St Maarten/St Martin
17 February 2007 Newsletter

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Weather: Sunday was warm and clear, but breezy, a pretty good day for Art in the Park. The wind was moving some of the tents about and blew over a lot of artwork. The sunset (right) that evening was lovely. Monday and Tuesday were much the same with a bit less wind and a few spots of rain. Wednesday started out cloudy, but turned pretty sunny by late morning. The wind was whipping up whitecaps on the lagoon, suggesting that people on Orient would be getting a free dermabrasion treatment. It was so hazy that even Saba had disappeared into the mist. It got worse, with a tremendous tropical downpour featuring outrageous winds at about 1PM. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were better, but there was still some scattered, short showers. Here's the local weather forecast from the Weather Underground and here's one from the Weather Channel. Today's (17 Feb) sunset will be at 6:11PM. Full moon dates for 2008 are: 21 Feb, 21 Mar, 20 Apr, 20 May, 18 Jun, 18 Jul, 16 Aug, 15 Sep, 13 Oct, 13 Nov, and 12 Dec.   Sunday sunset

View from Rituals Coffee Shop   SXM-Beaches: Early in the week, Wendy K reports that there's some sand at all 3 beaches at Cupecoy. The most is at the main beach at the far NW. It's easy getting in and out of the water at that end. We were in Pburg and it looks fine. The photo on the right was taken from Rituals Coffee House looking west up the boardwalk and the one on the right was taken from inside Antoine Restaurant looking over their lovely beach (they have planted palm trees) to Great Bay. Two of the 12 meter boats are out in the bay. You can also get an idea about the weather: gray. On Saturday Wendy K wrote: "Are you guys cold, or is it just us? Our thermometer reads 26C, but it sure doesn't feel like 78F. [ed note: it's either the wind chill or you have been here too long] Cupecoy today was lovely, with most of the sand at the main beach and fairly gentle waves at the shore and larger swells further out. This is not usual, I think, but I managed to swim to the rock & back with no problem." In truth, I agree that it is at least cool. If you don't know where the island's beaches are, visit SXM-Beaches for maps and photos.   View from Antoine Restaurant

Beach Reading: I'm still reading A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain. He's moved on from monkey brains and unrefrigerated markets where flies crawl over meat that is warming in the sun to some slightly more civilized countries.

Activities: We did go to the Art in the Park festival in the Emilio Wilson Park. There were probably 20 vendors offering photographs, paintings, purses, jewelry featuring shells and local seeds, and more. We've always liked the sand paintings from Fredy Maurras, although he does some normal paintings also.

Golf Our guest played on the local course and thought that it was in pretty good shape. It has been raining and they have been mowing. It's not the world's finest, and at $90 (resident rate), it's not cheap, but it is the best course on the island. There is a better one over in Anguilla, only $450 a round.

Roy Deep Sea Fishing takes out parties of four or five and comes back with wahoo and mahi lately, marlin and tuna, sometimes. If you don't have a party of four, we'll use this space and Roy's website to help fill out the charter. Send an email to get aboard.

  Fredy at Art in the Park

Construction: The sales office for Cove at Cupecoy up on the main road was lifted onto a flatbed on Monday and driven to its new home on Tuesday. Also on that Monday, Pharos seemed to be a beehive of activity. There were also some white-collar types admiring the ugly pile of block. Possibly it was all a Potemkin-like ruse to impress a banker who was inspecting, as there weren't as many people around on Tuesday and by the end of the week the sales office was barricaded behind a chain link fence.

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: Friends came down from NY on the Monday Continental flight from Newark. The flight arrived a few minutes early, despite bitter cold back in the northeast. Our friends were quite impressed by the new airport. We actually managed to park right in front of the arrivals door, as things seem a bit slow down here at the moment. All travel to the USA now requires a passport. Life is pretty easy if you allow enough time to renew by mail. All the details can be found at this State Department page.

Shopping: Our guests bought a lovely opal bracelet at DK Gems in Pburg, picked up a garnet pendent from Octaedre Gems in the Marigot market, and some pearl earrings from Royal Caribbean Jewelers here at Sapphire.

