St Maarten/St Martin
4 March 2007 Newsletter

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Weather: sunset Sunday started out nicely, not much wind and no whitecaps on the lagoon or out on the Caribbean. Long rollers were coming in from the south however and we skipped the beach. A 20 year old local was carried out to sea in the waves at Mullet and drowned. It may be fun to play in the surf, but please do so only if you are a strong swimmer. We went over to the Horny Toad Guesthouse for a sundowner and an attempt at a sunset shot with our new camera, but the sun was lost in clouds at the horizon. It's still a nice photo. Monday morning had even more haze, obscuring much of Saba. On Tuesday Saba was totally lost and showers passed over Cupecoy frequently in the afternoon. Wednesday was still hazy on the horizon, but we had lots of sunshine, sand, and a pretty good breeze at Orient. Friday started hazy, but some blazing sun burned most of it off. Luckily, there was plenty of breeze for those on the beach and in the regatta. Saturday was more sunshine and breeze with whitecaps on the lagoon and off Cupecoy. Sunset will be at 6:14PM on Sunday. Full moon dates for 2007 are: Apr 2, May 2, May 31, Jun 30, Jul 29, Aug 28, Sep 26, Oct 26, Nov 24, and Dec 23. May 31 will be a blue moon, the second full moon in a month. Note that these are full moon dates for the Caribbean. A full moon occurs at an exact instant when the moon is opposite the sun with the earth in the middle. This happens at 24 different times in the 24 different time zones, some on each side of midnight, leading to European, American, and Asian calendars sometimes having different dates for full moons and, rarely, different months for blue moons.

SXM-Beaches: There's still more beach at Orient than in recent years and more people. With only three cruise ships in we had to wait for a table at Pirate Beach Bar and chairs at Pedro's Beach Bar. An alternative to Orient is Galion Beach where you'll find Tropical Wave. It is an alternative to an alternative beach, ie it is not nude, but is topless at times. Thus, while it also has plenty of sand and is protected by an even more formidable reef, it doesn't get the cruiseship traffic that Orient gets. It regularly gets voted best beach for kids and it's because of more than the lack of nudity. Some of if is the extremely calm water and gentle slope of the sand into the water and much of it is because of things that Pat Turner has done or provided. Take a look at his website to see all that he and Tracey offer. On Thursday Wendy K's Cupecoy beach report says "Some sand at both the crescent (little cove) and middle (by the dock and monolith) beaches today. Super-clear water and gentle waves. The current is moving the sand towards the big beach at the NW end." Wendy K says there was hardly any beach at the north end of Cupecoy, even the far NW end had wet sand, but it was filling in. Go to the beach below Cliffhanger if you want dry sand.

Beach Reading: I just finished Die Trying by Lee Child is his second book featuring Jack Reacher a retired military policeman. They are pretty interesting, fast moving, semi-believable, but hey, this is beach reading.

Construction: We went to Beau Beau's Restaurant and saw their recent construction. They have added an awning and some fans over their deck. Obviously, that's quite useful when it is raining, but it can get really warm out in the sun, so it's helpful even on bright, sunny days. However, the construction news over here is hardly a new awning. Beau Beaus has a stunning view across the bay to the new Westin. We have placed two new photos of the Westin on the construction page. The road to Galion Beach and Tropical Wave has been fixed, not paved, but regraded quite nicely.

Traffic: On Wednesday heading for Orient from Marci's Mega Gym 2000 we were the last ones over before the 11:30 bridge went up. As the Heineken Regatta racers are here, I'm sure that was going to be a long wait. It took 45 minutes to return from Orient to Cupecoy at 4PM, not bad, but one of the reasons you won't read much about dinners in that area. It took half an hour to get to Peg Leg Pub to catch Cover too Cover playing on the back deck at 7PM that evening. Most of the trouble was the opening ceremony for the Regatta at the St Maarten Yacht Club. The Daily Herald announced 14 extra bridge openings.

