Steps away from Notre Dame, a quiet foodie haven

Steps away from Notre Dame, a quiet foodie haven

By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox

The front of Atelier Marie Albert

The front of Atelier Maitre Albert Restaurant avec Guy Savoy

Despite its reputation as a culinary capital Paris, France is one of those cities where picking a restaurant at random may result in a memorable find or a disaster, and the price difference might be negligible. The more touristy the area the greater the chances of disappointment, so as a general rule I make a point of not going to unfamiliar restaurants in zones popular among visitors, especially in the vicinity of tourist magnets such as the Latin Quarter, Le Marais, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, and Eiffel Tower, for example.

Some light bites as amuse bouche

Our light bites as amouse bouche

One way to reduce the chances of a less than stellar expensive meal is to sample restaurants owned by or part of the portfolio of a well known chef. This has been particularly true when I have sampled the cuisine at one of the restaurants already. Such was the case of the Atelier Maître Albert (1, rue Maître Albert, 75005 Paris, France, + 33 1 56 81 30 01, fax +33 1 53 10 83 23, www.ateliermaitrealbert.com, ateliermaitrealbert@guysavoy.com), part of the Guy Savoy food constellation. Prior to going there I had dined at Guy Savoy's eponymous gourmet restaurant as well as Les Bouquinistes (see Latin Quarter restaurant nice neighborhood option) and Le Chiberta (see Le Chiberta, a restaurant find near the Champs Elysees), and had sampled the products of his new bakery outlet specializing in brioche. Most of those experiences had been rewarding so I was confident my meal at the Atelier Maitre Albert would also be worthwhile.

The menu is posted outside

The menu was posted outside

Located at the beginning of a narrow street in the Left Bank across the Seine River from the famous Notre Dame Cathedral the restaurant was a pleasant surprise because while I had walked the neighborhood countless times I had no idea the restaurant was on that street, a 10 minute walk from my central accommodations. Except for the famed chef's name on the exterior wall, the modern facade revealed little of the restaurant's ambiance or its high quality comfort food.

Our seats were next to the huge fireplace

Our seats were next to a large fireplace

As soon as we entered a young man with hip bleached blond hair welcomed us warmly. Moments later, after handing over our rain gear, we were seated in armless chairs next to the unlit fireplace in the restaurant's ground floor dining room. From our seats we had a generous view of the entire dining area and across to the open kitchen and its grills. There was also window side dining near the entrance with views of the street.

Paintings from the old Guy Savoy restaurant

Paintings from the old Guy Savoy restaurant hung at Atelier Marie Albert

It took a few moments for our eyes to adjust from the bright midday exterior sunlight to the low ambient light indoors. The first decorative features we noticed were the familiar colorful clown themed paintings hanging on the back wall. Previous to that day we had last seen them at the Guy Savoy main restaurant. Since the restaurant had moved nearby and been redecorated the paintings had been transferred to their new home. Other salient decorative features were sleet gray marble tile, exposed beams, stone walls and track lights. It was pleasantly serene without being too quiet.

Soup and brioch from Guy Savoy bakeries

Artichoke soup and brioche from the Guy Savoy bakery

With our friendly English speaking waiter's help we made our selections from the menu including a glass of wine to match our choices. We both had the Velouté de l'Atelier "en verseurse," a light artichoke soup brought to the table in a pitcher and served with brioche. It reminded me of a similar soup I had tasted at the chef's gourmet restaurant. For mains, my lunch partner had the Volaille fermiére du Maine (a quarter chicken portion) for one, a free range spit-roasted fowl dish with a side of mashed potatoes. He ordered a light white from the Pays d'Oc on our server's advice.

Special ribs cut from the bone

Special ribs still on the bone

The pork ribs deboned and sliced

At my request the chef served the pork ribs deboned and sliced

I had Travers de porc "marinés," marinated pork ribs and a side of Gratin d'épinards champignons (mushroom and spinach gratin). The gratin was a favorite. Both mains were moist and tender with a broth like flavorful sauce. At my request, the kitchen staff had removed the bone from my ribs so they were ready to eat when they were served, although the server was kind enough to show us the ribs before they were deboned. I had a red from Bordeaux. For dessert, I had the Choco pralin-feuilleté, anglais-chicoré, two slabs of dark chocolate and crispy praline with a small dark chocolate ice cream ball.

