Showing posts with label St. Barth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St. Barth. Show all posts

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Direct from St Barth via Vietnam: The Banh Mi Sandwich

We’ve brought you a post featuring the Banh Mi, the signature sandwich of Vietnam, once before.  We’ve shown you how to make one with ground pork .  But just before we left New York for our annual stay in St.
Epicerie Boulud's Banh Mi 
Barthelemy in the French West Indies, we tucked into one at our favorite neighborhood Banh Mi provider, Epicerie Boulud on Broadway and 64th Street.  I realized this particular version would be a snap to put together in St. Barth, land of pate, smoked ham and Merquez sausages.  All I had to do was to pickle some carrots and shallots, load up on Dijon Mayonnaise and I’d have it made.  Banh Mi is a very forgiving sandwich.  This is because the actual translation from the Vietnamese for Banh Mi is ‘Bread’—all kinds of bread.  More specifically, it refers to the Baguette, introduced by the French when Vietnam was a French colony, a part of Indochine.  In Vietnam, the baguette is a single serve item, a far shorter loaf than we’re accustomed to in the States or even in St. Barths.  But the character of the baguette here closely mimics the Vietnamese ideal—a thinner crust and an airier crumb.  So we had the perfect ingredients for the perfect Banh Mi.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Back to Bonito in St. Barth and our take on their wonderful Peruvian Tiradito of Tuna

Bonito's Version of Tiradito de Thon
And mine...
Unfortunately, mine didn't come with this view from Bonito

Rue Lubin Brin
Gustavia, St. Barthelemy FWI
         Silken fish coated in citrus and soy, the earthy nuttiness of sesame oil, the sweetness of crabmeat and the crunch of perfectly dressed seaweed salad, that's the explosion of taste that left me, a month later, wistful for another plate of Tiradito of Tuna.  In my earlier post, “15 Things you really must eat in St. Barth”, I promised that I would share the recipe for the fantastic "ceviche" we ate at Bonito, a wonderful hillside restaurant overlooking Gustavia’s beautiful harbor. And  the food at Bonito is every bit as magnificent as the view.  The well-travelled chef, Laurent Cantineaux, has brought influences from all over.  Chef Cantineaux has worked at Daniel, here in New York, for Guy Savoy and the Troisgros brothers in France and then landed in Caracas, Venezuela where he was the Executive Chef at Café Atlantique. There must have been a side trip to Peru at some point because Peru in the birthplace of the Tiradito.  Without question, Chef Cantineaux' tiraditos are reason alone to head directly to Bonito right after you’ve touched down in St. Barth.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

15 Things you must eat in St. Barth, FWI


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.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

28 Things we will miss about St. Barth

    Adele 21 on the I-Pod

    The wonderful orange and grapefruit smell of Anthony Logistics Sun Products for Men who donate a portion of their profits to Prostate Cancer Research and none, so far as we know, to Skin Cancer Research.

Being together 24/7, a far rarer thing than you might suspect.

           Catching glimpses of the boats just outside Gustavia Harbor.


    Coca Cola Light, Sans Sucres, Sans Calories.

           Croissants aux Amandes, although the title of the best one ever still rests with Henri Tomas, in Bonnieux, France.

            Better yet, Croissants aux Amandes et Chocolat.

           Desserts in general, Tarte de Fines Pommes in particular.

            Full Moon over the Caribbean Sea.

    Icy-cold Orange Sections on the beach.

           Lunch by our pool.

                 Seeing Monte’s Ham everywhere we went….

        My preferred cooking attire.

            Our gorgeous house.

             The view from our gorgeous house.

           The outdoor shower at our gorgeous house.

        The other outdoor shower at our gorgeous house.

          Pain Complet, likely the best 7 grain bread we have ever tasted

           Partially clad French People.

            Reading Stacks of good books.

       Chilled Rose, Grown-Up Kool-Aid.

         Sea Grapes. As a matter of fact, all grapes and the wine you can make from them

          The St. Barth Bucket Races. ( We’re really missing these as they don’t even start until after we leave.)

            St. Barth’s Architecture.  A 350 year old technique that is now being used to create incredible modernist buildings.  This is our Powder Room / Laundry. 

        Sushi Platters at Nikki Beach.

