Be French or Go Dutch. St. Maarten-St. Martin is a great place for gastronomical experiences the Caribbean. This is due to the influx of different cultures living on this small island. It is a very diverse island and one of the few islands that is shared by two entirely different kingdoms. St. Maarten is known as the Dutch side, and is a state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and St. Martin, the French side, belongs to the French Republic. Pretty cool huh?!
Since breakfast has been declared the most important meal of the day, here are my two of my favorite spots on the island to give your day a tasty start! On the Dutch side there is Hilma’s Windsor Castle. Mum found out about Ms. Hilma from reading one of Anthony Bourdain’s columns in the New York Times. This is a privately owned caravan that has been turned into a kitchen for Hilma, a very sweet and welcoming local woman.
Upon arrival you’ll be welcomed by a smile and friendly greeting. The true Caribbean girl in me ordered bake and salt-fish, with Johnny cake (stuffed with Gouda), and a nice hot cup of bush tea. Hilma then turned around and prepared all of our meals, one by one. It was exquisite and it was pretty obvious that it was made with love. Later on I also had a bite of her Johnny cake stuffed with ham and cheese! YUM! Going there in the morning became an everyday ritual for the few days I was in St. Maarten, and every bite reminded me of my childhood days where my babysitter would make fresh Johnny cakes filled with my favorite Gouda cheese.
Time for some French flare! Sunday mornings mean Enoch’s! Enoch’s Place is a cute little restaurant across from Port de Marigot. This outing was planned by my uncle two texted and requested that we be up and ready for 7AM. And yes, I woke up on time but dreaded the idea that I was waking up this early while on vacation. I had to find every ounce of inner strength to part ways with my comfy bed. When we arrived on the French side, crowded and ready for the Sunday market, I immediately realized WHY we needed to be ready so early. It was packed! At 7:30AM it was packed, and we had to wait to be seated.
This lovely restaurant has a couple of fishermen who go out very early in the morning for fresh fish…. This means that if you want to get a nice meal here, you have to be up early to claim your table before the crowd comes and eat up all of the morning’s catch! We all ordered fried fish which was served with Johnny cake, salad, and avocado, and of course I had some bush tea! This meal was 100% worth the wait and 10000% worth waking up early for! I went back and had stuffed Johnny cakes as well as oxtails on two different occasions, both of those being very tasty as well.
So with that being said, if you want a great local meal, in a rush, or want to sit for a few minutes (but don’t mind standing if there are no seats) and you are on the Dutch side go to Hilma’s Windsor Castle. Want to sit down with family and friends and be served while taking in everything the French side has to offer? Then head to Enoch’s! Whichever way the road leads you, your belly will be more than grateful!
So Enjoy! Eet Smakelijk! Bon A Petit!
– UYC Contributor Candice Greene