St Maarten/St Martin
6 March 2004 Newsletter

Other newsletters


Weather and Beaches: Saturday turned out to be lovely: clear, warm, calm, and ending with a green flash. Sunday started just as beautiful. The air was so still that the lagoon was glassy, reflecting Stu Leonard's home on Mt Rouge. Even the sea was calm. The air was so clear we could see houses on Saba and Nevis was appearing on the horizon about 90 miles away. As we drove to the gym, the wind switched to the normal NE direction and clouds appeared on the hills to the east. After the gym, we headed for Scavenger's Beach Bar for a photo op and lunch, but drove through a cloudburst. We got there and the sea at Dawn Beach was fairly calm and the beach was in great shape. The sky to the east was bright blue and we were sunny and warm, but the hills to the west were dark gray. We then went to visit Chez Pat on Galion Beach. Again, blue skies to the east, lots of sand, and the usual crowd at such a kid-friendly place. We finally made it to Orient and chatted with Elise at Pedro's Beach Bar before heading down to spread a blanket near the volleyball court. Lots of sand and a fairly calm sea. At about 3PM three lovely ladies wearing nothing but a smile started serving drinks at the Perch. Merely for journalistic purposes, I said I would head over with the camera so I could provide you with the full coverage of island events, but was overruled by Martha. Shortly after that the dark clouds that were perched on the hills behind us headed east over us and we quickly headed home through worsening weather. By the time we got home, we couldn't even see the sun, much less a green flash. Monday arrived in a complete whiteout. Saba is gone and we can hardly see the hills on the far side of Marigot. Tuesday got better, but the wind was still whipping. Wednesday finally produced clear skies, warmer weather, and calmer seas, but Saba is still missing. Thursday is more of the same. Friday, the first day of the regatta, started out rainy, but it was clearing by race time and sunny by lunch time. Saba finally reappeared. Saturday's race started out in a rainstorm but again, it is clearing.
Regatta news: The Heineken Regatta is taking place with multiple classes and multiple races (and multiple parties). They did the round the island race on Friday, a Simpson Bay to Marigot race on Saturday is passing by my balcony at the moment, and tomorrow a Marigot to Simpson Bay race takes place. The link above goes to the official website but I have some photos on the SXM-Activities site taken from our balcony.  
Restaurant news: Bulldog, of the Laser 101 radio show, has caused a commotion by posting a note on TTOL about the quality of the new New Zealand lamb chop dish at Hot Tomatoes. I actually had an earlier version of this last week, but the chef has been tweaking the dish and in its current state it features three or four double marinated lamb chops, grilled, with wonderful portobello mushroom sauce, which I had this week. 
Photo feature: There are some photos of the week's activities at a secret location not posted here. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the location. There is no link from any SXM-Info website and I won't post the address on any bulletin board. There's a pea vine from Cupecoy and some cactus from Oyster Pond. I think there is the Queen Mary 2, world's largest passenger ship, on her maiden voyage into Pburg. Martha disagrees.
Wines:  We went to the Thursday wine tasting at Vinissimo and sampled a white Bordeaux (2002 Ch Reynon), a 98 Domaine de la Bongran Macon-Clessé ($28 and very nice in a crisp way) and a 2001Pouilly-Fuissé Claud-Denogent ($30 and very nice in a full-bodied way). Sylvain then brought out a 2000 Amelia by Concha y Toro. The days of cheap but passable Chilean wines are still here, but this one at $35 made with hand selected grapes from the best vineyards in the Casablanca Valley was outrageously good, full-bodied and long-lasting, heralding the days of expensive, but great wines from Chile. A chef on an a large, but un-named yacht, brought some cheeses that he had delivered from a cheese cave in NYC. One was a Persillé des Tignes, round, crusty on the outside, dry on the inside. One uses a fork to loosen chunks from the center, something like breaking off bits of aged parmesan, releasing lots of complex flavors. A Roquefort was served with the Pouilly-Fuissé to good effect.
Thai Garden is sponsoring the current contest, which will run until March 20. Just go to their website, find the link to sign up for the SXM-Info newsletter, click it, sign up, and you are entered. Obviously everybody that is getting this email is already signed up for the newsletter. Just tell me you are already on our mailing list, and I'll leave you signed up for the newsletter and just add your name to the contest list. You could win a $100 toward a meal for two at Thai Garden.
Here is the list of future sponsors. We urge you all to sign up ONCE for each contest. Our clients want you to see what they have to offer. Go to their websites at the appropriate time, click the link, and you could be a winner. Look for future gift certificates from:
Unity Car Rental - 21 March to 15 April
Temptation Restaurant - 16 April to 16 May
Vacation Suites - 17 May to 30 June - prize: 1 free week over the summer!
