Coco Fest 2018!
Coco Fest came back for its 3rd year to celebrate all things coconut. As one of the most abundant ingredients found in Cayman, and throughout the Caribbean, it's no wonder that coconuts have been a staple in our cuisine for generations. I was excited to see how vendors would create sweet and savoury dishes utilising at least one part of the coconut; the oil, milk, water or meat. On arrival to the stunning Pedro St. James Castle adults paid $5 entry knowing that some of the proceeds would go to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). After that guests were able to roam around the courtyard and main grounds in search of food, drinks, games, crafts and live music.
On walking through the courtyard the aroma of cooked food hit you immediately (especially the smoke from Sam's Quality Jerk stand!), but that didn't stop other vendors like Island Taste, Saucha & VIVO from promoting their coconut creations. Island Taste served guests their Taste of Cayman award-winning "Seafood Medley Rundown" where conch, shrimp, mahi mahi and breadkind stewed in coconut milk. Saucha promoted their vegan, gluten-free and locally sourced lifestyle with dishes like green popcorn cooked in coconut oil, a coconut rundown with jerked eggplant and a delicious triple chocolate coco cupcake. Vegan restaurant VIVO stuck to their roots and offered a vegetable coconut curry and a coconut "calamari" dish. I was amazed that battering and frying coconut meat could actually imitate the texture of calamari! All of these dishes were a true demonstration of how adaptable this Caribbean nut can be.
I carried on to the breezy great lawn where a another dozen vendors were set up. I always visit the Sweet As Can Be stall and get their luscious coconut jello, but this year they also did a toasted coconut pound cake which won the Coco Cake Competition. As per usual Cayman Spirits Company provided the coconut cocktails and offered alcoholic (and virgin) "cocoladas" topped with grated coconut. For guests seeking coconut in its purest form they could get one opened to drink the water and then halved to enjoy the coconut's tender, sweet meat for only three bucks.
Though many may think that coconuts are just for eating, drinking and cooking (obviously my favourite form), they can actually be used in a variety of ways. Some truly creative minds have gone on to use local coconuts for beauty products and homemade crafts. I regularly buy Healthy Alternatives' coconut oil from the farmer's market and at Coco Fest I decided to try their homemade beauty product line, specifically their tea tree serum.
Each year the vendors at Coco Fest shine by coming up with new and innovative ideas on utilising every part of the coconut. I tried some incredible coconut centric food, sipped on coconut rum cocktails and experimented with coconut beauty products. You would think that I would be coco-ed out from a day dedicated to coconuts, but as an island girl I can never get enough of this versatile nut.