Where have I been? In St. Martin at the tiny French and Dutch island's most luxurious hotel and resort!
For being such a good little worker, the boy's employer awarded him (and a bunch of other good little workers from the US and Canada) an all expense paid trip to St. Martin with a generous allowance to spend while at a swanky resort! (The only way that last sentence could have been any cooler, is if I had said he won the trip on The Price Is Right.)
So, you know, I went as his plus one. Hard decision.
Since we had some mad cash to spend that could could only be spent at the resort, we did a lot of eating on the resort. We did not eat the $450 per person 5-course tasting menu with wine pairings (don't balk the next time a restaurant offers a $150 prix fixe), but stuck to the more casual and not so ridiculously priced lunch and dinners. The gratis breakfast was actually my favorite. I ate fresh fruit and pastries every morning, then went and worked out in their fancy fitness center for not nearly long enough to counteract a breakfast of three or four pastries. Despite the French side of the island being praised for having the best food in all of the Caribbean (people just love French food and French cooking techniques), and even dining at a fancy French joint in the culinary capital of Grand Case (signs for all you can eat foie gras were spotted!), this plate of rice and beans, fried plantains, and salad that can be found on any Caribbean island or in Central America was my favorite meal. There is just something so satisfying about this combo.
Every traveling foodie always checks out the grocery stores. The French side has the better grocery stores (like walking into a store in Europe) than the Dutch side (like walking into a store in America/Mexico).
How do you know you're in a store on the French side? You can grab a jar of goose fat, or one of maybe twelve different brands of canned cassoulet. I did neither, or course, but did snag a handful of Bovetti artisan chocolate bars made in Paris. Ooo, la la!
Lounging beach side, I tore through "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles", a fast, fun, and fascinating read about American Chinese food that was last year's hit (I'm always late to the party). Although I am not one of the majority of Americans with an insatiable craving and love affair with American Chinese food, the second I hit the Charlotte Douglas airport on the return trip, I had to have me some Manchu Wok...too much American Chinese food on the brain!
And before you get too jealous of my free trip, nothing is ever free! My cost was a nasty spider bite on the back incurred while on the island. Never had one before. Don't ever want another one. (Uh...turned out to be Lyme disease rearing it's ugly head.) It's day five of being unnaturally exhausted, with a fever and sore muscles, and pretty much thinking I'm gonna die. Cry me a river.
More trip pics on Flickr!