After the hubbub of the guest trip, we were treated by Captain to a lavish Friday night dinner at a place called Bamboo Bernie’s, in Maho. It was an up-market Asian ‘fusion’ restaurant, with admittedly middling quality food but sensational cocktails. Despite being several days post NYE, for us it was our time to let loose, let our (and other’s) hair down, and throw caution to the wind. Me throwing caution to the wind was ordering not one! But two portions of coconut shrimp. It was tuh-die-for.
Me brimming over with happiness at having Lovely back onboard, on the boat that she well and truly belongs. The captains are currently having a tug of war battle for her, and my only hope is that we come out the winners.
After a few ‘Sexy Geishas’ and one ‘Barman’s Choice’, it became my life’s dream to transform into a blonde bombshell, by wearing Heather’s actual real life hair. All it took was a cry of, ‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!’ and she ever so kindly obliged.
To blow away the inevitable cobwebs the following morning, a hike was planned. Heather is a seasoned professional of activities in whichever destination we end up, having worked onboard for an impressive six years, there is little she hasn’t come across. So it was in trusted hands that I embarked upon a hike that would leave me scratched, bruised, stung, and generally in a terrible state of disrepair.
‘Take a photo of me looking into the distance, (so I seem pensive and interesting).’ Says anyone who ever has posted a photo like the one above.
Truthfully, I wasn’t feel pensive or interesting at that given moment. In actual fact, my over-riding feelings were of incredible heat (note the growing patch of sweat on the front of my top), and intense discomfort having just been stung by a frighteningly exotic Caribbean wasp on the knuckle of my ring finger.
Our hike began simply enough, on the tarmac road, dodging a stream of testosterone fuelled Hummer drivers hurtling round the bends. After a mild incline, I stormed past the entrance to the ‘hike’, not noticing the five centimetre gap in the bushes that we were supposed to fight our way through. Apparently, four years ago, it was more of a substantial path, as it soon became clear to us that no maintenance had been done since that time. Each and every step was a battle through waist-high grass, some of which grabbed at you like velcro, others just leaving a light trail of lacerations across your poor ankles. After about twenty minutes of pure slog, we came across a small ladder with a little electrical box at the top. What an attractive prospect that was to me! To climb out of the overgrown wilderness and perhaps glimpse a bit of a view. It was the worst decision I’ve ever made. My left hand plunged straight into the waiting stinger of the most hideous insect ever to grace planet Earth. It looked like a hornet, big enough and ugly enough to haunt my nightmares for the rest of time. After it released its sting, it continued to aggravate me in the face, which was just ridiculous as I was clearly trying to get away. The rocks cushioned my fall, and in shouting for Heather’s help I noticed that she was running in the opposite direction, having just as much of a fear of wasps as I do. Needless to say, we lost what little confidence we had to begin with, and had no choice but to admit defeat and turn back. On our wobbly way down, we came across a group of four local men with grass trimmers, who informed us that the trail would be suitable for public use in the next week or so, once they were done clearing the obstructed path.
Dried fruit, nut & seed loaf with ricotta and orange segments. Wholesome goodness that energises and invigorates, made even more delicious with a drizzle of honey.
Tuna ceviche with mango, apple, coconut & lime. Light, refreshing, the tastiest ceviche recipe I have attempted thus far. It’s on the list to make for my brother when next at home.
The proud creator of a chocolate cherry Black Forest Gateaux, made with love for Jhel’s birthday. We had no cherry jam or double cream, so on improvisation I upped the concentration of Kirsch, and made a cream cheese Greek yoghurt frosting instead. Captain was effusive in his compliments, stating it the best Black Forest he has ever had, as the others are usually too rich for his taste. A happy accident!
Excuse my old fashioned chocolate work. I must look into more modern ways of cake decorating.
Steve has worked in some of the best Italian restaurants in Australia, and kindly gave me his pizza dough recipe. My recreation of the Pizza Express ‘Padana’ went down a storm. Goat’s cheese, caramelised red onion & spinach, but this special one was made using a blueberry goat’s cheese that the owners didn’t use up. It was magnificent.
Steve’s traditional paella, pronounced pie-ey-a (I choose to pronounce the ‘l’s because I fear I sound like a moron otherwise).
Upon opening what I thought was a can of coconut milk, I was horrified to find some sort of grey sludge residing in the tin. It was actually ‘Coco Lopez’, an ingredient used to make pina coladas. So myself and Heather set to googling how to use it up in cooking, and came across the brand website, filled with inspirational recipes. Out popped a cheesecake that tasted only slightly like coconut, which was nonetheless enjoyed by all.
For one whole week we’ve been ‘detailing’ the galley. ‘Detailing’ is something that may well be unique to yachts. It is when you clean something to an unfathomable extent, often requiring the use of toothpicks and cotton buds. Have you ever tried to clean an oven with a toothpick? I’ll tell you now from recent experience, it can be done. We donned our gas masks and spent an entire week cleaning things that haven’t been cleaned for nigh on ten years. The crew were treated to traditional French sandwiches, Lebanese shawarma platters, a plethora of Thai curries, and I realised how lucky I am to have the full time job of a chef, not a cleaner.
We’ve been making full use of St Maarten and its beautiful restaurants, in particular discovering the gem that is Pinel Island. You hop on a $12 boat that takes you across from Cul de Sac on the French side, to the little island in the distance, and you’re greeted with groups of young twenty-somethings paddling in the shallows, drinking cocktails at sundown, generally having a grand old time.
Here you’ll find two or three restaurants, the best in my opinion being Karibuni, which interestingly means ‘welcome’ in Swahili. Our French waitress was simply lovely, letting us come with her to the water’s edge to choose our (unlucky) lobsters. The lobsters here are spiny, and oddly have no claws to speak of. But when grilled on the barbecue and served with lashings of garlic butter, they are a thing of beauty. After a bottle of white wine, two servings of the free banana liqueur shots on offer, a Baileys coffee, plus a mystery cocktail from the bar nearest the little pier where you leave, it was time to say goodbye to the miniature island that seemed, at times, like a mirage. (How much did I have to drink?! Perhaps sober it wouldn’t have had such a profound impact).
Before leaving, I made sure to buy a very flattering grey tank top with the restaurant’s logo on it, to forever remind me of my wonderful experience.