SXM Shopping: Fredy Maurras is having a showing of his oils and sand paintings at the town hall in Marigot from 19 February until 9 March. We met Ras on Orient Beach and picked up a couple CDs of local reggae music. The Friendly Island Rhythms Volume 1 is now available online on the biggest independent musicians website: CD Baby, but if you are on the island, find it here:
Orient Bay:
-La Playa
-MG Presse
Grand Case:
-Que du Bonheur
-Melo Coton
-DVD Mania
-Music Center
-CD Mania

-Shipwreck shop
Oyster Pond:
-Scuba shop

-Le Grand Marché
-Shipwreck Shops
-Village Plantation

Pointe Blanche:
-Shipwreck Shop
-Happy Hour
CD cover

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. We charge $25 per year. If you wish to rent or sell your unit, send us some text (and $25 to esk@sxm-info.com via Paypal). If you wish to rent or buy a unit without high middleman fees, check out the website. Given the large assessment that Sapphire just levied, there may be a lot of sales. At present, there are 20 sales and/or rentals available directly from owners. Given a 25 to 35% standard rental commission, there should be some bargains in eliminating the middleman and dealing direct.

Travel: All travel to the USA now requires a passport. Note that says to the USA. You still can get here on a driver's license. You just can't get back home, although I've heard that they just make your life miserable for a while. Life is pretty easy if you allow enough time to renew by mail. All the details can be found at this State Department page. Get a Passport!

Small island story: Two indications that we not so small: 239 entrants in the Heineken Regatta are currently passing by our balcony on Friday morning. It's the first day of the regatta which features a race from Simpson Bay around the island and back to a party in Philipsburg. Saturday's race is from there over to the party in Marigot and Sunday has them heading from there to the closing ceremonies and party at Kim Sha Beach in Simpson Bay. The other indication that we aren't so small is the new population figure for the Dutch side: over 50,000.

regatta regatta regatta
regatta regatta regatta

Groceries: The swordfish and baked potato leftover from SkipJack's last Thursday became our own version of a Salade Niçoise on Sunday afternoon. We added romaine and a couple eggs (hard-boiled) from Le Grand Marché in Cole Bay to olives, anchovies, and tomatoes from US Imports in Sandy Ground. The tomatoes should have been green beans. A vinaigrette was constructed with oil, sherry wine vinegar, garlic, and a tiny bit of Dijon mustard, which were in the house but could have come from either store. We added Trembley's Chablis from Select Wine Cellar. If you don't have leftover swordfish, a can of good quality tuna will do - honest.

We picked up some fresh accras and canned roasted peppers at US Import. The accras required frying in a bit of oil in a pan. they were then spread around a salad with tomatoes, romaine, and the peppers. Adventurous sorts can make a sauce chien using diced shallots, fresh thyme, lime juice and canola oil. Add finely diced habaneros to taste. It's a great light lunch and just like the restaurant's version!

As our article in St Maarten Events said, you can do some pretty amazing dishes in your condo.

Club Fantastico

Winter special: buy 5 nights, get two free, buy 7 nights, get 3 free, though March 31, 2007. Not all rooms and dates are eligible, but it is a great deal for last minute travel plans.


For those staying elsewhere in St Martin this season, we welcome you to visit the Club and spend the day with us for $125 per couple, enjoy our facilities and make your future reservations to stay with us. This includes use of our property including open bar, beach transport, Pool, Jacuzzi, Satellite TV (NFL Football) and more fun than you can have anywhere else in the Caribbean. For more info on the club, visit our website. Hope to see you at Club Fantastico this season! And while you are there, enter the summer contest where they can enter to win seven nights during June, July, or August.


Winter schedule: Win $100 at Princess Casino and Baccara Restaurant contest every week until April 2007. 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.

Martin also notes some changes at the Princess for this season. Le Baccara has a new chef. the casino has two new restaurants: the “Rock House”, restaurant and sports bar with “Just Sushi” at one end and a terrace restaurant called “Surf & Turf” Island Grill and Bar. The entertainment is great with a special themed evening every weekend. Examples so far, Miss Princess, Caribbean Night, Oriental Night, Mr.Princess, Victor-Victoria. Friday Night in the Rock House is Karaoke with over 2000 songs in English and French. Monday night (in football season) is, of course, Football night and we have 7 large screens and a couple of pool tables.

Last week's winner:
Tom Goochey


Future Contests:

Stay tuned. They'll be back soon.


