St Maarten/St Martin
26 Feb 2005 Newsletter

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Weather: Sunday turned out lovely, a bit breezy, but clear and dry. The day ended with another green flash! We saw more on Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday had clouds on the distant horizon. Nonetheless, the days were beautiful. Saturday was another perfect day in paradise with the best green flash I have ever seen. The sunset is about quarter after six. The moon is new.

18 Feb sunset
18 Feb sunset
20 Feb sunset
The sunset on the left proceeded through the clouds and produced a green flash underneath them (center). The one on the right was beautiful all the way down.

Beaches: A Sunday a Orient was lovely, a bit breezy, but warm and sunny. The beach is all there. You can even walk past Pedro's Beach Bar on down to their nude umbrellas and onto Orient Club's beach. Lots of sand at the NW end of Cupecoy and even some at Ocean Club and Sapphire. See the construction feature for all the sand that is piling up in front of the new seawall.

Construction: There's more work going on at the Orient Express site at Cupecoy and a new photo on the construction feature. Nothing happening on either side of their property, however. A visit to their sales office showed many properties sold and an announcement that prices were going up. There's a new photo of the seawall and the tops of many umbrellas on the new sand that has piled up in front of the wall.

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 only four requests, so this offer is still out there.

Select Wine Cellar: The wine of the month is CHATEAU GRAND CORBIN DESPAGNE 2001 (St Emilion grand cru) a great wine in a good year for only $25. Use the coupon from Select Wine's website and get a 10% discount on everything else in their store. On Thursday we tasted a crisp Macon "Terroir de Charnay" 2004 ($15) and a Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 2004 from Tremblay ($25). Select has the Petit Chablis ($13) and a Chablis ($15) from the same negotiant. We felt this was the best of all of them, but at a price. Switching to reds, we tasted Côtes du Roussillon Villages Henri Boudau 2003 ($14, hints of licorice), Demoiselles de Sociando Mallet 1996 ($42, the second wine of Chateau Sociando-Mallet, needed time to develop after opening), Vina Izadi Rioja Reserva 2001 ($25, vanilla and oak), Rasteau Cotes du Rhone-Villages "Les Aigles Bleies" Domaine de Beaurenard 2003 ($29), Chateau Boucasse 1996 Vielles Vignes Alain Brumont ($38), and Domaine Gardies Côtes du Roussillon Tautavel Vielles Vignes 2003 ($27, maybe the best of the bunch). We were joined by Christophe Martinez, former chef at Le Cottage, who now has his own small place in Bellvue called Le Bellevue. Select wants you to know that they have access to currently drinkable first growths of Bordeaux. At the moment they have an 89 and 95 Ch Margaux, a 90 and 98 Ch Latour, and a magnum of 95 Ch Latour in the shop. Others may be ordered.

Art at California Restaurant: Zouzou 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 Delfina Hotel: Boris and Michael at Delfina are hosting an art showing of the works of two German sisters, Corinna and Norma Trimborn, who live on the island. The artists provide red and white wine, some cheeses, etc. Beer and other beverages are also available from Delfina at a small charge. This will be happening on Fridays during the high season from 5:00-7:00 pm. The paintings are eclectic and interesting, although not inexpensive. For a preview, check out at their website.

Groceries: We got some hand-harvested sea salt from the Camargue at the US Imports recently. The packaging has changed a bit. Now instead of a cork for a top, they are using a composite of cork and plastic and the container was a bit larger with a notation that we were getting 20% extra at no extra charge. We got some mixed frozen seafood in a bag at Grand Marche. It came from Thailand and had shrimp, mussels, squid, and octopus at about $4 per pound. Pretty good and pretty cheap. We separate the squid and octopus for long cooking preparations and use the shrimp and mussels for salads.

Photo feature: This newsletter with many photos is posted on SXM-Info.com.


Win $100 in the weekly Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant contest. Get $50 in casino action and $50 off a dinner for two at Baccara Restaurant, just above the casino floor. Make it a spectacular evening as you will be picked up and returned home in a chauffeured Bentley.

Martin Conway, GM at the casino, says that they offer free pick up service by Rolls Royce or Bentley and can send a bus for larger groups. Distance is no problem. With this service, there are no worries about security or drinking and driving. Our motto is Good Gaming, Great Entertainment, and Fine Dining.

Last week's winner: Donna Lott


Meli-Melo - 19 February to 12 March 2006
L'Esperance Car Rental - $100 off a week's rental
L'Esperance Hotel - $100 off a week's rental
SkipJacks' - $50 off a dinner for two
West of the Equator - An autographed copy of this new book

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 - If the prize-awarding entity goes out of business before you claim your prize, you are unlikely to get your prize.
Rule #4 - Prizes are valid for one year from the award date.
Rule #5 - There is no rule number five.

