Wednesday, November 3, 2010

LWF&D goes to St. Maarten, part II

So, I'm back in NYC, already missing the sunshine and sea. What better excuse to write a bit more on my travels to a tropical paradise last week?

Although St. Maarten/St. Martin is known for its food, I actually had mixed experiences with the restaurants there. As I wrote previously, Cafe de Paris and Serafina's were both delicious. One night I visited a restaurant (that will remain unnamed) that was highly acclaimed but only turned out to be "meh"; afterwards, however, I visited Carousel for some gelato, and THAT was delicious. Behold, my Rocher flavor, which tasted just like the hazelnut candy and had shards of crunchy wafer embedded within.

Just like in Italy

The next night I dined at Spiga, an Italian restaurant in Grand Case. This was the best restaurant of my trip, and as a spoiler I actually returned my final night on the island for a second go. The chef is Italian, his wife is the hostess, and the waitstaff is incredibly welcoming. I dined on the porch, absorbing the warm breezes and the amusing banter of a retiree couple seated at a table near me.

For my meal, I chose the "Caprese" appetizer, which was listed simply as "mozzarella, tomatoes, avocado, olives, capers, basil oil, and eggplant terrine, grape tomatoes, arugula, parmigiano." I was envisioning some sort of stacked dish, but what greeted me was much different, and much more creative.

So much variety

It turned out to be something like a tasting plate. There were two rounds of tomato, crowned with milky fresh mozzarella, pesto, capers, and olives. There was a fanned-out quarter of an avocado. A few fronds of arugula lay under a shower of shaved parmesan. And in the top-right corner was the eggplant terrine, which was an unattractive gray color but had an intriguing flavor that grew on me. The whole thing was fresh and tasty and very Italian.

And then there was dessert (of course!). I chose the "Chocolate" option: warm chocolate hazelnut cake, honey-vanilla gelato, and caramel sauce. It was a decadent, moist brownie-like chocolate cake, which was delicious (although to be honest I don't really remember much hazelnut flavor). The ice cream was cool and creamy and copious, all great things. And there was an interesting sesame tuile to crown things off. If you're craving chocolate cake with sweet vanilla ice cream, it was pretty much near perfect.

Decadence embodied

And so there you have it-- the food highlights of my vacation. Now it's off to Chicago for a conference, where perhaps I'll find a few more food highlights of a different sort...

Esperance Road, Grand Case, St. Martin

Welfare Road, Simpson Bay, St. Maarten

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