St Maarten/St Martin
Beaches: Fred Tetterton sent a photo to Pedro's Beach Bar and I have sent it up to the website. It won't tell you much about current conditions because it is from last September, but we do welcome your photos.
Construction: No big news, but Bill and Phil's old Creole shack across from the Atrium was stolen. It was supposed to be deconstructed and moved. It appears some bad guys deconstructed a bit of it before the rightful owners got around to it. The rain and wind kept me from adding any photos to the construction feature again this week.
Cars: We switched cars this week. Timothy from L'Esperance Car Rental showed up on time to pick up the car we got from them and Don Nicholas from GCL Car Rental showed up early with a nice new Getz. Ya gotta love it when it works, and these two work at making it work.
Sapphire Beach Club: For those of you who wish to sell or rent their week or unit, we have opened up the Sapphire Beach Club website for that purpose. The first ten weekly listings are free. After that, we will charge $25 per year and have only received a few requests. So this offer is still out there.
Select Wine Cellar: We tasted a Petit Chablis 2004 from Tremblay ($13) - a crisp Chablis at a nice price, Pinot Gris Schlumberger 2002 ($16), Cote de Beaune Chantal Lescure 2003 ($23) - rather big for a Cote de Beaune, Godard Bellevue 2003 ($14.50) - a fairly smooth, inexpensive Bordeaux, Chevalier de Rauzan Gassies 2001 ($27) - very nice, and a Crozes Hermitage 2003 cuvée Louis Belle ($25) - an old friend and an excellent lower-priced alternative to Chateauneuf du Pape.
Château COULOUMEY: No, the Château is not on the island, but the owner does spend a bit of the winter in the French lowlands and has brought over some wines that are available here on the island. It will be delivered to your door, but you do have to order a case.
Art at California Restaurant: Zouzou says that she has a seashell art exhibition in the restaurant containing mirrors, mobiles, jewelry boxes, seashell boards, cards, and more. There are a couple examples on the boutique page of the California website. Zouzou reminds us that she is still offering $1 for 1 euro for cash and traveler's checks.|
Art at Atelier des Tropismes: There is an exhibition by Carine Hurstemans from the 21-30 January.
Groceries: The Lido Food Express at Maho is a great place for those of us from Simpson Bay off to the lowlands. They really do have a great selection (even some cheap wines) and the free parking in the garage below solves their only problem. Get your ticket validated at the back door.
Photo feature: This newsletter with many photos is posted on SXM-Info.com
Karen and Pascal's Restaurants - 31 December 2005 to 27 January 2006
Auberge Gourmande - $100 off a meal for two
Montmartre Restaurant - $100 off a meal for two
Sunset Café - $100 off a meal for two
Panoramic Car Rental - $100 off a week's car rental
In conjunction with the contest, Pascal and Karen have put a "coupon" on their websites. It will get you a free welcome cocktail at any (or all) of their restaurants. It's well worth a look, but you might as well enter the contest while you are there.
Let's go over the rules:
Rule #1 - Visit the websites and find the entry code.
Rule #2 - Send in ONE entry using the form with all the contest codes for the contests you wish to enter.
Rule #3 - There is no rule number three.
We choose an email randomly from all those received. If that person has entered multiple times, we throw them all out. If not, that person will win all the prizes for which the correct contest code has been entered. If all the contests have not been won by this person, another email will be chosen, etc until all prizes have been won.
Round the Lagoon - 28 January to 17 February 2006
La Vi Bô Kaye - Seafood or barbecue buffet for two - two prizes - four dinners total
Select Wine Cellar - $100 off on a case of wine
Ch Couloumey - Four bottles of wine
Our condo - Half price low season week
You wouldn't get me anywhere near the water this week!
On 15 Jan the euro was at 1.210 and today it is at 1.214. It's stuck. 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 it at California Restaurant, Bistrot Caraïbes, and Restaurant du Soleil and noticed it Chez Martine and Marlin's Cafe. Pascal is now offering it for cash at Auberge Gourmande and Sunset Café. Note that some only offer this rate for cash. 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.
On Sunday we checked into La Samanna for our anniversary. There will be a feature on high end experiences in our little corner of the Caribbean and that will contain more about the hotel. This was part of a romantic package that included a three course dinner. We had been in consultation with Thibaut, the Food and Beverage manager, about the dinner and he had suggested some of the courses and glasses of wine to accompany them. Pre-dinner was a bottle of Piper-Heidsick as we watched the sun set from the balcony of our one bedroom suite. We moved to the dining room and started with an amuse bouche of smoked salmon with a glass of Perrier-Jouet champagne. Our first course was a terrine de foie gras with a glass of Domaine de Tariquet les Dernieres Grives (gros manseng). The foie was wonderful with a bit of greenery and blinis and a final lemon granite. Our dinners were ordered from the menu and our accompanying wine was from the wine list. Martha had chicken with black trumpet mushrooms and I had a veal chop with morels, both near $40. We had the last bottle of 1992 Savigny-les-Beaune from Lupe Cholet in the cellar ($60). That's rather old for a Savigny-les-Beaune, for almost any Burgundy really, but it was still fine, lacking a bit in youthful fruit but making up for it with restrained elegance. How's that for wine blather. The point is that it was not the same wine it was a dozen years ago, but it was still a wonderful experience. We had asked for a small chocolate dessert for our anniversary dessert. This message was garbled on the way to the kitchen and out to our table. Those who speak French may already have guessed, as the French call a birthday an anniversary of one's birth and call a wedding anniversary the anniversary of one's marriage. We had asked for a small selection of chocolate desserts to celebrate our anniversary and were startled by two servers carrying an extravagant chocolate cake, singing "Happy Birthday". In its own way, the extravagant cake was a selection of various chocolates, but certainly did not qualify as small. La Samanna does nothing in a small way.
