Woman power: Lauren Bevington eyeing Stoli’s top award

Lauren Bevington is hoping to show her female bartending strength and mix her favourite vodka brand into the winner’s seat of this Sunday’s Stoli competition at Loterie Farm. There will also be a pool party where the finalists we will be “rocking” their cocktails from 12:00 to 8:00pm. The only female in the finals, Bevington bartends at Dinghy Dock Bar and Restaurant in Simpson Bay.

Bevington was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and an American father. She had a passion for the hospitality industry from young. “It started off with me wanting to become a stewardess which turned into wanting to become a chef. I decided to study International Hotel and Business Management at Mondriaan School in The Hague, which is where I had to do an internship abroad. I chose the Caribbean and got a position on the lovely island of St. Maarten.”

Bevington was supposed to do a 10-month internship; within two weeks she had fallen in love with the island so decided to stay after her internship ended. “On the island, I found my passion for bartending and built up three years of bartending, with a total of eight years of experience in the hospitality industry.”

She calls herself a liquid bartender, who loves to experiment with “crazy combinations of flavours and make unexpected cocktails,” but as a person, she sees herself as someone who likes to enjoy life to the fullest. “I tried to participate in all the competitions held since I am a bartender in St. Maarten, because I love the experience and being able to see what other bartenders have to offer.”

This is her second Stoli competition. “I will always enrol in the Stoli ones because it’s actually my vodka of choice, and I love their selection of flavours. The last time I participated in their competition, I did not finish first, therefore, it is my goal to top that and finish first this time.” She had also entered a Mojito competition held by Havana Club and a rum competition held by Angostura.

Bevington believes her creativity and the flavour combinations she used in her cocktails pushed her into the Stoli finals. “The drink I made for the first round this year was a Cucumber Rosemary Lemonade, which was a nice and refreshing drink, with a slightly healthy twist to it, due to the cucumber. The second one was a Spicy Papaya and Guava cocktail, which was nice and sweet with a spicy finish.”

In the finals, competitors are expected to make three different cocktails: a twist on a Moscow Mule, a twist on Stoli Lemonade and a Caribbean styled freestyle. “All three of my drinks will have an interesting and creative flavour pallet. I'll be using fruits combined with herbs and spices. If you would like to know my version of these drinks, join me at the competition this Sunday.”

Bevington plans to bring her creativity in flavour combinations to the table, which she hopes will “sweep everybody off their feet, but we will see this on Sunday and may the best bartender win.”

As for the future, she plans to enter as many competitions as possible. She also looks forward to organising her own all-female bartending competition this year, to show off some amazing female bartenders on island. She plans to judge and not compete in this.

“My personal goal is to travel the world and see as much as possible of it. While travelling, I'll be trying the local liquors and homebrew alcohols. With these, I want to create a portfolio of cocktails from around the world. When I finally settle down, I'm hoping to open my own bar with cocktails from around the world and with extraordinary flavour combinations.”

When she’s not working, Bevington enjoys the ocean and everything around it. “I love to go to the beach, snorkel, dive, take boat trips and spend time with friends. As a bartender, I like to try as many different cocktails and liquors as possible, mainly as an inspiration for any future creations I make. But as an all-time go-to-drink, I must say Stoli Ginger Ale. I’ll never be disappointed when you hand me that drink.”

Bevington urges everyone to come out and support her and the other competitors Sunday.

Last week we provided some insight into the delectable menu options that will be available for two of the nine restaurants that are part of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (COCI’s) first annual event coined: COCI Gastronomy 2016 “a unique St. Maarten dine around experience.”

The event, which will continue until October 30, allows residents and visitors alike to savour tasty, three-course meals at some of the top and finest restaurants in the country for a special set price of US $35 per person. The nine participating restaurants are Big Fish Seafood Grill and Hurricane Bar and Canoa in Oyster Bay; Dish D’Lish Multi Cuisine and White Swan in Simpson Bay; The Hideaway at La Vista on Billy Folly Road in Pelican; Mario’s Bistro and Temptations in Cupecoy; Pink Pearl and Sheer fine dining restaurant on Front Street.

