Tag: environment

SUPERFOOD SERIES: Almonds

Posted by on 4th December 2017

They’re a waistline-friendly snack known to boost heart health, but before you get carried away with a heaping handful, consider a few of the lesser-known facts about this beneficial bite.

Rather than a nut, the almond is actually the seed of a fruit that grows on an almond tree. The fruit of the almond is called a drupe. The fuzzy hull around the almond seed feels like a peach and that’s because peaches and apricots are family members of the almond. The outer hull is not consumed by humans and instead, used as a cattle feed all over the world.

Did you also know that the almond is a member of the rose family and is often called “the queen of the rose family”?

Almonds are reliant on bees for crop pollination. No bees, no almonds. There are around 30 varieties of almonds, but only 10 undergo production for consumption purposes.

The immature green almond can be preserved and pickled — some consider it a delicacy.

Recent sudies show almonds eaten mid-morning can help moderate your blood sugar throughout the day. Almonds are extremely high in magnesium, a mineral that most people don’t get enough of. High magnesium intake may have major benefits for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Low magnesium levels are strongly linked to high blood pressure, indicating that almonds can be beneficial for blood pressure control. Eating 1-2 handfuls of almonds per day can lead to mild reductions in LDL cholesterol levels.

Almonds are high in healthy monounsaturated fats, are a rich source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, dietary fibres, and vitamin B and are the biggest barrier against cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Almonds are high in antioxidants that can protect your cells from oxidative damage, a major contributor to ageing and disease.

Nuts are low in carbs, but high in protein and fibre. Studies show that eating almonds (and other nuts) can increase satiety and help you eat fewer calories.

Did you know that chocolate manufacturers use around 40 percent of world’s total almonds in making delicious and mouth-watering chocolates?

Raw almonds are among the lowest-calorie nut and guess what? It’s easy to make your own almond milk. The same milk that we are using in this week’s $5 ‘Peaches & Cream’ Juiced @ The Wicket special. The process essentially involves soaking almonds in water overnight or for up to two days — the longer you soak the almonds, the creamier the milk will be. Drain and rinse the nuts from their soaking water and grind them with fresh water. The resulting liquid, drained from the almond meal, is almond milk.

Real, fresh, very tasty almond milk is a game-changer!

DSC 1881  SUPERFOOD SERIES: Almonds

Biological control using ladybugs

Posted by on 30th November 2017

Brasserie garden 11  Biological control using ladybugs

Did you know that the little ladybug could be one of the best friends you ever have in your garden?

Known for their love of aphids, a single ladybug is capable of consuming up to 50 to 60 aphids per day but will also eat a variety of other insects and larvae including scales, mealy bugs, leaf hoppers, mites, and various types of soft-bodied insects.

“I propagate ladybugs to control aphids and stop them eating the plants here in Cricket Square.”

The Brasserie’s head gardener who is also a qualified biologist, Aide Lopez, speaks animatedly about her recent visit to Mexico City to attend the National Congress of Biological Control.

Biological control is an environmentally sound and effective means of reducing or mitigating pests and pest effects through the use of natural enemies. It’s a sustainable and environmentally compatible pest management system, that avoids using pesticides.

“An example is the use of bamboo sticks to join one plant to the next like mini bridges, allowing ants to move from one leafy green to the next, foraging on nuisance insects.”

Some vegetables, herbs and flowers benefit each other by improving soil, while others deter pests from one another. Companion planting, another technique that Aide has implemented in the organic vegetable gardens, provides a fascinating blueprint for a higher garden yield.

“Eggplants and tomatoes are from the same family and therefore they will attract the same pests, creating an even bigger problem than if they were planted on their own. Some plants repel insect pests with their scent. Aroma can also be used to mask the scent of your main crop, effectively hiding them from predators.

“Corn and beans work well together. The beans break down the nitrogen, helping the corn to soak up this element in the soil.”

Beauveria bassiana is a fungus that grows naturally in soils throughout the world and also acts as a parasite on various arthropod species; therefore used as a biological insecticide to control a number of pests such as termites, thrips and whiteflies.

Next time you walk through Cricket Square or find yourself in The Brasserie’s greenhouse, look around, and see nature at work doing what it does best!

 

 

SUPERFOOD SERIES: Turmeric

Posted by on 28th November 2017

Did you know India is world’s largest producer of turmeric? In fact, as much as up to 90 percent of the world’s total turmeric production comes only from India.

Look at our fresh turmeric (below) harvested from The Brasserie garden. Turmeric has a very similar appearance to that of ginger. However if you break open a piece of turmeric the inside has a brilliant orange-yellow hue. Ginger has a brownish colour.