Groceries: We stopped at Sarafina's Bakery on the waterfront in Marigot. We now think the baguettes here are better than those we used to get from Ted at the US Imports in Sandy Ground. Now that Ted has been moved out of US Imports allowing their expansion, the baguettes don't seem as good.

For Valentine's Day we bought some duck breasts, some endive, and a large white-fleshed sweet potato at US Imports. Our appetizer was some smoked salmon that we got from Bistrot Caraïbes when we dined there on Tuesday night. If they have enough and you bring a plate, they are happy to sell you an appetizer to go. As they smoke this in house, it's quite good and best to ask in advance. We sliced our own onion and added capers. The toast points came from Sarafina's Bakery. For the duck breast, Martha trims the silver skin, cuts 45 degree slices through the skin and fat, but not into the meat, and seasons them with coarse salt and pepper. Put them in a frying pan with the skin side down to render out a good bit of the fat. Flip them and slice. The endive was braised and the sweet potato was peeled, cut into large pieces, and boiled. When almost done, it was removed, cut into smaller pieces and pan fried. Dessert was Etna Ice Cream, coconut.

Alcohol: We started Valentine's Day dinner with at sunset with the 2006 white Savigny-Les-Beaune from Jean-Jacques Girard ($29.90) that we bought at Select Wine Cellar. It's a lovely full-bodied chardonnay. With the smoked salmon we had a Roederer Brut Champagne from François at Philipsburg Liquors. With the main course we tasted Select's 2003 Pommard Vignots from Chantal Lescure ($53.20) against François' 2003 Pommard Vignots from Aleth Le Royer-Girardin. Same vintage, same commune, and even the same vineyard, but different negotiants. We certainly could taste the similarity, but also a great difference in smoothness. Select's version cost about 50% more and was better. If you are feeling flush, choose that one, but at least use the coupon on the website to get a 10% discount. If the subprime housing market has you feeling a little flat, the Aleth Le Royer-Girardin version is very good.

Traffic: We drove to lunch at Champagne Restaurant in Cole Bay on Wednesday, leaving a bit after noon. The Simpson Bay bridge should have opened at 11:30 and been back down for a while. Nonetheless, we hit traffic alongside the runway, near Turtle Pier. It was moving, so it only took about five minutes to get over the bridge and a few more to reach the restaurant. Bottom line, it is possible to move through here early in the afternoon. Wendy K sent me an email detailing her troubles on Saturday around noon coming from Pburg to Cupecoy. After a 10 minute wait on Cay Hill she tried to get to Cupecoy via Marigot as Simpson Bay looked as if it were blocked solid. Traffic was moving in this direction but she did notice that traffic coming into Marigot at noon was backed up over the bridge into Sandy Ground. We saw some of the same as we went to the Marigot Market that morning. Gas prices at Cadisco are now $1.04 per liter at Orient and $1.03 (up a penny this week) in Sandy Ground, almost $4 per gallon. They still do 1 to 1 for cash and I think they are still cheaper than the Dutch side.

Best of: I received an email that suggested I was not as effusive as I should have been when I said that there are 20 restaurants here that "are easily as good as anything that I have found in the Albany/Saratoga, NY area." The reader noted the dearth of fine dining in the Capital region and added "I don't schlep to Marigot just to find what I find, or avoid, at home." For the record, many people come to the island because it is warmer here than in Albany. Our guests in the next bedroom have just escaped single digit temperatures, for instance. The fabulous dining opportunities are a bonus. However, I said that I could name 20 restaurants on this 37 square mile patch containing less than 100,000 inhabitants that were easily as good as those in an area that would be about 1200 square miles (to include Albany, Saratoga, and our home) containing over 600,000 residents and the capital of the third most populous state in one of the richest countries in the world. That really is quite a statement. It's an area 30 times larger with six times the population. Moreover, it's loaded with legislators and lobbyists and I can't name 20 restaurants I have visited.

Nature: The pond next to Belair was a mess a year or two ago, but a concerted effort has restored the mangroves along the edge and planted palm trees between that and the road that serves as the shortcut from the rotary on Cay Hill to Front Street. It is nice to look at and the mangroves really do help the environment.

