Weather and Beach report:
Saturday was another beautiful day with a great sunset. Sunday morning
was a bit hazy, which cleared out but clouds rolled in - no rain. Monday it was
solid gray and raining. Happy Valentine's
Day! Stayed that way most of the day. Tuesday broke
ugly, but cleared by noon for a fabulous day at Cupecoy. Wednesday was the
opposite starting quite nicely but deteriorating to clouds and sprinkles.
Thursday was fab and Friday was the same, although the waves were kicking up!
Still no sand at the far end of Cupecoy, but the cove is fine, there is a bit at
Sapphire and plenty under Cliffhanger.
Orient is looking better than ever.
Sailing: Neil on
Celine has set up a charter on the Saturday of
Regatta (5 March 2005). At $75 per person, it includes a
complete day on the sea with all food and drink. We start with a champagne
breakfast as we exit the lagoon on the 9:00 AM opening. Chicken and ribs will be
available for lunch. We return late in the afternoon after a great day on the
water among the boats. 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. As his email is frequently lost in cyberspace, I have included my
address there, and I see him frequently. Currently there are 18 confirmed
signups and four maybes for a trip that is being capped at 20 participants.
This week's feature is in a secret location not posted here. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the location. It
has the a shot of
Saba in the late afternoon and the sunset taken on 12 Feb from The Horny Toad
Guesthouse. There are several shots of Cupecoy Beach, including the
large beach beneath Cliffhanger. There's
a final shot of Lambada going out on her sunset sail.
The winner of the California
Restaurant contest is Jennie Smith. Escargot Restaurant
the contest that runs from 18 February to 4 March 2005, giving $100 toward a dinner for two. Just click
their name to go to their website, find the contest code and the link to our new
signup form, fill it out, click send, 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.
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:
Tomatoes - 5 March to 26 March 2005 -
Celine Pub Crawl - 25 April to 5 June 2005 - two
tickets on the Lagoon Pub Crawl
too busy, sorry
On 5 Feb the euro was at 1.293 and
today it is at 1.307. Our recent gains
have evaporated. 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 got that
at Escapade, Bikini
du Soleil, California,
Gourmande, and La Marine. We
Cafe, Balaou, Santal,
Sebastiano, and Marlin's Cafe were offering the same. Note that some only offer
this rate for cash. We will let you know about other places as we find
them. 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: I got an email from WendyK on TTOL
saying her new favorite restaurant in the Durreche style is La Pichounette, in
Concordia, next to Pain du Soleil, amongst a row of restaurants. Very "Paris",
as we are told by our French neighbor, Laurence. The chef/owner was formerly at
Sol e Luna, and the menu is similar to Bistro Nu, with some very "French" dishes
such as langue de boeuf, riz de veau, and tripes. It's a limited blackboard
menu that's been different every time we've gone. Nice veggies and great roasted
potatoes. Last night Tony & Laurence had cioppino, which contained mussels,
scallops, salmon, octopus, and shrimp surrounding a scoop of rice. Bernhard had
foie de veau with shallots, and I had a delicious magret de canard. With 2
bottles of wine, a bottle of water and 2 desserts of Spanish strawberries with
ice cream, chantilly cream, and fresh raspberries, and 1 espresso, the bill
came to 100 euros. They don't take credit cards. Only about 10 tables.
We had Valentine's
brunch at the Horny Toad
. I should make it clear that all these lunches and
dinners at the Toad are private affairs for guests at the Toad and Betty's
invited friends. If you stay there for a week you will probably experience one
of these parties as Betty is always ready to have a good time at the beach. Mary's Boon
, just down the
street, does dinners on the beach for anyone by reservation
we went to Lal's Indian Cuisine
authentic Indian food. Not very romantic? It's got a lagoon view! Actually,
we thought we'd avoid crowds, but it was pretty full and Lal warned us that it
would take an hour to get food! Lal's is full of locals, so we spent the hour
talking to Cathy from the Endless
beach attire shop and Judy, previously at Sapphire here
and in the US, but now the new owner of Island Reps. Eventually,
we had an onion kulcha, flat bread with onions, a chicken tikki, tender
chicken in a red sauce, and lamb vindaloo - all good. Lal has some of the best
rock and roll music and best beer on the island: Leffe and Stella Artois from
Belgium. Our four beers food and rice came to $30. He even has a small parking
lot where the Stop and Shop used to be. We use him or Café
as our airport waiting lounge. Lal has a coupon for a
free bucket of Heineken on his site.
We talked to Leroy (King Beau Beau) and Anne-Marie (his wife)
at their new restaurant, Beau
, at the Oyster Bay Beach
. The resort looks good and the restaurant has some fabulous
views from the deck. They are just finishing up their new website and put up a
coupon for a free drink with a meal.
We talked to Bernard at The Wharf
. They are now offering 15% off on meals from 5:30
until 7:30 Monday through Thursday. There is still a band every night.
