From the 8 Jan newsletter
(this was shopping
for our New Year's Eve dinner at home): We found a ripe Guadeloupe melon and
lovely fresh lobe of foie gras at Match
around, we picked up some Reblochon at Chez Bernadette and
in Marigot. Steve Jenkins calls it "a triumph of cheese-making" in
. After tasting both the goose and pork
rillete, we went with the goose even though it cost one-third more.
Rene also provided us with a very tasty Cote du Boeuf, essentially prime
rib. Heading back into Cole Bay, we stopped at Ram's
and picked out
three bottles of rosÚ to go with the melon. As we came back through Simpson
Bay, we realized that we didn't have any mushrooms and groaned that we would
have to continue past our home in Cupecoy to US Import
when we thought of the Lido Express
Parking can be difficult, but we got a spot and found that they had beautiful
oyster mushrooms and shiitakes from Holland. We have been told that the Gourmet Market
has sold the building and moved nearby to a smaller location. Our informant was
not as impressed with the selection, but did buy her New Years caviar there.
Note that the Food Express will now validate your parking in the garage behind
This week, a shopping expedition to US Import
another Guadeloupe melon and some Serrano and Bayonne ham. We could not tell the
difference and suggest the Serrano as it is cheaper by a third. The Virginia
baked ham at Lido
in Maho is quite good, but the texture does not match that
of these air-cured hams.
On 29 Jan the euro was at 1.305 and today
it is at 1.293. That's better, and the stock market went up, finally.
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 that at Bikini
Beach, Restaurant du Soliel, California,
Gourmande, and La Marine. We
Balaou, Santal, Sebastiano, and Marlin's Cafe were offering the same. Note that
some only offer this rate for cash. We will let you know about other places as
we find them. 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.
We had guests arrive on Monday
and given their tender condition, we went for a low key dinner at Belle
in the Marigot Marina. We had two bottles of the
Saumur-Champigny red (the 20 euro wine of the week), two pizzas, and two tuna
steaks with anchoiade sauce. Officially, that's a sauce of anchovies, garlic,
and sometimes olive oil. We suspect the chef added a bit more, but whatever
he did it was quite tasty. I think the pizzas are the best outside of a
wood-fired oven. We also had profiteroles and an old rum. It's a pretty
good deal when four people can have more than enough to eat, with two
bottles of wine an ap and a dessert for only $115.
On Tuesday the lagoon was glassy and we headed for
Orient. We had a wonderful lunch at Bikini
on a lovely afternoon. Everybody was eating healthy:
calamari salad, grilled chicken salad, fruit and shrimp salad, and melted goat
cheese salad. We added two bottles of the Moutete rose and given 1 to 1 for
cash, got out for a mere $110. We headed on down the beach and got a few beers,
chairs, and umbrellas at Pedro's Beach
. They are on the edge of the nude beach. Currently they have
some clothed chairs in front of the bar, a small area with no sand in front of
the parking lot, and a few chairs a bit further along in the nude section. Elise
at Pedro's said that she has live music on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. We
have a special feature
of photos on these two places. Both of them have coupons on their
Tuesday dinner was at Montmartre
at the Atlantis Casino. Olivier walked by and said
Beaune Champs-Pimont. I nodded. Shortly thereafter he appeared with a bottle and
four large glasses. He offered me a taste and when I approved, he poured
for Martha, walked all the way around the large banquette and poured for
Phyllis, then Wayne (our guests), and finally walked all the way around the
banquette again to finish with me. He knows how to do things right and takes the
time to do it. I admit the wine would taste about the same, but a
waiter who knows what you want and takes the time to serve it correctly is well
worth finding. Our aps were a garden salad loaded with veg, a landaise salad
loaded with duck, and a terrine of foie gras. Olivier asked if I would like a
glass of monbazillac with the terrine and, of course, I accepted. Sweet wine
with foie gras is a great combination. I had raved about the capon breast (and
leg) stuffed with porcini mushrooms and foie gras so much that our guests
both ordered it. Martha had the duck confit and I tried the kangaroo. They
were all lovely dishes, beautiful to look at, with a myriad of veg and potato
combinations. The kangaroo was quite similar to duck breast in both taste and
texture. There are photos on the website.
Wednesday night was an early and laid back pizza meal at Hot
after our long day in the sun and sea on Random Wind
. A salad, four
wood-fired pizzas with great ingredients, a bottle of red (Jaboulet's Cotes du
Rhone) came to $100. The great ingredients include caramelized onions and
roasted garlic. The pizzas were of a size that we were one slice short of
having two whole pies to take home. They made an excellent lunch on Thursday
(although I did have a slice for breakfast).
