Calmos Cafe, Spiga & Pinel Island – Grand Case/Pinel
Our last day was slightly problematic. Almost ruinous in fact. We woke up in our hotel with no running water. Running water is one of those things you take for granted. In terms of shelter, it’s probably the biggest game-changer. So after a few times flushing the toilet with a bucket of water from the swimming pool, we decided to high-tail it out of the hotel.
A short $10 boat ride later, we landed on Pinel Island, a gorgeous island with beautiful white sand and glorious running water. We did a bit of snorkeling, which was decent although there weren’t too many colorful fish, and a bit of hiking.
Near the dock, there were two restaurants, one of which was hauling in a slew of live spiny lobsters. We were tempted, but decided to head back to St. Martin.
We settled in at Calmos Cafe where we snagged a table that extended into the bay and ordered a few small plates: codfish fritters (€5), smoked marlin dip (€7), and shrimp sate (€7). The codfish fritters had a sticky texture which reminded me of mochi doughnuts in a good way, but a little more codfish wouldn’t have hurt. The smoked marlin dip was really nice also, but again, there was more bread than dip. As for the shrimp, they were plump although a tad too sweet.
No complaints, however, about my piña colada (€6) which was strong, thick, and came dusted with lots of cinnamon.
A few drinks and a short dip in the water later, we headed back to the hotel where the water was now coming back but still not more than a trickle. A trickle was better than nothing though, so we both took two cold, drippy showers and headed out again.
Dinner was at Spiga, a charming Italian restaurant set in a restored 1914 Creole house.
We started off with a mozzarella plate (€13), which came with buffalo mozarella, burrata, grape tomatoes, avocado, capers, olives, roasted peppers, olive oil, and balsamic reduction. The portion was small, but everything was fresh and the tomatoes were surprisingly ripe considering the time of the year.
For my main, I asked for a entrée portion of their lobster ravioli appetizer which they kindly obliged. The lobster ravioli (€24) were filled with lobster, mascarpone, and sweet peas, and came bathed in a vanilla bean saffron cream sauce. After the rough start to the day, it was just what I needed. Creamy, delicate, and a touch luxurious.
As for David, remembering our Bologna trip earlier in the year, he ordered the tagliatelle Bolognese (€19). The noodles didn’t have the wonderful chewiness eggy tagliatelle normally has, but the sauce was plentiful, which he appreciated.
Dinner ended as usual with sorbet (€7) for David with a few stolen bites from me. This time, he had passion fruit and Campari. His two favorite flavors. And as usual, I preferred the Campari. (Is it just me, or is passion fruit always too sour?)
The day began less than ideal, but as usual, it was nothing good food, drinks, and company couldn’t cure. That said, I’ll probably stay at a different hotel next time. No need to push my luck.
(Note: There was €1:$1 conversion rate at Spiga when using cash, but not Calmos Cafe.)
40 Boulevard de Grand Case
Grand Case 97150, St Maarten-St Martin
590 29 01 85
4 Rte. de l’Espérance (at the northern end of Grand Case)
Grand Case, St Maarten-St Martin
590 52 47 83