St Maarten/St Martin
15 December 2004 Newsletter

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Trip report: Wendy K reported on 17 Nov that after several rainy days, it finally seems to have cleared out. The seas are still rough though. We've been just once to Cupecoy, and of course the sand has shifted back & forth several times. Mullet has been beautiful, with great waves.

Lots of work happening on the island. In addition to the new airport addition and the Cliffs, Rainbow Beach, & Aqua Marina, they've cleared lots of land in the Cupecoy area and have poured a foundation for what we surmise will be a sales office for Orient Express on the corner across from the Cupecoy dumpster. They put a round-about at the turn off for Sunset Beach Bar and were repaving the road between there and the airport yesterday. Today they are paving in Nettle Bay.

We had a fabulous meal at Mario’s Bistro last week. Last night we went, with Jeri, who is renting Banana Cabana from Toufiq, to Le Marrekech, his new restaurant in Marigot. He's done a wonderful job decorating the place, with a sultan's tent over the bar area. There are tables inside, where there's a/c, and outside in the courtyard. We tried 3 different appetizers and each had a different tajine. I had chicken with lemons, Tony had lamb with eggplant caviar, and Jeri had lamb with prunes and almonds. We also had a bottle of Moroccan cabernet that was quite surprisingly good. We will go back.

The restaurant in Maho that was called "Le Charme" is now called Terra, and the chef/owner is the former chef at Citrus who was arrested for not having working papers. Apparently he got everything straightened out. I haven't been by to look at the menu there yet, but will soon.

Today was my first day wandering around Marigot, and I was surprised at the number of little shops that have closed. (ESK note: Remember the last newsletter when we speculated that Bar de le Mer 's closing may have been hastened by the high euro. This may be more of the same.) Front Street is nearly finished, and as much as I dislike going to Phillipsburg, I have to say it's going to be VERY nice. All in all, the island looks very good - green and reasonably clean.

The French are paving the road from Nettle Bay to the bridge and the round-about is finished in Maho. Now if they could only do something with the traffic in Simpson Bay. What a mess! It took us 45 min, at 6:00pm to get from our house to Peg Leg Pub for a TTOL party on 23 Nov. We had dinner later at Bistro Nu. Haven't been there for more than a year. It was as good as ever, but not very busy. I think the French side is really being hurt by the weak dollar.

Trip report: Sharon B reported on 20 Nov that the island was having an unusual amount of rain. She found Pineapple Pete's in Cole Bay, Jimbo's in the Simpson Bay Yacht Club and The Bridge in Sandy Ground to 3 restaurants to be even better than last year. At Jimbo's you can swim, get great Tex-Mex food and awesome fishbowls of Margaritas.

Front Street report: Veronique at Antoine Restaurant reports on 5 December that they had three difficult months with the road construction: big mess and no business. But fortunately the new Frontstreet is almost completed (see pictures) and last night they put the Christmas light in all the trees. It was just beautiful! All of our customers are coming back and many cruise ship visitors also. The weather is just great with some showers sometimes but not terribly wet, almost perfect. Traffic on the island is worsening, but the Dutch side is trying to fix the problems, as noted above and by the Herald says this article.

Grand Case: Gerald Romani, owner of Escapade Restaurant and head of the Grand Case Restaurateurs Association, reports that private security has been hired all year long and Harmony Nights starts up again on 11 January 11th running until 26 April. He also reports a new chef and new menu and wine list for his restaurant. The website has not been changed to reflect these changes yet.

Sailing: Neil on Celine has set up a charter on the Saturday of the Heineken Regatta (5 March 2005). At $75 per person, it includes a complete day on the sea with all food and drink. It is a long way off, but the island gets pretty crowded and the charter boats fill up. If you want a front row seat for the action, go to Neil's website, check out the regatta page, and send him an email reservation.

Concerts: Just a reminder that Bamboo Bernies has confirmed Kool and The Gang in concert on Saturday, December 18.

Photo feature: There are some new photos featuring sights in Marigot or on the drive to Marigot in a secrest location not posted here. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the location. . Don't forget to check out the pictures of Front Street.


The contest for the $100 gift certificate at Rainbow Cafe is still available for a few more days. This newsletter is a bit early because we are flying down to the island on 14 December. I rather doubt that I'll be able to get my internet access sorted out in one day. Nonetheless, Chez Pat/Tropical Wave is sponsoring the new contest, running from 16 December to 6 January. Both contests are running now. Just click their name to go to the appropriate website, find the link to sign up for the SXM-Info newsletter and contest, click it, sign up, and you are entered. Obviously everybody that is getting this email is already signed up for the newsletter, but you are not automatically signed up for the contest. You really do have to go to their website and click the email link to show you visited their site. 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. The prize is $100 off a day at the beach: food, drinks, chairs, windsurf lessons, etc.

