St Maarten/St Martin
16 April 2006 Newsletter

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Weather: Sunday was spectacular, warm, sunny, and not too windy. By Friday it was hot and humid with a wind coming straight from Saba bringing waves of tropical rainstorms our way in the afternoon. This cleared the air leaving a lovely sunset with many pink clouds. By the next morning, it was hazy again. Saba is just barely visible (26 miles out) and Statia (35 miles) is nowhere to be seen. Statia appeared briefly at lunchtime, but was lost as the evening clouds piled up and turned pink. The sunset is about twenty-seven minutes after six. The moon was full on 13 April.

Beaches: Orient was beautiful on Sunday. Lots of sand from Kakao Beach to Pedro's Beach Bar. Quite a bit of seaweed in the water in front of The Perch. We were back again on Wednesday. The weather had been lovely. On Thursday, the wind turned, coming in from the south and Saba disappeared in haze, but it was still warm and sunny. Our guests had a great time at Tropical Wave/Chez Pat on Galion Beach on the other side of the island. By Saturday the wind had turned back to the normal tradewinds pattern, Saba reappeared, and our side of the island was calm.

Construction: We were too busy eating to update 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 only five requests, so this free offer is still out there.

Select Wine Cellar: The wine of the month for April is a lovely sweet wine: Muscat de Rivesaltes Domaine Boudau, normally $14, but for all of April, it's only $11. It's delicious, a bit sweet, and fruity. Just the thing to get you through tax season! Possibly you'll need something harder, use the coupon on the website to get that 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.

Shopping: We went into Pburg to get a watch strap reattached. The pin had come out and Martha's brother couldn't get it fixed easily back home. Parking was a problem by 11:00 AM as both pay lots were full. We dropped the women off at the head of town and headed back to the free parking lot next to the university. By the time we walked to DK Gems on Front Street, the women had already given Deepti the watch, it was being fixed, and diamond earrings were being discussed. The watch eventually returned and there was no charge. Service like this is worth finding.

Groceries: We put together a fabulous salad using Guadeloupe eggplant and tomatoes that we picked up at the Lido Food Center in Cole Bay. Each slice of eggplant was topped with a bit of the Petit Billy goat cheese from US Imports.

Deepti at work


Other than our guests having a great time at Tropical Wave/Chez Pat on Galion Beach, we didn't do much. Pat has a new float out in the bay and the kids loved the shallow, calm waters and the paddleboat.


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.

Last week's winner: Joan Donovan



Grand Case - 2 April to 14 May
L'Alabama Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
Tastevin Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
Bistrot Caraïbes - $100 off a dinner for two
Hibiscus Restaurant - $50 off a dinner for two
Atelier des Tropismes - signed print from Paul Elliott Thuleau
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean

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 these prizes. The rules make all other contests look like do-it-yourself brain surgery. Just go to the Grand Case 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 website(s) and find the entry code. In this case, just: Grand Case feature
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.

Future Contests:

Orient - 15 May to 31 July
Bikini Beach - A DAY AT THE BEACH (including 2 chairs and a parasol, 2 welcome punches and $50.00 credit towards food and drink)
Beau Beau's - $50 off a dinner for two
Panoramic Car Rental - $100 off a one week rental
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook

Simpson Bay - 2 July to 13 August
Horny Toad Guesthouse - seven low season nights for the price of five
Turquoise Shell Inn - seven nights for the price of five (until 31 Dec)
Unity Car Rental - $100 off a one week rental
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean
La Guinguette Restaurant - $60 toward a meal for two
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook

Activities and more - 13 August to 15 October
Marci's Mega Gym 2000 - 4 yoga classes with Valerie and one week admission to the gym
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean
Prince Rental Car - a week's rental in low season for only $50
Tri Sport - two for 1 kayak exploration of the lagoon
Octaedre Gems - earrings
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook

15 October to 26 November
L'Esperance Car Rental - $100 off a weekly low season rental
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean
Blue Martini - $50 off a dinner for two
Hibiscus Restaurant - $50 off a dinner for two
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook

