Harlem Gospel Choir live in St. Maarten

One of the most prominent gospel choirs in the United States, Harlem Gospel Choir will be on island on Sunday, March 26, and will hold an exceptional concert from 6:00pm in the Ballroom at The Westin Hotel. Based in Harlem, New York, the choir was founded in 1986 by Allen Bailey on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Harlem Gospel Choir tours the world every year and was the first American gospel choir to perform in Australia, New Zealand, China, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Morocco.

Always looking for new territories to introduce to gospel music, the choir has performed for Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Sir Elton John and Disney World. It has also performed with The Chieftains, Diana Ross, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, the Dixie Hummingbirds, Jimmy Cliff, Lyle Lovett, Lisa Marie Presley, Bono from U2, André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra, Jessica Simpson, John Legend, Razor Light, The Gorillas, Simple Minds, Robin Gibb, Live, Red Hurley and most recently with Josh Groban.

This prestigious choir is one of the best ambassadors of gospel music all over the world and has recorded with The Scissor Sisters, Friendly Fires, Gil Scott Heron, Lexie Stobi, and The Chieftains. Tickets cost promo/web €30/$30, presale €35/$35, day of show €40/$40. Ticket outlets are Van Dorp, Jeffreys Auto Supplies and Change Caraibes, www.tickets.allmol.com

Infoline: 0690 88 20 90 / 1 721 526-3047

http://www.harlemgospelchoir.com/ https://www.facebook.com/angels.in.harlem.gospel.choir/

Contacts: mercurysuncars@gmail.com / francois@djadproduction.fr

Mezza Luna in Nettle Bay

 Tasty Italian – this place is a gem!

The weekend was very full: SXMFest was underway; house music, incredible fun, a lot of dancing and far too many late nights/early mornings. We needed to eat as much as we needed to chillax, and having seen the sign to Mezza Luna in Nettle Bay, we decided we should try it out.

This place was such a find! It was a fabulous setting and so peaceful and quiet. We sat in one of the cabanas under the tall trees right on the beach front. The large ship that went aground was beached to one side of our view giving us an interesting take on the way it was rolling a fair amount. The water from the beach to the bay was varied in those lovely shades of green to deep blue that mesmerize and will never be taken for granted. The surf swished softly, the breeze rustled the pine trees gently and we chillaxed in the shade along with other patrons, many of whom were obviously also taking time out from the SXMFest; we could tell by the wristbands they wore.

Parking out front and walking through the large indoor dining area, we were greeted by staff along the way. Our reserved table was waiting for us (it is a good idea to reserve here). The table was set in grey and yellow giving a nice contrast to the sand, shrubs and sea. We were asked if we needed water, wine, anything else to drink by a cute waitress with an Italian/French accent – always adds to the ambiance having these accents explain the specials menus too.

As we live here, we are always keen to try cuisines that are not necessarily Caribbean. Mezza Luna does have a choice on the menu. Earlier in the day, the menu is mostly “tapas” and pizzas; the lunch menu is not too large, which is very nice, no deliberating over an extensive menu; we did not see the dinner menubut understand that there are Tiki torches lit among the palm trees and on the water making it very romantic. The menu is Italian; the specials are brought out on a blackboard tableside to review. There is nothing fussy or fancy just fresh, simple food that proved to be oh-so-delicious!

As we were a fairly large group, we all got to taste a few different dishes. Each person made a great choice. Skewers of beef, sautéed potatoes with roasted veg and rice were shared amongst the younger ones. This was followed by a luscious scoop of ice cream – mango and chocolate and vanilla. Very happy, the little ones then climbed trees and played in the sand.

The adults imbibed in their favourite tipple, Rose wine and beer, while they enjoyed an incredible Burrata surrounded by prosciutto with tomato and toast on the side. All the dishes were served together so although some were ordered from the appetizer menu, others were ordered from the mains menu; therefore, everyone could share. We had some delicious, thinly sliced roasted pork, a platter of a variety of cold roasted veg, which we doused in the excellent olive oil on the table and ate with the good sourdough bread offered in a basket to the table. There was a dish of baked muscles with tomato and cheese sauce, an excellent eggplant parmigiana; we also had a perfectly cooked duck breast, tomato bruschetta without cheese, a pizza, a mahi mahi dish and a wonderful salad with shavings of parmesan atop. Honestly, not a single dish had anything left on it after we had had our fill.

Desserts were a chilled, perfect homemade panna cotta with a coulis of raspberry, homemade tiramisu and a variety of ice cream; coffee and chilled limoncello ended the meal; and then it was time to freshen up and head back to the SXMFest. What a weekend!

Info:

Mezza Luna

Nettle Bay Beach Club

Phone: 590 690 73 19 18

Reservations recommended

Ratings:

Staff friendliness: ****

Service speed: ***

Restaurant cleanliness: ***

Food quality: ****

Value for money: ****

Ambience: ****

Newcomer Dr. Ray eyes top spot in calypso eliminations

Raymond “Dr. Ray” Reid, who once lived in Curaçao, is one of two newcomers to St. Maarten Carnival Calypso Eliminations. Dr. Ray has participated in calypso competitions outside of St. Maarten; he loves the art and is happy to contribute his talent to the country’s favourite local Carnival show.

