the vine,” Brad explains.
Hot food is prepared with equal love and care and might include a roast leg of lamb from which thick juicy slices will be carved and served in between slices of freshly made bread, or perhaps slices of home roasted turkey and chicken. Sandwiches are custom-made to order and the Market also offers a delicious selection of flatbreads to enliven the palate further. Lunch is served until 5pm.
The coffee – a world of difference
Professional barista Erin Hulbert has been involved with coffee for the past 15 years and recently began working for Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, a small artisan roastery located in The Berkshires, New England. Having tasted Barrington’s coffee in New England, Lisa and King Flowers decided to work with Erin to have the Barrington coffee shipped into The Brasserie Market on a weekly basis, necessary because the flavour of espresso peaks just a few days after roasting, according to Erin.
“It’s a living thing which changes rapidly once it’s been roasted. It is at its peak between four and 12 days after roasting. That is why it is really important to have a regular fresh supply.”
Erin enthuses about the Barrington Coffee Roasting Company: “What makes Barrington Coffee so special is the incredible care the owners, Barth Anderson and Gregg Charbonneau, take over their product. They are Master Roasters who have taken the time and effort to forge strong relations with their growers all over the world to ensure that only the finest beans go into creating their unique coffees,” Erin states.”
Erin says the particular blends used to make the basic espresso at The Brasserie Market have a depth of flavour with notes of chocolate and nut. “It has a low deep sweetness with chocolate, caramel and nutty notes. We thought it would be just right for coffee drinkers here in Cayman.”
Erin has been on hand to train The Brasserie Market staff in the science and also art of coffee making.
“We had an intensive couple of weeks in which I discussed various elements of making great coffee – including an overview of espresso, milk texturising techniques, coffee art and cleaning and maintaining the equipment,” she explains. “Lisa bought a La Marzoco coffee maker from Florence which is an incredibly sturdy and dependable workhorse which will continue to make fabulous coffee for many years to come.”
Every espresso beverage at The Market has the same amount of espresso, although Erin says the flavour will immediately change when milk or hot water is added (see sidebar for coffee choices). “Straight espresso itself is best drunk up to 30 seconds after it has been brewed. We encourage our coffee drinkers to drink it on site in a porcelain cup rather than take it to go (although you are perfectly able to do so!) and we have installed a convenient coffee bar for anyone ‘on the go’. It really tastes better drunk this way.
The best flavour of the espresso which has milk or hot water added to it will last until the heat dies down, so a little longer.”
The Brasserie Market also offers a rotating single origin coffee, both a featured coffee of the day (it is currently the Colombian and is known as a bright, clean and focused coffee) as well as a decaf and Erin has also had great fun creating special coffees just for the Cayman market.
“Our Cortado is an 8 oz cup imitating the coffee you will drink in Latin America and is made with sweetened condensed milk, while our Milo Mocha has that delicious chocolate element of Milo which will no doubt be a big hit with the local community,” she says.
All drinks are made with a heart on top, known as latté art.
An iced latte and an iced coffee are also on the menu to cool down diners and a host of organic teas are also available as well. The range of made to order smoothies include strawberry, banana and orange or a mango lassi.
Erin hopes to extend her considerable expertise in the future and plans to hold cupping sessions (similar to wine tasting sessions) for anyone interested in learning more. Watch this space for more information.
The garden – a celebration of knowledge and dedication
As a pathetically hopeless but quite keen amateur gardener the vegetable garden next to The Brasserie held particular excitement and wonder for me. Designed by the inimitable Margaret Barwick and lovingly tended by head gardener Winston Cobban, the vegetable garden, although still in its fledgling stage, is alive with beautiful produce that already keeps the kitchen well stocked.
Mrs. Barwick says the variety of produce in the garden is already extremely wide although they are constantly expanding the inventory. She shows me racks and racks of heirloom tomatoes on the vine, heavy with green fruit waiting for some January sunshine, swathes of tender young callaloo and spinach, feathery carrot tops with sturdy orange carrots beneath, rows of sweet potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, okra, scotch bonnet peppers and sweet peppers. It’s an absolute delight for a gardener and a foodie like me.
“We have made use of every single piece of land available to us,” Mrs. Barwick explains, highlighting a small plot of sweet potatoes next to the car park and rows of cucumbers and hot peppers in danger of being knocked over by a car parked inconsiderately too close to the fledgling plants.
Mrs. Barwick credits head gardener with the talent to make the plants come to life.
Having lived in Cayman for many years, Winston says he grew up in Manchester, Jamaica where you either went into farming or traveled to the city to work.
“Farming was in my blood,” he states. “I watched my grandfather and my father tend crops and so it comes naturally to me.”
Winston’s knowledge is put to good use as he plans to enhance the garden further, planting new crops and rotating the soil to add more nutrients. He shows me the fresh young basil plants that are already being used on a constant basis by the kitchen, along with rosemary, oregano and mint. There are even pineapples, vanilla orchids to add some tropical flavour as well as grape and passion fruit vines being trained up the door posts.
The garden is a true work in progress and its organic produce will become an integral part of the Brasserie’s food offerings as a whole in the years to come.
The Brasserie’s inaugural Harvest Dinner took place last month. Read all about it in next month’s Journal.