The chicken was served with juice

The chicken was served with a broth like sauce

The chocolate dessert

The chocolate dessert

Overall, our comfort food style lunch experience was outstanding. Kudos to Guy Savoy and his collaborators Emmanuel Monsailler, chef, and Laurent Jacquet, manager and their staff. From the soup and salami amouse bouche to the dessert we enjoyed all our courses. The dishes were perfectly prepared and worth repeating. The service was attentive, helpful and friendly. As a bonus, the restaurant was in a central location and convenient to visitors and residents within and near the Latin Quarter. What more could we ask from a neighborhood restaurant?

Seine River dinner cruise a memorable gourmet option for special occasions

By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox

View of the Eiffel Tower as we cruised by on the Seine

Our view of the Eiffel Tower as we cruised by on the Seine River

Often friends and acquaintances, knowing my fondness for Paris, France ask for dining recommendations. It is a question I never take lightly, especially for first time visitors. One of my top recommendations is Le Jules Verne in the middle of the world famous Eiffel Tower because of the romantic setting, gourmet offerings and spectacular views of the city. It is the type of setting that memories that last decades are made of and the perfect place for special occasions.

Boarding the yacht Don Juan

The boarding area of the yacht Don Juan II

On my most recent visit, I discovered another completely different yet equally romantic, elegant, and memorable venue, the Yachts de Paris Don Juan II (Port Henri IV, 75004 Paris, France, +33 1 44 54 14 71, http://donjuan2.yachtsdeparis.fr/ , reservations.dj2@ydp.fr ), a 50 meter long by 7 meter wide yacht. Aboard the vessel, which could seat 38 guests (far fewer than the famous iconic tower), five staff served an appetizing set menu made from fresh ingredients while the boat cruised 26 kilometers along the Seine River past the Eiffel Tower and back to its departure dock, a stone’s throw away from the Ile Saint Louis in the heart of the city. There were only 12 of us that night, which made the experience ever more intimate and special.

A comfortable spot on deck to enjoy the view

Before our departure we sat on at a comfortable spot on deck to enjoy views of Notre Dame while sipping a bubbly aperitif

The bar was stocked with several types of Champagne

Below deck the bar was stocked with several types of champagne

Despite our early arrival we received a warm welcome by the English speaking staff. We were immediately invited to board. Black rattan furniture with red cushions was spread around the open space atop the Don Juan II. Below deck pretty tables were set and awaiting our arrival. The elegant tableware was designed by Safran and the furnishings were by Pierre Frey. The single stall head was spotless. After a quick tour one of the staff invited us to have an aperitif topside while we waited for the rest of the passengers to arrive.

another yacht passed us just was we pulled out onto the rivier

Another Yacht de Paris vessel passed just as we pulled out onto the river

Moments later, we were sipping chilled champagne and munching on mixed nuts (pistachios, cashews, pecans, walnuts and Brazil nuts) and enjoying views of Notre Dame Cathedral, the Institute du Monde Arab, and the Left Bank as the rest of the guests began to arrive. Francois, an attentive staff member, offered me a synthetic fiber red blanket to ward against the night chill. He brought us bite size morsels of salmon with beetroot, tomato and radish. Greg, the cruise photographer, introduced himself and with our permission took some photos. When it was departure time our server invited us below deck. We headed to our window side table for dinner.

The aft view of the river

The aft view of the river 

From the Port Henri IV we motored past the Ile Saint Louis and Ile de la Cite islands passing many historic buildings such as the Conciergerie, Musee du Louvre, Grand Palais, small Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower (at the top of the hour to see the twinkling lights), the Musee d’Orsay and finally Notre Dame Cathedral. The Don Juan II glided gently along the river most of the way, so that but for the passing scenery and the occasional wake from a fast moving boat we might have forgotten we were on the water.