“I have a unique way of putting words together,” the Jamaican-born singer said. His experience includes performing in song festivals and competitions in his native Jamaica and competing in Curaçao’s Calypso Soca Festival in 2010, where he placed second from amongst 16 participants. The first Jamaican to take Curaçao’s native Papiamentu language to Jamaica’s Irie FM radio station, he said, “Coming to St. Maarten, it was nice to know we share the same type of music. So when I got the opportunity to enter the calypso eliminations competition here, I said to myself, ‘why not?”

For the eliminations, Dr. Ray plans to sing “Price gone up” which focusses on the rising cost of living in the country, and another song about breast cancer. “So look out for me. It will be clean words in all. My performance will be awesome and my dress code for that night will be A1; so come out and fill yourselves with joy.”

As for how he got the name Dr Ray, the calypsonian said, “People always call me Ray, until I went to Curaçao. My first profession was auto body repair and a gentleman in Curaçao named Pachaco added doctor to my name after I fixed his car. From that day on, I have been using that name. I love it.”

When he is not busy singing, Dr. Ray occupies himself with his day job working as a spray painter at Dollar Thrifty Car Rental in Simpson Bay.

Also competing will be King Beau Beau, Fish Da Mega Boss, Ricky the Fox, Mighty Dando, Mighty Magic, Ebony Empress, Young Calix the Protégé, Might Pepper, The Wizard, Mighty Chipman, Lady Baker, King Barrow, Kaiso Brat, Lady Righteous, Empress Zee, The Mighty Calix, The Monitor and His Majesty Baker Jr.

The Calypso Eliminations will be held on Friday, March 31, under the tent at Princess Port de Plaisance and Casino. Entrance fee is US $15 per person at the gate. No advance tickets will be sold.

~ Delightful theatre performance ~

Next shows for “The Dude with the Golden Tune” will be on March 25 and 31 starting promptly at 8:00pm at John Larmonie Centre.

Lightning fast costume changes and subtle messages characterize “The Dude with the Golden Tune.” The Dude and Moneypenny are all tied up, ready to be overpowered by another stirring monologue of Dr. No. “The Dude with the Golden Tune” tells us that behind every despot is a bleeding heart psychotic, a focused individual who suffered some kind of trauma in early life, and now, many years later, is just, well, misunderstood. Yeah. Right!

Full credit to NIA drama teacher Loes Nauta for a creative and timely production of “The Dude with the Golden Tune” and to cast members Dieudonnee Ostiana, Alexandra Stroud, Albina Matuzko, Nascha Kagie, most of whom are experienced stage hands, especially director Loes. All are excellent in their roles with Charlotte Brookson Academy Theater Arts teacher Alexander Stroud raising the ante with her own vocal solo at the end of the show.

NIA is urging theatre-goers to get their tickets early through cast members, from NIA itself, by reserving a ticket by email at niasxm@gmail.com or via the box-office reserve line: 543-0600. Ticket prices: $20 in advance, $25 at the door / $10 for children (7+) and students are also available from NIA box-office, open daily from 12:00 noon until 6:00pm. Early purchase of tickets is highly recommended.

~ Consistently excellent ~

Friday night makes the whole week seem like a distant memory! Shake it off with a dinner with your special someone or just a friend who appreciates the chance to catch up over a great meal and delicious drinks.

You might overlook Vesna’s Taverna right in the heart of Simpson Bay, but those in the know have been fans of this excellent eatery for years. Vesna and her team greet returning customers like long lost friends with a broad smile and a triple kiss. From that moment onward, everything is excellent: the service, the ambiance, the wine, the food and the mood.

We popped in last Friday without reservations and quickly realized that we maybe should have called ahead, but Vesna found us a table for two without missing a beat. Soon we were enjoying a glass of Merlot and a cold Coors Light with menus in hand and a specials board on display. There was so much to choose from, but we were keeping things simple so I chose a lovely pasta dish and my dining companion couldn’t resist a big cheeseburger.

As the Friday evening hours merged into the night, we could see the typical Simpson Bay foot traffic passing by like a parade. Who doesn’t enjoy people watching? You can’t help but wonder who they are. Locals? Tourists? Yachtees? Left over regatta rats? The full range of humanity is out there with no lack of interesting clues as to their origins and destinations adorned across their images like Miss Universe sashes. The girls watch the guys; and the guys watch the girls; everybody’s happy – something for everyone.

The food arrived in no time and we dug in with alacrity; it was indeed excellent and just what was needed! My pasta carbonara was creamy and rich and the burger with fries was on point as always. We decided to have just a little something for the sweet tooth, along with a couple of espressos.

The desserts also pleased with sweetness and beautiful presentation. Lemon meringue pie to die for and an apple pie a la mode, both drizzled with warm caramel sauce. Don’t tell me you can resist such delights; they are just too yummy to describe without going to default words so often overused: delicious, excellent, etc. When confronted with an inability to describe something so wonderful, all we can say is put Vesna’s on your list for goodness sake!

Info:

Vesna’s Taverna

Palapa Marina

Simpson Bay

St. Maarten

Reservations recommended

Open 7:30am to 11:30pm

Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Phone: (721) 542-5283

Website: www.vesnataverna.com

Ratings:

Staff friendliness: *****

Service speed: ***

Restaurant cleanliness: *****

Food quality: *****

Value for money: ****

Ambience: ****

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