St Maarten/St Martin
Beaches: Orient is looking fine and the lull after Sunday's regatta cancellation means that you don't get sand-blasted. It made for a lovely time on Tuesday. Bay Rouge was just great on Saturday, a bit rough but plenty of sand.
Construction: Orient Express is continuing to build on the west side of the road, across from the sales building. The Putzmeister (I am not making this up) was pumping concrete up onto the second story. They are also jackhammering the coral alongside the slave wall for the roadbed that will see the main road moving from between their buildings to the western border of their property. The Cupecoy Villages' sales shack was vandalized. After a week or so, they came and cleaned it up. Still no other signs of life there. See the construction feature for photos.
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 for March is Champagne Deutz Cuvée William Deutz 1996 (wine spectator rating 93, wine spectator price: $158) Select wine price: $99 (normal price 115$). The 2004 Macon Terrior de Charnay is not as crisply acidic as many Macons. I find it more like a bigger white Burgundy with a buttery chardonnay taste. Quite a bargain at $15. Use the coupon on the website and get it even cheaper.
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.
Art Lovers Opening on March 17 from 6PM to 9PM at La Plantation Mont Vernon 2 - Tel 05 90 29 50 62. Open house of 25 workshops and galleries from 10 to 6 PM Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 of March. About thirty artists with some new participants including Saint Geran art gallery in Philipsburg, the copper sculptor Douglas Hazelton,the photographer Erwan Andrieux and the painters Salome Langevin, Asif et Asha, Trifan, and Dago. More info on the website.
Groceries: We got some hearts of palm at the Lido Food Express in Maho. They help make a great salad and surprisingly enough, some people have suggested I substitute salad for sweetbreads. She nonetheless put some Petit Billy goat cheese in the salad. We got that and some good pate en Croute from US Imports in Sandy Ground.
No comment required
Petrus (the dog), Petrus (the wine),
Parking is getting so difficult
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. You must enter this contest each week and you must use the entry form for this contest to be considered.
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.
(Mostly for locals as you have to be here, but if you are here on 29 March, check it out)
The Princess Casino will be raffling a Ford Escape on Wednesday March 29.
SXM-INFO'S REGULAR CONTEST
You'll note there are seven prizes and only five entry slots on the contest form. You must choose the five you want and allow someone else to share in this $950 prize. The rules make all other contests look like do-it-yourself brain surgery. Just go to the SXM Ultra Luxe feature, find the codes, enter them on the form, click send - one form per contest. Good Luck.
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 Meli-Melo are:
L'Esperance Car Rental - $100 off a week's rental - Dorene Kuffer
L'Esperance Hotel - $100 off a week's rental - Dorene Kuffer
SkipJacks' - $50 off a dinner for two - Randy A.
West of the Equator - An autographed copy of this new book - Randy A.
Daniel Darne reports that he delivered the four bottle prize from Château COULOUMEY to Mrs. Burns at the Grand Case Beach Club last Sunday. I was just opening a bottle when the email came into my mailbox. It's a very nice Bordeaux.
Orient - 15 May to 31 July
Beau Beau's - $50 off a dinner for two
After our snorkel with Sebby, we went over to Sunset Café for more moules and a seafood salad with a bottle of iced rose. Nothing like working up a thirst on the water and satisfying it right there with a great view of Creole Rock, Anguilla, and Petite Plage. The moules come in white wine, onion, shallots, parsley, a splash of cream, and a secret ingredient. These are quite possibly the best on the island, although if you like the marinara approach, check out what Mario does at Mario's Bistro.