On 18 February the euro was at 1.316 and today it is at 1.319. Not bad considering the other changes in the financial markets. This season, some restaurants are still offering a 1 to 1 exchange, but my list of restaurants is smaller this year. Moreover, it is getting to be something of a gimmick as by now the prices have been adjusted to enable a profit at 1 to 1 or else the restaurant would be out of business, so it merely helps with the math and eliminates currency transaction costs, not insignificant benefits to Americans. To further confuse the issue, others are offering an advantageous rate, but not as good as 1 to 1. In any event, these still have pretty good prices and as many restaurants have online menus, you could do the math (if the websites were up to date). We noticed 1 to 1 at Bistrot Caraïbes, Blue Martini, California Restaurant, L'Escapade Restaurant, Hibiscus Restaurant, Restaurant du Soleil, Ti Bouchon, Rancho del Sol, Kokomarina, L'Estaminet, and La Marine. Pedro's Beach Bar and Pirate Beach Bar on Orient are something of a special case as their prices have always been in dollars and still are. 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.

Mario of Mario's Bistro, Cecile from Chanteclair, and Dino from Dare to be Rare and Temptation Restaurant will be going to New York to cook at Daniel for a kickoff celebration for a new American Airlines flight to SXM at the end of March. This is a private affair, by American Airline's invitation only.

On Sunday we walked over to Atlantis Casino and checked out the pizza in the wood fired oven at Carlo@Bella Napoli. First, the restaurant is considerably larger than I thought. They seem to own the rooms on both sides of the entryway from the main road, in addition to using most of the entryway for outdoor seating. They also seem to do a pretty good business. While we were there, most of the tables in the entryway were filled, some in the room with the restaurant's kitchen and we were sitting on the mezzanine level with the outdoor wood-fired pizza oven in front of the other (empty) dining room. We came for the pizza but there is a full Italian menu, heavy on pasta, with a board full of specials. Having just bought a pizza at Belle Epoque Restaurant last week, I can state that these prices were about the same (12€ or $15.60 at BE versus $15 to $16 here), but these are wood fired. The wine prices seemed high and they certainly didn't seem to have a cheap pitcher of red (also 12€ for 500 ml at BE). We struggled to find a bottle of wine under $40 and settled on a Sangiovese of indeterminate origin for $33. Really. I am not making this up. It was not a DOC wine (Denominazione di Origine Controllata, essentially France's AOC, controlling the production of wines with "names"), but said that it was made like wines in Tuscany. Tasted good enough for pizza with hot oil and hot peppers. Like the French side, all the pizzas have names which in theory are standardized and everybody's Reine pizza has tomato sauce with mozzarella, ham, and mushrooms. There are many more. While I am a fan of the metric system and standardization of screw threads, shoe sizes, floor tiles, etc, there are times I think the Europeans have gone too far. This is one of them, but I generally get a Reine pizza and live with it. Moreover, one rarely sees size as an option and, as my wives have told me, size does matter. One standard size pizza is too big for a single person and too small for the two of us. Unfortunately, the Reine didn't exist here, but there was a Capriccioso (or something like that), same as the Reine with the addition of artichokes. In an attempt to please Americans, there was a note at the bottom of the pizza menu stating that additional ingredients could be added for $3. I thought about telling them to keep the artichokes and take off $3, but I knew that was going nowhere. We ordered and shortly thereafter, the pizzas arrived and it turns out that I got a Reine with small and tender artichoke leaves. It tasted fine. Martha's Rustica had an egg dropped in the center, plus eggplant (no relation), mushrooms, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. We took home about half a pizza and paid $79, a bit more than the $73 at Belle Epoque Restaurant last week. The difference was in the wine prices and a mysterious $10 added to our bill. There was no mention of service on the menu and no notation of what the $10 might have been on the bill that was brought to us. It was quite close to 15%, so I called it a tip, picked up my change, and left.

Which brings us to today's rant. There has been a lot of flapdoodle about the strong euro and the high prices on the French side. If you drink fine French wines, while having an appetizer of fine French foie gras and a main course of fine French duck breast, you will be paying for the fine French franc (sorry, euro, but the alliteration carried me away). Down here where most of the food comes from the US (and I bet that includes the mozzarella at Carlo's), there is essentially no difference in casual restaurants.

