ITAUKEI fine dining under the stars, strengthened by the re-enactment of a ceremony lost since the introduction of Christianity, took guests at Castaway Island Resort back in time on the third day of the country's inaugural Food Safari.
Celebrity chef Lance Seeto said since arriving in Fiji, his life had changed. A paradigm shift from the trappings of Western civilisation to an appreciation of the basic tenets of Fijian life, appreciation of what little one had and embracing and respecting the deeply-rooted culture and care-free lifestyle of the people.
"And this is what I wanted to share with our international guests," he said.
"You have to experience Fiji and rub shoulders with the people. You have to be immersed in the food and culture to truly appreciate what Fiji is all about."
Traditional iTaukei everyday meals took an in international twist. However, presentation did not compromise taste and Seeto utilised the various skills of his kitchen staff.
"Because of their meticulous attention to detail, I got the Fijian boys of Indian descent to do the arrangements and presentations while the iTaukei boys determined the authenticity in regards to taste and texture. The combination worked.
"Our international guests got to sample something they would otherwise never have got an opportunity to try."
The rich and exciting flavours of a rourou soup starter followed by chef Seeto's version of a local favourite, deconstructed kokoda walu and a tanoa of waci poki was washed down with the juice of fresh coconuts.
In what could only be described as an innovative approach to the Fijian earth oven, Peking duck followed lovo Fijian pork accompanied by kumala adorned with passionfruit juice dressing and cassava chips.
The palate was cleansed with a watermelon and granite refresher before a household favourite, ika vakalolo, was served poached in fresh coconut milk on a dalo medallion with sautéed Fijian greens.
Drau ni moli prepared the taste buds for chef Seeto's take on Fijian desserts — coconut kamikamica, qalu vakalolo and vudi vakasoso.
"Guests at our resort were amazed by the variety and freshness of Fijian cuisine, many having tried it for the very first time despite visiting Castaway and Fiji for many years," he said.