Come out to Market Day this Sunday!

Cultural Expressions, St. Maarten’s monthly cultural newsletter, is hosting its second annual Argicultural Music Festival and Community Market Day this weekend, and everyone is invited. It will be an all-day event with food and fun and deejays and live music.

Expect some of the best local musicians, including Michael Parris, King James and Astatic to perform alongside DeeJ Blaze and Mixmaster Pauly, among other top performers. Acha will be headlining the day-long event. Other music providers will include Uniq Sound, Jack the Hot One and Hearted Lion Sound. There will be food from vendors and games for the family throughout the day.

Cultural Expressions is a free newsletter that is printed each month and shares opinions of cultural practices including gardening, hygiene and lifestyle. Their tagline is “We don’t report news. We report culture.” Spaceless Gardens is a community gardening initiative that allows residents to grow and buy wholesome, locally-produced herbs and vegetables at low cost.

The second annual Agricultural Music Festival and Community Market Day happens this Sunday, July 23, at St. Peters Community Centre, from 11am to 11pm.

New Heights @ Temptation

Summer’s here, it is time for some summer lovin’ and where can love be portrayed best, nowhere better than dining at Temptation.

We had heard about a new summer menu at Temptation, and were very keen to try it out – all right, let’s be honest here; I had heard about the new summer menu, and therefore put it to my nearest and dearest that we should possibly try it out. The proposal was accepted with alacrity; not surprising as it is one of our most favourite classy places to dine at.

The dining area has been increased, the entrance door has been moved back and a wall opened up, so what was the outdoor seating area is now part of the dining room. The piano is situated between the two dining areas and beautiful piano music is played during the meal. Talk about this being a romantic spot!

The entire dining room is classically done out in mute tones of whites and beiges; there are pops of colour on the walls now from gorgeous pictures painted by Roland Richardson, one of the island’s most well-known painters, and of course, the waterfall windows still capture the essence of peacefulness, a wee oasis in a busy world.

Seated in a cosy nook at a beautifully laid table, and served by one of the fabulous wait staff, we made our dinner choices. This was actually quite hard to do, as everything on the menu is good. Should we order some old friends, or go for something new? Should we each order the same course, because we don’t want to share our plates this time or should we get something different – well, the later choice won, we each got different plates throughout the meal.

I love the understated napkin decoration at each place setting; real linen napkins tied with a little raffia and a small sprig of parsley tucked in, sets the tone for the evening. A basket of house-made bread with a basil oil dip arrived in double quick time along with our aperitif

Our first course arrived and we were sent straight to that immortal place of taste heaven. The cold and hot soup was so delightful. The soup was half and half with cold gazpacho and warm black bean adjacent in the bowl, the crab cake and crisp corn kernels brought the two flavours meltingly together. The other starter came served in a half coconut shell; this is a truly divine take on sashimi with tuna and shrimp and a crisp Indian papadum adorning the dish. Chef Dino is a master at combining flavours from different cuisines.


Our mains were as sublime; I am not generally a fan of ordering entrées, preferring to have my own little tasting menu by ordering two or three starters, but at Temptation I am never disappointed with the entrée. On this occasion we both enjoyed a fish dish. I had Roasted Branzino with Caribbean spices, this Mediterranean Sea bass that came straddling a Paella-style risotto. This was a divine dish, slightly salted (which I love) and cooked perfectly, I would order this time and again. The other fish dish was Bay of Fundy Salmon fillet, a Northern Atlantic cold-water fish. Cooked to absolute perfection, sharing a taste was almost forbidden. The fish was accompanied by a pesto broth, eggplant caponata and mushroom risotto. We also indulged in Eggplant Parmigiana, a vegetarian dish heard was sooooo good, yup it was, without doubt, rather excellent.

We both demolished our own desserts too. I’ll tell you why in a few – one white chocolate panna cotta, and one apple fritters with ice cream - fitting end to a kingly meal.

Now the reason we both had desserts was that this entire, excellent repast came at a very good price. Temptation has a great summer special on at the moment – it would be remiss of me if I did not suggest you reserve a table at this restaurant. The summer special offers 2 courses for $39 and 3 courses for $45.

