|VILLA ACE, HOME SWEET HOME!|
|C’EST LA VUE!|
|SAME WONDERFUL MINI COOPER AGAIN THIS YEAR!|
|MARCHE ‘U’ NOW FULL OF FRESH VEGETABLES|
We’re back! We’ve just concluded our 18th visit to one of our favorite places on earth, St. Barthelemy. That little 8 ½ square mile slice of France plopped down in the middle of the Caribbean Sea but so different from the rest of the West Indies, it might be on another planet. St. Barthelemy never disappoints. In fact, I would actually say it improves with time. At the moment, a public works project is making the formerly terrifying roads heaven to drive. All kinds of roundabouts have made traffic, what there is of it, much easier to negotiate. And not just the roads have improved. The food has gotten better! How can that be? Well, not too many years ago, we remember spotting Orange Juice in the Match Super Marche. There seemed be a huge supply so we decided to pick it up later. There was no later. The last we saw of orange juice on the island was that one day. It was delivered once a week and if you missed it, you missed it. Now, a French chain called “U” runs the SuperMarche. It is positively packed with fresh produce, wonderful charcuterie and sensibly priced wines and an unending supply of Jus d’Orange. Now I am going to highlight the highlights of our Gastronomical adventures in paradise. But first, I have to pause to dedicate this post to Gil, Andrew’s father.
Unfortunately, Gil passed away at 84 while we were in St. Barth. He’d had heart surgery from which he never recovered. Andrew flew to Dallas, two days before the end of our trip. Gil led a long, successful and very happy life. He was never ill a day until this illness. He worked up until last Fall and skied last winter. He died peacefully and will be lovingly remembered by all who knew him. He never saw St. Barth but he always sent us articles and travel pieces about the place whenever he found them. He was a wonderful father and I have his wonderful son to thank him for.
I dedicate this piece to you, Gil Phillips. I know you loved good wine, good food and good friends. Here’s to you!
1. The first night we arrive in St. Barth, we’re inevitably a combination of exhilarated and bushed. We’ve been up since 4:15 a.m. and on planes—one of which makes one the world’s most frightening landings in order to reach the island. It’s the perfect night for Pizza. Now I consider pizza to be the perfect food: Starch, dairy, protein and vegetables all rounded up on a sliver of delicious Italian-ness. Although I can’t think of a country I’ve been that doesn’t have fabulous pizza. Take that back, there’s China. We found our pizza this year at L’Entre Acte, a tiny place right on the waterfront in Gustavia. Unfortunately its signature Blue Palm Tree neon sign was reportedly blown away during a recent hurricane. I thank all my friends at http://www.sbhonline.com/St-Barts-bb/showtopic.php?tid/33836/ for pointing out the error in my earlier post. However. the brick oven is still prominent at front of the place and it produces a wonderful thin crust pizza. Our chosen flavor is a pie topped with tomato, mozzarella, arugula and Prosciutto di Parma. Delicieux. Now on to an insider’s tip. Consistently, we heard that La Gloriette, a beach side Creole restaurant in Grand Cul de Sac, has the island’s best pizza. But La Gloriette shuts up tight right after lunch so if you want a pizza at night, I’d highly recommend L’Entre Acte. There’s also a big audience for the pizza at Andy’s Hideaway in St. Jean.
2. If you have an intense disgust with consumers of foie gras, please scroll down to the next paragraph…if not, read along. If there is one thing that Andrew and I consistently enjoy anywhere, it is Foie Gras Poele, that buttery, intensely rich flavor that melts on your tongue in a rush of unctuous deliciousness. But Hark! The Foie Gras police are out in force and have managed to outlaw the stuff in Chicago and Los Angeles so we have to wonder whether New York will be next. Much better then to enjoy it multiple times in St. Barth. Foie Gras pairs well with fruit. It was served on Pain d’Epice at Cote Port in Gustavia. At Bonito, also in Gustavia, it came with black grapes, pineapple, papaya chutney and hazelnuts. And at Le Pecheur at Andre Belaz’ Sereno Beach Hotel, it arrived with a sweet potato canelle and passion fruit sauce. Each time it was delicious! Okay a guilty pleasure for some…an incredibly delicious indulgence for us!