This week we take you on a tasty journey of what two more restaurants have to offer.

Sheer Restaurant is offering an appetiser of tuna fish with teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds and Tobiko eggs or Caesar salad with crispy bacon, parmesan shaved, crushed croutons, parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing or pumpkin soup with roasted fresh pumpkin cubes and caramelised pumpkin seeds in soy sauce or vegetable salad with quinoa, cherry tomatoes and lettuce in a tomato dip sauce.

Entrees includes your choice of beef black angus fillet migon sautéed and served with mushroom sauce and potatoes purse or risotto four cheese sauce topped with sautéed chicken or red snapper fillet aromatized with herbs in a bed of saffron rice pilaf and served with asparagus sauce or French rack of lamb roasted with mashed potatoes and broccoli served in demi-glace sauce.

End your Sheer experience with delectable dessert of profiteroles of the house served with chantilly and chocolate topping or tiramisu or ice cream or sorbet.

Mario’s Bistrot offers starters of caramelised onion soup with Swiss cheese crouton or angus salad with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette and pecan or warm Wahoo sashimi with crab maki roll tempura. The main course comprises baked pistachio mahi mahi with parmesan croquette and romesco or sautéed shrimp and scallops creamy crab risotto and lobster sauce or roasted pork tenderloin with truffle mash potato and spring onion. Dessert will also be served.

This is the first year of the COCI Gastronomy and it is expected to be held every year.

Enjoy your fine dining experience!

Five-course Wine Paring Dinner

International Liquors and Tobacco and Charterhouse 1863 have partnered to bring you the Marine Park Five-course Wine Paring Dinner on Saturday, August 27, at Charterhouse Restaurant in Simpson Bay Yacht Club. The cocktail reception starts at 7:00 and dinner starts at 8:00pm sharp.

Experience an extraordinary menu of amazing food carefully paired with fine wine and presented by a qualified sommelier as well as a world-class rum as digestive. Five amazing courses accompanied by the perfect wine to complement each course will tantalize your taste buds.

Tickets are $100 per person and proceeds will go towards assisting Nature Foundation with the upgrade of the Marine Park of St. Maarten. Silent Auction Items will be available and monetary donations can also be made to assist the Foundation.

St. Maarten Marine Park surrounds the entire Dutch side from Oyster Pond to Cupecoy Bay, stretching from the coastal waters and the beaches to the 200-foot depth range. Areas within the Marine Park embody some of the last pristine marine locations on the island, where excellent diving and breeding grounds for birds, fish and other marine life can be encountered.

Contact Stephanie at 1 (721) 524-0030 or steffetje@gmail.com for reservations and information. Food, rum and food are proudly provided by International Liquors and Realfoods.

- to titillate appetites  

Residents and visitors alike can now savour tasty three-course meals at some of the top and finest restaurants in the country for a set price – thanks to St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (COCI’s) first event coined: COCI Gastronomy 2016 “a unique St. Maarten dine around experience.”

The nine participating restaurants are Big Fish Seafood Grill and Hurricane Bar and Canoa in Oyster Bay; Dish D’Lish Multi Cuisine and White Swan in Simpson Bay; The Hideaway at La Vista on Billy Folly Road in Pelican; Mario’s Bistro and Temptations in Cupecoy; Pink Pearl and Sheer fine dining restaurant on Front Street.

COCI Gastronomy 2016, which began on July 17, will continue until October 30. The Chamber of Commerce said the goal of this three-month affair is to broaden the experience of fine dining amongst the local population.

Each participating restaurant will present its signature dishes and drink in the special three-course menu for the set price of US $35 per person. At Dish D’lish, for example, the three-course menu includes a welcome drink of tropical kiss martini; appetiser of sweet corn ravioli and main course of seafood pasta or steak duxelle, tomato truffle parmesan fries and dessert of passion fruit cheesecake. Yum!