The tables enjoyed a view from the large windows

We had an outstanding view thanks to the yacht’s large windows

The bread cart

The bread cart was one of several luxury features of the dinner service.

Our five course set menu dinner began with a pre-starter of Crab, white radish pickles, chips and crisps. There were two types of butter, salted and seaweed flavored. A server came by our table to offer us bread from a cart: country, fruit and nut, Italian bread sticks, brioche. Whenever our bread plate was empty she would return to refresh it with our selections. Lobster with fresh greens and creamy nage was next. The main course was Suckling Lamb, roasted and cooked with bay leaf, organic asparagus from the Landes with juice and Parmesano di Reggiano cheese. A Saint-Nectaire cheese course followed. For dessert we had Flower of flowers, lime and strawberry cremeux and juice of an infused hibiscus. Chocolate bites, presented in individual boxes for us to keep, completed the repast. Our meal was paired with a 2012 Louis Jadot chardonnay from Burgundy. We appreciated the souvenir printout of our menus. It included a map of our path along the Seine.

The pre-starter featured bites of crab

The art like pre-starter featured bites of crab

The suckling lamb

The suckling lamb

The photographer took our photos with iconic buildings in the background such as Notre Dame while we were docked and later the Eiffel Tower when we went topside to enjoy the light show during the cruise. At the conclusion of the cruise the photos were available for purchase. Our two favorite photos became a lovely keepsake that enhances our wonderful memories of the evening.

The highlight of the sightseeing, the Pont de Grenelle replica of the Stature of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower

Among the sightseeing highlights were the Pont de Grenelle replica of the Stature of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower

The restaurant, opened March 2003 and managed by François Giroud, was one of eight small vessels owned by Yachts de Paris. The meals were created by Guy Krenzer, executive chef, who was recipient of the recognition Double Meilleur Ouvrier de France and creative director of well known Lenôtre culinary enterprise. The wine and food pairings were selected by Olivier Poussier, recipient of the Meilleur Sommelier du Monde 2000 award.

Flower of flowers, lime and strawberry cremeux and juice of an infused hibiscus

The colorful dessert of Flower of flowers, lime and strawberry cremeux and juice of an infused hibiscus

A cart of sweets to wrap up the meal

A cart of sweets to wrap up the meal

In addition to the well presented gourmet dinner we enjoyed and the exacting service, there were a myriad luxury touches, such as the blankets, cloth napkins with our amouse bouche, the orchid on our table, artistic dinnerware like the sea urchin shaped appetizer plates, quality nut snacks, perfectly timed courses to allow us to profit from the best views, and friendly and professional staff who kept us informed during the brief journey, that made the evening special. I would gladly take another cruise aboard the Don Juan II and recommend it to friends living or visiting Paris to celebrate a special occasion or just because.

Our excellent gourmet lunch at Paris Marais tea salon

By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox

The Marriage Salon in the Marais

The Mariage Frères Marais tea salon entrance

The best tea lunch I have had in Paris, on more than one occasion, was at the famed Mariage Frères Marais tea salon (30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, 75004, Paris, France, www.mariagefreres.com, info@mariagefreres.com ). Arriving just before lunchtime on a quiet spring Monday, we had a choice of seats in the 100 square meter two level eatery with a staff of 10. The tables were set very close to each other, which made conversation with neighbors easy and privacy for anything above a whisper scarce. We selected a table beneath the salon’s skylight in the larger and most central of the salon’s two rooms. For a short while we delighted in having the salon to ourselves.

The skylight lens natural light to the room

Natural light filled that section of the dining room through the skylight.

We selected two items with the assistance of Charly Chareyron, director, Food and Beverage, one from the Brunch Menu and the other from the Lunch Menu, and concluded our tasting with two of the salon’s signature desserts. Once we narrowed down the meal choices he recommended a tea to match each of our dishes as well as a shared tea for dessert. Had we preferred we could have picked our own teas from the extensive tea menu and the companion reference guide.

Brunch included a champagne cocktail

The Matcha San Brunch included a sweet champagne cocktail.

