A week in St. Martin

We’ve been here a week now and have enjoyed many of the local attractions.  Yesterday was a particular highlight for me since it was the weekly open air market.  There were plenty of stalls with cheap, manufactured souvenirs , but on Saturdays the locals set up stalls with handmade items, like hot sauces, spice blends, shell creations, beaded jewelry, watercolor paintings.  It was a colorful market, and I bought some fun things.

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We bought several kinds of spice blends and several bags of nutmeg,–of course!  We now live in the nutmeg state, so we had to have some straight from the source. The reason our state has this distinction of being the nutmeg state is because the early trading ships along the Connectiuct River sailed to the Caribbean and brought back spices.

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This was a fun purchase!–a peyote stitch, beaded starfish made by a woman who had set up a booth at the yacht club on the Dutch side, which overlooks the drawbridge where all boats enter and exit Simpson Bay Lagoon. Bob and I had stopped there for a drink to watch the drawbridge open and see what big boats might go through.  Finding the tables of beaded jewelry was a bonus for me.  I just know my beading friends Karyn and Janet will either already know how to make this little gem, or will quickly figure it out when they see this.  The both live on beaches, one on the Jersey shore and one on the Cape, so I think they would enjoy making something like this.

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After years in the Bahamas, I have to say that the best thing about these Caribbean islands is the food!  And on St. Martin it’s mostly French food!  I do not know how they can make bread and pastries as delicious as their mother country when it is so hot and humid here.  The baguettes are amazing and the croissants are too!  At the markets I’ve been able to buy food that looks like it was picked locally each morning, even though it has been flown here from France.  Such fresh baby heads of lettuce…tiny romaine heads and heads of red leaf lettuce.  Cooking is so much more enjoyable with these beautiful ingredients!

Here is the pastry case at Serafina’s boulangerie et patisserie.  Are you salivating?

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Earlier this week we had lunch at a beach bar, and my lunch was so beautifully displayed, and such good food, that I had to take a photo of it.  In the US, you can imagine lunch at a beach bar as a greasy hamburger and fries, or a hotdog, or maybe fried clams on a roll.  Look at this and weep!

Shall I describe what is on the plate?  First, three big prawns with a bit of aioli for dipping. Then a half dozen little snails with a muslin covered lemon to squeeze on them.  Then there are two glass containers stacked at the far end of my plate.  That top dish is a salad of crabmeat topped with alfalfa sprouts and caviar in a lemon vinaigrette.  It was fabulous!  Underneath is fresh guacamole to go on the toast points.  There was also a remoulade sauce not shown here… so a collection of shellfish, served with 3 sauces, a salad and bread!–and a view of the beach to set the mood!

St. Martin is a must stop destination for all cruisers, so whenever you are here you will meet boats you’ve seen in other locations.  Thursday evening we had a farewell party for some couples who were headed in other directions, both back north and further south.  There were 12 of us for dinner at LeCanal, a wonderful French restaurant that sits on a canal on the French side, run by a husband and wife.  They also live on a boat and hope to make a go here for a few years, before returning to France.  They have a beautiful 3 year old daughter who came out to greet us during dinner.

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We are going back today at noon to enjoy crepes for brunch.  Sarah makes the crepes at your table, while I believe the fillings are made by her husband back in the kitchen.  I’m looking forward to this!  The idea is to have a savory crepe first and then a dessert crepe.  There was a time in the distant past when I made Julia Child’s crepe batter almost every weekend.  It’s been a few years since I’ve made crepes.  Today will be a treat!

More later when I have returned from another fun visit ashore in St. Martin!

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