The wine menu is great; the aperitifs superb; Temptation has an award-winning barman and one of the best chefs creating the menu.

Info:

Temptation

103 Rhine Road, Cupecoy Bay

Telephone: 545-2254

Reservations recommended

Open Tuesday - Sunday 6:30 - 11:00pm

Ratings:

Staff friendliness: *****

Service speed: *****

Restaurant cleanliness: *****

Food quality: *****

Value for money: *****

Ambience: *****

Step into another World

~ At Marrakesh Restaurant ~

We parked at the stadium in Marigot and ambled our way across the busy street towards the door to the Moroccan restaurant; we had no particular expectation which was maybe a good thing. Once we entered Le Marrakesh, it was like entering another world. A beautiful one at that. The decor is North African-inspired and they have every detail done with exquisite style and taste. The walls, ceilings and floors are all covered with geometric patterns, hand painted or draped with rich fabrics.

Reminiscent of homes with a central courtyard, Marrakesh has some dining sets placed under the stars, but sheltered from the wind, and surrounded by ornate decorations and greenery. We settled into a comfy couch with overstuffed pillows in vibrant textures and colours. We were seated under a tented section with muted shadows accented by lights peeking through diamond-shaped holes in metal lantern patterns of arched keyholes. The swaying lanterns cast interesting moving shadows on the walls and tables. Right away we knew we were in for a night to remember.

We were brought water and warm mint tea to start the evening’s dining pleasures. Our waitress was attentive, smiling and polite. The menu was just as elaborate as the setting. With a bit of guidance and explanation by our waitress, we discussed the options and decided on an appetizer plate of five salads. The main dishes would be couscous with lamb and merguez for one of us, and the other to enjoy one of their famous tagine dishes. Tajine are traditional Moroccan clay cookers, a base like a shallow bowl and a lid shaped in a squat cone. At the top of the cone is a small vent to let steam escape. But which tagine to select? The Tajine Berbere, Chicken with lemons and olives, sounded very appealing, but my friend suggested Tajine Fassi, chicken with honey and almonds. Other offerings included various ways to prepare lamb, including the Tagine Makfoul, which features lamb shank with caramelized raisons and preserved onions. You can explore the flavours of chicken or lamb to your heart’s content in this portion of the menu; and one Tagine offers a recipe of meatballs, tomato sauce, cumin and poached eggs brewing up inside.

The music was soft and exotic as we chatted and enjoyed the ambiance. Being a Wednesday, there was not a lot of business in the restaurant, but a few other tables held parties of families or couples on a date. We were a group of friends gathering to enjoy each other’s company and for this we had chosen the perfect location. The mood was ideal for conversation of a most light-hearted variety. We were informed that on Thursdays they have a belly dancer to entertain the guests and those nights are very popular and may require a reservation.

We received our appetizers, the Plateau de Kemia or “Tray of Salads” and passed it around. Six little bowls sat perched on the platter, each with a small spoon. A bit of this and that, all scrumptious and freshly prepared. One of tomatoes, one of cucumber/yogurt, another of humus and another of peppers and olives. Some held concoctions that were mostly unidentifiable, however, very tasty.

Once this was passed around our main entrees arrived, the presentation was so appealing you might want to photograph your food prior to digging in. The Couscous was exceptional, light and fluffy, delicately flavoured and adorned with brightly-coloured veggies and lamb, along with merguez – an extra spicy sausage of lamb, beef and mutton, chocked with cumin, harissa, garlic and fennel.

The Tajine I selected, the chicken with honey and almonds, was very special and so unique; the arrival of the Tajine to the table is worth the order by itself. The top is lifted off and the aroma is stunning. The chicken fell off the bone, the whole almonds were softened by the heat, but still firm and the honey-rich sauce gave a soft sweetness that didn’t overpower.