          Salines…yes, this is about as crowded as it gets.
           Our Mini.  It never didn’t get below ¾ of a tank full.

 Being in a part of France and feeling like a part of France. Speaking French and reading French. The warmth and the politeness of people here who greet you as you walk in their doors and thank you when you leave.
By the way, did we ever tell you you were right about Iraq? Not that I remember.  But you were right about Iraq.

P.S.  We like you so much, we’ve already made  arrangements…Same time next year?  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another day in Paradise…a visit to Bonito Restaurant in Gustavia, St. Barth

After a day at the beach...

nothing beats a dinner at Bonito

Snag a table overlooking the harbor
If anything captures what makes this island truly unique, it is Bonito, a new-to-us restaurant that took over what used to be called “Mandala”.  By its former name, it was best known for giant tanks of fish through which you walked en route to your table.  Mandala’s food was fine but you went there for its wonderful views of Gustavia Harbor, anchorage to some of the most spectacular yachts in the Caribbean. 

A drink before dinner, perhaps?
Bonito has gotten rid of the fish tanks and done over the place in beautiful blue and white nautical style.   It has not, however, walked away from its predecessor's seafood bent.   Instead it has introduced the island to a menu that in a single appetizer best sums up what St. Barth is all about.  The dish is Tiradito Thai au Thon et Crabe, Coco, Mangue et Coriandre fraiche .  The translation is roughly this:  A Peruvian Tuna sashimi with Thai flavors incorporating Crabmeat, coconut, mango and fresh coriander.  It is simply out of this world and the minute I get home I plan to make it.  It blows ordinary sashimi out of the water and with its slices of perfect tuna,  sweet coconut infused crab, its juicy mango colis, it is absolutely perfect.   In one mouthful you have the taste of Peru, Thailand, Asia, with a soupcon of truly French culinary genius.  And one other little anecdote which sums up what St. Barth is all about.  While paying, Andrew's credit card did not make it back to the table.  The next day we discovered it was missing.  A call to Bonito elicited a return call. Of course they had  the card, not to worry it was secure and they apologized but since we were walk-ins, they were desolee that they had no telephone number to reach us.  This is truly just another reason why we hold this place in such adoration.   Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  Just go straight up the hill to Bonito and enjoy every delicious moment.

Is food expensive here?  Darn right it is.  And why wouldn’t it be?  Aside from the incredibly fresh and locally caught fish and shellfish, everything is brought in here from 1000 miles away—at a minimum.  The French cheese and wine and foie gras come a considerably longer distance.  But consider this:  A couple of years ago, in a misguided belief that there is anywhere in the Caribbean remotely like St. Barth, we headed to Nevis. 

Now Nevis is a beautiful little island.  Its people are lovely, delightfully welcoming and overwhelmingly polite.  The food on Nevis, however, sucks.  There is not one decent supermarket on the entire island.  There are several passable restaurants.  But there is nothing remotely resembling the delicious variety and quality of what is cooked and sold and eaten on St. Barth.  And Nevis is every bit as expensive.  You  can have perfectly fine $80.00 lunch at the Four Seasons with very little on the menu you wouldn’t find at any Four Seasons from Toronto to Buenos Aires.    

Produce at Marche U
This year the food on St. Barth has gotten even better.  The Marche U, the largest supermarket on the island and a replacement for the former Match SuperMarche,  is suddenly packed with really good produce.  As with virtually everything on this island, it firmly shuts down from 1 to 4. If at those hours you are desperate for lettuce or bottled water or a wedge of Brie, there’s the ‘Non-Stop” practically next door to the U.  It doesn’t observe siesta.  It too has been completely remodeled since our last visit and now gleams with leafy greens and all manner of fruits and cheeses, sausages and pates. 

View from Jeff and Mark's Villa
We come here for the food and also for our friends.  Because we come the same time year after year, we’ve become friends with people who are here at the same time year after year.  Some we nod to on the beach: the Walkers—not really their names at all,but a couple who walk the beach day after day passing us on their strolls.  For years we loved seeing the “Champagne People” whose daily bottle or two of the bubbly stuff was readily shared although we never actually did.  And then there are 

friends Jeff Walsh and Mark Klingensmith.  These two have been here as long as we  have.  We so look forward to seeing them and catching up with them.  The odd thing is, they live in Buck’s County PA which is perhaps two hours for New York.  We never see them there.  We see them every day here, eat with them at least twice a visit.  And we’ll miss them when they leave the day before us.