On Monday we parked in the central parking lot in Grand Case and strolled down to Le Cottage Restaurant for another take on Bruno's new chef. We made reservations for the water view table (the one that has a view through L'Escapade Restaurant to Grand Case Bay). We settled into our table with a glass of 2005 Bourgogne Aligoté from Girard (available for $12 at Select Wine Cellar). It was crisp, dry, and young, and would have made a perfect kir with a bit of cassis. Bruno came over and started the night's specials with a hamburger. I thought this was another Bruno joke, but no, it was the chef's joke. He took fairly thin circles of top quality tuna and lightly seared them to give them the look of a hamburger bun. He placed cooked peppers and mushrooms inside and sprinkled sesame seeds on the top, just like a Big Mac. In the center of the plate was "ketchup", in reality a flavorful caramel sauce, and on the left were fries. These really were close to being fries as they were sweet potato fries, but done up in a batter with just a hint of heat. There is a photo on the website. We were brought a tasty amuse bouche of celeriac and tuna bits (no doubt trimmings from the hamburger) as we finished the Aligoté. The hamburger arrived with a glass of 2004 Chablisienne and a non-vintage Graves Floridene. We like Chablis and we like this one, but the aromatic hints in the Graves seemed to fit better with the myriad flavors that the chef supplied. For our main courses we choose the choucroute and the duck confit. Bruno's chef reinvents these dishes, so if you arrive looking for the classical creation, you will be disappointed, at least until you taste the dish. The choucroute had cabbage, very thinly sliced in a wonderful sauce. The potatoes were the thinnest possible slices layered on top of the cabbage and seared scallops (?) were placed on top of that. No scallops in Alsace as far as I know, and the choucroute's heavy accent on meat, esp pork, was transformed into a tower of interlaced dollops of ham-flavored mousse and the thinnest, crispest slices of ham rising up from the scallops. The photo on the website is worth several thousand of these words. Stéphane paired this with a Sauvignon Blanc, a fairly common approach with the mild flavors of ham and the white wine infused cabbage, but even better with the non-traditional scallops. Martha had the duck confit with some duck breast stuffed with mushrooms and veg, a millefueille of crisp waffle potato chips and foie gras, and the standard confit. Confit is a process wherein goose or duck (and usually the lower quality meat and innards) is slowly simmered in its own fat and eventually stored in tightly sealed glass still surrounded by its own fat. In a dark cool spot, it will keep for six months without refrigeration. You can buy duck and goose confit at many of the grocery stores on the island in clear glass jars with canning jar tops, esp on the French side. In this reinterpretation, the chef uses the jar but loses the fat. A broth surrounds the usual elements (peas, leeks, carrots, golden zucchini, duck leg, thigh, and gizzard) in the usual jar. It's probably better for you and less filling, but there's nothing like several ounces of duck fat for mouth feel. Martha's wine was a red from Lacoste Borie in Pauillac. We finished with espresso and a ballon or two of 1979 Château de Bedat, Old Armagnac, smooth as a used car salesman and much better for you. Bruno actually gives 1.2 dollars to the euro (cash or credit card which will be charged in dollars saving the 3% foreign exchange fee!) and the wine prices by the glass are spectacular. Our total bill was about $136 because we were charged for six glasses of wine at 6 euros, about $7, for a total of $42. Anyone who has read these screeds knows that our Burgundy bill frequently is twice that. In this case, we were drinking lesser known wines filtered through the knowledge of Gault Millau's Sommelier of the Year, making them quite good, yet inexpensive. Moreover, each dish was matched with a wine. Because of this, I find this to be one of the finest dining experiences on the island. Moreover, service is good, the appointments are nice, the people are fun, and after two visits this season, I feel qualified to place the new chef in the top echelon of island chefs, but remember that he is reinterpreting French cuisine. If you are an adventurous sort, this is interesting food.

After our wonderful dinner at Le Cottage Restaurant, we sat down with owner Bruno Lemoine and discussed the euro and one to one pricing that still exists in Grand Case, and hardly anywhere else. Grand Case is essentially half and half in terms of who is charging one to one and who is not. A quick check of online menus shows that the prices at some one to one places are better, and some are not. The difference is more related to view, advertising costs, physical plant quality, and food quality. As I said earlier, look at the prices you will pay taking into account the exchange rate and make up your mind on that. One to one may be better, it may not.