Grand Case - 26 November to 24 December
California Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
California Apartments - $100 off a week's stay
Rainbow Café - $100 off a dinner for two
Ti Coin Créole - $50 off a dinner for two
Atelier des Tropismes - signed print from Paul Elliott Thuleau
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean


On 9 April The euro was at 1.211 last week and today it is at 1.210. I think we better get used to this. 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 Ti Bouchon, Ti Sucrier, Auberge Gourmande, Sunset Café, California Restaurant, Bistrot Caraïbes, Le Cottage Restaurant, Rainbow Café, Pirate Beach Bar, Pedro's Beach Bar, Bikini Beach, and Restaurant du Soleil and noticed it at La Marine Restaurant, Layla's, 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 Tuesday 18 April, Select Wine Cellar and Enjoy Restaurant will be combining their talents to produce a tasting menu paired with Burgundies. The evening costs 55 euros per person and will start at about 8:30 at Enjoy's waterfront location. We'll be there and if you want to join, make a reservation early as it is a rather small restaurant.

We are on a major eating spree as Martha's brother, a chef, his wife, and two children are here.

On Sunday we went to Kakao Beach for a wonderful lunch with our feet in the sand. We had the smoked duck breast and baked goat cheese salad, an Italian antipasti plate, grilled fresh sardines, a Supreme pizza (ham, mushrooms, cheese, and tomato sauce), a burger for the boy, and a special small order of grilled chicken for the girl, not on the menu but they were most accommodating. It was all good and with two bottles of rosé, a bottle of water, and a couple cokes, the bill came to $159, not bad for six people. There are photos of most things on the website.

Monday night we left the kids home and had a rousing good time at Le Cottage Restaurant in Grand Case. We parked in Grand Case Parking in the center of town and with a couple minutes walk, we were on the front porch at Cottage. Stéphane started us with a white Crozes Hermitage Mule Blanche from Jaboulet, definitely not a chardonnay, very fruity, an excellent aperitif. The usual accras lagniappe arrived and was promptly finished with the aperitif. Another lagniappe appeared, looking like cappuccino, but it was a lobster bisque in a small coffee cup topped with salty whipped cream. At this point a 2003 Savigny-les-Beaune from Girard arrived and yes, they did get it from the same place I do: Select Wine Cellar in Cole Bay. Moreover, the glassware was the Tritan from Select also. Our appetizers were the seared foie gras and a couple wild mushroom soufflés with a broadbean velouté. Martha's brother thought the foie gras was perfection and the wild mushroom soufflés had a rich, earthy taste in an absolutely creamy texture, set off nicely by the velvety bean flavors in the "soup". Our dinners were the mixed duck plate (liver, leg, gizzard, and breast) with braised endive (off the menu), and specials: lamb chops with oyster mushrooms and fingerling potatoes, two lamb loins on a bed of vegetables with potato croquettes. Stéphane brought out a Baron Nathaniel Rothschild Pauillac 2003 and a Ch de Negly from Roussilon-Languedoc. Both were wonderful, flavorful wines that could stand up to the bold flavors in the duck and lamb dishes. Desserts were a multi-layered dessert drink with a jelly made of Beaumes de Venise, sautéed apples, and whipped cream with a crispy almond cracker and a caramel soufflé with a caramel sauce. Bruno demonstrated the correct technique wherein one opens a hole in the top of the soufflé and pours in the sauce. Stéphane brought out a 95 Baron Mathilde sweet wine and for comparison, Jaboulet's 2003 Beaumes de Venise. All this for a mere $300, although we did leave a bit extra for the superb service.