Thursday night we went out to Ti Coin
in Grand Case
When we got there, every table except ours was full. That's only about a
dozen people as this is a very small place, so reservations are handy. Carl is
expanding his appetizer list and had accras as a special. The salt fish
fritters were as good as any that we have had and there were about 50% more than
most restaurants serve. We made ample use of his homemade hot sauce and were
quite happy. He had received some fresh conch, so we got to try a conch stew and
there were some conch strips in the seafood pasta. The stew was very tasty and
the conch were tender as could be. The seafood pasta at 19 euros included
mahi-mahi, four shrimp, some conch, and salmon on a bed of pasta with light
sauce that let most of the fresh seafood taste shine through. He also had a
chicken breast with a tamarind sauce as a special. You won't find that in many
places and he is thinking of adding it to the menu. It was also very tasty,
spicy, but not HOT spicy, just that additional flavors beyond the chicken were
present. A vanilla creme brulee and coffees with complimentary
rums finished the evening. All together with water, a bottle of
wine, three aps, four dinners, coffees, and dessert, our bill was about 130
euros or $156 at 1.2 to 1. That's for four people. This is the quiet end of
Grand Case. There were very few cars all evening and most passersby were on
foot, heading back to Grand
Case Beach Club
after dining further down restaurant row. Carl has a
small parking lot along the side street next to his
Friday night we went to Bistrot Caraibes
also was pretty full when we arrived and stayed that way, although there was
always a table or two available. There were six of us and the aps were two
salads, two specials of snails and mushrooms in a garlic cream sauce, and
the island's best smoked salmon, which, for once, I did not order. I did regret
it ever so slightly, but the flavors and textures in the snail dish helped
me forget my sense of loss. Three of our dinners were a special
of mahi-mahi on a bed of mashed potatoes in a light red sauce with
tomatoes, asparagus, and baby lima beans. The flavors and textures just load up
the plate. My tablemates also had the duck breast which featured more breast
than any duck I have seen, the fisherman's stew (Martha's favorite), and the
fresh whole French sea bass (my favorite, although I had the mahi-mahi). Out of
habit, we started with Drouhin's Rully (40 euros, now a 2003) and then ordered a
second. It's great with the smoked salmon and the seabass and probably helps to
cut the oil in salads, but the full flavors of the snails, the magret, and even
the other fish dishes could have used a red. The Crozes-Hermitage would have
been good and some lighter burgundies would have been great. Service from
Thibault and Amaury and the crew was superb, as usual. The dinners came in at
about 100 euros, or $130 per couple, including a $52 bottles of wine for each
couple. There are many less expensive bottles, including Drouhin's LaForet. Even
though they charge the going rate for the euro, their prices are quite good
because they have lowered them or held the line over several years. There really
is more to pricing than 1 to 1.
From the 8 Jan newsletter -
We celebrate New Year's at Chez Nous
(home). We had the Guadeloupe melon with the smoky Virginia ham and the three
2003 rosÚs for lunch. The RosÚ d'Anjou Les Merles ($6.25) was too sweet for
our taste. The other two were from Cotes de Provence. Saint Roche had a lovely
label while the Cartes Noir label was more subdued. One cost $7.70 and the
other was $7.00. Unfortunately, there are no stickers on the bottles.
Fortunately, we could hardly tell the difference between the two, so buy the
cheaper one! Better yet, go to Vinissimo
went through this last year and Sylvain had better rosÚs at prices that were
just as good. This was our punishment for skipping last week's wine tasting. A
bit of Chez
reblochon with a crusty baguette finished a lovely lunch and
fortified us for an afternoon on the beach. Dinner started with Loriot rosÚ brut
champagne and moved to the table for seared foie gras slathered with shallots
and balsamic vinegar with a glass of sweet Banyuls. The prime rib was very tasty
(although more expensive than the Cost-U-Less version from last week) with the
mushrooms, shallots, and herbs. Even the green beans from Lido Express
quite good, saving a bundle compared to haricot vert from US Import
. We confess that
the potatoes were leftover from last week's takeout rib dinner bought
in Cole Bay. We were very impressed with the quality and quantity of food from
this place (Subsequently, it was voted best barbecue on the island). The wine
for dinner was Bruno Clair's 1999 Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers from Vinissimo
smooth as silk and long lasting.