On Tuesday evening, we went to La Petite Auberge des Iles in Marigot's Marina Royale Complex. Francoise and Bruno Darricarrere came here about ten years ago and have been serving reliable French food in this location ever since. There is always a fixed price menu with two or three choices for appetizers and main courses. It appeared that the entire dessert menu was available as the dessert course on the fixed price menu. The price is currently 23.50€ (about $30) for a three course meal, most inexpensive. There is also a full menu and some specials every night. Moreover, the specials can usually be substituted into the fixed price three course meal. We arrived at 7:30 with another couple to a table we had reserved and found several other parties without reservations waiting to be seated. We thought Tuesday would be slow because of the festivities every Tuesday in Grand Case, but this is the start of the Heineken Regatta so entire boat crews are roaming free in the evenings. Moreover, on Tuesday evenings a charter boat brings over ten or so people for a lagoon cruise and dinner. The restaurant is small, so to avoid disappointment, it is best to have reservations. Bruno explained the three specials: smoked duck salad, a pike/perch (sandre) in a sorrel sauce, and a rack of pork with four spices. The smoked duck salad could be either a smaller appetizer portion or a larger main course portion. The ladies just had a main course and poached salads and desserts from the men. We both had the small portion of the smoked duck and found it to be very good with many flavors and textures from walnuts and bleu cheese. Great minds think alike and had three racks of pork with Martha opting for the pike/perch, a fairly firm-fleshed, freshwater fish. Both arrived with lots of veg and a bit of starch. The pork was quite nice with its flavors of ginger, coriander, nutmeg, and cinnamon and the fish was very good, firm and tasty with its standard preparation in sorrel. For desserts we choose profiteroles and an exotic fruit tart. I certainly couldn't finish my three profiteroles, but my tablemates were most helpful. The tart was also good and came with ice cream, if requested. We had two bottles of Bouchard's La Vignée non-vintage Pinot Noir (19€, $25), several glasses of pinot grigio, and two bottles of water. The total bill was $167 after Bruno used the current exchange rate (about 1.3). For US credit cards, he has a US dollar account to save you the 3% foreign exchange fee. This is France, so we added a 5-10% tip and had a most satisfying meal for under $50 per person. Don't expect the finest in decor and wide open spaces, but you can expect good food at very good prices with friendly, though at times rushed, service. They fill up early, so by the end of the night things were a bit less hectic.

On Wednesday we headed to Pirate Beach Bar on Orient for some eponymous salad. Yes, they call conch salad "Pirate Salad" and if you like conch, this is a healthy portion of conch is a slightly spicy sauce on a large bed of chopped romaine, red and green peppers, tomatoes, and onions with four garlic breads scattered about. It's quite a bit to eat and at only $8 (US, no conversion required, despite being in France), quite a bargain. We added enough Matouk's Hot Sauce to make it very spicy and enough Carib beer to chill us back down and spent a grand total of $22. Use the coupon on the website and get an even better deal. We headed down to the nude section of Pedro's Beach Bar for some chairs and sight seeing. Even with only three boats in Pburg, it was pretty busy on the beach.

We went to Peg Leg Pub to catch Cover too Cover, David, a Brit, and Bob, from Massachusetts. They cover hits from the previous millennia and do a credible job in addition to being pretty funny at times. You can catch them here on Wednesday evenings and at the B pool at Pelican on Friday at happy hour. We caught a set and a couple Stellas on draft, best beer in the world. Afterwards, we went over to Lido BBQ for what we think is some of the best BBQ on the island (now that Texas Pit has departed). Lido has a smoker and chicken and ribs have a real smoky flavor, not hot. They come with scalloped potatoes that we love and the rice and peas, and mac and cheese are pretty good also. They fill the bottom of the tripartite styro with those and layer the meat on the top. Chicken is $5 and ribs are $8. Honest. We got one of each, took it home, and didn't even eat half of what we bought. That makes for a $6.50 dinner for two. Pick up a Trinity Oaks Zinfandel at Maho Food Express and some hot sauce for a great meal. You could feed four with the wine for under $25.