The next night we continued our high end tour at La Vie en Rose on the waterfront in Marigot. We started with a glass of champagne and sautéed jumbo shrimp, paprika and vanilla sauce with a sweet pepper chutney ($17), an interesting sauce with some well cooked and flavorful shrimp. the chutney was an added treat. Our dinners were the filet of yellowtail snapper with a sliced potato crust in a light coriander and saffron sauce ($33) and a veal loin with a poultry and vegetable stuffing, simmered in it's gravy ($35). The potatoes crisp up on the outside of the snapper, keeping it moist and providing a nice contrast of textures. The vegetables with the veal included leeks, broccoli, potatoes, mashed potatoes with a hint of garlic, and mushrooms. A 1999 Savigny-les-Beaune from Antonin Rodet ($47) was quite nice with all these dishes. Coffee on the terrace looking out to Anguilla finished a wonderful evening.
Tuesday evening was the first Harmony Night in Grand Case as the previous week was rained out. This was still a chancy night with a few sprinkles and a cloudburst or two. Harmony Nights is much the same, lots of arts and crafts tables lining the street and usually three bands at various locations on the street. Almost always one is near the lolos, next to Blue Martini. There is usually one near the church and one further down near California Restaurant or La Marine Restaurant. Christian, the accordionist who strolls around Opus Restaurant at Sapphire Beach Club on Wednesday's Bistro night, was strolling from restaurant to restaurant. He caught up with us at Restaurant du Soleil shortly after we sat down to our napoleon of tomatoes and goat cheese. We had tried this last year, but the new chef has added more flavors to the plate. There is a photo on the website showing the additional greens and balsamic vinegar with green onions. As we were having fish, we had a 99 Marsannay, from the extreme northern end of Burgundy. Possibly it's a bit cooler up there, but for whatever reason, Marsannay is a bit lighter than most Burgundies and is, therefore, very good with flavorful fish, especially if they are in even more flavorful sauces. We had the sea scallops with vegetables in a cream sauce and the shrimp with Japanese vegetables on a polenta cake wrapped with bacon. The total cost was $94 - not bad given the lovely place, good service, and great view of Grand Case Bay. 1 to 1 on the exchange helps.
On Wednesday evening we stopped in for sunset and free drinks at Bamboo Bernies. Mudslides, margaritas, and some beers are free from 5:00 to 5:30 and cheap until about 7PM every night of the week. Sunsets are free and pretty good.
On Thursday we went to Thai Garden Restaurant in Sandy Ground. It's one of the longer running restaurants on the island and is much the same, even though it just changed hands. Same decor, better signage on the road and on the building, and essentially the same menu, although there is a new sushi chef. We had the steamed pork dumplings ($11) as a starter while Didier prepared the super sushi and sashimi platter ($54). The dumplings were just like the ones last year, which were just like the ones we devoured in Peking a few years ago. The sushi was more than we should have eaten, but was so good we couldn't stop. Lots of tuna and salmon with salmon roe, and some very tasty yellowtail, shrimp, octopus, two whole baby octopi, and plenty of rolls, vegetarian and otherwise. Good stuff and with a couple beers, a bit extra tip, and a 20% bump for the euro, we had a great dinner for two for about $80. There's some parking in the enclosed lot at the restaurant and lots out on the street.
On Saturday we headed away from the bustle at the airport to Grand Case and a nice lunch looking out over the water from Pascal's Sunset Café. We had hoped to do some snorkeling with Sebby at the Activities Desk of Grand Case Beach Club, but the weather was not cooperating. Sebby, like most people making their livelihood from beaches, has had a very bad week. The only happy people are the surfers. Nonetheless, it's interesting to watch and you can't get much closer than a dining room built out over the water. We were there to get some of the mussels in white wine, onions, shallots, parsley, a bit of cream, lots of pepper and a few secret ingredients. Pascal gets them shipped in fresh twice a week and has them on the menu from Wednesday until Sunday (unless I get there before you and finish them all). They were great. Plump and fresh with this very tasty broth. Martha continued the seafood theme with the seafood salad, which was also very good and fresh, loaded with shrimp, scallops, and fish. I won't tell you that it was a fabulous day at the beach, but it did get a bit brighter and besides good food, good wine (the Carte Noir rose), and good service (plus a few free after-dinner rum drinks) make any day seem better.
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. They are from:
Those who like Club Orient might be interested in Club Fantastico. Check it out.
Sandy Molloy at Molloy Travel says that she can generally beat any rates you can get from the hotels. Give her a shot.