Their first set from 7:00 to 9:00 is at the entrance and at 9:30 they move
inside for after-dinner dancing. On Sunday there is body painting (keep your
clothes on) from 5:30 until 11:00 and a Limbo party from 8:30 until 9:30. The
big news is a TTOL party with various pizzas, chicken wings, and mozzarella
sticks available from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the end of March (exact
date to be confirmed). We can have the dance floor, next to the bar for the
party. After 8 we should start to move to tables for dinner but everyone is free
We had our real Valentine's
at home with an Angus Beef stew. The beef came from Grand Marche
Pburg. The wine was a fabulous 1999 Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers from Bruno
Clair that we got at Vinissimo
On Wednesday we went to Thai
for some very tasty sushi, sashimi, and Thai cuisine.
There were four of us and we started with combination sushi/sashimi platter.
There is a new sushi chef this year and the platter seemed better than ever. The
fish was very fresh and the chef's rainbow roll with fish, seaweed, cucumber,
and avocado was an explosion of flavors and textures. For our main courses we
had very tender calamari and ginger, flavorful beef with mushrooms, and two
shrimp dishes: green curry and musaman with lots of vegetables. We added two
bottles of Sylvaner, a white grape similar to gewurztraminer, from Alsace. It
stood up to the exotic flavors in our dinners. Prime sushi is not cheap, but our
dinner for four came in at about $200. Vincent agreed to sponsor another
SXM-Info contest and has been added to the list.
On Thursday we went to Montmartre
at Atlantis Casino. There were four of us and we
started with the usual 1997 Beaune Champ Pimonts, which is a very good Burgundy
with a bit of age. We split up two aps: foie gras terrine with toast points and
the tuna and scallops on a brioche. Our friends got to try the Monbazillac sweet
wine with the foie gras and were pleasantly surprised as the two luscious tastes
complemented each other perfectly. Our dinners were the capon leg stuffed with
foie gras, hare in a very good red wine sauce, rack of lamb, and duck
confit. Most dinners came with a squash puree, a potato gratin, broccoli,
roasted garlic, and carrots. The hare came with fettuccini,
ratatouille, and a roasted tomato. I have raved about the capon leg so
much that all our guests get it. Consequently, I look for other things on the
menu. The rack of lamb was well worth finding. The hare, like the capon leg, had
a bit of foie gras in the center. A capon is most of a rooster raised a bit
longer, giving it a bit more flavor. The hare has darker, more flavorful meat
than rabbit. Montmartre tends to have these more flavorful dishes on the
menu and then adds foie gras for even more flavor. Our friends had creme
brulee with raspberries and a pineapple surprise for desserts and they seemed
quite happy. Coffees and Armagnac finished off a wonderful evening.
On Friday night we went to Hibiscus
very interesting dinner. Thierry Delaunay fuses cuisines from around
the world, and having picked up some of the dishes and concepts from his
now-closed Charme Restaurant in Maho, he presents them on amazing serving
dishes. Previously, he used fantastic china from Faience, France, his home town.
These colorful plates are still there but now he has added the whimsy that
existed at Charme to the repertoire. We had a bottle of 1999 Fixin from Fougeray
de Beauclair (49 euros), a light burgundy that we felt would be quite good
with a tuna ap, a pork dish, and a parmentier of lobster. First, of course,
Thierry delivered an amuse bouche: a small bowl of chilled sweet potato and
saffron soup. We had ordered a "marbre" of tuna tartare with an avocado cream
topping (hint of wasabi?) with wakame seaweed in a cucumber shell, sun-dried
tomato bits, and a sesame crusted bit of puff pastry. "Marbre" means marble and
we had no idea what this really meant. It turns out that the whimsy from Le
Charme exerted itself as the tuna was delivered on a "plate" of stone. Truth in
advertising requires me to say it was polished granite, not marble, but chefs
only have to know about food. The sushi platter, served only on weekends when
fresh fish is arriving from France, is served on an even larger chunk of
granite. Our dinners were a pork tenderloin with oyster mushrooms and a creamy
emulsion of goat cheese, a crottin de Chavignol. The dish was quite tasty with
the tenderest of pork, layered with minced veg and mushrooms all flavored
with a goat cheese sauce. Steven Jenkins in his Cheese
as horseball and he is
correct. It is the shape
of the goat cheese from Chavignol that
is being referenced. Martha had the parmentier of lobster in sandalwood essence.
means garnished or made with potatoes, named after Frenchman
Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (see tedious potato dissertation below). In
this case, the potatoes were mashed sweet potatoes containing lobster bits
and sandalwood essence. It was all held in a rough circle by snow peas. Both
dishes arrived on strange plates. The website has photos, so that will save me
2000 words. Both dishes also were quite flavorful and were not overpowered by
the Fixin. We ended with coffees, a ten year old rum, and a platter of
cookies (no charge). Our bill for dinner was 70 euros, plus 49 euros for the
expensive wine. There were quite good wines in the 30 to 40 euro range. Thierry
uses a realistic exchange for the euro, but the prices are quite good. It is a
very cute restaurant (not on the water) and for those interested in new taste
combinations, this is one of the best places on the island.