Temptation will be offering a Taste of Temptation with appetisers of caramelised onion soup baked with Gruyere cheese or crab cake with tartar sauce and corn salsa; main course of spinach ricotta stuffed rigatoni pasta baked with beef short rib ragout and scampi style shrimp or Bay of Fundy Salmon fillet with eggplant caponata, mushroom risotto and pesto along with dessert of dark chocolate cobbler with vanilla ice cream and chocolate pop rocks or tempura apple with vanilla ice cream.

The other restaurants also have equally fantastic menus available for diners to savour. The Chamber says it looks forward to hopefully holding this event annually.

“This event was organised for everyone in our community. So we encourage everyone to visit participating restaurants and enjoy the fine dining experience the island has to offer,” the Chamber tells Out N About. Chamber of Commerce urges everyone to “be a tourist in your own country” and “patronise and taste the multicultural dining experience that Dutch St. Maarten offers.”

Happy dining!

 @ Ocean 82

For some reason, humans tend to be creatures of habit, in the sense that when something becomes familiar, we will stay. When it comes to the Grand Case area, I am guilty of the same complacency. Fuelled by a marathon of cooking shows, however, I decided to try something new. Ocean 82 is one of those places I’ve looked at thinking the food would be really great to experience, but have never tried. On the outside, it competes with a barrage of other restaurants ranging from fancy to BBQ casual, but Ocean holds its own in terms of exterior. The serious look makes a diner curious about what is inside, but does nothing to diminish the quality of what’s inside.

There is something to be said for seaside dining, there’s not much else like it. My party was seated immediately and promptly offered drink options. As we waited to be served, I was able to take in the scenery. Ocean 82 situated directly on the beach of Grand Case with elegantly placed lighting to guide late-night strollers and make the view all the more breath-taking. Waves crashing to and fro create a calming effect as the tide prepares you for a delightful experience. I ordered a magnum of Rosé, because the occasion just seemed to call for lots of wine, and a regular bottle wouldn’t do the trick. The server brought out the dinner bread, which was fresh and delicious, served with a very creamy and lightly salted butter.

The menu is not extensive, but it is thorough. Every meal is a new experience rather than what has been previously done by others then copied and pasted onto the plates. What stood out to me most was the braised lamb shank, which was cooked for 24 hours with a white wine, honey and rosemary reduction sauce and served with fettuccini and green asparagus. When I dine at places I have to write about, I like to drink my wine just a bit faster to see how quickly the servers refill my glass. Not once did I have to wait more than two minutes even with a fair number of diners at other tables. The table was presented with an amuse-bouche of lobster ravioli with mushrooms in chicken broth and truffle oil. The broth was light and flavourful, but my ravioli was just a bit too al dente for my taste. The flavours in the ravioli filling were delicious, however, without the lobster flavour overpowering the mushroom.

My braised lamb shank was served in an amusing, porcelain bowl strangely reminiscent of an old bath tin, which was part of the presentation. Thankfully, the fettuccini was in a separate bowl, as I hate for sauce to touch my sides unless I introduce them. The meat cleanly slid off the bone as if freely sacrificing itself to me. The sauce was perfectly seasoned and tasted amazing with each new bite. The fettuccini was cooked perfectly, none of the repeated al dente issues. The greens on the plate tend to be the more neglected, but the chef was very respectful when he blanched my asparagus; they were soft, but maintained a delicate snap as I bit into them. At the end of the meal, my head was spinning with the decadence of the dish and the nearly finished magnum of Rosé. But I managed to suck it up and order dessert for journalism! Dessert was a light soufflé accompanied by homemade ice cream with vanilla and chocolate dipping sauce. Experiencing the soufflé brought me back to my childhood; it was like tasting flavours for the first time all over again. I’ll be hard pressed to find something to rival it.

Ocean 82

82 Blvd de Grand Case, Grand Case

Phone: +590 590 52 98 12

www.ocean-82.com  

Open: Every day 11:00am -10:30pm

Cuisine: French

Good: Lamb Shank, Rack of Lamb, service, menu

Price range: $$$

Credit Cards, Cash

Reservations: Not necessary

Ratings:

Staff friendliness: *****

Service speed: *****

Restaurant cleanliness: *****

Food quality: *****

Value for money: *****

Ambience: *****

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