We had Snob Salad, a Mesclun seasoned with Parc Royal tea, cured salmon and shrimp, homemade duck foie gras, violet artichoke hearts and haricots verts, turmeric wheat, Matcha toast;  and Matcha San Brunch, a Matcha Salmon, fromage blanc with Poudre de Jade dish, which was accompanied by a sweet champagne cocktail. Although both dishes were outstanding, I far preferred the Snob Salad.

Macha tea served with financier

We loved the Matcha Uji, a traditional whipped green tea from Japan served with raspberry and tea cakes.

Dessert was Étoile Mystérieuse, Luscious cheesecake glazed with Very Beautiful Fruit Tea French meringue polka dots, intense raspberry coulis speckled with 24 karat gold, and Carré d’or, Dark chocolate entremets flavored with Black Magic tea, salted butter caramel and chocolate cake wrapped with 24 karat gold leaf, very sweet red currant coulis.

The Marriage Snob salad

The Marriage Snob Salad, a favorite

The dishes were served on branded ceramic dinnerware custom made for Mariage Frères. The elegant service included cotton tablecloth and napkins, and stainless steel flatware. Our English speaking servers wore refined linen suits in muted ecru.

Salmon prepared multiple ways

The portion of the Matcha Salmon was generous.

Our off the menu teas were Matcha Uji, a traditional whipped green tea from Japan (a favorite despite the its lingering stimulating jolt); Yuzu Temple, a green tea flavored with Japanese yuzu; and Blanc & Rose, a white tea mixed with tender oriental rosebuds. The first two were served in Art Déco Teapots, ceramic teapots with a polished steel globe. Those teapots, used in the company's tea salons since the beginning, were emblematic of Mariage Frères. We liked how well the teapot kept the beverage warm throughout the meal. The delicate and pretty white tea was served in a Cotton Club glass teapot with silver plated handle and lid.

Elegant tea service

The delicate Blanc & Rose was served in a Cotton Club glass teapot with silver plated handle and lid.

The teas paired with our dishes were outstanding. Having said that, the delicate tea flavors could easily have stood on their own. And, the homemade delectable dishes made from all fresh ingredients, clearly chosen with much care, would be enough to draw me back even if I didn’t drink tea. Fortunately I do, making lunch at the tea salon a double pleasure. So much so that later during our stay we returned and both ordered Snob Salads.

Carré d’or (chocolate in gold foil and raspberry)

The Carré d’or was made with dark chocolate wrapped in gold foil and red currant coulis.

When we asked a company spokesperson what made their meal service so special she replied, “French savoir-faire based on a tradition of elegance, refined settings, and an innate sense of festivity. Mariage Frères has created the French Art of Tea with a special care of the preparation method, the quality of the water, correct steeping time, careful selection of the perfect tea and the perfect teapot.”

Cheesecake wrapped in raspberry

The Étoile Mystérieuse cheesecake

I was especially pleased to discover the company continually tests its teas for purity and content, and uses no artificial ingredients or preservatives in its teas. I also liked that some of the dishes were made with organic ingredients such as the smoked salmon, and that there were about 100 organic teas available. An added convenience was the ability to order tea from the shop while dining at the salon, an especially welcome amenity on days when the shop was over busy. The Mariage Frères Marais is at the top of my tea salons list and on my short list of Paris gourmet venues.

Versatile tasting menu at Turks and Caicos boutique hotel restaurant

Versatile tasting menu at Turks and Caicos boutique hotel restaurant

Article and photos by Elena del Valle

Cristian Rebolledo, chef, Kitchen218, and Francisco Hodge, manager, Food and Beverage Beach House Turks and Caicos

Cristian Rebolledo, executive chef, Kitchen218, and Francisco Hodge, manager, Food and Beverage at the Beach House in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

kitchen218 across the pool

View of Kitchen218 from across the pool 

During my three night stay at the Beach House Turks and Caicos in Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands of the British West Indies, owned and managed by Waterloo Hotel Management, I had an opportunity to sample the food at Kitchen218, the property restaurant with seating for 80 guests and 20 staff. In 2014, the company renovated and rebranded the restaurant with Contemporary Caribbean decor in a poolside setting.