Small island story: The Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, arrived on the island and pointed out that the 15 Dec date for the change in constitutional status was at risk unless improvement was made in law enforcement, administration of justice and good government, pretty much echoing the statements of Hero Brinkmann, although less colorfully. He did omit the part about auctioning off the NA on eBay. In a couple days, the local politicians had a few words for him also, suggesting that they didn't need Holland to pick the debt of the NA (about 3.3 billion dollars or $15,000 for each man, woman, and child). Before you get to feeling that the US is too superior, I'll remind you that your share of the US debt is about $30,000.


We're starting to fill in the contests for the next season:

Current Contest - now to 2 March 2008
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
DK Gems - $50 off a purchase of $100 or more
Antoine Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
Le Cottage Restaurant - $100 off a dinner for two
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine

Read our rules, visit the websites of these sponsors, find their contest codes, and enter them on our entry form:

One of the rules is that you should enter each contest only once.

Future Contests:

2 March to 27 April
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Halsey's Restaurant - $50 off a dinner for two
Hibiscus Restaurant - $50 off a dinner for two
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
L'Escargot Restaurant - $100 off dinner for two (cash payments only, excludes Friday Cabaret show) Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine

27 April to 27 July
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine

27 July to 26 October
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine

26 October to 28 December
Caribbean View Condo - half price summer rental (May-October)
Lagoon Pub Crawl - two for one ticket
Skipjack's - $50 off a dinner for two
Select Wine Cellar - Wine tasting and a bottle of wine


On 10 February the euro was at 1.451. Today it is at 1.468, giving back over half of the gain made last week. Last season, some restaurants were still offering a 1 to 1 exchange, but the numbers of such restaurants are decreasing. At a 15% or 20% premium they could do it for a while, but as the US budget and balance of payment deficits have ratcheted upward, international confidence in the dollar has ratcheted downwards. Most restaurants have dropped this because at 40 to 50% premium, there isn't much profit left. California Restaurant, L'Escapade Restaurant, Kokomarina, Rancho del Sol, Sunset Café, Ti Bouchon, Auberge Gourmande, Spiga, and Spicy are still is offering 1 to 1 and many other restaurants are offering favorable exchange rates. Just taking your dollars at the current exchange rate saves the 3% foreign exchange conversion rate from most credit cards.

On Sunday we went to the Auberge Gourmande and had a great time and a great dinner. Martha was so hungry that she had an appetizer (!), ordering a special, crab salad with mango. I had the phyllo wrapped goat cheese salad with pecans and baked apple slices on endive leaves. If you like crab, Martha's ap would have been perfect as it really was loaded with crab in a light dressing. The other ap is one of my favorites (at several restaurants), but the extra tastes and textures of the pecans, apples, and endives make this one especially good. We had the last bottle of the Gigondas in the "cellar". That's one of the lesser-known (and therefore cheaper) Rhone wines. It's also a bit lighter than its neighbor Crozes-Hermitage and its more well-known neighbor Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Our dinners were the scallop and shrimp dinner from the menu and a ribeye special with béarnaise sauce and fingerling potatoes. Both meals come with a medley of veg, including a braised endive that is quite good. We finished with balloons of Armagnac and espresso. A wonderful evening.

On Monday we had a pleasant dinner on the deck overlooking the lagoon at Ti Sucrier in Nettle Bay. It's one of the closest restaurants on the French side and as yet, there are no traffic jams heading through the lowlands. The restaurant is on a deck overlooking a couple swimming pools, but does not own the pools. They are being repaired at a Caribbean pace, but do not be put off by the approach to the restaurant. The restaurant and its view of the lagoon is lovely. Our guests had the vichyssoise and a crab salad with grapefruit while Martha and I split some giant mussels that were quite tasty. Our dinners were a salmon with a wasabi crust, duck breast with a blackberry sauce and sautéed apple slices, monkfish and crayfish tails in a lobster sauce, and a small squid Thai-inspired dish infused with basil. We started with a Crozes-Hermitage (26.50€) and moved on to Bouchard's Vignée (19€). An apple tart arrived for dessert. There are many selections on the menu with Asian flavorings, but there are also many selections that are classical French preparations, Sylvain's grandmother's sweetbreads recipe comes to mind. This would be a good place to take a varied group of diners, as almost anyone could find something. At $1.45/€ our bill came to $280, with an added tip ($140 per couple or about $100 per couple without the wine). Not bad for such good food in a lovely location.