We stretched the evening out, talking about travels and various adventures, sharing bites of the dishes among each other, and drinking cups of mint tea. Eventually, we said, “Time to go.” Happily content, full of good food and warm ambiance, we vowed to return again and again and to eventually try everything on the menu. Marrakesh is a delight for all the senses; don’t pass the chance to try it for yourself.

Info:

Marrakesh

169 Rue de Hollande

Marigot

Across from the stadium

Telephone: (590) 27-54-48.

Reservations recommended

Open Daily from 6:30pm to 10:00pm

Ratings:

Staff friendliness: *****

Service speed: ****

Restaurant cleanliness: *****

Food quality: ****

Value for money: ****

Ambience: *****

VIVE LA FRANCE

So far this month, we have celebrated the national days of Argentina, the Bahamas, Burundi, Canada, Curaçao, and the United States (to name a few of the many). Tomorrow, Friday the 14th of July, we celebrate France.

Ah yes, the land of baguettes, rose, berets and Chanel No. 5. The land with so much culture; we say the words with an accent, not because is it the right way, it’s the only way. The land that is so grand, we use 4 names to describe this day; Bastille Day (English term), French National Day (English technical term), La Fete National (French technical) and le quatorze Juillet- 14 July- (French common term). One name is simply not enough.

This annual celebration commemorates the storming of Bastille in 1798 – in simpler terms – the attacking and bringing down of the French fort (named Bastille) in Paris. It marked the beginning of the French Revolution, which meant an end to the monarchy and resulted in democracy.

And what better way to celebrate this great country (before the parties start) then to recap a few of its best achievements and acknowledge some of its contributions to our modern culture.

Which country makes the most wine annually? France, of course! Where is the fashion capital of the world? Paris, naturellement. Who hosts the world’s most famous bike race? Il y a seulement une, le Tour de France. Which monument is the most visited in the world? Eifel Tower.

As well as being a leader, there are some things that France subtly does extraordinarily well. Air France was not only the first flight out of SXM to provide travellers with their own inflight TV, it also gives every passenger a small bottle of red wine (or two or three). The national team has won the World Cup and Euro Cup two times each. The Moulin Rouge and cabaret have entertained the French for centuries. Croissants, strikes, saucisson and smelly cheese, Cognac, and le Coq just to name a few more.

So as we enter this weekend, take a moment to appreciate our northern neighbour, raise a fist and in your best French accent proclaim “VIVE LA FRANCE!”

Tantalise your taste buds!

Located in the heart of Simpson Bay, Avantika brings the exotic tastes of Thailand to Sint Maarten. In Thai cuisine, balance, detail and variety are of paramount significance to the chefs; and Avantika’s chefs know exactly how to use the complex interplay of at least three and up to four or five fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy.

The meals are served outdoors or indoors and the dining areas are decorated in an understated chic environment, perfect for a family lunch occasion or romantic dinner. Complementing your dining experience is an extensive wine list with wines from around the world, as well as a full cocktail bar. The friendly staff will make sure you have everything you need, so the only tiny issue during your visit might be choosing what you want to order from their delicious menu.

An array of starters, soups, curries, stir-fry and desserts will have you wishing you had a second stomach. Might we suggest the crab & shrimp wontons, tom kha soup, cashew stir fry and crème brûlée? Or the salmon sashimi, pad Thai and mango sticky rice or Thai crispy pork, pineapple curry and chocolate soufflé!

Just make sure to head to one of Avantika’s monthly special tasting events. One such event is taking place this evening from 4:30 till 7:00. For just $25 per person (not including service charge) you can try 10 courses and get a complimentary drink! Reserve your seat by sending the names of those in your dinner party to reservations@avantikasxm.com or call +1 (721) 584-1444.

Got other plans for this evening? No worries! Why not join Avantika for their Happy Hour another day in the week? Happy Hour is every day from 3:00 till 7:00pm, during which you pay half price on appetizers and drinks! Avantika is open Monday to Saturday, 11:00am till 11:00pm; and Sundays from 5:00 to 11:00pm.

Avantika is located at Puerta Del Sol, 68 Welfare Road, in Simpson Bay.

Check out their full menu on www.avantika.sx

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