The next day we followed an old South Carolina tradition and
had Hoppin' John for breakfast. Hoppin' John is rice and peas. In SC, they
really are peas (black-eyed peas) but in SXM kidney beans usually substitute. In
our case, the rice and beans were still left over from the good and
extremely large takeout from Lido
bleary mornings, I like a bit of hot sauce on my leftover pizza or Hoppin' John.
Possibly that is where the name Hoppin' John comes from.
For a late lunch, we went over to Layla's
Sandy Ground. There were few people there when we arrived at 1PM, but it was
packed when we left at 2:30. We had a bottle of Clos
, which may not be the best rosÚ in the world, but certainly has the
prettiest blue bottle. Our lunches were a very fresh grilled red snapper and
moules poulette (in white wine and cream with onion and parsley). Still one of
the best meals you can get with your toes in the sand.
On Monday night we stopped in at Hot Tomatoes
for a casual dinner.
We just had a bottle of Jaboulet's excellent Parallele 45 Cotes-du-Rhone
($21.50), the beef brisket on the menu, and some special lamb chops with a
bearnaise-like sauce. the brisket is under $20 and the chops were over, such
that our entire evening cost under $70 even after the 15% service charge.
The dinners came with veg (cauliflower) and a potato/rice of your choice. The
portions are large enough that we have a lunch leftover. There is a coupon on
the website, sort of.
Tuesday lunch was at Sunset Cafe
Grand Case after Martha got a her massage at Aia
. She was very relaxed, but the view over Grand Case Bay to
Creole Rock, Anguilla, and Molly Smith Point should relax anyone. If not,
add a bottle of Carte Noir Rose and two tasty salads (one seafood and the other
turkey and crab). After lunch we loafed on the beach and talked with Sebby
from the Activities
, just outside the restaurant. He said the reef at Creole Rock
has never looked better. We were relaxing, so we said we would get him to
take us out soon, but not that afternoon.
Wednesday lunches were tuna salad and a salad Nicoise at
on the water in Pburg. You can't beat the view
out over the palm
covered huts, through the palms, to Great Bay, especially when the 12-meter
yachts are racing. Our lunch with a bottle of Bouchard's La Vignee rouge was a
most pleasurable affair.
We have made a commitment to go to at least one new (at least
to us) restaurant per week for the winter season. Accordingly, dinner was at
Toufiq's Marrakech in Marigot. He was doing surprisingly well.
We had no reservation and actually had to wait in the opulent bar for about 20
minutes, reclining on the couch, drinking campari and soda - the
sacrifices we make for this newsletter will never be fully appreciated. We moved
through the open courtyard to a beautiful table in a well-appointed room and
were given the leather menus and wine list. We choose a Moroccan wine, Domaine
Mayole, a cab/syrah blend, that got better as it breathed a bit and was
positively smooth in a half hour or so. We started with an assorted brochette
containing lamb, beef, and sausage with three sauces, chick pea puree,
caramelized onions and tomato with honey topped with toasted almonds, and a jam
of green peppers and tomatoes. Our dinners were more sausage with a seven
vegetable cous-cous and a lamb tajine with prunes. A spicy harissa sauce and a
vegetable broth were available to augment the already tasty meal. Toufiq is the
chef and he has hired and trained a good staff. Service was fine and friendly.
Our entire bill, with water and the drinks at the bar, came to about $125 and
we'll be having lunch on that ticket as well. They are located on Rue
d'Hollande, the road on the back side of Marigot running from Bellvue to
Grand Case. They are across the street from the school/stadium and you usually
can find parking there.
Look on the SXM-Restaurants 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.
in Philipsburg is bargain at $80 per night for a 1BR suite
with a kitchen. It's not on the water, but they have a pool.
Shell Residence in Simpson Bay is bargain at
$100 per night for a 1BR suite with a kitchen, all taxes and service included.
It's across the street from the water and they have a pool. Make a reservation
and get a $50 coupon to Ama Jewelers and a $25 coupon to Hot
Cabana, a one bedroom studio on
the lagoon in Cupecoy, is only $695 for the week all taxes and service
California has two apartments for rent that are right on the water in Grand Case.
The one bedroom, sleeps four, is $750 and the two bedroom, sleeps six, maybe
more, is $1100 for the week. They have just added a villa next door on the
beach, three bedrooms, great views, at only $2800 per week.
Sandy Molloy at Molloy Travel
says that she has negotiated a great deal at Alamanda and has can't beat rates
at Le Petit, L'Esplanade, Maho, and La Plantation.