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The first course was Veggie pickle cebiche and mushrooms

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Beef carpaccio

I had breakfast thrice, lunch and dinner once each. For breakfast there was a small buffet option as well as a la carte choices. The delicately fried fresh snapper served whole with tasty and savory vegetables was a favorite. For my friends who enjoy conch I would recommend the slightly sweet conch salad, a house specialty.

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Tuna tartare with sesame seed lemsay dressing

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The Conch chowder was a favorite

It was at dinner that the chef's contemporary fusion culinary talents shone brightest. The night I dined there I asked Cristian Rebolledo, executive chef of the restaurant, for a suggestion that emphasized local fresh products. After debating several options he recommended his seven course tasting menu and I agreed provided it was free of hot spices. He obliged. The tasting menu cost $110 and with a wine pairing it was $155.

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Sea bass Coin textures and veggies

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The Zen-Noh Waygu in dark sauce with veggies and figs was outstanding

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Chocolate Fantasy

His well prepared and well presented meal with wine pairing was one of the highlights of my visit to Providenciales. It consisted of: Veggie pickle cebiche and mushrooms served with 2014 Danzante pinot grigio from Italy, Tuna tartare (a favorite) with sesame seed lemsay dressing served with Matua non vintage pinot noir from New Zealand, Beef carpaccio served with 2013 Byron pinot noir from California, Conch chowder (a favorite) served with 2013 Muga Rioja from Spain, Sea bass Coin textures and veggies (not a favorite) served with 2013 JJ Vincent Bourgne Blanc from France, Zen-Noh Waygu in dark sauce with veggies and figs served with a 2014 Josh cellar cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley (USA), and Chocolate Fantasy served with a non vintage Deviation late harvest from California (not a favorite). It was the perfect menu for a special occasion. Kitchen218 (Beach House Turk and Caicos, Lower Bight, Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, +1.649.9465377218, www.beachhousetci.com, contact@beachhousetci.com) and the chef's tasting menu will be at the top of my list of dining venues on any return trip to Providenciales.

Bespoke Constantia wine tour an unexpected way to discover wines in Cape Town suburb

Article and photos by Elena del Valle

Blake Gowar at the hilltop

Blake Gowar at the Eagle's Nest hilltop

During a recent stay in Constantia, a wine producing suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, I went on a 4.5 hour Private Half Day Wine Tour recommended by the owners of the Glen Avon Lodge where I was staying. At 12 noon sharp, Blake Gowar, owner of The Constantia Wine Tour (11 Midhurst Way, Constantia, Cape Town, 7806, South Africa, +27 021 794 4873, +27 082 377 5233, www.theconstantiawinetour.co.za, Blake@theconstantiawinetour.co.za), picked me up at my hotel in his company branded sports utility vehicle.

One of the historic buildings of the estate

One of the historic buildings of the Klein Constantia Estate

During the short drive to Klein Constantia (Klein Constantia Estate, PO Box 375, Constantia, 7848, South Africa, +27 021 794 5188, kleinconstantia.com, info@kleinconstantia.com), the first of three wineries on the tour, we had a chance to chat as I was the only guest on the tour the chilly winter day. Blake explained his was the first and only company dedicated exclusively to half and full day tours of Constantia wineries.

Janine Dodds, our host

Janine Dodds, our friendly host at Klein Constantia

After passing through the security gate we entered the Klein Constantia Estate. Dating to 1685 the property was built among ancient trees on the upper foothills of the Constantiaberg Mountains. It had a view across the city to False Bay. Although it was in the midst of extensive renovations the tasting room was unaffected. Janine Dodds, a well informed and friendly representative, greeted us and recommended wines for me to taste. We were the only visitors at that moment. Thanks to the quiet off season ambiance I had her undivided attention during the wine tasting. The property was best known for its chardonnay and sauvignon blanc wines. It also had the best stocked gift shop I visited on the tour. There were branded cycling shirts and a variety of foodie and wine items on sale.