|MY SANDWICH WITH SAUSISSON SEC
|LUNCH IS SERVED|
3. I lay claim to having made a delicious sandwich consisting of pate de compagne, thin-sliced ham, a slice of brie and one of lettuce on a ‘baguette a l’ancienne’ , a whole wheat baguette gently slathered with Dijon mayonnaise. This sandwich owes much to the Banh Mi at L’Epicerie Boulud, Daniel Boulud’s Euro café three blocks from us in New York. And if you think mine’s rich, Boulud’s version also includes a sausage! But it’s delicious as you can see. Our daily routine involves going to the beach every morning, staying til about 1:30 then back to the villa and the pool for the afternoon. 4. We have lunch from a buffet of cheeses and pates and sit enjoying the amazing view from the terrace.
5. On a healthier note, we had the most wonderful Burrata and Grape Tomato salad at the new PaCri at Tawaina, perhaps the best burrata I have ever had and wonderful to share because it came with two seperate boules. First a word about Tawaina. Incredible tales came from all over about this small hotel in Flamands. The owner was notorious for printing menus with no prices and then advising terrified diners that we would assess what they should pay at the end of the meal. He was also well known for chasing people off his property if he didn’t the way they looked or dressed.
|The new Tawaina or Blake’s St Barth.|
As a result, people fled to the deluxe hotel next door, the Ile de France. This low-key palace was the complete opposite of its neighbor, knowing everyone by name and welcoming the same clientele year after year. Finally, Tawaina closed down completely last year. In what amounted to a Sheriff’s sale, it was bought by the Blake’s Hotel Group of London. They swooped in and painted what had looked like a Moroccan cliff town a far more appropriate Santorini white. They sent in a food and beverage manager who, despite a flawless English accent, is named Octavio Lopes. He told me he does not speak a word of French, which must make his job a challenge to say the least.
|THE COCKTAIL LOUNGE AT PACRI|
The other great thing that happened to Tawaina was that they were able to convince Pascal Ramette, the Chef/Owner of PaCri to move into their glorious restaurant space, which sits directly on Flamands Bay. At night, the ocean is heard if not completely seen. It’s a delightful place to be.
6. Also at PaCri, we enjoyed two superb dishes: Andrew chose the Truffled Ricotta Ravioli with a cream sauce.
7. I chose Vitello Milanese, that classic preparation which in this case featured the most tender of veal chops. Pascal informed me that the Veal was shipped in from Canada. Now we know why it was so delicious!
|BONITO….PRETTIEST PLACE IN TOWN|
|TERADITO DE THON AT BONITO|
8. While there is something special about everywhere we went, Bonito in Gustavia gets our highest marks. It’s a beautiful blue and white terraced dining room with one of the best views of the harbor imagineable. And the food is every bit as good as the view. I waited a year to have their fantastic Teradito again. This is a ceviche, in my case, of Tuna, the recipe for which Bonito’s Venezuelan chef imported from Peru. This dish features sesame oil and sesame seeds and a perfect seaweed salad in the center of the plate topped with delicate crab meat. It’s magnificent. And I hope to recreate it for you in the coming weeks. After his foie gras, Andrew chose the Teradito as his main course.
|THE TERRACE IS A WONDERFUL PLACE TO DINE
THE TOMATO TART IS EXTRAORDINARY.
