St Maarten/St Martin
2 July 2006 Newsletter

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Weather: Philippe at Tabba Khady said in early June that "The season is VERY slow now since ten days, all the business dropped drastically, the roads are empty, there is no traffic at all and that the only positive point of the situation, it is EXTREMLY hot, may be more than usual, hopefully it is not predicting a bad hurricane seaon for St Maarten." The sun sets at about 6:40. I hate to mention it, but since 22 June, the days are growing shorter. The moon will be first quarter on 3 July.

Beaches: SXM Peter has just returned from the island and reports that Cupecoy had as much sand as he had seen for a while and the surf was not rough. Sounds about normal to me. It gets calmer and warmer through May and June and really heats up through July and August, culminating in major hurricane potential in September and early October.

Georges from Belle Epoque Restaurant says it's very slow ... it's June ... The weather is between sun and rain but it's the normal season's weather... The beach ... Well well well and for occupation we have the football word cup ... Allez la France ...

Craig at Pack Light Rentals has posted new lower rates on his website: GSM cell phones for $20 PER WEEK. He bought a batch of phones at a good price and is passing on the savings. This is the phone I use on the island. The GSM phone has free incoming minutes and you buy airtime via cards at any gas station. The cards are priced in dollars and start at only $10. I needed the GSM phone to get good reception on the French side. Craig also offers free delivery and return. Check out the details on his website. Better yet, check out the contest on the Simpson Bay Feature and see if you can win a phone for a week.

Construction: Yet another shed and project has been put up on Cupecoy. This is for the Arenas project. What land this project is developing is beyond me and how one reaches the shed's sales office is another mystery. The new road from the new roundabout at the end of Cupecoy has now poked through the wall at the top of the hill on the French side. I also took some photos of work in Marigot harbor. All these photos are in 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.

Passports: This has been postponed once, but now they are saying that all travel to the USA will require a passport after 1 Jan 2007. If you are coming next year, think about this now, rather than at the last minute. Life is pretty easy if you allow enough time to renew by mail. All the details can be found at this State Department page. This is a repeat, but you need to heed it.

Club Fantastico is having a contest for a free week. Just head over to their website and follow the link to "Win a Free Week".

Select Wine Cellar: Wine of the month : Vinho Verde (green wine) from Portugal: a dry white wine, a little fizzy, notes of green apple, perfect for hot afternoon at the beach or pool, as an aperitif, or with seafood. VINHO VERDE GAZELA / $6.50. Sylvain is also working nights at Moulin Fou next to Cheri's in Maho Plaza.

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.


Summer schedule: the contests will last for two to four weeks. Win $100 at 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: Caroline Kealy and Betsy Irving
Two winners as it has been six weeks!



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
Halsey's Restaurant - $100 toward a meal for two
12 meter challenge: America's Cup Racing - two for one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean
La Guinguette Restaurant - $60 toward a meal for two
Pack Light Rentals - A week's cell phone rental
Grand Case - Grand Case Cookbook

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

The rules make all other contests look like do-it-yourself brain surgery. Just 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.
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.

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. It isn't mentioned, but there are five slots for contest codes on the entry form. Thus, one entry can win five contests.

Future Contests:

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 - two for 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 - two for one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean
Blue Martini - $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 - two for one ticket on the number one activity in the Caribbean


On 14 May the euro was at 1.296 and today it is at 1.278. Not much 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 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 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.

Taste of the Caribbean Competition: Mario from Mario's Bistro, Cecille from Le Chanteclair, Benjamin (Le Sucriere's pastry chef) and Dino Jagtiani from Dare to be Rare and Temptation Restaurantwent to Miami to defend their title at the Taste of the Caribbean competition. They came really close this time. They were one of four teams (out of 16) to reach the finals but then lost to Trinidad for team of the year. St Maarten did win "most innovative dish" for "coconut trilogy" (3 different coconut desserts) and Paul Peterson of Temptation also won the grand prize for "Bartender of the year" for his "St Maar-tini" cocktail. In the individual competition Cecile and Mario got silver, Benjamin got Gold for his dessert, and Dino got a bronze. The individual competition is made up of the chefs who make it to the finals. Congrtatulation to the team and those are five of the best restaurants on the island. Try them out on your next visit.

Wine Tasting Dinners: We went out to the third Thursday dinner and wine pairings at The Sagamore on Lake George on 15 June. As it is an hour's drive and the evening promised a considerable amount of wine, we assembled three other couples and got a limo for the evening. On the French side of the island the legal limit for BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is 0.05% versus 0.08% here in the US. The Dutch side doesn't have a specific limit or very many police on duty at night. A 150 pound man can have four drinks in an hour and stay below the 0.08 limit in the US or two and a half to reach the 0.05 limit in France. It depends on the drink, but a 12 ounce beer, five ounces of wine, and mixed drinks with one ounce of liquor are all about the same. Females lack an enzyme that helps metabolize alcohol, increasing their BAC. Check it all out on this site. The point is that if you wish to enjoy the wine tasting dinners on the island (or even here in the US) you should think about a cab, or make it a special night and think about a limo.

Speaking of enjoying wine tasting dinners, on 24 May Enjoy Restaurant had a tasting dinner with Domaines et Châteaux and Frederic Faure Maître-Sommelier at the Ritz Paris and the Negresco in Nice. Mr Faure and Julien, owner of Enjoy (and a wine merchant), commented on the wines. My only comment is I wish I had been there. Here's the menu and the wine pairings.

