For my first vacation in eight months, I've jetted down to the Caribbean for a week in St. Maarten, one of the tropical islands known for its dining (would you expect anything less?). It is beautiful down here, and I've been alternating between relaxing by the beach/pool and bouncing around the island's roads in my rental car, in search of adventures.
Monday, I spent a good amount of time in one of Dutch St. Maarten's mega grocery stores. I will say right here that there are few things I like better than a grocery store in a foreign country. I can (and, well, did) wander for hours, exploring all the foreign foods and occasionally impulse-purchasing some Dutch candy. Oops?
Later, after some more pool/beach time, I wound down the afternoon in Marigot, an adorable and thoroughly French town on the French side of the island. I wandered around to the shops and galleries and ended up at Cafe de Paris, one of the restaurants by the marina in town. I was treated to a very large and very delicious endive and beet salad mixed with aged goat cheese, walnuts, a light dressing, and an occasional tomato slice. It was enormous and filling and beautifully presented and clearly crafted with lots of care. Eating that salad while gazing out at the sun setting over the ships in the marina was... well, nice.
Oh, and on my way out of town back towards the Dutch side of the island, I stopped at Sarafina's, one of the two famous pastry shops in Marigot (what, you think I'd skip dessert? On vacation??). There were options galore, and I had to mentally restrain myself from ordering one of everything. I ended up contented with a chocolate eclair, which I brought back to my hotel room and ate with my fingers. It was by far and away the best eclair I've ever had, and definitely up there in my personal pastry pantheon-- the pate a choux was light and flaky with no trace of burnt flavor. The glaze was sweet and chocolatey and perfect. But the surprise was inside-- a thick strip of chocolate filling. And not just pastry cream, either-- this was thick and rich and almost like dense chocolate mousse. The dollop of chocolate ganache on top was just the literal and proverbial icing on the cake.
That's all for now... the ocean awaits!
Cafe de Paris
Marina Port la Royale
Marigot, St. Martin
Front de Mer
Marigot, St. Martin