The vineyards at Klein Constantia

The vineyards at Klein Constantia

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The garden seen through a glass of rose wine at the Eagle's Nest

A handful of people had arrived before us at the Eagle's Nest (Old Constantia Main Road, Constantia, 7848, South Africa, +27 21 794 4095, eaglesnestwines.com, info@eaglesnestwines.com, orders@eaglesnestwines.com) where we received a warm welcome from Kaylee Morrick and Kathleen McNulty. There were still left plenty of table choices in the verdant garden. Following the staff's recommendation I picked a spot where I tasted a rose and couple of the white wines while Blake went to swap his sports utility vehicle for a four wheel drive. Thanks to a family friendship with one of the owners of the Eagle's Nest Blake had exclusive permission to use the property owner's Land Rover and drive up the winery's mountain for tours.

Although it was chilly I was drawn to the lush garden

Although it was chilly I was drawn to the lush garden at the Eagle's Nest

The Eagle's Nest was in a secluded valley high up on the slopes of the historic Constantia mountain range, part of the Table Mountain area. One of the five small boutique wineries of Constantia it was home to some of the steepest gradient vineyards in the country, Blake explained. The winery was known for its dry rose, viognier and award winning shiraz. The weather worn vehicle climbed the single lane dirt road with the ease of a goat, if slightly less grace. We stopped along the way for some photos and a close up glimpse at flowers.

Flowers growing by the side of the road

Flowers growing by the side of the road

By the time we reached the high point on the farm the wind had picked up and I was chilled despite my fleece and windbreaker. The panoramic views of the farm, followed by Constantia in the foreground and greater Cape Town beyond reached all the way to the ocean. The breathtaking scenery from the top made the detour worthwhile.

Bird's eye views of Cape Town at Eagle's Nest

Bird's eye views of Cape Town from the hilltop at the Eagle's Nest

On our return to the Eagle's Nest tasting room, we sat indoors near the crackling flames of the fireplace. The glass walls afforded us a view of the garden during the second half of the wine tasting. I especially enjoyed their three lovely reds.

The Silvermist

Our third winery was Silvermist

All that wine tasting had made me hungry. By the time we arrived at Silvermist (Constantia Nek, 7806 Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 794 7601 silvermistmountainlodge.co.za, silvermistvineyards@gmail.com, silvermisteatery@gmail.com), on the forested slopes of Table Mountain and within the Table Mountain National Park, I was ready for a late lunch and a tasting of the farm produced white. The rustic 120 acre estate that borders the Constantia Wine Route was, I was told, the only organic vineyard in Constantia. It was best known for its sauvignon blanc. Candace Louw, one of the owners, welcomed us warmly when we arrived.

The Silvermist Sauvignon Blanc

The Silvermist Sauvignon Blanc

The views of Table Mountain National Park at Silvermist

The views of Table Mountain National Park at Silvermist

We ate in the Green Vine Eatery, one of two dining venues within Silvermist, where Blake ordered the special of the day, a tasty pizza, and I had a well prepared hamburger with potato wedges. While we waited for lunch we stepped out briefly to enjoy the beautiful views of the environs and Table Mountain. Dessert of chocolate muffins was to go.

Lunch at the Green Vine Eatery

The pizza special for lunch at the Green Vine Eatery

 Candace Louw, one of the owners

Candace Louw, one of the owners of Silvermist

As my tour guide and I parted company, I realized how much I had enjoyed the pleasant pace of the private half day tour, the wine tastings, lunch, and Blake's company. Although I had visited Constantia before, I had never been to any of the wineries on our tour that day. I appreciated having someone else drive all afternoon. It meant I could taste as many wines as I wanted without worrying about driving. And, I didn't have to find the wineries with my rental car's not always trustworthy GPS directions. Plus, it was fun to discover new estates. Blake's selection of the wineries was spot on in terms of the setting and the wines themselves. The unique opportunity to climb to the high point of the Eagle's Nest farm was an unexpected bonus.

