FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Saint Martin: Caribbean Culinary Powerhouse

by Brandon Schultz

Jul 10, 2024

© Discover Saint Martin

Destinations / Caribbean

Saint Martin is not only renowned for its stunning beaches and vibrant culture but, for those in the know, also for its exceptional cuisine. The influence of haute French gastronomy blends with exceptional local bounty and bold island flavors where an elevated visitor palate supports a rare culinary landscape in the Caribbean. The island’s epicurean zeal reaches its zenith each year during Le Festival de la Gastronomie de St. Martin, a showcase of the island’s best cuisine in a variety of categories. This festival, held on the French side of the island, is a must-visit for food enthusiasts or anyone looking to experience the unique flavors of Saint Martin combined with its penchant for celebration. Ahead of this year’s edition, I recently toured French Saint Martin to experience the cuisine and bar programs of past winners from private chefs and white-cloth restaurants to beachside bites, and here’s what I found.

Our welcome dinner at Del Arti Ristorante in Anse Marcel was an immediate eyeopener. The winner of last year’s Gourmet Star category and Best Table, it soon became clear how an Italian program managed to overtake the French prowess of the island. A deceptively simple menu of classic Italian pizzas and fresh pastas complemented mains like the catch of the day, osso buco, or signature duck tagliata, each prepared delicately with seasonal ingredients. The open-air floorplan invited a much-needed breeze from the nearby marina and enhanced the sense of casual elegance that would repeat often throughout the week.

mixology

© Discover Saint Martin

We later visited the home of second place Gourmet Star winner Villa Hibiscus for an unhurried tasting menu by Chef Bastian Schenk. Artful plates as dazzling as delicious arrived throughout the evening, accompanied by craft cocktails that also earned the venue second place in mixology. The romantic ambiance atop Saint Martin’s highest peak was an ideal setting for such a meticulous menu.

For sips from the festival’s mixology champion, we also spent an evening at Le Pressoir, where Alessandro Corona shook the restaurant’s signature cocktail for the table before our meal kicked off. Though Corona’s cocktails drew us in, don’t underestimate the kitchen here — it’s among the island’s best. In fact, it’s even been ranked as Best in the Caribbean by Caribbean Journal, and more than once. Inside a historic Creole cottage, French Caribbean cuisine is served at its finest, alongside a 250-bottle wine list, more than 150 rums and an attached cigar bar.

celebration night

© Discover Saint Martin

But it’s not just in chic restaurants you’ll find the best bites in Saint Martin. Here, where secluded coves and sprawling shorelines offer many swoon-worthy settings, beach clubs are big business, and the menus are legitimate. Located in picture-perfect Orient Bay, Coco Beach is the reigning victor in the festival’s Beach Star competition and offers surfside bites of black truffle beef tartare, red tuna tacos and spice-crusted mahi mahi. Heartier plates like grilled veal tomahawk or black rice risotto with roasted scallops are available for the hungrier.

And, with a healthy share of jet-set arrivals, it’s no surprise Saint Martin is rich in private chefs and villas in which to welcome them. We stayed in Villa La Perla Estate, a seven-bedroom beachfront villa with three pools; multiple hot tubs; and a host of private amenities including a gym, spa suite and salon services on demand. Because it also included two open-air dining areas, a guest kitchen and a chef’s kitchen, we were able to accommodate private chefs for both an indulgent breakfast spread and an epic dinner party, allowing us to experience the artistry of the festival’s first and second place Private Chef winners, Chef Laura Antonelli and Chef Jean-Marie Jackson, respectively.

food

© Discover Saint Martin

Even without a villa, you can experience the ultimate exclusivity of private dining aboard a yacht with Pyratz Gourmet Sailing, offering both half- and full-day charters. We sailed Saint Martin’s Caribbean blue waters for an unforgettable day of snorkeling, paddleboarding, cliff diving and island hopping, but it was the caliber of meals and between-bites prepared onboard that set Pyratz apart, and were a regular reminder of just how important cuisine is to the people and visitor of Saint Martin.

This year’s festival runs Nov. 11–22 and will feature cooking demonstrations by these and other renowned chefs, scores of food and wine tastings, gourmet dinners, workshops, and culinary competitions as a new season of champions is crowned.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions

#globility

Insta Feed

NH Collection Debuts in Finland

The new NH Collection Helsinki Grand Hansa marks the brand’s latest property. Located in the center of the Finnish capital, the property combines two historically significant buildings, Hotel Seurahuone and Student House. The hotel features 224 guestrooms and suites, including a grand, 1,722-square-foot presidential suite.

Why Buy Annual Travel Insurance?

One affordable plan can protect an entire year of trips: business or pleasure, short or long, domestic or international.

Daily
Jul 12, 2024

New York’s Dominick Hotel Opens Rooftop for Summer

With the rooftop season already upon us, it is time to start thinking about visiting one of New York City’s resort-style oasis for cold summer cocktails and great city views.

Daily
Jul 12, 2024

Introducing the First-of-its-Kind Ferrari Road Trip from Xtreme Xperience

Xtreme Xperience, a supercar driving experience, recently announced a new addition to its lineup, The Supercar Tour & Rally Experience. This unique, all-inclusive adventure is a three-day, two-night experience offering drivers the opportunity to explore America’s most scenic roads in some of the world’s most exotic supercars.

Why Buy Trip Cancellation Insurance?

Don’t risk losing all the money you’ve spent if you must cancel your trip at the last minute. Allianz Travel Insurance can give you:

Daily
Jul 12, 2024

Discover Egypt with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

This summer, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts will take travelers on a journey through Egypt’s architecture, history, culture and more. The Four Seasons Egypt properties offer the chance to explore the iconic destination in luxury.

eFlyer News
Jul 10, 2024

New Resort Opens in the Maldives

July 8 marked the official launch of RAAYA by Atmosphere, a new resort in the Maldives. As the ninth Atmosphere Core resort in the Maldives, this new property continues to raise the bar in luxury hospitality.

Tips to Plan a Destination Event Worth the Trip

It's time to shake things up and inject some serious excitement into your next gathering. Whether  planning a corporate conference, black-tie gala or milestone celebration, choosing the right venue can make all the difference. City Winery shares some tips to make your next gathering a rockin' success.

eFlyer Deals
Jul 10, 2024

Xanterra’s Christmas in July Sale Kicks Off July 17

Xanterra Travel Collection launches its annual Christmas in July Sale July 17. Lasting through July 31, travelers can enjoy exclusive savings and experiences. Save up to 30 percent on iconic lodging in national parks, on luxury yacht-style cruises, at beach and mountain resorts, and aboard historic passenger trains.