Culinary travel is on the rise around the world, and the Caribbean is no exception. Scores of people travel to the region each year with the express purpose of hobnobbing with celebrity chefs and sampling the many varied and distinctive gastronomic delights served up during such fabulous festivals as the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, the Barbados Food, Wine & Rum Festival, Cayman Cookout and many more. It was while attending one of these festivals, Sainte-Marie Culinary Week in Martinique, that I came to know the dessert pictured above.
The Sainte-Marie event is extra special in that it’s the largest food festival held annually in one of the Caribbean’s premier culinary destinations. How premier? Well, we already showed you that even the beach shacks in Martinique serve up gourmet cuisine. We also told you about the unusually exceptional quality of the island’s McDonald’s hamburgers. Did we also mention that Martinique had been named “Best Gourmet Island of the Year” by Caribbean World Magazine two out of the last three years?
Yeah, if you like fine dining, then Martinique is the destination for you. And during Sainte-Marie Culinary Week, the best just gets better.
Held each spring in the small northern coastal town of Sainte-Marie, this weeklong festival celebrates Martinique’s unique gastronomy, which combines the best of traditional French cuisine with Creole flavors with amazing results. At the center of the event is a cooking competition in which participating chefs are challenged to use three specific ingredients to create unique and original dishes. For 2011 the featured ingredients are sweet potatoes, lemongrass and passion fruit, a combination sure to yield deliciously creative cuisine for festivalgoers to enjoy.
Cooking demonstrations and tastings are held at various picturesque and culturally significant venues throughout the Sainte-Marie area, including the famed Saint James Distillery & Rum Museum, which dates back to 1765. Special menus commemorating the festival are also created for a selection of restaurants throughout Sainte-Marie during the festival enabling visitors to sample culinary creations born of the competition. There’s even a carnival-like parade to help festival attendees dance-off the calories!
As for the dessert, I have no idea what it’s really called, but I like the sound of Pineapple Rhum Delight. It’s a particular favorite of mine because like the Guava Cheese dessert Patrick introduced recently, this one is REALLY easy to make.
All you need is some juicy pineapple chunks, fresh mint and a healthy portion of Martinique’s fine rhum agricole blanc (white rum). Combine it all and let soak in your fridge overnight. The next day, when company arrives or you’re ready to feel like you’re soaking in the scene in Fort-de-France, serve it up!
If you want to pick up more intricate recipes at this year’s Sainte-Marie Culinary Week, head down to Martinique May 9-15.