Well prepared fresh fish, regional products, diverse settings made Nevis dining rewarding

Article and photos by Elena del Valle

One of my favorite spots to sit at breakfast at Montpelier Plantation

One of my favorite spots to sit at breakfast at Montpelier Plantation and Beach

During my five night stay in the beautiful Caribbean island of Nevis, in the West Indies, I was impressed by the surprising number of good meals I enjoyed, especially for an island of that size. While there I had a chance to eat at eight venues. Whether in one of many informal eateries, at a fine dining restaurant, on a hill setting or beach side the quality of the meals and dexterous preparation was notable.

One of my dinner courses at Restaurant 750 at Montpelier Plantation

One of my dinner courses at Restaurant 750 at Montpelier Plantation and Beach

Seeking local or regional ingredients and fresh produce I often favored simply prepared fish in lieu of classic European dishes made from products that had previously been frozen. I particularly appreciated the availability of fresh caught fish and the chefs' ability to prepare it well. Almost without exception every fish dish I ordered was made to highlight its flavor and texture without overwhelming it with exotic (to the island) or excessive spices and garnishes.

An appetizing main course at Restaurant 750 at Montpelier Plantation

An appetizing main course at Restaurant 750 at Montpelier Plantation and Beach

Stephane Caumont, French executive chef at Montpelier Plantation

Stephane Caumont, French executive chef at Montpelier Plantation and Beach

My first meal on the island was at Restaurant 750 at the Montpelier Plantation and Beach (+1 869 469 3462, info@montpeliernevis.com), the lovely hillside hotel where I stayed. Camera shy owner and operator Muffin Hoffman was a behind the scenes presence at the restaurant headed by Stephane Caumont, a newly arrived French executive chef, which offered "a blend of French and Caribbean cuisine with emphasis on fresh, innovative food." I looked forward to the combination buffet and prepared to order breakfast every morning.

The Sea Breeze Beach Bar at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club

The Sea Breeze Beach Bar at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club 

My fresh caught king fish with a side salad and Nisbet Chips at Sea Breeze Beach Bar

My fresh caught kingfish with a side salad and Nisbet Chips at Sea Breeze Beach Bar

The next day I had a delicious beach side lunch at Sea Breeze Beach Bar at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club (+869 469-9325, NisbetPlantation.com, reservations@nisbetplantation.com). The shaded setting two steps from the sand was comfortable thanks to cooling breezes. I tasted wonderfully prepared fresh caught kingfish served with a side salad and Nisbet Chips, made from thin slices of tania, sweet potato and breadfruit. I had a fresh fruit smoothie without sugar (at my request) and for dessert I tried the coconut panna cotta with fresh melon, strawberries, pineapple and starfruit. Glendina, our friendly server, was accommodating and had a ready smile. The toes in the sand beachfront dining service was available for snacks and lunch. The property, owned by David Dodwell, was managed by Alistair Forrest, general manager, who greeted us soon after we were seated.

For an appetizer I tried the pumpkin fritters with sweet and sour chili sauce at the Lime Beach Bar

For an appetizer I tried the pumpkin fritters with sweet and sour chili sauce at the Lime Beach Bar.

My spiny lobster at the Lime Beach Bar

My spiny lobster at the Lime Beach Bar (click to enlarge)

Dinner that evening was at another beach location although I didn't realize it until several days later. At the Lime Beach Bar (Pinneys Beach, + 869-662-9620, + 869-469 1147, limetourskn@gmail.com) I had pumpkin fritters with sweet and sour chili sauce for an appetizer. I also had a mixed salad with lettuce, feta cheese, watermelon slices and fried zucchini and eggplant pieces followed by a spiny lobster with rice and peas. Randy Jeffers, a local entrepreneur, owned the popular restaurant that served West Indian style cuisine.

My fresh fish lunch at the Oualie Beach Restaurant at Oualie Beach Resort

My fresh fish lunch at the Oualie Beach Restaurant at Oualie Beach Resort

My fresh fish lunch at the Oualie Beach Restaurant Oualie Beach Resort (Oualie Bay, + 869-469-9735, www.oualiebeach.com, reservations@oualiebeach.com) was outstanding. Although there was outdoor seating we chose an indoor table in the shade. The beach front restaurant was owned by John and Alastair Yearwood and managed by Faith Bertie. Our server was friendly and attentive.