On Tuesday eight of us went to Moulin Fou in Maho for dinner. First, we go on Tuesdays because Cheri's Café is dark on Tuesday. Some people sitting outside may enjoy the free show that wafts over from Cheri's, but we have seen it enough times. However, Moulin Fou has upgraded considerably, so the interior is nicer than ever, fully air-conditioned, and a fine respite from Cheri's, if that is your wish. Moreover, one part of the dining room looks through a glass wall into a very well stocked wine cellar. This is not surprising as Sylvain from Select Wine Cellar is the sommelier here. We started with the white Savigny-Les-Beaune from Jean-Jacques Girard that I have been buying regularly from Select ($50). For aps we had a couple Caesar salads ($8 each), a couple mixed salads ($8 each), an order of escargots (6 for $8), and a couple roasted goat cheese salads ($15 each). One of the goat cheese salads was mine and it was quite good, arriving with two phyllo dough taste bombs featuring brie, while the main event (a round of goat cheese) was melted on a pair of toasted baguette slices. The kitchen must have received an order of physalis (cape gooseberry), as many plates had one of these lovely and tasty tropical berries.   Physalis

Our dinners were several Meli Melo (scallops and shrimp at $25), a couple wonderful lamb filets with goat cheese and mushrooms wrapped in phyllo dough ($25), a beautiful beef filet mignon ($31), a lightly-seared tuna with sesame seeds ($25), and conch ravioli with a creamy spinach purée ($15). I didn't get to taste much, even Martha wouldn't share her conch, so I'll merely report that the lamb filet had many things I love: a beautiful piece of lamb, superbly cooked, wrapped in phyllo for an extra crunch, with a tasty mushroom and basil sauce. Sylvain brought out a St Amour (one of the grand cru Beaujolais, $32) as we were getting close to Valentine's Day. A tarte tatin was brought out for dessert along with a few coffees and a very large bottle of coffee-flavored rum. After adding a 15% tip, the restaurant presented a bill for $438 or about $110 per couple, not bad, but we only had a half bottle of wine per couple, mostly because we polished off two bottles at home before arriving. I've been going to this restaurant since it opened a few years ago and it has been getting better and better. I've mentioned the improvements to the dining room, but they also took over the Chinese restaurant next door and combined the two places. It still has its own kitchen and dining area and appears to be one of the swankiest Chinese restaurants on the island. Sylvain has upgraded the wine list and the wine service. The chef is doing a great job. Obviously, the view is not a strong point and parking is a problem unless you use the valet at Casino Royale.

On Wednesday the four of us headed over to Select Wine Cellar to pick up some wine and have lunch with Sylvain at Champagne Restaurant next door. Sylvain had also invited François Prudhomme from Philipsburg Liquors and another couple. We started in Select with a bottle organic white Domaine Gardies from Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France, an excellent aperitif. We moved into a second bottle as the rest of the guests arrived, but before we finished, the heavens opened. Sheets of rain were driven across the parking lot and all the lovely outdoor tables were not so lovely as their umbrellas were quickly closed lest they fly off to Kansas. It took another bottle or two before we gave up, rearranged the wine cases in Select, and moved tables and chairs into Select. Julien, the son of Champagne's owner Bruno, came over and took our orders as we continued on with some fabulous red wines. One of them was a 2003 Pommard Les Vignots from Chantal Lescure, a wonderful wine, so good we bought the last six bottles. At some point our lunches arrived featuring several chicken cordon bleu plates, a couple antipasto plates reminiscent of the charcuterie that Bruno serves during the First Friday wine tastings, an entrecote, and a tuna carpaccio. All were well received and even after several espressos, eight of us dined quite well for about $125. Sylvain then proceeded to dig into his own cellar, pulling out a 91 California Mouvedre/Syrah blend that he acquired when he worked in England and a bottle of Hermitage (also made from the syrah grape). It was a wonderful St Maarten afternoon, especially as we stayed until the rain stopped and the sun came out again.   Lunch at Select