Tuesday lunch at Pineapple Pete's was a pleasant surprise. I had heard good things about the lamb chops at dinner from some rather fussy and wealthy people, so this was not a total shock. Pete, whose real name is Pierre, is French-Canadian and worked for a while at Greenhouse Restaurant before opening this pool hall, live music venue, and restaurant a couple years ago. It's the pool hall and live music part, coupled by the location, hard by the highway that has kept me away for so long. The young boy won a free meal at Sapphire Beach Club's bingo game, so we trouped over. They did have a wine list and they did have a nice rosé. Moreover, the waiter knew how to open the bottle and knew that I should get a taste before he poured for the women, my brother-in-law, and finally me. Our winner had the linguini with greenlip mussels and shrimp, while the rest of us had a house salad with jerked chicken, conch fritters and hot wings, and a Montreal smoked meat sandwich with fries. The linguini looked great, but I didn't get any, the jerked chicken was not for wimps which we all loved, the conch fritters and wings were wonderful, and the Montreal smoked meat is still a mystery, but good. The predominant taste came from the very thin slice of pickle that covered the meat, but the meat, though like corned beef, remains a mystery. Anyway, it tasted fine, and there were other weird French-Canadian things to try next visit. The girl child had a children's meal of chicken and fries, with a drink and ice cream plus a toy from another very friendly waiter. Altogether, the bill was about $130 (adding back in the savings from the free meal) and that fed 6 quite well for lunch. Obviously, there is essentially no view, except for a sliver of the lagoon if you sit between the two buildings. They have some parking across the street, but we found spots in front. All in all, it was pretty good food and excellent service.

Pinel from Pirate Tuesday dinner at Hibiscus Restaurant was the tasting menu. I'm going to wait until next week after we have the Enjoy Restaurant tasting menu and discuss them both. I don't expect I'll eat much else next week!

Wednesday lunch at Pirate Beach Bar featured their Pirate salad with tender conch, a chicken and rib plate, a rib plate, a salad with chicken strips, grilled grouper, and a small chicken lunch for the young lady. A couple rounds of beers and cokes brought the meal up to $66.50. The table was filled with satisfied customers. I like any of the grilled fish plates and Martha loves the conch salad. No question about 1 dollar = 1 euro, because the menu is priced in dollars. No additional 15% added to the bill as at Baywatch. There is even a coupon on the website: Just buy two lunches and we'll add a two beers or rum drinks, two chairs, and an umbrella for only $12 more. the photo of Pinal was taken from Pirate's deck. Lot's of sand over there.

We caught the sunset at Bamboo Bernies and enjoyed cheap drinks (free before 5:30).

Wednesday night dinner was the $25 three course meal at Sapphire Beach Club's Opus Restaurant. We've done it before and think it is well worth the money. It's not inventive but it is a great intro to the standard canon with aps of snails in garlic butter, frog legs in mustard sauce, a Salade Niçoise, or French onion soup and main courses that include beef in Burgundy wine with noodles, sole fillet amandine, and striploin steak in Bearnaise sauce. We've been through all of those with the exception of the salad and the soup and find them all good, a surprising compliment to any steak that is part of a $25 meal. The desserts are also standard profiteroles, an apple tart, or crème brulée. Standard, and perfectly good. Two of the owners of the restaurant (Pascal at L'Alabama Restaurant and José from Le Tastevin) know how to run a restaurant. The staff is good and the wine list is very good. I'm glad they are here. this young lady liked her profiterole. Eat them or wear them, your choice

Thursday dinner at Marrakech Restaurant was another wonderful evening. The place is beautiful, the food is interesting, the service is great, and the bill is low. Toufiq imported all the fixtures from his native Morocco and installed them in a Créole cottage with an interior courtyard in Marigot. The recipes came from his family and they came over to supervise at first. We started with the mixed salad plate for four (we were four adults a teen-aged boy and a seven-year old girl). It consists of a dozen bowls, each containing a taste treat: chili peppers, grated carrots with orange and fig, bell pepper with vinegar and garlic, cucumber with time, tomato and cayenne, wheat berries with lemon confit and herbs, sweet potato with cinnamon and sesame, tomato and caramelized tomato, bell pepper with tomato, cumin, and coriander, potato salad with egg, garlic, and parsley, mashed green peas with paprika and olive oil, and beets with ginger, vinegar, and almonds. Toufiq asked our favorites and brought extras of those. We went on to split four dinners: kefta tajine, meat balls with a poached egg in a very flavorful tomato-based sauce, a lamb tajine, and two cous-cous royales featuring nine vegetables with cous-cous and a wonderful broth plus chicken, merguez, pork, beef, and lamb. The regular tajines and cous-cous dishes hover around 20€ and the royale is 25€ or so and easily feeds two. Three bottles of Moroccan Syrah, several bottles of water, and three mint teas later (about 100€), six of us went home well-fed for about $300. The chef and family specifically chose this restaurant to revisit this year, having been here on a previous visit.