Tedious Potato Dissertation: The potato did
not exist in Europe until the Spanish brought it back from Peru around 1550. It
traveled around the Spanish Caribbean and the Mediterranean, but not to England
(and Ireland!). One story is that Raleigh, reprovisioning in the Caribbean,
got some, brought them to Virginia, and by 1590 they had made it to
England but were thought to have originated in Virginia. As potatoes are
not mentioned in the Bible, many protestants wouldn't plant them or eat them.
The Irish Catholics sprinkled them with holy water and planted them on Good
Friday. Stories circulated saying that they were an aphrodisiac (Shakespeare's
Merry Wives of Windsor) or poisonous. They are part of the solanum
or nightshade family, containing tomatoes and deadly nightshade. Certainly one
should not eat any of these leaves and the admonition to avoid green spots on
potatoes is based on the high arsenic contest in those spots. Count Rumford (of
fireplace fame) was hired to determine how to feed prisoners cheaply in
Bavaria and had to disguise the fact that he was putting potatoes into their
gruel. Parmentier - remember parmentier? - This is a story about Parmentier
- was a French Army officer imprisoned in Hamburg during the Seven Years
War, where he was fed potatoes. After his release, he convinced King Louis XVI
and the court to try them. He then planted huge fields of potatoes near Paris
surrounded by ditches and patrolled by guards. The fields were lightly
guarded at night (on purpose) and the local peasants, thinking the produce must
be quite valuable, snuck in, stole the seed, and planted it in their own
gardens. The potato became more and more popular such that any dish in France
that uses potatoes frequently has the word parmentier associated with it.
Tedious Wine Dissertation: We received an
email asking how to learn about wine. Martha and I agree that the best way to
become knowledgeable about wine is by drinking a lot. Not too much, as you may
forget something, but a lot. Seriously, the best way is to find a wine store
with a knowledgeable person and let them guide you. When I was 22 I walked into
a store in Cambridge, MA (it was Savenor's, where Julia Child shopped, very
close to my apartment) and told Joe that I knew very little about wine
but wanted a mixed case in the $3 price range. A lot of wine has passed
somewhere since then, so let's update the price point. I think that you could
find drinkable wine at $10, decent stuff at $15, and quite good wine below
We also think you need a cellar, small closet, or something that will hold
at least three cases. You'll get a case discount, making it a bit cheaper and
even at $15 average price, your investment will be less than one airfare to SXM.
You don't have to store them forever, but it's nice to be able to choose a wine
for dinner and it's nice to be able to try a different bottle if you didn't like
the first with your dinner. Put a cork in the one you didn't like and try it
with something else. It helps to write down which ones you liked so you can get
more on your next visit. Moreover, a good wine shop can then use that knowledge
to recommend something else.
After you get some wine, it is important to taste wines together. In
this case, we mean together as in a couple wines (at least) and
together as in a couple people who talk about what they like and don't like in
what they are tasting. Obviously, if you can get another couple or two
interested, you can open more wines and have more discussion. Add some cheese
and have a great time. Nobody is right. Nobody is wrong. I like Burgundy, most
people think Bordeaux is the best wine in the world, Parker gave a Rhone the
first 100 rating. Most of what they are talking about is beyond everyone in the
$15 range anyway. The important thing is to find wines that you like with the
foods that you eat in a price range that suits your pocketbook.
Repeat until satisfied! Have fun!
To do this in a small way on the island, print out the coupon on Vinissimo's
website, go in and taste
some wines, discuss them with Marina and Sylvain, and have them choose a
few wines for you to sample over the following week or two. In
restaurants, ask the sommelier. Tell him (or her) what you like (a good one will
already know what you ordered for dinner) and give them a price range that makes
you comfortable. Stephane at Le Cottage
always has several bottles available by the glass
and is more than willing to discuss them and many others with
Look on the SXM-Restaurants website for a list
of all restaurants that have coupons
for some freebie or discount. There are several coupons there to make your
vacation a bit cheaper.
in Philipsburg is bargain at $75 per night for a 1BR suite
with a kitchen. It's not on the water, but they have a pool.
Shell Residence in Simpson Bay is bargain at
$700 per week for a 1BR suite with a kitchen, all taxes and service included.
It's across the street from the water and they have a pool. Make a reservation
and get a $50 coupon to Ama Jewelers and a $25 coupon to Hot
Cabana, a one bedroom studio on
the lagoon in Cupecoy, is only $695 for the week all taxes and service
California has two apartments for rent that are right on the water in Grand Case.
The one bedroom, sleeps four, is $750 and the two bedroom, sleeps six, maybe
more, is $1100 for the week. They have just added a villa next door on the
beach, three bedrooms, great views, at only $2800 per week.
Sandy Molloy at Molloy Travel
says that she has negotiated a great deal at Alamanda and has can't beat rates
at Le Petit, L'Esplanade, Maho, and La Plantation. If you like great food, Le
Petit and L'Esplanade are the two bookends on Grand Case's restaurant row. Maho
is in the thick of the action in Simpson Bay and if you're part of the birthday
suit crowd, La Plantation is a lovely place within walking distance of Orient
beach. I've never been in Alamanda, but it's even closer to Orient Beach.