We went over to Select Wine Cellar for a wine tasting at 5PM on Thursday. We started with the 2005 Bourgogne Aligoté ($12) from Girard that we had at Le Cottage Restaurant on Monday. We still like it. His Savigny les Beaune was even better (about $22). We then tried a white 2005 Chateauneuf du Pape ($38.50) made from five different grape varieties, very complex and surprisingly smooth for such a young wine. A negotiant from southern France brought in a chardonnay from Jura that he had made. It had never seen any wood and was surprisingly good. Later that evening he brought out two versions of a rosé, one flavored with grapefruit and the other with peach. The negotiant said that wine consumption is dropping in France (down 20% per capita from 1990 to 2000 and not too many extra capitas either, about 3%), so he is searching for ways to differentiate his product. The owner of Champagne Restaurant, the small restaurant across the corridor in the corner of the Orange Grove Shopping Center was also there and Sylvain and Marina said the next tasting will be held in conjunction with the restaurant. That's good, because it was getting very crowded inside the wine shop, esp with so many recent shipments arriving. We tried a Ch de Saint Amour, a Beaujolais from Saint Amour that sells very well around Valentine's Day. It really is better than the average Beaujolais. We also tasted a Boucassé, Saumur, and a red Chateauneuf du Pape, but my notes are blurred. I do recall that the reds tasted quite nice with the two patés on offer and I thought the white Chateauneuf du Pape was wonderful with the St Marcellin cheese. It was more of a party than a tasting and very little buying was happening. Unfortunately, we had to get to dinner reservations.

We headed over to Ti Sucrier in nearby Sandy Ground. It's a bit hard to find, but lovely when you get there. If you have the bandwidth, check out his site for maps. If not, use my Sandy Ground Resturant map. If you go to his site, there are lovely sugarbird drawings and tree frogs, not sugarbirds, chirping as you pass over the links. These are our sugarbirds. Martha has been feeding them (sugar, what else?) on our back balcony now that our cat has died. Last Saturday we picked cotton on the cliffs above Cupecoy and put it on our balcony. Shortly thereafter, our pair started taking the cotton to build a nest in the gardens at Sapphire Beach Club.

Sugarbird getting cotton Sugarbird getting cotton Sugarbird getting cotton

The restaurant is in a lovely open dining room raised a few feet above the lagoon with lovely views across the lagoon. We could faintly hear the bass from the Regatta party outside Princess Casino, see the planes land soundlessly at PJIA, see the new Aquamarina project in Maho, and many other lights around the lagoon. The menu is extensive, with a few soups, about a dozen appetizers, and fifteen main courses. Sylvain, the chef, has considerable experience in the US and here. His menu features some standard recipes handed down from his grandmother and a lot of Asian influences. Someone named Mary had stuck a flyer under out windshield wiper offering two free drinks here, although we had already made the reservations because we had two wonderful visits last season. The free drinks were quite serendipitous. We started with a Campari and soda and a Martini rouge, Martini and Rossi's red vermouth on the rocks, and ordered Bouchard's 2002 Savigny les Beaune (33€). Our chicken spring roll arrived in a hot crispy crust with crispy lettuce, radicchio, and a sprig of mint to wrap around the roll before dipping it all into a sauce with a bit of nam pla, a salty fish sauce from Thailand. There are many varied textures, tastes, and temperatures packed into this dish for a mere 10€. Our dinners were the pintade (guinea fowl) with Grand Marnier and (22.5€) and the duck breast with mixed wild mushrooms (25€). Both came with garlic mashed potatoes topped with some spinach and a spear of asparagus accompanied by mushrooms including hard sautéed, crispy oysters, less crispy oysters, and chanterelles. The wine was quite good, rivaling the Beaune du Chateau (42€) that was also on the wine list, and was fine with our full-flavored dinners. We ended with espresso and a chat with Sylvain who seems pleased with his first year in this new restaurant. Our total bill was about $125 after they applied the 1.3 exchange rate. There were several dinners under 20€ and the duck was the second most expensive main course. Certainly, if you are in the lowlands, this is a most convenient, lovely, and tasty place to try.