L'Auberge Gourmande - 1 July to 15 August
Sunset Café - 16 August to 30 September
Montmartre Restaurant - 1 October to 15 November
Sealine Charters - 16 November to 15 December
Chez Pat/Tropical Wave - 16 December to 6 January
On 28 Feb the euro was at 1.24 and today it's at 1.??. French side restaurants with many costs in dollars and many American (or Canadian) clients have been offering more favorable exchange rates. Some restaurants offer a 1 to 1 exchange. These include California, Escapade, Balaou, Santal, Enoch's Place, Au Beaujolais, Rainbow, Oizeau Rare (spelled correctly this week, I think Bill Gates and his spell checker changed it last week when I wasn't looking. The really funny thing is that the restaurant uses a strange spelling of Oiseau - bird - for the restaurant name, so it's spelled wrong in French also!), and Pirate. Many restaurants will offer you a better rate than you can get on your credit card, so you can allow them to convert and charge in dollars. Note that California only offers 1 to 1 on cash purchases. As always, know what the euro is worth, what the restaurateur is offering for an exchange, and what the costs are on the menu. Finally, you are here to have fun and fine food, not complex financial calculations, so don't worry about it too much. 
As mentioned earlier, on Sunday we went to Scavenger's Beach Bar for a lunch on the beach. Scavenger's motto is: It is what it is. It's a beautiful location, the ur-tropical beach, lots of sand, palm trees, a reef to break the waves, lush hills in the background, and a great view of some nearby rocks and distant St Barts, plus good grill food, good salads, plastic plates, plastic cutlery, paper napkins, and all prices under $10. We had the special: a grilled piece of fresh mahi-mahi with a great potato salad for $10 each. So that's what it is.
On Monday we went to Temptation Restaurant for the second time in four days. No, Dino is not giving away free meals, but the friends who arrived on last Friday and went with us to Montmartre had more friends arriving and bringing a birthday celebration. They asked for the best place close to Pelican and here we were again. I had talked to Dino earlier about wine and he recommended the 2000 Ch Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Chardonnay ($37) and the Australian Rosemount Shiraz and Shiraz-Cab blends ($34 and $25). We started with the Chardonnay and were quite pleased that it tasted like wine, rather rich and buttery, and hardly at all like oak, a common problem on the US west coast where winemakers frequently confuse making good wine with spending lots of money on new wine barrels. We split the home made spinach-ricotta ravioli tossed with basil infused white wine bisque and wild mushrooms ($15) and were thrilled with the textures and tastes: soft raviolis with firm mushrooms in a wonderful creamy sauce. Our friends had a Caesar salad and the seafood ceviche and seemed quite happy. We ordered both of the red wines and our waiter obligingly brought over a dozen glasses so we could have a tasting. We allowed that even though some of us had been married many years, we were still friends and could share glasses for a tasting, conserving valuable table space. I think I liked the Shiraz straight, but I like zinfandel better than cab, so that seems obvious. Our dinners were the beef tenderloin with herb roasted smashed potatoes, Argentine chimi-churri, and cebollita ($33) and the popped black bean crusted sashimi grade tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes, and wild arugula salad with preserved red onions ($31). Our friends had the salmon and mahi-mahi dishes. No complaints anywhere. We ended with two desserts split six ways: the fresh strawberries with three dipping sauces and the chocolate cake which arrived with a discreet candle and a few bars of "Happy Birthday" from the piano player. Coffees and cognac ended a great evening: great food, great service
Tuesday night we went to hear the guitarist at Hot Tomatoes. Martha had the Cornish game hen with jerk spices, quite a tasty little bird, and a bit spicy ($16). Brad had me try the new approach to lamb chops featuring a portobello mushroom sauce and, mushroom lover that I am, I thought it was great (at $25, it's not cheap, but the price of lamb chops in the market isn't cheap either). Brad has just started to get Jaboulet's Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone ($19) and we thought it was great with the full flavors of the lamb and the spicy bird.
After the Thursday wine tasting at Vinissimo, we bought a couple bottles of a 2000 Marsannay from Bruno Clair to go with the farm-raised chicken from France that was waiting for us at home. The euro may be sky-high, but the frozen food case at US Import has some pretty good, yet inexpensive, birds. We mashed a few potatoes, added some truffle oil, some green beans, and oyster mushrooms to a bird rubbed with olive oil, salt, and pepper and had a great meal at home. Slide a few sprigs of fresh rosemary under the skin before you roast it.
On Friday we watched the first part of the Heineken Regatta from our LR balcony. We can see all the way down to Beacon Hill (Caravanserai, Dolphin Casino, and Bamboo Bernies). The boats start in Simpson Bay and round Beacon Hill running past the end of the airport along Mullet Beach, and Cupecoy Beach under our balcony, some with colorful spinnakers flying. We then go to the balcony on the other side of the condo and watch them disappear around the far end of Cupecoy Beach, getting hidden by the Samanna lava flow at the northwestern end of the bay. They emerge on the far side of the lowlands off Sandy Ground. That is generally the end of our Regatta Day but this time we hopped in the car and went to Sunset Café in Grand Case for some more viewing and a lunch with Norm Dysart of Vacation Suites. We were mostly having fun watching the boats, Anguilla, and Créole Rock and having a nice lunch in the sun, but we did finalize his prize in the upcoming contest: for six weeks from 17 May until the end of June, sign up for the contest that Norm is sponsoring, and you will get to stay in one of his units overlooking Oyster Pond for a week anytime before 1 Nov ... free! That's not a $100 prize. That's about $500. Oh yeah, the food. We were just here last week because it's a great lunch spot, so you heard this recently, but they have good salads, good burgers, even a chicken burger, with a fried egg as a possible topping (?), and they had some fresh moules in white wine with onions and parsley. Throw in a great view and the regatta passing by in the warm sunshine, and you'll have a great time.