Antipasto   tuna carpaccio

That evening the six of us met again at Bistrot Caraïbes (alas François and Sylvain did have to get some work done and could not join us). We started with a bottle of Rully from the Chateau de Rully (48€) to accompany some moules in a bit of white wine and onions (14€), a cream of lobster bisque (10€), and a salad (9€). The lobster bisque was quite good, possibly having a lobster tank has an influence. The moules were also fresh and plump in a tasty broth. We had mentioned how much we liked the seabass special that is usually available (27€). It's a real French seabass, not the monster Chilean drum that is cut into Chilean Seabass filets (although that is a pretty tasty fish). Being smaller, this is grilled whole, skillfully deboned, and presented in a chive sauce with some very tasty tomato accent. Alas, it was not on the specials board. Thibault allowed that they had received a delivery moments earlier and could do three for us. Each couple took one and the remaining orders were the mahi special (21€), the marmite of vivanneau (braised red snapper with vegetables in a creamy mussel sauce with saffron, 24€), and the roasted royal shrimp, Thai style from the menu (22€). We continued on with another bottle of the Rully. We have had all these dishes and because of these and the meat dishes (especially the grilled rack of lamb, vegetables, and garlic mashed potatoes with thyme sauce and a tomato accent), our only problem with this restaurant is that we have a hard time choosing between all our favorites. We ordered a crème brûlée (9€), profiteroles($10), and a few espressos and the flavored rum appeared. We had gone on Wednesday because we generally find the town to be quieter after the Tuesday night festivities, but the restaurant was quite full. Nonetheless, service was superb. They use a rate of $1.4/€ so our bill came to about $460, about $150 per couple with some expensive, but very good, wine.

Rituals logo   On Valentine's Day we were invited to the Horny Toad Guesthouse for another communal meal. Betty supplied champagne mimosas, bloody marys, and a ham from Cost-U-Less. The guests added the rest and another great meal was enjoyed in the beach pavilion. If you can get a room there, there's always something to celebrate.

On Friday morning after jewelry shopping we stopped at Dino Jagtiani's newest enterprise: Rituals Coffee House. It's news to me, but this is a chain started in Trinidad and modeled on Starbucks. Dino did convince them that he should be able to make his own sandwiches. We had three of them and are glad he did. The mozzarella and red peppers sandwich (right) was quite good.

  Mozzarella and red pepper

We went to Mario's Bistro on Friday night. Generally you need to book in advance, esp for waterfront tables. We booked on Monday night and took a 9:15 table. It's late but it's great. Sometimes you have to endure a complimentary glass of champagne at the bar because the 7:00 table has not turned, but that's not so bad. Trust me, it's worth it as eventually you get a waterfront table in an uncrowded restaurant. We ordered two salads with bleu cheese and endive (specials at 13€ each) and a special featuring fried oysters, on risotto with asparagus topped with parmesan shavings (18€). Tastes and textures galore and they all went together and a light Burgundy was a perfect accompaniment. Ours was the Mercurey 1er Cru Sazenay ’01, Château de Mercey (35€) although the Auxey-Duresses ’02, Champy (34€) would have been good also. Our dinners were the Chilean seabass (and this is the big one cut into thick filets that can be roasted to perfection, 28€ each), the sautéed veal scaloppini with lemon and caper butter sauce and a gratin of gnocchi with tomato sauce and mozzarella (25€), and a special that Mario had held for me: a pork chop with crispy Serrano ham (30€) reminiscent of the pork tenderloin wrapped in Canadian bacon that I have raved about previously. This could be better as it adds an extra texture. Mario also sent out a three cheese gnocchi with porcinis that was over the top. The main course required a second bottle of the Mercurey and we finished with espressos and Armagnac. The total was about $350 or $175 per couple, making this our most expensive night out, but this is fabulous food in a waterfront setting with superb service.

On Saturday night eight of us went to Le Cottage Restaurant, parking in the central parking lot. Remember that you cannot drive into the center of town and turn left at Bistrot Caraïbes. The section of street between the canal and there is one way toward the center of town, ie to the southwest. You must take a right as you come down the entrance road to restaurant road, drive along the canal and turn left past the lolos to get to the parking lot. There is another lot further down restaurant row, near California Restaurant. It's quite convenient if you are dining there, but a bit of a walk if you are coming back to the center of town. There is a map on the parking website. We had an inside table stuck into an alcove that was quite nice for eight people. There is another stunning table that can seat up to 14, so if you have a large group, keep it in mind. There is a photo of that table on the website.

