Monday, February 22, 2010

Jacala, A New Boy on Meads Bay, Anguilla

Meads Bay, the fantastic beach near the west end of Anguilla, has a new restaurant, one to add to the list of ‘must visits’ when on the island. Jacala. You’ll find it at the eastern end of the beach (not far from Blanchards and Malliouhana), set in an open-sided dining room giving right onto the sand.

The restaurant may be new (it opened in mid January), but the two men behind it - Jacques Borderon and Alain Laurent - have extreme ‘form’ on Anguilla. You may recognize their names from Malliouhana, where they worked for 25 years. The name of the restaurant comes from their working partnership, too. Jacala is a melding of Jacques and Alain.

They call their cuisine ‘intuitive’, an intellectual mouthful that might seem to have too much French philosophy behind it. But, put simply, they will work with the ingredients – a good slab of local fish or lobster or beef - do the work, rather than smothering them with rich sauces. Intentionally simple then, but also French at base of course, so you know that what you get will be extremely well put together.

Jacala, which is decorated almost entirely white, with just a few splashes of colour in some cushions, is less formal than you will have come to expect of Jacques and Alain to date. Jacques now wears an open-necked collarless shirt and an easy manner, though he still runs a tight ship of course. They have quite a short menu (relatively), which they will test run over the coming months - and a short wine list (mostly French, but with some concessions to the States. It has already been getting a good rap. Their clientele is as much residents as it is visitors (a good sign as people living in Anguilla really are spoilt for choice).

Also new for the season at Blanchards is a prix-fixe menu, a three course meal with three or more choices at each course, for US$45, which has helped a few regulars through the recession. And they have also brought in some less expensive wines for this winter. Otherwise all still going strong on Meads Bay.

Have a look at our Definitive Caribbean Guide to Anguilla for more information about bars, restaurants and, well anything really...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ten Ten Ten - Netherlands Antilles Has The X-Factor?

It might be a score on the X Factor… er no, actually Simon Cowell would surely never give ten. As it turns out 10 October 2010 is a key date in the Dutch Caribbean calendar, as it is the moment when political changes will take place in several of the Netherlands Antilles.

Two of the islands – Curacao and St Maarten - will be following the lead of Aruba and will take ‘Status Aparte’. While they will remain within the Kingdom of the Netherlands they will have more autonomy and become responsible for their own internal affairs. The three remaining islands, Bonaire and the tiny islands of Saba and St Eustatius, or BES as they are currently known, will actually go the other way, and will become more integrated into the Dutch system. Well, that’s if Bonaire actually goes through with it – having agreed to, they were looking for a referendum on the subject recently.

So, what does it all mean? It means that the BES states will become members of the European Union (this is already the case with Martinique and Guadeloupe, so it is not actually that extraordinary, despite their 4000 or so miles from Europe). The Netherlands Antilles Florin will probably cease to exist – St Maarten is undecided, but Saba will be taking the US Dollar as its currency. And last and most importantly, Mt Scenery on Saba, which has historically been the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, will now actually be the highest point in Holland.

Nigel Tisdall Goes Dutch - A travel writer's exploration of St Maarten, Saba and Statia.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Poor Haiti? The Influence of John James Audubon

There’s been plenty in the news at the moment about Haiti - the country seems to have more bad luck than anywhere in the Caribbean. Around 150,000 people are now thought to have died as a result of the earthquake on 7th January this year, and the figure is thought to finish close to double that. So here’s a bit of inconsequential, but interesting information.

Jean-Jacques Fougère Audubon, “the artist of birds”, was born in Les Cayes, Haiti in 1785. He moved to the United States as a young man in 1803 to avoid conscription in the Napoleonic War and made his fame there recording many of North Americas species by drawing them. His name has spawned birding societies throughout the world. He is most famous of course for his collected Birds of America, published between 1827 and 1838, which includes 435 hand-coloured engravings.

Even now after 150 years they hold their own as superb examples of a craftsmen and artist at work. Charles Darwin quotes Audubon three times in Origin of the Species and many of his later works, and a copy of Birds of America in excellent condition sold at Christie’s in March, 2000 for $8,802,500!

Haiti Island Guide

Monday, February 1, 2010

Help Us Update Our Guide to Saba?!

Last week we asked you for insider tips and favourite places on St Maarten and St Martin. Thanks for the response. We will also be putting together a guide to Saba nearby. Again, we will be visiting, but it’s good to have a steer before arriving.

Here's what we have so far on our Definitive Caribbean Guide to Saba.

Our main areas of interest are bars and nightlife, hiking, places to visit, restaurants, shops and sports. So if you have a favourite activity or place then please let us know. Plus -

Do you know of any good day sails from the island?

Or spectacular gardens to visit?

Hotel or day spas?

Who are the best yoga instructors and complementary health practitioners?

And finally, because scuba diving us such an important feature of the island – which do you think is the best scuba diving operator and why?

Once again, if you have had a particularly pleasing experience in Saba – or an unpleasant one for that matter - then do please email us at and let us know. We look forward to hearing from you.

And thanks for all your emails with suggestions about St Maarten/St Martin….

The editorial team at Definitive Caribbean
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