Yes, we added 3 and 4. Still, it's a lot easier than other contests and there is no timeshare presentation. 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 Round the Lagoon Contest are:
La Vi Bô Kaye - Seafood buffet for two - Nancy Dallas
La Vi Bô Kaye - Barbecue buffet for two - Nancy Dallas
Select Wine Cellar - $100 off on a case of wine - Margaret Robinson
Ch Couloumey - Four bottles of wine - Kelly Burns
Our condo - Half price low season week - Margaret Robinson

Future Contests:

SXM Ultra Luxe - 12 March to 2 April
Dawn Beach Villas - $350 off a weeks rental
Dare to be Rare Steakhouse - $100 off a dinner for two
Temptation Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
La Samanna - $100 off a dinner for two
La Vie en Rose - $100 off a dinner for two
Antoine Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
L'Escargot Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two

Grand Case - 2 April to 14 May
L'Alabama Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
Tastevin Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two


Pretty good snorkeling at Orient. Swim past the float and turn left to the reef. Follow it toward Pedro's Beach Bar. I saw the lots of conch and largest helmet I have ever seen near the float, plus yellowtail snappers, grunts, sergeant majors, bar jacks, soldierfish, and a mystery fish - something like a trunkfish, but without black scales??


On 19 Feb the euro was at 1.194 and today it is at 1.188. No change. 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, Le Cottage Restaurant, Rainbow Café, Pedro's Beach Bar, and Restaurant du Soleil and noticed it at La Marine Restaurant, Santal, 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.

On 11 March, Le Mambo Restaurant is doing another Créole Buffet to celebrate 11 years in operation. There are several photos on the website, but it would be tastier to show up at the buffet.

On Sunday we went to Pedro's Beach Bar and got some chairs and a Full House: grilled chicken, ribs, and fresh fish with a tasty Créole sauce plus some French fries, a bit of salad, and rice and peas. One is enough for two people. Add a couple beers and you have a $20 lunch. Use the coupon on the website and get your second drink free with your meal!

Monday evening at Le Cottage Restaurant was divine. I have built a wine cellar in every house I have had since the early 70's and worked as a sommelier in the early 90's. When I come to Le Cottage, I don't even look at the wine list. I place myself in the hands of Stephane. He brings over the water and an interesting aperitif while we peruse the menu. This evening it was a 2004 Vouvray. Shortly thereafter, some tasty accras and a sauce chien arrived. For those who don't know it, previous chef Christophe Martinez has decamped for Bellevue. Bruno wanted to show off his new chef a bit and brought us a platter of appetizers that included a bit of tapenade on toast with a marinated anchovy and a bit of tomato, a crispy dumpling containing duck confit, and a bit of foie gras in a cabbage leaf. We really intend to visit Bellvue, but these aps hinted at the wonders to come. Generally, we order our meal from the evening's specials and this evening was no different. There was a mahi tartare and tarama (salted pressed fish roe) cream ap that had many herbs and spices mixed into the tartare. Stephane brought along a 2004 New Zealand Cloudy Bay Sauvignon and then added one from Quincy in France. The NZ version was herby and crisp, the French was ever-so-slightly sweet. The French was better with the tarama cream and the herby flavors in the NZ wine were wonderful with the mahi tartare, which in itself was very good, but it takes a sommelier in full control of his cellar to pair wines this well. A little Meursault arrived with a granitee flavored with violets and champagne. Meursault is known for its grassy taste, a complement to the violets. Our main courses were veal chops off the bone in a curry and sesame sauce with mashed potatoes and olive oil with a fan of snow peas and a pastry containing a bit of veal liver (a special) and an old favorite: the special duck plate with liver, leg, gizzard, and breast with braised (caramelized) endive. There were flavors and textures flooding the plates. We, of course, wanted a Burgundy but Stephane brought a 2001 Ch Closerie Mezeyres from Pomerol and a 2000 Ch Saint Baillon Cotes de Provence. The first was OK and having 50% Merlot, a bit higher than normal for Bordeaux, moved it away from the Cabernet Sauvignon taste and more toward the Pinot taste that we love. The other was a total surprise. I used to vacation in the south of France and the weather and beaches were great, but I don't recall a wine like this. Bruno brought over a coconut trilogy for dessert and Stephane paired with Malibu coconut liqueur and a muscat dessert wine. The trilogy had a homemade coconut sorbet, a light as a feather coconut mousse, and a coconut tart - all wonderful. Coffees and old rum and armagnac finished the evening. We did have the table with the waterfront view. It's on the porch, just to the right of the steps. From there, you can look through L'Escapade Restaurant to Grand Case Bay and Anguilla. Service was a good as ever and with 1 to 1 pricing, the cost was quite good.

Tuesday we went shopping in Pburg and stopped in at Indigo Beach, the new beachfront restaurant at the Horizon Hotel next to the Catholic Church. It's owned by the Peterson family, owners of La Vie en Rose, one of the finest restaurants on the island. This is a beach bar a bit above the rest. First, they had Stella Artois. I have no problem with Carib and Presidente, but Stella stands above the rest. We ordered a shrimp and avocado salad and a special: a chicken tortilla. The shrimp salad came with several ripe avocado slices (something of a rarity) and some very interesting salad including radicchio and endive. The tortilla was quite tasty, containing a few jalapenos and arrived with fries and a bit of the salad. With a pair of Stellas, our bill was about $30 for a wonderful meal on Great Bay Beach. They have chairs on the beach if you feel that a few more beers while bronzing are required.