|SUPERB RIS DE VEAU|
|BETHANY AND GLENNY BOTH CHOSE THIS
CLASSIC SOLE MEUNIERE
9, 10 and 11. Next stop for me was Santa Fe. For years, Santa Fe seemed to exist for perfectly fine Sunday night hamburgers when the rest of the island’s restaurants closed for the night. Now Santa Fe has turned into a gourmet destination while keeping its jaw-dropping views over Gouverneur. In the interests of full disclosure, we had been planning dinner with our Wimco agent, Bethany, for whom I owe I don’t know how many debts of gratitude, when Andrew had to leave. Bethany and her great chum, Glenny, stepped into the breach and basically didn’t leave me alone. How grateful I was for their incredibly good company! And also for full disclosure, I have to tell you that my visit to Santa Fe was in the company of these two—the top villa rental brokers on the island. But back to a delicious discovery. This new-to-me Santa Fe is owned by Emmanuel Maurin who has a resume crammed full credits as a Chef, not the least of which was a stint at La Cremaillaire in good old Bedford, NY. “Manu” is not at all bad to look at if you like that sort incredibly handsome Frenchman. And the service was impeccable. Bethany and Glenny are greeted here, there and everywhere with such genuine affection. Manu has transformed this place into a truly, worthy French restaurant with classics like Sole Meuniere. We started with a shared tomato tart. Mandolined slices of ripe tomatoes were laid across a thin disc of puff pastry. Melted goat cheese and crispy prosciutto top the tomatoes and the whole thing is sauced with both pesto and balsamic vinegar. I promise I will make this for you and post the recipe. After this savory tart, I had the supreme pleasure of glorious Ris de Veau in a classic white wine sauce. Bethany and Glenny opted for the classic preparation of perfectly Sole Meuniere.
|THE CEVICHE OF WAHOO|
12. Homemade Wahoo Ceviche. Our dear friend Nancy came over to the house the day Andrew was leaving with this amazing ceviche redolent with peppers and onions and exquisitely fresh wahoo which had just come out of the ocean that very morning. It may not be as difficult as you would think to enjoy Nancy’s superb ceviche. You could, I am sure, bargain some into your rental of her gorgeous villa in Columbier. Here’s Nancy’s website. http//:www.les-petit-pois.com And by all means tell her Andrew and Monte sent you.
|A STAY AT PETITS POIS MAY BE ACCOMPANIED
BY ITS OWNER’S SUPERB CEVICHE.
13. Marche U Yaourt Grec avecs Muirs. This is killer Greek yogurt with the incredible flavor of backberries buried under the rich cream. I have never tasted any yogurt anywhere that was this good. I would seriously go back to the island if only to have this creamy, tart and incredibly filling 80 calorie treat. Then again, I’d go back to the island for a glass of Rose.
14. Surely, you didn’t think we’d leave you without dessert? Truth is it’s one of our greatest indulgences. One year we ate Creme Brule every single night to vote on the island’s best. This year, we held back a bit but still enjoyed the fantastic version shown here at Le Pecheur at the Sereno. I am quite sure the addition of the strawberries makes this dessert practically health food.
15. Also, not to be missed, is that wondrous confection, the Profiterole, which combines a handful of indulgences in one coupe de grace
involving puff pastries stuffed with vanilla ice cream, doused with dark chocolate sauce and in this case, from Cote Port in Gustavia, accompanied by great mounds of whipped cream. Honorable mention to the Profiteroles at Santa Fe which came to the table in the form of puff pastry swans.
One other restaurant recommendation: Our friends Jeff and Mark got a good laugh out of our going to the new restaurant that’s taken over the PaCri location on the road to Salines. It’s called “Meat and Potatoes” in violation of all kinds of French language laws. Jeff and Mark compared it to Ruth’s Chris. Well, find me a Ruth’s Chris that’s all jalousied and in a tropical garden and I’m there. Our friends Nancy and Michel, both former chefs, took us there for perfect beef and extraordinary number of accompanying sauces. The frites were first-rate as well. The place was packed with locals out celebrating a Saturday night. And added to the evening was a musical duo singing from the American songbook. A wonderful evening was had by all.
|SAME TIME NEXT YEAR!|
Au Revoir, St. Barth! See you next year. We’ve already booked!