Beaches: Grand Case Beach looked fine from end to end as we strolled around town stopping in at the lolos on Wednesday. On Saturday night, the rollers were washing almost all the beach.
Construction: Orient Express has started to knock down the cottages that they had between the road and the lagoon. The work on the building across the street from their original building continues. There is a new photo on the construction feature.
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 Chablis 2004 from Tremblay this week, only $2 more than the Petit Chablis from last week, and found it to be significantly better, well worth the $2. This is especially true if you take the coupon from their website and get a 10% discount.
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.
Round the Lagoon - 29 January to 19 February 2006
Let's go over the rules:
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.
The winners of the last contest were:
Karen and Pascal's Restaurants - 31 December 2005 to 27 January 2006
You wouldn't get me anywhere near the water this week! On the couple days that it was decent, we just sat on the balcony.
On 15 Jan the euro was at 1.214 and today it is at 1.213. All the gnomes in Zurich are currently at the Davos conference. 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 Auberge Gourmande, Sunset Café, California Restaurant, Bistrot Caraïbes, and Restaurant du Soleil and noticed it Chez Martine, Marlin's Cafe, and all the lolos in Grand Case. 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.
Dino Jagtiani has got some photos and a menu for Dare to be Rare steakhouse up on the site. They are the usual fantastic photos. The food was put together by Dino and the space was designed by Craig Spann, so the photographer had a lot to work with.
The Monday night we had dinner at Montmartre Restaurant. Taking advantage of the new coupon on the website, we asked for champagne to start and a free glass arrived for both of us. It was going to be a good evening. Our appetizer was goat cheese with tomato confit wrapped in a sheet of phyllo dough and baked until crisp. It was then placed on a bed of interesting greens - no iceberg lettuce here - and drizzled with a light vinaigrette. This is one of our favorite aps, and the addition of the tomato confit added another bit of taste to the mix - very nice. As usual, the 97 Beaune Champs-Pimont was just fine with this ap and did not overpower the flavorful fish dishes that we ordered: a sashimi quality tuna filet lightly grilled and served with two vegetables purees and a few more vegetables and lightly seared sea scallops served in a rich sea urchin sauce. Fresh seafood and fine sauces made a great dinner. No dessert unless you count the tart passion fruit seeds in the homemade rum, a bottle of which was left on our table. It is a short walk home!
On Tuesday 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, although this week was pretty cloudy.
Later, we had more fresh fish at The Wharf Restaurant, a decidedly more casual place than Montmartre that really gets jumping when the band starts playing. If you want to know what is fresh, check it out on ice as you walk in the front door. We choose red snapper and mahi-mahi. They come with French fries (but you can mashed or baked potatoes or salad or rice), mixed veg, and a Creole sauce on the side. There is a coupon on the website that will save you 10 to 25%. Good food at great prices and a good time to boot.
On Wednesday we went to Ti Coin Créole for a private party. Titan, a waiter at Montmartre Restaurant was getting married and the reception was at his friend Carl's restaurant. He's a good friend to have and even if you can't get an invite, you can get a reservation! It's at the far eastern end of Grand Case.
On Thursday we went to Grand Case and watched the sun set from the lovely dining room at Restaurant du Soleil. Cedric and his team have taken over the bakery next door and now are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as the bakery is serving breakfast. After enjoying a beautiful Grand Case sunset and a glass or two of chardonnay, we went for dinner at Auberge Gourmande, a short walk down the street. We had requested their waterside table and were promptly seated on the terrace, next to the fountain. No, they are not on Grand Case Bay, but you do get a nice view of Le Tastevin, one of the prettiest restaurants on the strip. There is a coupon on their website that says "Tell us you want to be pampered and we'll rush you a welcome cocktail". There is nothing like a glass of champagne to celebrate Thursday evening, especially if it is free. We started with the chicken livers in puff pastry in a shallot and cream sauce flamed with a bit of cognac and the baked goat cheese and Roquefort with pecans in phyllo with apple and balsamic dressing. We had the 2002 Nuits St George from Champy and as it came up to room temperature (their cave is at a perfect 55F) it opened up and became a lovely wine. We raise chickens over the summer and as most people don't like the innards, especially, if they are paying full price for them, we accumulate a lot of livers over the course of the summer. Our free range birds raised on local grain have very mild livers to start, but Martha always soaks them in milk to further lighten their taste. We didn't ask Chef Sebastian what he did, but his liver dish rivals Martha's for delicacy. The baked cheese dish is a standard, but this is special with two types of cheese plus a bit of apple for added flavor and pecans and phyllo dough for added textures. It's a bit more elaborate than the one at Montmartre, but I am quite partial to their inclusion of the tomato confit. More research is necessary. Our dinners were the filet of beef with a morel sauce and a filet of tuna on a bed of crab risotto. The tuna was perfection and perfectly cooked and the crab risotto was an added bonus. The beef is possibly the best beef we have had this season. It was absolutely tender and full of flavor aided by the rich, earthy morel sauce. By this time, the Nuit St George was at its peak bringing a lovely meal to a climax. We finished with coffee and armagnac, but saw some lovely profiteroles go by. Service was efficient and fun. Christophe and Florence are fun to talk to with the added bonus that Florence is also fun to look at.
While we were there Francois Xavier Danjou was taking photos of diners. They would be available at Alex Photo down by Le Mambo Restaurant. He certainly works hard to entertain you while he takes several photos. They cost about $10 for a 6x9 inch shot. Just stop in at the photo shop on the way out of town.
We stopped in at Blue Martini for a little late night salsa music from Eduardo Filho. It actually was more jazz than salsa when we were enjoying a few draft Stella Artois (one of the world's best beers from Belgium) in the garden and that was fine with us. You can catch him at Blue Sapphire Cafe on Mondays and Harmony Nights in Grand Case on Tuesday.
On Saturday we returned to Blue Martini for dinner. It's in the old Cha Cha Cha building and Sylvie and Pascal have done a lot of work to make it quite striking both inside and out. They have refurbished the interior courtyard, making it a tropical garden, bar, and tapas bistro. The front has three lovely dining rooms. We started with a mixture of tapas: tataki tuna (sesame crusted and very lightly seared), baked goat cheese on baguette slices, a very tasty crab cake, excellent salmon sashimi on wakame, and a couple nems. As there was some spice in the mix, we went with a bold Rhone, the St Joseph. We continued with very flavorful fish preparations for dinner: salmon on a bed of risotto with crab and smoked salmon with asparagus and a tuna steak on a bed of rice, topped with tapanade on toasts, surrounded by a balsamic reduction. Dessert was a couple glasses of Stella in the garden. There was supposed to be a band, but the howling winds and threat of rain cancelled the show.
Changes: I read that Picante, which just replaced Indiana which had gone through several owners of late, has closed already. Favorite Place, in the center of Grand Case, is now Angel's Garden serving formule, set dishes on certain days of the week at good prices. Sammy, previously the bartender at Amandier, and the chef from same have opened up a place called Sesame (no sign as yet, so that won't help much) where Sunset used to be. This is the Sunset Creole joint on the right on the way into the center of Grand Case, not Sunset Cafe at Grand Case Beach Club, and certainly not Sunset Beach Bar. They still inexpensive Creole dishes for the most part but have attracted a lively crowd of locals with low prices. Locals here means both white and black and includes many of the workers in the areas restaurants as Sesame opens early, before the dinner start and it and stays open late.
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:
Pirate Beach Bar
Pedro's Beach Bar
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.