Tuna Sashimi with chilled citrus
Condrieu Domaine Vernay 2004

Shrimp ravioli in lobster bisque reduction
Saint-Joseph blanc 2004 Maison Delas

Tilapia fillet with sweet potaoes and ginger emulsion
Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Château Beaucastel 2002

Viognier grape granité

Lamb chops and gravy sauce, vegetables on the side
Châteauneuf-du-Pape rouge Clos des Papes 2003

Assorted Cheeses marinated in olive oil from Provence
Crozes-Hermitage rouge 2004 Cuvée Gaby Dom. Colombier

Undercooked Chocolate orange gingerbread cake
Rasteau Rancio Domaine Bressy-Masson

We've been to previous wine tasting dinners here and had a great time. Halsey's Restaurant also does these dinners almost monthly, frequently in conjunction with Sylvain at Select Wine Cellar. One other comment: I looked at the next dinner at The Sagamore and they are featuring a Kobe Beef Hanger Steak. Ti Bouchon in Cul de Sac served us a fine meal featuring hanger steak last spring. If you haven't been there, you should check out the website, and then check out the restaurant.

Stuffed Crab Back: We just came across some peekytoe crabs available online at Browne Trading Company in Portland, ME. If you miss the great stuffed crab at Ti Coin Créole or Le Mambo Restaurant, you can get some crab and make your own at home. There is no recipe in the Grand Case Cookbook, so we use The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz.

Lamb (chops and otherwise): We've been having some lamb chops from the lambs we raised on pasture last fall and from other local farmers. You can get theirs online at Three Corner Field Farm. With our lamb we have been drinking sturdy Rhone wines (Cote Rotie and Gigondas from Guigal). On the island, Le Cottage Restaurant has assembled a good collection of Rhone wines and even has a Cote Rotie from Guigal to go with their lamb chops with a light pepper sauce with mint flavor. Across the street, L'Escapade Restaurant has a roasted rack of lamb, crushed olives and lime, provençal vegetables and several offerings from Paul Jaboulet, a well-respected Rhone producer. (Philippe Jaboulet will be hosting a dinner at The Sagamore on 19 October.) I recall a special at Escapade when Gerald got some French lamb chops. These probably were the closest to resembling our pasture-raised lamb. Thierry Delauney, previous owner-chef at Hibiscus Restaurant, is now working at Montmartre Restaurant where we have enjoyed lamb chops with thyme and herbs, two vegetable purées, and ratatouille. Their wine list is not online, but I recall wines from Jaboulet were in the Rhone section. Thierry has sent a new menu for translation and we find a ROASTED DOUBLE LAMB CHOP with whole roasted garlic, rosemary demi-glace, and roasted-garlic mashed potatoes. I can't wait to get back! Their sister restaurant, Auberge Gourmande, has a roasted rack of lamb rubbed in a garlic herb paste, served with shallot sauce and olive mashed potatoes with a similar wine list. I would be remiss not to mention the grilled rack of lamb, vegetables, and garlic mashed potatoes with thyme sauce, a house specialty at Bistrot Caraïbes. They have a nice selection of Rhones, including a Crozes-Hermitage "Les Jalets" 1999 Paul Jaboulet Aîné for less than $30, although the vintage may be changed by now. One final note: At times, the south of France meets north Africa. Check out the shank of lamb cooked seven hours with cumin, honey, and dried fruits served with turnips, carrots, and zucchini at Sol é Luna Restaurant or a similar dish at Toufiq's Marrakech Restaurant. It's not tender lamb chops, but lamb shank turned into a tender, flavorful meal via long, moist cooking. Wine Spectator just had a cover story on Chateauneuf-du-Pape putting Henri Bonneau and M. Chapoutier near the top (in quality, and in price). Chapoutier has come to SXM for wine tasting meals and promotions.

Changes: Coconut Joe's has closed.

2006 Restaurant Closings Dates
Bali Bar Closed for September
Beau Beau's Restaurant open all summer
Belle Epoque Restaurant open all summer
Blue Martini 14 Aug - 5 Sep
Sunday and Monday
California Restaurant 20 Aug - 20 Oct
Le Cottage Restaurant September and 2 first weeks of October
Escapade no vacation closing
L'Escargot Restaurant Closed on Saturdays until October
The cabaret show will close July through October,
but can be booked for parties of 20 or more
Sol é Luna Restaurant June 20 to July 12


Caribbean View Condo: We are back in the USA, so our one-bedroom 1,000 square feet condo will be available for rent. The rate on the website is $1000 per week and you get a $50 gift certificate to Ama Bella, jewelers and more, a coupon good for the very best discount that Select Wine Cellar can offer plus a few tastes, a $50 coupon to the island's best new restaurant SkipJack's, a two for one ride on Celine's famous Lagoon Pub Crawl, a welcome champagne and an after-dinner drink from your choice one of the following: Auberge Gourmande, Sunset Café, or Montmartre, two free admissions to Golden Eyes, adult entertainment in Simpson Bay, and a 10% discount off the prices posted on Unity Car Rental's website. Moreover, I'll take $100 off for any newsletter subscriber. That brings the cost down to about $100 per night, tax and service charge included.

Coupons: 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.

Erich S. Kranz
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