I knew it was going to be a good day as I stepped foot into the crisp cool air of the Amsterdam Cheese & Liquor shop, the starting place for our Sint Maarten/Saint Martin Culinary adventure.
Dutch delights surrounded me, in addition to the titular cheese and liquor, there were shelves laden with bags of drop, chocolates and of course Klompen, of all colors and sizes! In case you don't know, klompen are clogs made of wood, and though there are people who still wear this distinctive Dutch footwear, these days they're mostly purchased as souvenirs. This was my first Flavors of St. Martin Culinary Road trip, and it began with introductions around an antique livery cart from Amsterdam that carried our first tastes. After savoring the Gouda cheese and wine, the breakfast of champions, we boarded our carriage for the day, a medium sized bus that was fully air-conditioned and quite comfortable.
Off we went and our fearless tour leader Randy, manned the mic and regaled us with an interesting variety of information about St. Maarten and answered the questions posed by the guests, most of whom were here on a cruise. Since I'm from St. Maarten and know the history and culture, I paid more attention to the view, and I have to say, when you are doing the driving yourself, as I usually am, you really cannot appreciate some of the truly spectacular vistas St. Maarten has to offer. And where better to get an incredible view than Paradise View in Orient Bay. The friendly staff of this creperie served everyone two delicious crepes, one savory and one sweet and paired them with a tangy hard apple cider and an unbeatable view. Enough photos, we're back on the bus heading for the culinary capital of St. Martin, Grand Case.
Over the hills and through the valleys, we made our way to the famous Lolo's of Grand Case. After having a seat at "Sky's the Limit" we were presented with a gorgeous sampler of Creole Caribbean Classics. Grilled chicken leg, potato salad, rice & peas, macaroni salad, cole slaw, and of course, a crisp hot Johnny cake. The Johnny cake is a staple of St. Maarten cuisine and is a type of fried bread that was originally called a Journey cake, but through time the word journey changed to johnny. Lolo's were originally just roadside stands that sold goods and fruit, but evolved into open air BBQ restaurants that offer creole and local dishes at very reasonable prices. Almost stuffed, we bid our farewells to our charming hosts at the Lolo and take a short stroll down the street to our next stop, L'escapade, a fine dining eatery overlooking the stunning azure waters of Grand Case Bay. A trio of fruit infused rums served by our gracious host hit the spot and after a few minutes of chatting we made our way to the bus for the ride to our last eatery of the tour, Sarafina's, in the heart of Marigot.
After being seated at the particularly parisian patisserie, we were presented with a quartet of delicious bite sized treats that left everyone with a smile that comes from a full belly and a relaxed mind. Feeling pretty satisfied we boarded the bus for our trip back to the cheese shop.
The trip lasted four and a half hours and you can find additional information on their website: http://stmartinfoodtours.com.
Regardless of whether you're visiting the fair isle of St. Martin for the first time, the twenty first time, or even if like me you were born and raised here, this unique adventure allows someone else to take the wheel, make the plans and find the parking, while you just sit back and enjoy the ride.