Turmeric comes from the Curcuma longa plant, which grows in India and other Southeast Asian countries. The dried root of the Curcuma longa plant is ground into the distinctive yellow turmeric powder. There are several chemical compounds found in turmeric, known as curcuminoids. The active substance in turmeric is curcumin.

The amazing health benefits of turmeric include its ability to reduce inflammation, heal wounds, improve skin health, protect cognitive abilities, and ease menstrual difficulties. Turmeric also helps eliminate depression, alleviate pain, slow the aging process, protect the digestive tract, and prevent cancer.

Turmeric helps keep your skin healthy in many ways. It keeps pimples at bay by inhibiting the growth of pimple-causing bacteria and reducing the oil secretion by the sebaceous glands. The constant use of turmeric clears acne scars, which makes your skin flawless and glowing. Its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties accelerate the healing of a cut and soothe skin irritation. Turmeric’s major component curcumin, loaded with antioxidants, fights signs of aging like wrinkles and pigmentation by curbing the growth of free radicals.

The golden spice, turmeric, helps accelerate the metabolism rate and lets your body burn a significant number of calories, leading to weight loss. It is also useful in reducing fat mass and detoxification of the liver, which are essential contributors when it comes to diet-induced weight loss efforts.

One of the most well-known applications of turmeric is as an anti-inflammatory agent. The active ingredients in turmeric are extensive but a particularly crucial compound is curcumin. This substance has received considerable attention in the medical community due to its potent anti-inflammatory abilities. In fact, the strength of this substance is likened to some of the strongest pharmaceutical options for reducing inflammation. For this reason, consuming turmeric is often suggested for the reduction of arthritic pain, gout, and muscle pain following exercise or injury.

Turmeric has long been used as a stomach soother and is particularly useful for constipation, cramping, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Power up your Juiced @ The Wicket smoothie with turmeric and reap the numerous health benefits that stem from this root gem.

Tumeric 25 July 2017  SUPERFOOD SERIES: Turmeric

SUPERFOOD SERIES: Conch

Posted by on 7th November 2017

conch  SUPERFOOD SERIES: Conch

Look at that beloved Caribbean mollusk, the queen conch (pronounced “konk”).

The large marine snail—technically a gastropod mollusk—represents a huge part of Cayman culture. Their gorgeous pink spiral shells are widely found on our beaches. The fleshy, chewy meat is sliced and diced into fritters, salads, chowder, burgers, pasta, and handheld patties; it’s battered and deep-fried; it’s even scored (“scorched”) and eaten raw.

Conch ceviche (pictured below) is now featuring on The Brasserie menu, coinciding with the start of Cayman’s conch season on 1 November 2017.

For 65 million years, conchs have dwelled in the warm, mostly shallow waters of our planet. Their habitat of choice is just one factor contributing to their currently dwindling numbers—pollution has led to the degradation of their preferred seagrass beds, and shallow waters, where juveniles in particular cluster, are all too easy for humans to infiltrate. One estimate suggests that out of 400,000 offspring, fewer than one conch will survive into adulthood. This alarming statistic, coupled with other environmental and human pressures, signals a worrying time for the queen conch.

The Cayman Islands’ Department of Environment conducts an annual conch survey to monitor the success of marine parks and replenishment zones in stabilising existing populations. In addition, they continue to recommend a reduction in legal catch limits to supplement their efforts and help protect the queen conch for future generations. As mentioned above, conch season is closed 1 May through 31 October, with a catch limit of five per person or ten per boat per day, whichever is less.

Conch has a high nutritional value, making it one of our local superfoods. Conch is a good source of protein, but it also supplies a wealth of key vitamins and minerals including iron, vitamin B12, selenium folate and vitamin E, as well as being low in fat and carbohydrates.

The calcinated conch shell of Turbinella pyrum consists of calcium, iron and magnesium. It is well known in Ayurvedic medicine for its antacid and digestive properties.

Did you know that blowing conch shells is said to exercise the thyroid glands and vocal cords, thus acting as a natural solution to speech issues, including stammering problems? It’s also believed that blowing conch shells can be great exercise for the facial muscles and reduce wrinkles. And if you want to achieve that flawless glow, massage your face with water from a conch shell!

Click here for our mouthwatering farm-to-table Brasserie menus that include Chef Artemio’s delicious conch ceviche, only available until 30 April and the duration of Cayman’s conch season.

DSC 1697  SUPERFOOD SERIES: Conch

The Art of Coffee

Posted by on 2nd November 2017

“You have to invest and be committed to quality.”