The Killer Bee signature drink at Sunshine's Beach Bar & Grill packed a punch (pun intended)

The sweet Killer Bee signature drink at Sunshine's Beach Bar & Grill packed a punch (pun intended).

My fresh fish sandwich with fries and a side salad at Sunshine's Beach Bar & Grill

My fresh fish sandwich with fries and a side salad at Sunshine's Beach Bar & Grill 

During lunch at Sunshine's Beach Bar & Grill (Pinneys Beach Bar & Grill, + 869-662-8817, + 869-469-5817, www.sunshinesbeachbar.com), another beach side restaurant (steps away from the Lime Beach Bar), we were greeted by a smiling Llewellyn "Sunshines" Caines, the owner. The bright interior was chock full of celebrity photos and international flags. West Indian and seafood dishes were on offer. I had another well prepared fresh fish in a sandwich while sitting in the shade steps from one of the island's best known beaches. I tasted The Killer Bee, a deceptively tasty rum punch drink well known on the island.

A shared appetizer at Bananas Bistro

A shared appetizer medley of local specialties at Bananas Bistro (click to enlarge)

A pasta and seafood main course at Bananas Bistro

A pasta and seafood main course at Bananas Bistro (click to enlarge)

For local and international cuisine we went to Bananas Bistro (Hamilton Estate, + 869-469-1891, www.bananasbistro.com, gsmith@sisterisles.kn), a hilltop see and be seen dress up dining venue owned by Gillian Smith, a world traveler turned restauranteur. I liked the romantic rooftop views of the island at sunset and the varied rum offerings.

While awaiting my spa treatments at The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Nevis (P.O. Box 565, Pinney’s Beach, Charlestown, Nevis, + 869 469-1111, http://www.fourseasons.com/nevis/spa, SpaConcierge.NEV@fourseasons.com) I had a spa lunch consisting of a bento box with fresh fish and a smoothie. It was so good I would return just for lunch.

A tasty dinner under the stars at The Rocks at Golden Rock Inn

A tasty dinner under the stars at The Rocks at Golden Rock Inn

The beautiful dinning room at The Rocks at Golden Rock Inn

The beautiful dinning room at The Rocks at Golden Rock Inn

Dinner at The Rocks at Golden Rock Inn (Golden Rock, Gingerland, + 1 869 469 3346, www.goldenrocknevis.com, info@goldenrocknevis.com), owned by Brice and Helen Marden and run by Peter Dunning, was a delight. We sat under the stars facing the hotel's striking water features and enjoyed another outstanding Nevisian meal refreshed by cooling Caribbean breezes. I had a veggie tart amouse bouche followed by beet and citrus salad, and perfectly prepared fresh red snapper with wilted spinach, sweet potato wedges and red pepper coulis for the main course. Key lime pie rounded out the meal. Jocelyn, our server, was friendly and extra helpful. The beautiful and romantic setting combined with the delicious dinner made it one of my favorite restaurants.

Avocado Mousse with Shrimp, Greens and Mustard Vinaigrette

Avocado Mousse with Shrimp, Greens and Mustard Vinaigrette

Pan-seared Mahi Mahi Fillet, roasted Pineapple and Cilantro Sauce

Pan-seared Mahi Mahi Fillet, roasted Pineapple and Cilantro Sauce

Richard Lupinacci, co-owner and manager The Hermitage Plantation

Richard Lupinacci, co-owner and manager The Hermitage Plantation

Chef Janic Ryan, The Hermitage Restaurant

Chef Janice Ryan, The Hermitage Restaurant at The Hermitage Plantation

My final meal on the island was at The Hermitage Restaurant at The Hermitage Plantation (Hermitage,+ 869 469 3477, www.Hermitagenevis.com, Contactus@Hermitagenevis.com), an island estate rebuilt from ruins and owned by Maureen and Richard Lupinacci. I had the pleasure of meeting and dining with Richard Lupinacci, the property's affable manager. The restaurant specialty was Caribbean gourmet, prepared by Chef Janice Ryan.