On Monday night we went to Dare to be Rare, Dino Jagtiani's new steakhouse at the Atlantis Casino. Fabulous. The interior is stunning, much like his Temptation Restaurant next door. Don't expect palm trees, sand in your shoes, and Jimmy Buffet. The menu is on the website, as is a dissertation about the dry aging of meat. We consulted with Dino and ordered a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, Veramonte Primus ($44) and started with something to be added to the menu: goat cheese in a brique with walnuts and apple and a bit of a balsamic reduction drizzled about. He must have read my comments about the very good version of this at Montmartre Restaurant where they slip some sun-dried tomato in with the cheese, adding both taste and texture. This is the same story and just as good. If you like goat cheese, these are two wonderful appetizers. For our main course we choose the deconstructed porterhouse. This is essentially the T-bone put back together: a 16 oz dry-aged, bone-in KC strip steak and an 8 oz wet-aged filet ($85 for two). It is taken apart and aged separately because the strip side of the t-bone tastes better dry-aged and the filet tastes better wet aged. And it does. It came with a horseradish sauce, a peppercorn sauce, and a blue cheese sauce, although they were used sparingly in order to fully savor the taste of the meat. Our sides were the truffled mashed potatoes (!) on the menu and a tempura asparagus with a wasabi sauce to be added to the menu. The asparagus was very interesting, good asparagus, done well, not raw, not mush, but then a crackle was put back on it via the tempura. Add in the tastes in the sauce and Martha was most pleased. Dessert was real chocolate pudding with some Grand Marnier mixed in and layered on wontons sprinkled with confectioner's sugar and a strawberry on top. A strawberry with flavor, not one of those overgrown giants bred for stability in shipping. The reason they don't taste any worse after being shipped thousands of miles on a slow boat is that they didn't taste very good to start with - but I digress. The two glasses of port made the dessert even better. It was not a cheap dinner at $170, but that was the most expensive main course (even after dividing the cost over two people). Moreover, we took about half the meat home. A wonderful dinner, and a wonderful time. One further note: we saw many people try to get a table without a reservation. Even on a Monday night, that is unlikely in prime time.
Tuesday lunch at Kakao Beach on Orient Bay was delightful. Warm with a gentle breeze, bright and sunny. We started with Guigal's Cote du Rhone, good producer, good wine, and not too steep at $30. We had a very pretty Salad Nicoise with lots of tuna, green beans, boiled potato, anchovies, (the regulation things), plus endive, onion, and olives. I had the usual thin crust pizza supreme with ham and mushrooms. We sat there for about an hour after lunch enjoying the view and the flavored rum. One of the best lunches you can get with your feet in the sand. Total bill $70 with an extra tip.
Wednesday dinner at Rainbow Café was quite nice although the beautiful evening turned a bit moist and breezy. [an aside: David and Fleur were both there and we spent the end of the evening discussing old times, new times, etc. I mentioned that I had been stopped by the gendarmes in Nettle Bay on the way to the restaurant. Fleur mentioned that she had been stopped in the same spot on the way to pick up David at the airport in the middle of the afternoon. You will notice that this evening does not end with a balloon of Cognac. Be careful, the French limit is 0.05 BAC, which is about 60% of the US limit and the equivalent of 2.5 drinks and then one per hour thereafter. This is weight-related, larger people can drink more; and sex-related, women lack an enzyme useful in breaking down alcohol.] Nori suggested a 2000 Ch Candale Haut Medoc ($40) and we thought it was quite nice, esp with our dinners. Martha started with the shrimp in wonton potstickers with a wonderful broth with a hint of soy loaded with mushroom flavor from the shiitakes and sprinkled with spring onion bits for a textural and taste zinger. It may have been shrimp, but the strong flavors held their own with a big red wine. My ap was another take on a warm goat cheese salad. This one had St Marcellin, on toast with a spray of asparagus, a bed of greens, and a creamy sauce with a hint of wasabi. Sounds good and Jenkins, in his Cheese Primer says, " In its crèmier version, no finer cheese exists, a cheese to worship." The asparagus was done perfectly and the contrast between the crunch of the toast, the snap of the asparagus, and the creamy smoothness of the cheese only added to the lovely tastes. Martha went on with sweetbreads on a bed of spinach in a simple sauce and I had the filet of beef with crispy onion rings on wasabi mashed potatoes and veg. Wonderful beef in a peppercorn sauce and both the sweetbreads and the beef were great with the wine. We had a great dinner and a great time for $130 as they are doing 1 to 1 on the euro, even 1 to 1.1 for credit cards.
On Thursday evening we went to L'Alabama Restaurant in the center of Grand Case. It's a lovely spot on the land side of the street with a planting bed running along two sides of the dining room. We started with a glass of Vouvray and an amuse bouche: leek soup so thick and tasty that it was almost a flan. Our ap, a special millefeuille of eggplant that looked lovely with three crisp, super-thin wafers of salty, fried eggplant rising out of a base of sauteed veg, surrounded by a pureed, red pepper sauce, arrived shortly thereafter ($11). Pascal had opened the 99 Pommard from Drouhin ($79) and as I finished the Vouvray he appeared to pour the Pommard. 1999 was a good year in Burgundy and this had the definite Pommard taste but faded quicker than one would hope. They are vinifying to produce wines that can be drunk earlier and possibly this is preventing them from keeping as long as they have in the past. In any event, it was a wonderful wine and worked well with all our dishes. I had another special for the main course, a seared scallop dish surrounding a bed of risotto with real pesto and asparagus bits with a few asparagus spears. Martha had the shrimp from the menu: shrimp on fresh rosemary kebab, served with sweet potato cake and figs and mild pepper sauce with some broccoli and artichoke bottoms. Both of these dishes had interesting textures and tastes. It is obviously asparagus season in Florida (that is three dinners in a row!) and artichoke bottoms are always appreciated. We had coffee and flavored rum for dessert with miniature versions of the molten chocolate cake. An excellent dinner and it can be had at 1 to 1 on the euro.
