If you’ve read my suggestions on how to find a reasonably priced place to stay while on vacation, you know that I love to stay on organic farms or something similar. Well, in St. Martin this wasn’t possible basically because there are no farms. So we opted for a small apartment-style complex. It was a great decision.
We stayed at Orient Bay in a one bedroom apartment. It is the first complex on the left as you enter the turn for Baie Orientale.
The apartment was very nice and open with clean tile floors. Upstairs had a nice large bed for me and my husband, they offered a crib for the baby and our older daughter slept on the foldout couch downstairs. We also had TV with cable (French stations) except for CNN. The only thing that I would have changed is the kitchen. It only had two burners and they were front and back and it could barely hold two decent size pans at the same time. So we ended up cooking things in rounds which took a little bit longer than if we were able to cook in two pots the same time.
In other places where we’ve stayed, we rarely had a chance to interact on a personal level with the property owners. However one nice touch that they have at the Shamrock is a monthly barbecue they have with visitors. This happens on approximately the third week of the month. When we were there it happened on the 22nd. This month’s barbecue is on the 23rd to give you some kind of indication as to whether or not one is going to be going on when you get there. The price was cheap. I think it was up less than $20.00 per person for adults and kids were free. And they really fed us more than our money’s worth.
First they started when it’s serving drinks and appetizers like pate sandwiches olives, and potato chips. After many 30 minutes or so they brought out salads: chick pea salad, carrot salad and another that I cannot presently recall. And then the grilled meats came out: Moroccan sausage called merguez, and grilled chicken. After dinner, we had dessert which was basically a fruit salad along with some cakes. My girls were excited to see coconut waters come out served in the coconut.
Everything was delicious even if it was lower in fat than I’m used to (which made me really really hungry so I ate way more than I normally do at home). When all the food was gone Stefane, the husband, brought out different kinds of liqueurs. Some interesting ones were rums from other French islands like Martinique and Guadeloupe flavored with different spices like ginger, vanilla, lemon, nutmeg and many other interesting flavor combinations.
Chantal, Stefane’s wife, and I hit it off so well that a few nights later we did a dinner just for our two families. We had a great time. They brought the main course which was a French beef stew called a daube, a bottle of red wine and a pineapple cake. I made a confit of duck salad with an onion confit in a red wine fig sauce and coconut milk rice pudding for dessert along with some fresh tropical fruits. It was really a lot of fun. And we plan to keep in touch. They are a really sweet couple. I hope you get to meet them during your travels.
Here’s my recipe for the duck salad:
- 1 large onion
- 2 cups red wine (Chateauneuf du Pape in our case)
- 1 pinch celtic sea salt
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Duck confit
- Thinly sliced cucumbers
- Shredded lettuce
- 1 grated carrot
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- fresh juice of one lemon
- 1 clove of garlic smashed
- 1 tbsp honey
The only thing you really need to prepare for the duck confit salad is the onion confit. I did that by slicing one large onion into long strips crosswise and letting it simmer in about 2 cups of red wine with some finely chopped figs and a pinch of salt until the wine was about half reduced. Then I added about a tablespoon of honey and a little extra virgin olive oil and let it reduce some more.
To assemble the salad, I shredded some romaine lettuce to which I added some grated carrot and tossed this with the dressing. I arranged the cucumbers around the plate and piled the lettuce mixture in the middle. Then I sliced the duck confit and placed it on top of the lettuce and then topped the whole thing off with the onion confit at the top.
I was particularly proud of myself as the onion confit is a French tradition, but our hosts had never had it homemade! They were impressed by the subtle complexity of the flavors. Chantal also liked the accompaniment I served which was yucca chips — instead of croutons. To make these all you do is slice some yucca (aka cassava) root thinly and fry it in a little duck fat (from the confit). Even though they live in the tropics, they hadn’t eaten yucca before either apparently, so they walked away with a new appreciation for a local vegetable.