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:

Marci's Mega Gym - 7 January to 27 January 2005 - a week of gym usage for two

California Restaurant - 28 January to 17 February 2005

Escargot Restaurant - 18 February to 4 March 2005
Hot Tomatoes - 5 March to 26 March 2005

The Horny Toad Guesthouse - 27 March to 24 April 2005 - seven low season days for the price of five

Celine Pub Crawl - 25 April to 5 June 2005 - two tickets on the Lagoon Pub Crawl

Escapade Restaurant - 6 June to 17 July 2005


On 15 Nov the euro was at 1.295 and today it's at 1.322. 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. We will publish a list of them in the next newsletter. However, they change frequently. Some restaurants have lowered their prices. 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 to do complex financial calculations, so don't worry about it too much.

Dining around: We took a trip from home down to Pawleys Island, SC, to Titusville and Tallahassee, FL, and back. we are always looking for something that isn't a chain as we travel, so if you get to Dumfries, VA near Quantico, check out Tiziano Restaurant. It's close to I-95 and reminded me a lot of Il Nettuno in Grand Case. no there wasn't a view of Anguilla, but the food was similar. In Pawleys Island we went to Frank's Restaurant on route 17 just after the light if you are coming down from Myrtle Beach. Martha's brother, Pierce Culliton, has been the executive chef there for over a decade, turning out some of the tastiest food I have ever had outside of my own home. Martha taught him everything he knows - NOT, but they do discuss food and have similar ideas. After that we made it to Titusville, a restaurant wasteland, saved only by Dixie Crossroads. Fine dining on linen will not be found here, but if you like seafood (wild rock shrimp rather than farm-raised mush) you can't do better than this. In Tallahassee it is possible to get fine restaurant food, but it is also possible to get fine food in great grocery stores. Fresh Market provided some fine beef tenderloin, fresh chanterelles and porcini, and great little red potato creamers. We added a 95 Nuits-San-George and a few more for a great meal at home. Our sole restaurant experience was a trip to Calico Jack's, an oyster bar (and a bit more). On Sunday they sell oysters for 35 cents each. They used to be a quarter for years, but they finally raised prices. Add a few pitchers of beer and a football game and you'll have a great time. We had to drive 10-11 hours per day to make it home before Thanksgiving and were very grateful to find Wildflour in Hollins, VA. It seemed like a scaled down version of Frank's. The dining room wasn't as large and the menu and wine list weren't as large, but there were plenty of interesting combinations on the menu. Martha claims these were the best crabcakes she had on this trip and my lightly blackened ahi tuna on a bed of corn spiced with cumin and smashed potatoes was fantastic.

We took a quick trip to Boston, MA to pick up some wine at The Wine Cask in Somerville. I bought wine here for years as I lived in Cambridge while attending MIT and for almost 20 years as I worked in the area. If you like the French wines and cheeses that we find in SXM, check out the offerings here. It looks slightly better than it did 20 years ago, but it is still the same crowded place, crammed full of good wines at good prices. Wait for their quarterly 20% off sales and everything in the store is a bargain. There are interesting places to eat in the area, but we arrived the night before and had dinner at Icarus in the Boston's now tony South End. It's not cheap, but was just voted the number three restaurant in the Boston Zagat guide. We had dinners of long-cooked shortribs, buttermilk-coated, braised rabbit, duck breast, and salmon. All good, all much like the best on the island, but a bit pricier.

Sorry, no reviews from SXM, but get ready for two to four reviews per week for the next 20 weeks!

Books: Possibly in time for Christmas, check out Harold McGee's updated version of On Food and Cooking. When Mr. McGee began his research 20 years ago for the first edition, he had a Bachelor of Science degree from the California Institute of Technology and a doctorate in English from Yale, where he was teaching literature. On Food and Cooking has sold more than 100,000 copies, and the revised edition includes mostly new material, which reflects both Mr. McGee's further research and American food fashions. "I could never have anticipated that people would have this bottomless appetite for information about chocolate, coffee and tea," he said. "Not to mention foams, caramelization and trans-fats."

Gathering strands of botany, history, animal husbandry, genetics, chemistry, thermodynamics, physiology and physics, On Food and Cooking answered eternal kitchen questions: what makes hollandaise curdle, how onions make us cry, what causes cakes to fall. Some of Mr. McGee's findings challenged the strict rules that still governed cookery at that time, most based on traditional French methods. His assertion that searing meat does not actually "seal in" the juices rocked the culinary world.

Another book that we frequently consult is the Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins. Mr Jenkins currently works at Fairway in NY and many of our friends stop there before bringing cheeses up to our farm. just this week, the book helped us to find out that the Roucoulons that arrived recently was essentially Camembert's formula and ripening process, but as it is made in the Franche-Comté, not Normandy, it has a different name, but a very similar taste. Mr Jenkins even feels it is superior to the pasteurized versions of Camembert that we currently get in the US.

Erich S. Kranz
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