View from our pool

One of our St. Barth’s friends we’ve actually never physically met.  It’s our fantastic realtor Bethany Ludwick who works for WIMCO from whom we always rent our villas.  Bethany has steered us to every house we’ve ever loved here.  She’s also been adamant about steering us away from anything she personally doesn’t like.  This year’s villa, our hands down favorite ever, was her discovery and she insisted we book it before the paint dried.  I honestly wouldn’t bother talking to anyone else.  Bethany can be reached at   Whatever size house you need, whenever you need it, email the incomparable Bethany and she will find it for you.  Bravo Bethany!

Our Villa at night
Our other dear friends here were first our landlords at our very first villa here, “Petits Pois”.  Nancy Robbins and her husband, Michel Dumerchat are neighbors of ours in New York.  They’re down here most of the winter and Nancy does most of the renting of  “Petit Pois” herself.  Her house is a marvelous affair with up to 4 bedrooms, a pool, Jacuzzi and at this point a little too big for us.  But I wouldn’t hesitate to give Nancy a jingle if you are in the market for a St. Barth’s vacation;

Our Mini Cooper
Finally there is our ride.  We’ve been using the same rental car company for the past 20 years. Gumb’s Rent A Car is presided over by Odile Gumbs.  I swear that in 20 years the woman has not changed one eyelash.  She never ages and swears by a local suntan oil.  Not lotion, Oil.   Gumb’s is local, it’s wonderfully well-priced, and this year’s car, a Mini Cooper is fantastic!  It takes to the hills and the 75 degree inclines like a four wheel drive powerhouse.  But it gets something like 80 kms. to the gallon. Besides, it’s huge fun to drive.  You can email Odile directly at

Hope you’ve enjoyed this postcard from Paradise.  I’ll write more later.  Right after another couple of wonderful meals... A bientot!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Greetings from St. Barthelemy, FWI

C'est laVue!

The Entrance to our Villa
The front of the villa 
This week I thought we'd share our trip to St. Barthelemy, in the French West Indies.  This is our 16th trip here in the last 20 years so you can probably tell that we like it here.  Make that love it here.  And what's not to love?  The tiny little 8 square mile island can only be reached by planes carrying 19 people at most.  You fly here from St. Maarten, 10 minutes away and one of the most incredible flights you'll ever take since the plane makes a terrifying landing: It aims itself between two peaks for a landing strip that ends directly in the water. Scaredy cats need not apply.   

Salines, our favorite beach...hard to choose on an island
with so many beautiful ones.  
The island scarcely changes year to year.  Strict building codes mean no structure above 3 stories.  There's no gambling and no golf and basically nothing to do here.  Except there are the beaches, beautiful white sands leading to warm turquoise water.  Then of course this is a French island so the food is simply magnifique.  From the humblest Creole menu to Fine Dining, it's all here in elaborate profusion.  Choosing where to eat is a daily sport.  And that's about the most taxing thing we do all day.  

Le Petit Dejeuner...Breakfast in Paradise
Dejeuner or Le Lunch....some of it quite healthy!
I remember reading descriptions of various kinds of vacations.  There was the adventure vacation,  the learning vacation, the volunteer vacation.  And then there was our vacation.  This can be described by the following schedule;  We get up, we go to the bakery and buy Croissants.  We come home to our villa for breakfast then head to the beach. About one clock we come home, we eat a gorgeous lunch of pate, saucissons, jambon, great French peasant bread and  a salade I make with haricots verts, shallots and bottled, yes bottled Dijon salad dressing  (It's French, it's excellent and it's bottled.)  We drink rose and sun ourselves by the pool.  At about 4 o'clock we may head out for some retail therapy at some of the best shops anywhere.  Or we nap or we read.  At about 8:00 we head out to dinner somewhere outdoors where we eat a marvellous dinner.  We go home, have anightcap, look at the stars and go to bed.  It is best described as kind of like being dead only we keep on eating.  It is just what the doctor ordered after this paralyzing winter up North.  I'll post more later.  Meanwhile, enjoy the view!