St. Martin is one of the rare islands in the Caribbean that wears two faces. Half of the island is Dutch and the other half is French. While there are differences in the government, architecture, language and money, you will find similarities in the food and drink available.
Dining has become a big part of the St. Martin culture. The island has over 300 restaurants, representing every ethnicity you can imagine. You won’t find a large array of foods that are considered specialties of the island, though. The most common native dish is not exactly a meal. Natives often include a Johnny Cake with their meal. This simple concoction is basically flour, butter and sugar, with slight variations to the recipe, cooking style (fried or baked) and topping. Think of it as a combination of a biscuit and a zeppole. They usually have some on hand at Greenhouse Restaurant down by the pier.
Among the restaurants on St. Martin, there are a few you shouldn’t miss. The French crepes and pastries at Zee Best will rival those in Paris. The Aura Restaurant at the Westin has terrific crab cakes and you must get the Potatoes Au Gratin to go with them. Rare and Temptation Restaurants, both run by Chef Dino Jagtian, are worth getting reservations for as soon as you land. The Tapas, like incredible Goat Cheese Bon Bons and Seared Fois Gras with Sauterne and Poached Apricots, are worth a trip alone.
As far as the drinks are concerned, you will see Guavaberry everywhere both in bottles and in mixed drinks. The original Wild Sint Maarten Guavaberry Island Folk Liqueur is still a best seller (and mixes well for an excellent colada). The company now sells and produces a host of other products, the best of which are the Mango, Almond and Vanilla Rum Liqueurs. There’s also an aged rum, which is a bit different than what you’d normally taste.
If you are looking for some more unusual rums, you can find them at any of the Toppers Restaurant locations, along with plenty of great old fashioned comfort food like brisket, macaroni & cheese and perfect Italian meatballs. The Massachusetts born and bred owner Topper Dabeul started making rum eight years ago and selling it on the island (it should be available in the U.S. soon).
The flavors of the Toppers Rhum are made wholly with natural ingredients and not at all sweet. The White Chocolate Raspberry is filled with all three of those tastes and could easily stand on its own over ice. The Mocha Mamma is a bit more coffee than chocolate and the Apple Pie has all the spice and flavor of the real thing just out of the oven.
For a drink to keep you cool while you enjoy the crystal blue Caribbean Sea, ask a bartender to make you a BBC. It’s a popular drink at the resorts here and the concoction of Bailys, banana liqueur, pina colada mix and amaretto is poured into a glass laced with chocolate syrup and topped with cinnamon. You will be relaxing in no time.