Caye Caulker's Cool Art & Tastefest

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 15, No. 19            May 12, 2005

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What began as a modest plan to help promote their humble island during the slow season, now promises to be an annual event that people from all over the country will look forward to each year. Last weekend, the Caye Caulker Village Council Marketing Committee held the first annual Caye Caulker Cool Art & Tastefest. The weekend event was kicked-off on Friday evening with a wine tasting and artist reception, which was hosted by Seaside Cabañas. In a lovely poolside setting, a variety of Chilean wines were served for sample, along with a delicious spread of appetizers that were carefully prepared to complement each wine by Habaneros Restaurant. The finishing touch was a mouth watering mocha-cappuccino cheesecake, prepared by Tim Stapleton, of EAT Dessert. While the crowd mingled participating artists displayed their work, and many enjoyed the opportunity to meet the people behind the art. Oil paintings, photographs and pencil drawings were some of the pieces displayed.

    The Art and Tastefest was held on Saturday, with the festivities taking place at the seaside basketball pavilion, underneath a grand tent. With 22 contestants showcasing their favorite recipes and competing for title and prizes, participants had the tough task of tasting, and judging all that was offered. For $5 a category or $20 for all, over 200 "Tastefest judges" sampled foods from four different categories: entrée, salad, drink and dessert. Some judges found it so tough to pick a favorite that they were forced to return to the table for second servings. One little boy from Caye Caulker had to "judge" the deserts three times before deciding on a winner! All the food was delicious and it made judging a real challenge. After tummies and taste buds were satiated, the judges cast their votes for their favorite foods. In some categories the competition was very close, with some winning by just a single vote!

    In the entrée category the first place award went to the Victoria House from San Pedro. This nationally recognized resort has an award winning restaurant, and the Victoria House culinary staff did not disappoint. The judges agreed that their Cumin rubbed pork tenderloin on sweet corn repas with lime mojo and smoky plantain cream was the best of the best.

    Heather Martin from Tsunami Adventures in Caye Caulker won first place in the salad category. Heather was encouraged by friends to enter her signature salad in the competition, and with good reason, her Tropical Salad was enthusiastically received by the judges! The fresh salad consisted of Romaine lettuce tossed with local cashews, pineapple, Caye Caulker coconut, and pineapple vinaigrette dressing.

    The drink category consisted of four alcoholic drinks and one non-alcoholic tea. The names for these concoctions were as colorful as they looked. Judges had the tough duty of sampling the likes of Seaside Sunrise, Epileptic Squid, Pink Pussy, Passionate Iguana and Mint Hibiscus Tea Cooler. After close scrutiny the judges picked the Seaside Sunrise from Seaside Cabañas as their number one choice. This fruity, melon flavored libation was cool and colorful, making a perfect Caribbean cocktail.

    Much to the crowds delight, there were several desserts entries to sample. Needless to say this category was VERY popular. The winning ballot went to Tim Stapleton of the newly formed business, EAT Dessert. Tim's Coco plum cheesecake was a delicious treat, and he plans to expand his business commercially. A "cheesecake" connoisseur, some of Tim's other specialties include Peanut butter Cup Cheesecake and a "Blue Hole" Coconut Cheesecake.

    During the day artisans were on-hand, exhibiting their colorful and unique artwork. A variety of mediums were represented, from oil paintings, pencil and ink drawings, wood carvings, hand crafted jewelry and photographs.

    Henri Dunster, who lives in Belmopan, has been drawing Mayan ruins for the last 30 years. Some of his intricate, detailed drawings are the only reproductions of certain ruins and steles in Belize that have now deteriorated beyond repair. Mr. Dunster told The San Pedro Sun that some of his drawings have been added to historical archives to help preserve records of these ancient structures. Mr. Dunsten was proudly exhibiting many of his detailed pencil drawings. San Pedro's own "Island Dog", Michael Gvara, was also there displaying his whimsical cartoon art as well as his more serious tropical drawings. Other artists at the festival included Dorothy Vernon-Medina, Edwin Piva, Image Factory, Manolo Daza, Michael Waight, Nadine Pedoe, Nelson Young Jr., Nigel Swift and Pamela Braun. The art exhibit continued through Sunday, and was well attended by people from San Pedro and Belize City. Many of the artists noticed good sales on Sunday afternoon.

    Caye Caulker Village Council Chairman, Alberto Villanueva, told The San Pedro Sun that he was very happy with the turn out for the event. He credited the success to the many volunteers and committee members who were instrumental in making the weekend happen. He mentioned that Lee Vanderwalker and Irene Miller were key players in organizing the event. Ms. Vanderwalker said that although the project was a lot of work, the volunteer help was tremendous and everybody did their job. The end result was very rewarding and the Caye Caulker Marketing Committee looks forward to hosting the event again next May.

    The San Pedro Sun would like to thank the people of Caye Caulker for inviting us to this wonderful weekend event and for their warm and generous hospitality. It was an honor to be your guests and we applaud the community's effort to market and promote their lovely "Isla Carinosa".
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