Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Vacation, St. Martin: Food, Glorious Food

St. Martin is one of the few islands in the Caribbean where you just won't find all-inclusive resorts.  I do believe there may be one on the Dutch side but if it's still there I couldn't even tell you where it is.

There are plenty of good reasons for that ranging from simple beach shacks, to beach shacks that serve gourmet food to BBQ shacks (known as lolos), to ethnic foods such as local Creole places, Eastern, Indian, Chinese, and yes, even pizza.  And of course the grande dame of the foodstyle there, the Boulevard in Grand Case which is known as the Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean.

I am also sad to report that American fast food is taking over on the Dutch side:  Burger King, Dominos, Subway, and Kentucky Fried Chicken are all available.  Ask me if we'll EVER go there?  Sigh.

I realize some people like all inclusives for drinking purposes, but when you can buy a very good bottle of French wine for $6 or a bottle of liquor for about $9 - what's the need?  You just have to learn to buy your wine on the French side and your liquor on the Dutch side.

Our first trips there we ate out all the time.  As I mentioned before I had agreed if we got to go for two weeks this time, I would do some cooking - and I did!  Very simple things like my BBQ chicken breasts in the crockpot while on the beach, marinara sauce and spaghetti at Mr. Helen's request.  I made grilled polenta and a huge pot of rice and peas that we ate for almost 10 days lol!  He grilled steaks one night and we had a baked potato and salad then a couple days later had a Chef's salad with the leftover steak meat.  We ate eggs or just fruit and bread for breakfasts and of course, lots of baguette and crackers with delicious Mimolette cheese.

This was my first time really grocery shopping on the island so I asked our friends where to go and they suggested the Grande Marche (translated = Big Supermarket) over on the Dutch side.  The dollar to guilder is a better value than the dollar to euro and there are so many Americans that stay on that side that all the price tags on the shelves showed both types of money.  There were some things that surprisingly I found very similar in price to what I pay here and then there were others that were a lot more expensive.  The cheap liquor made up for the expensive stuff LOL!

To get to the Grand Marche we got to drive on one of the only stretches of "highway" in St. Martin.  Seriously it's basically one major road around the island and I've told Mr. Helen many times I feel like the cars are like ants marching in a line.  You get nowhere fast and drives are described in time there, not miles.
 The "highway" to Cole Bay

Grande Marche

The supermarket is very similar to ours and they've even gotten to the point where they're doing rotisserie chickens and prepared foods.  We also noticed lots of American brands, though we were buying mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, half and half for Mr. Helen's coffee, some paper goods, deli meats and cheese for beach sandwiches, etc. I had no brand loyalty, I was just looking for least expensive.  We made two trips here and spent about $175 over the two weeks, including liquor.

We also went to Simply, which is a French supermarket that was right at the end of the road where our friends lived.  There we bought wine, a rotisserie chicken and my beloved Mimolette, along with a soft cheese spread similar to Boursin that we fell in love with. We spent about $75 over the two weeks.  So, we were laughing that we spent just about what we would have spent in groceries at home as I spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $125 a week.  

But on to the good stuff.  We ate out at the Lolos twice and we ate at two of the fancy restaurants, one for our anniversary and one for Mr. Helen's birthday.  We ate on the beach only once and I don't have a photo of that (bad blogger) but it was a lovely, delicious thin crust pizza that was like a caprese salad on bread.  We also ate lunch at an organic farm and a dinner at our favorite local Creole restaurant.  Because I want to share it all with you, I'll break this up into several posts.

On our first night there, which was a Sunday when many restaurants are closed, we went to the Lolo.  On our last night there, we went back to the Lolo.  When I tell you that you can get a huge plate of food and a couple of soft drinks or Ti Punch (a tiny rum drink) for $20 for two people - and it's GOOD you understand why we go there!  The Lolos grill everything:  ribs, chicken, lobster, fish, etc.  Then they have all sorts of side dishes you can choose from, including my favorite plantain.

Don't we look happy to be there?

Ti Punch, Rib Plate, Chicken Plate with a stuffed Crab

Last night - pouring rain but we're still happy (and a little more tan)!

A la carte meals: ribs with potato salad & corn, chicken with rice & peas, potato salad & plantain; a plate of johnny cake (carbs much?)

Johnny cake is an unleavened bread that is either baked or fried.  These are fried.  They are delicious and you will see them again in an upcoming post.

Next post: Our favorite Creole restaurant and an organic, self-sustaining farm restaurant!


  1. Yum Yum, looks delicious Helen!

    I'm sad too that the US fast food chains are taking over the Dutch part, not to mention my own country. There is so much good food in the world to choose instead of this crappy food.

    It's funny because I didn't know you had Boursin in the US too, I always thought this was a product only available in Europe. Learned something here :)

    And I have been thinking of you and your beloved island the past days because our former queen Beatrix went to the Dutch side yesterday for a visit.

  2. I've never heard of Mimolette cheese but now I want some!!!

    Lolos looks so good - love that you can get dibs and dabs of all sorts of things.

    It's nice that you got to experience a Dutch grocery store; and the cooking while on vacation sounds good - just enough to not be eating out every night, but not too involved that you spent all your time indoors.

  3. Yay - the food. THE FOOD!!! Longer trips you just have to cook your own food at least some of the time as it is so easy to go overboard on an area's cuisine.

  4. Hooray for the food posts! My boss and her family travel to St. Martin too - but I think they stay on the Dutch side? They have a time share so they had a three bedroom condo this past spring break.

    So happy you had such a great time - and have you figured out how to get Stuart to make home deliveries now that you are home?! :D

  5. I'm fascinated by the Dutch/French divide. And the food--oh my-- Wow. Nice vacay!