On Friday evening we drove out into a fabulous sunset illuminating the clouds left over from a downpour and made our way to Ti Bouchon in French Cul de Sac. Momo brought us a glass of champagne to start with a tegeda (a floating fizzball made of candy). Our aps were the snails with a hazelnut crust in creamer potatoes with a garlic and parsley butter sauce for the young lady, a duck breast salad topped with a slice of foie gras, tender raviolis stuffed with crawfish and covered with a shallot cream sauce, a seafood tartare featuring salmon, crab, and tuna with a hint of coconut, a jumbo shrimp salad with papaya dressed with the daily vinaigrette, a smoked salmon, mozzarella, and vegetable spring roll with red snapper sashimi and a soy and sesame dipping sauce. All the fish required a sturdy, slightly rare, Cotes du Rhone white from Guigal. It had the usual Marsanne and Rousanne grapes, but Guigal sneaks in a bit of the more expensive Viognier for an extra taste treat. It was a great wine with all the seafood and even the foie gras and duck breast man seemed happy. Then again, after tasting the duck breast, I would have been happy with fizzy water, and I never met a foie gras I didn't like. Martha explained that the French differentiate between a spring roll and a nem, something like our wrap and an egg roll, one is a fresh wrapper and the other is fried to crispness. We switched to a red Belleruche Cotes du Rhone from Chapoutier to go with our sweetbreads with girolles, peas, and beans, a hanger steak with tagliatelle and shaved parmesan, a lamb filet cooked en papilotte with lemon and garlic accompanied by Greek vegetables, veal in crispy pastry with chanterelles and a purée of peas, and a tuna loin, barely cooked with crisp asparagus and wakame salad. My lamb filet came out moist and tender with great flavors from the lemon and garlic. The tender sweetbreads contrasted with the denser girolle mushrooms and even denser peas and beans, making a wonderful dish. The hanger steak is the quintessential bouchon steak, not expensive, but quite flavorful, and the perfect foil for al dente pasta with a bit of truffle oil and herbs with slices of asparagus spears. The crispy veal offered another study in contrasts between the tender and tasty veal and the crispy crust. The tuna was perfection, lightly seared, tender, with crispy asparagus, and crunchy wakame. The two children had desserts: pineapple and papaya crumble with vanilla ice cream and the molten chocolate cake with a raspberry sorbet, widely shared, and appreciated, by the adults. The total bill came to about $270 aided by a 1 to 1 exchange rate, even for traveler's checks. Momo is constantly tweaking the menu in concert with Tony, the chef. The website shows the hand-written menu. It has four standard main courses and six specials. Currently, Momo is working on local fish suppliers. Stay tuned.

Changes: Just a reminder that the Greenhouse Restaurant now has a parking lot just behind it. Conan has said that they will cover the first two hours of your parking with the purchase of a meal. However, the parking lot gates have arrived before his validator. It appears to be on a slow boat, so he cannot validate tickets at the moment. Stay tuned.


Look on the SXM-Info website for a list of all restaurants and others that have coupons for some freebie or discount. There are several coupons there to make your vacation a bit cheaper. Here's a 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
Endless Summer Beachwear
Good Cards (and gifts)

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.

And, for no reason, here is Jean-Claude's hairdressing studio in Marigot.

Jean Claude Hairdresser
Erich S. Kranz
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