|On Friday night we drove over to Orient for dinner at Tai Chi Restaurant. It's on the square in Orient Village. It's a Friday, so they are having their version of Harmony Hights. It's a smaller area with fewer restaurants, but there was a sax player and singer in the plaza that could be heard in Tai Chi, Côté Plages, Le Piment, and in the front of La Chapelle. There were also a few artisans. We sat down and enjoyed a Kronenbourg and a Martini Rouge as we enjoyed the night air and the music. After a bit we went inside and ordered a bottle of Drouhin's Laforet Pinot Noir ($26) and nems, Vietnamese spring rolls. They were wonderfully crisp on the outside and quite tasty on the inside, and even better when a small bit was rolled in a crisp romaine lettuce leaf with spring onions and dipped in the tangy sauce. Martha ordered the squid with curry and I had the Thai noodles with beef, chicken, and shrimp. The squid was perfection, not an easy task, and my dinner was similarly well prepared with crisp, fresh flavors. the total bill came to about $85 given the exchange rate and a bit of an extra tip.|
It's a long drive home, so we skipped after dinner drinks and stopped at SkipJacks' in Simpson Bay on the way home to help Brad with his oversupply of tequila. They are now open on Sunday, starting with last Sunday, the day the Regatta was cancelled. You can bet it was busy!
On Saturday we dined at Hibiscus Restaurant. It's a bit out of the normal flow, as it is to the right (east) of the center of Grand Case and then in a Creole cottage at the back of a lot approximately across from Amandier (now closed). It's owned by Chef Thierry Delaunay who is known for his very surprising, but also very tasty food combinations, and his extensive use of island spices. There were six of us and we started with the 2002 Chorey Les Beaune that opened up nicely as it came to room temperature. Thierry sent out an amuse bouche: a spicy vegetable soup that relied heavily on okra. The spices in this dish (and most others) were flavorful, not hot. Our appetizers were a marinated tuna tartare served on a slab of marble, onion soup, a creamy Caribbean pumpkin soup with Cajun spices, and a caesar salad. The onion soup may be one of the best on the island, but the pumpkin soup would get my vote most interesting. Our adventurous friends had three orders of the lobster and mashed sweet potatoes layered in sandalwood essence and wrapped with snow peas and one mahi "sandwich" (a special). I had the sweetbreads with chanterelles and Martha, deprived of her beloved pig's feet by a temporary island-wide shortage, had stuffed chicken breast with lobster meat layered with provencal vegetables. I have always liked the lobster dish as it has an interesting combination of creamy smooth mashed potatoes with denser bits of lobster lurking within and a wonderful crunch on the outside. The mahi "sandwich" was gone in the blink of an eye, before I got either a photo or a taste. It consisted of a filet of mahi, two grilled shrimp split and placed on the mahi and then covered with another mahi filet. It must have been good. My sweetbreads were quite good, high quality, well-prepared, and smothered in some of the largest chanterelles I have seen outside of my fields. Martha couldn't finish all her chicken and lobster (surf and turf) so I gladly helped. We had three desserts, although two were five-way combos and the molten chocolate cake is quite large, so this was more than enough. The five creme brulles included the usual suspects coffee, vanilla, and banana but also mint and rose. The five member chocolate extravaganza was delicious. There are photos of most of these on the website. With two more bottles of wine, assorted coffees and after-dinner drinks, the bill came to about $150 per couple with a bit of an extra tip and the 20% uplift for the euro.
|We eschewed more after-dinner drinks in favor of a quick trip to Ric's Café where A Day at the Beach was playing their third set of the day. The have arrived from Nashville and feature some amazing three-part harmonies coupled with a wide range of instrumental accompaniments. On the right they are covering Bob Segar's Turn the Page and below you might guess Charlie Daniels' The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Add a few Presidentes and this newsletter didn't go out late on Saturday night as usual.|
Changes: The sign that said Philly Joe's is down and the Koko Shwerma billboard is sitting at the base of the pole. Kahlil was there and they are doing his Shwerma and Joe's pizza. Little France in Grand Case has been ominously dark for several nights.
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
Pirate Beach Bar
Pedro's Beach Bar
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.