In January 2009, the Brasserie Market opened its doors and became the second espresso outlet on Grand Cayman, and the only location on island, to host an extensive barista training program led by freelance coffee consultant, Erin Hulbert.

Erin is from the coffee homeland of Seattle.

“I am a purest. I love the transparency – from the bean, through processing, to the cup – coffee is a ritual for me. It’s a time to gather with friends and family. It’s part of our culture.”

She wrote the coffee menu, trained staff, talked to press, hosted a “public cupping” (just like a wine tasting but with coffee) and introduced Barrington Roasting Coffee to The Brasserie and the Cayman Islands.

This was the start of The Brasserie Barista Program.

After six hours a day of steaming milk, mastering espresso fundamentals, diligently learning cleaning routines, coffee origins, and preparation methods, my team of baristas were well on their way of becoming the only residents on Cayman to fully understand and execute perfect espresso as an art. As the doors officially opened on January 11, I watched these new coffee enthusiasts’ eyes light up with each sip of perfectly mastered microfoam, reminding me how much I love my job. – An extract from ‘Bringing Coffee to Grand Cayman by Training Four Baristas in Two Weeks’ by Erin Hulbert, Serious Eats.

Since then, Erin says she has trained over 30 through the Program. She visits the island twice every year and trains four people every trip over a 10-day period. “What I cover with them in 10 days, would normally take six months.”

“I am continually challenging The Brasserie baristas to learn new skills on every visit, from taste, milk texture and temperature to the final quest, latte art,” says Erin.

“When teaching the techniques of milk texturising, the end product swirling in the pitcher should resemble a fresh can of white paint; thick, glossy and bubble-free. That’s my perfect cappuccino memory.

“I’m teaching baristas not just what to do but why they do what they do. We need to understand the complexities of making coffee so should we need to fix something, we are familiar. Just like learning a language – you don’t just start learning the vocabulary, but also what you need to create sentences, like grammar.

“You don’t want to stand in the way of the espresso. You should be able to taste the coffee, not the barista. The barista is just there to facilitate the coffee process.”

A stand out for The Brasserie is its emphasis on cleanliness.

“The coffee machines are cleaned every hour on the hour. Oils from the beans adhere to the surfaces and those oils will go rancid if left, making the coffee taste old and earthy no matter the quality of beans. Cleanliness is the most efficient and effective method for maintaining equipment.”

New participants to The Brasserie Barista Program train with Erin for 30 hours – this is the preliminary training period. After “passing the Bar Exam”, which is a written and practical exam at the end of the 10-day training, the trainees each continue to be mentored for one week every month over a three-month period before they pass the Program and are certified to make coffee for The Brasserie customers.

“I expect a lot from my trainees. Not everyone passes The Brasserie Barista Program. I’m here to move the company forward, set it up for success and maintain a high standard of quality,” says Erin.

“When I return six months later, everyone who takes part in the last Program must pass the written and practical exam again.

“In the practical exam, trainees make every drink on the coffee menu and the written exam is based on the manual that I wrote for The Brasserie. For example: What is the ideal temperature for extracting espresso? Why do we serve ristretto?

“At the end of this course all of those employees that pass can confidently go anywhere and understand how espresso works. This can be a blessing and a curse. It opens your eyes up to things that you may not have understood or seen before.”

Erin’s top tip for barista excellence is to stay present.

“Every time you pour a drink, it’s a training moment.”

What about her favourite type of coffee?

“I always opt for an Americano. You can get a real indication of what the coffee is like. I call this American artisan – we have taken ideas from Italy, modelled their flavor profile and then made it our own.

“There are things about different coffee varieties that I love. American coffees share the familiar traits of your morning cup. They are known for their balance and even temperament. The African bean sparkles and adds adventure and excitement to our daily lives. Some Ethiopian beans smell and taste like fresh blueberry pie, while some Kenyan beans can taste so juicy that they make me feel like I’m drinking a Capri sun. Asian coffees are known for having the most curves. They are full bodied with a syrupy mouth feel. These coffees are richer, thicker and exotic with dark chocolate, bold nuttiness and subtle earthy tones.”

And then there’s always the hot topic, for baristas and coffee drinkers alike, of how to steam milk properly.

“I can sit across the room from a barista and tell exactly what texture will appear just by the sound of the aerating milk. Make sure you have cold milk and an even colder pitcher. This low starting temperature allows a longer steaming window, which provides optimal texture.”

Let’s not share all Erin’s secrets though. You’ll need to come to the Market and Restaurant and taste our coffee for yourself!