On Friday morning we went to Marigot's Marina Royale for a casual lunch at Le Village Restaurant and a meeting with Jerome from SXM Boat Trips. The meeting was short. The boat was there and is a 27 ft Boston Whaler with twin 150's and room for eight. He'll take you anywhere you want to go around here, Anguilla, or St Barts for $650 max. That is about $80 per person. He seems like a nice guy, was recommended by a mutual friend, and speaks very good English (note the price is in dollars). Lunch was a bottle of Pellegrino (very hot day), a pitcher of Rosé, tuna tatare, and curried mussels. While we were there, we got a bit of a wireless signal from Bali Bar, but not enough to function well at this distance. We have connected at Saint Germain Restaurant while enjoying a Stella Artois at happy hour prices. Our lunches arrived and easily took us away from our internet pursuits. Martha found her tuna tartare to be quite good with quality tuna, scallions, and green peppers tossed with olive oil and a touch of lemon with red peppercorns on top. A nice cool lunch on this hot day. My mussels were large and arrived piping hot, filling the container (photo on the site). Under the mound of shells was a very tasty curry sauce, but it was a bit of work to get there. Luckily I had a pitcher of rosé and several wet naps. In a few minutes the mussels were out of there shells and I had a very tasty curry flavored soup with mussels and some very crispy fries for lunch. We usually combine a lunch in Marigot with some shopping or other errand and certainly any business on the western edge of downtown is a short walk from here. A lovely way to pass a few hours.

Today our errands were to get info from Georges at Bali Bar concerning music for the coming week (see below, under HAPPENINGS) and pick up some cosmetics at Lipstick. Lipstick is doing 1 to 1 pricing.

On Saturday morning we went to Grand Case Beach Club's Activites Desk for a guided tour of the reef fish at Créole Rock. We saw all the usual suspects and worked up quite an appetite. We then had lunch at Sunset Café having the island's best mussels steamed in white wine with cream, shallots, etc. A bottle of water to restore our vital fluids, a bottle of rosé to improve our outlook on the world, and moules frites on the deck overlooking Créole Rock, Petit Plage, and Anguilla. While there, we pondered mussels: Curry style at Le Village Restaurant, with tomato sauce and cheese at Mario's Bistro, or with cream and ??? here at Sunset Café. My advice is that Mario's is closed at lunch, other than that, you choose.

Changes: Didn't notice anything.


Every Tuesday afternoon from 4:30 until 6:00, Ti Bouchon will host a small (ten people maximum) wine tasting on their porch. There is no charge, but if you would like to attend, please visit the website and call or send an reservation request no more than one month in advance. Be sure to mention a date and the number in your party. We're going on 20 March.

Friday night sushi and happy hour (from 4 till 6 PM) is still happening at Halsey's Restaurant. We had a great time when last we were there.

Bali Bar in Marigot's Marina Royale generally has live music or a DJ starting at 7:30 CST (Caribbean standard time) on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. This week it's Bobo on sax with Shine on vocals doing love songs on Wednesday, The Pap's version of the blues, funky jazz, reggae, and soul on Friday, and a Saturday disco party with DJ Pascal21.

Roy Deep Sea Fishing is looking for two more people at $150 each to fill out a morning half-day charter on 1 June. Send an email if you are interested.

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. The easiest free welcome champagne cocktail from Auberge Gourmande, Montmartre, and Sunset Café is no longer available, but here's a list of what you'll find:

Le Baccara Restaurant
Bikini Beach
Beau Beau's
Kakao Beach
Los Gauchos
Kakao Beach
Oizeau Rare
Pirate Beach Bar
Paradise View
Paris Bistro
Pedro's Beach Bar
Saint Germain
Tai Chi
The Wharf
Lots here
and here
Select Wine Cellar
Endless Summer Beachwear
Good Cards (and gifts)

We have a car from Don at GCL Car Rental. They have always been good to us and you can read several testimonials on their site from others. He and Daniel are certainly worth an email when you want reliable, yet inexpensive, transportation. I've never tested them, but they say they will come and pick you up if you think you have over-indulged.

Those who like Club Orient might be interested in Club Fantastico. Check it out. Richard says "At Club Fantastico the Jacuzzi is percolating and the pool is a perfect temperature for skinny dipping late into the evening. The Caribbean Sea is aqua blue and warm as can be. Chef Antonio was here over the holidays and will be back, so stay tuned. Music and fine cuisine will be the norm."

The Mario's Bistro Cookbook is now available. They are shipped via UPS and cost $49 for one, $87 for two, and $123 for three, delivered. Delivery via UPS should take a day or two in the US.

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 offers personalized service to fit your needs and budget.

Erich S. Kranz
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