On Wednesday we went to Hanabi Japanese Restaurant for some sushi. Parking is a bit of a problem at Maho, but the garage is only $1 per hour, so it's hardly expensive. We sat out on the terrace and enjoyed a boatload (literally, it is on a miniature wooden boat) of sushi and sashimi (octopus, yellowtail, squid, tuna, and salmon) plus four beers for about $60. The boat comes with miso soup and salad, making this a pretty inexpensive dinner for two.

Thursday night found us in Grand Case at Auberge Gourmande's waterfront table (the one next to the fountain). The Auberge is a wonderfully restored Creole cottage and the porch has an excellent view of the street, possibly the best on the block. This is a great place on Grand Case's Harmony Nights. Florence and Christophe have been here for years and provide excellent service. Florence also serves as the wine steward, which is helpful, as they have one of the largest wine lists on the island. By saying "pamper me", we got a free welcome champagne cocktail which lasted until our water and 2002 Santenay arrived. We started with the smoked salmon plate featuring house smoked salmon and exotic greenery and moved on to the tenderloin of duck breast roasted and served on a bed of flambéed pineapple with a sweet and sour shallot, honey, and lime sauce and a special Chilean seabass and shrimp with coconut and champagne sauce. Very good all around. The evening ended with coffee, armagnac, and a molten chocolate cake.

A further dessert of Stella Artois and a large glass of Leffe (fine Belgian beers) was had at the garden of Blue Martini while listening to some reggae. It is extremely handy to have this late night place open next to the parking lot.

A stop at SkipJacks' on the way home allowed us to finish all the old tequila in the bar while discussing many important things with Brad. I seem to have forgotten them however.

Spurred on by talking with Christophe Martinez at Select Wine Cellar, we made a reservation at Le Bellvue in Bellevue, just outside of Marigot, near Saint Severin. That probably doesn't help as SS is a well-kept secret among the French and Dutch residents. We have reservations for next Thursday, so you'll hear all about it. Bellvue is a very small place with about 20 seats. It's quite nice looking with some interesting posters on one wall and interesting three dimensional artwork on the other. The back is the bar and behind that is Christophe's kitchen. The front is glass overlooking - a parking lot. There are better views on the island, but a parking lot is a wonderful thing, quite rare and endangered lately. The menu has many things that Martha and I love, cheese plates, composed salads with gizzards, duck confit, several approaches to foie gras, etc. Generally, they are only open for breakfast and lunch. When we met him earlier Christophe said that he was doing a dinner on Friday, so we signed up. There were three special appetizers, the first being foie gras, the second was a tomato, basil, and mozzarella tart, and ours was a soft-boiled egg and foie gras ($17), a very old-fashioned, very French dish (oeuf en cocotte). It came with crisp toast strips and a bit of sea salt and fresh ground pepper on the side, but not for long. The two extra dinners being offered were a quail with mashed potatoes and truffle oil and ris de veau (sweetbreads) on a bed of green beans and mushrooms with thin potato slices (both about $25). The sauce was exquisite and the tender sweetbreads, slightly crusted contrasted with the cooked, but still firm green beans. We were drinking La Chapelle, a Bordeaux, which was fine with the dinners and only cost about $15. The evening ended with coffee and coffee flavored rum. The total bill came to $108, not bad for food of this caliber. The wine list is quite thin, with only six wines, but they are talking to Sylvain, so it will be considerably better soon. Stay tuned.

A stop at SkipJacks' on the way home allowed us to make a big dent in the Cuervo Gold tequila in the bar while discussing many important things with Brad. I seem to have forgotten them again however.

Changes: The second chef from Le Cottage Restaurant has opened Le Ti Bouchon (The Little Cork) on the road to Anse Marcel in the previous location of Piccolo. We've heard good things about it, but it is a long drive from Cupecoy.


Look on the SXM-Info 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. Here's a partial list of what you'll find:

Le Baccara Restaurant
Bikini Beach
Beau Beau's
Kakao Beach
Los Gauchos
The Greenhouse
Oizeau Rare
Pirate Beach Bar
Paradise View
Paris Bistro
Pedro's Beach Bar
Saint Germain
The Wharf
Lots here
and here
Select Wine Cellar

Those who like Club Orient might be interested in Club Fantastico. Check it out.

L'Esperance Hotel has great rates and is conveniently located. It's quite handy if you just need a night or two at either end of your vacation because of the wretched flight schedules. They have a lovely pool and offer free wireless internet access.

Sandy Molloy at Molloy Travel says that she can generally beat any rates you can get from the hotels. Give her a shot.

Erich S. Kranz
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