The menu is cutting edge, featuring deconstructed dining: the various components of the meal are separated and placed on the plate with a bit of whimsy. The taste of tuna features several cubes of lightly seared tuna topped with a sesame soy sauce, a bean sprout salad, several cherry tomatoes, and a wasabi cream dressing on the side. the website has a photo, click it to enlarge it. My taste of quail was similar with the breast and legs separated with their own accompaniments and touch of foie gras on a toasted bit of baguette. Our dinners were mostly seafood, five orders of the scallop dinner: roasted scallops with avocado fritters, olive tapenade, and tomatoes. My monkfish was wrapped with French bacon, roasted, and placed on a bed of eggplant. A baked slice of parmesan held a dollop of red pepper sorbet. The dessert menu remains on the table to remind you to order one (or more) of the wonderful soufflés. We chose the caramel and the blueberry.

St Joseph   I haven't mentioned wine as I took my usual approach here, refusing the wine list, and placing myself in the hands of Stéphane, the sommelier, and moreover, the Gault-Millau sommelier of the year on St Martin. He brought us a 2006 Riesling from Leon Beyer as an aperitif. It started things off well and was quite good with the lagniappe of tuna tartare that arrived before our aps. With the main course he brought out a 1996 white Mercurey. About 10 years ago, this would have been a young and lively chardonnay, but it is now a mellowed senior citizen with a much deeper yellow color and a more complex flavor. As a comparison, he poured a much younger white, the second wine of Malartic-Lagraviere. For Martha, who had the quail appetizer as a main course, Stéphane poured a glass of 2005 St Joseph. This is a $30 wine at retail in NY. It would easily sell for $75 in a restaurant in the US. This is the beauty of putting yourself into Stéphane's capable hands. He buys these wines a bit cheaper than we can in the US and he moves them through the restaurant at a torrid pace. We were charged $8 for a glass of this wonderful wine. Before the evening is over, he will probably sell the rest of this bottle to four other people who need a lovely bit of Rhone wine for their dinner. Good for us, good for them, and good for the restaurant. He choose Jaboulet's Beaumes de Venise, a sweet wine made from the Muscat grape, for our dessert wine and it worked well with the soufflés. A few coffees, espressos, and cappuccinos rounded out our dinner, at least until Stéphane offered complimentary after dinner drinks. The old rum was very good. Our bill came to 470€ and at $1.3/€ that became $610 or about $150 per couple. Le Cottage is currently sponsoring a contest on SXM-Info. A couple could get a dinner like this for about $50!

Changes: I stopped by Spiga and can confirm that their menu says 1 to 1 and the prices are quite good. It also seems unlikely that Alabama will be opening again with the same two individuals. Thus, Spiga was added to the list of restaurants offering 1 to 1 and Alabama was dropped.


Wine Tasting The annual Animal Welfare Wine Tasting Benefit will be held at Taloula Mango's starting at 7PM on 23 February. Cave du Marigot will be discussing the wines and hors d'ouevres will be served. The cost is $40 per person. Go to the restaurant or call 520 8887 for a reservation.

Wine & Cheese Party: Select Wine Cellar and Champagne Snack Bar are hosting a monthly wine and cheese tastings, usually on the first Friday of the month. The next one is on 7 March. Send an email to Sylvain for more details or a reservation (highly recommended as these are very popular).

Harmony Nights will run every Tuesday night in Grand Case until April. Pascal from Blue Martini is in charge of entertainment. He also has entertainment at his restaurant next to the parking lot on several nights.

Orient Village has a similar, though smaller, affair on Friday nights.

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.

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:

Bikini Beach
Beau Beau's
Kakao Beach
Kakao Beach
Oizeau Rare
Pirate Beach Bar
Paradise View
Pedro's Beach Bar
Tai Chi
Lots here
and here
Select Wine Cellar
Endless Summer Beachwear

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.