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2013 Caribbean Hotspot: 5 Surprises in Martinique

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3. Cuisine is Anything but Ordinary

Crayfish at Le Petibonum

When you walk down the aisles of the covered market in Fort-de-France, you won’t see a baguette peeking out of every bag or purse you pass. That’s because customers are buying pomme cannelle (apple bread,) or colombo, or mangos, instead.

Their culinary style is not just French–it’s French-Creole. Creole cuisine is derived from local ingredients, like shellfish, bananas, spices, and coconuts. It has since been shaped by influence from Africa, Europe and India. Spike age-old European expertise with the vibrant flavors of the Caribbean, and you have Martinican cuisine. Some typical dishes include green papaya or vegetable gratin, crayfish soup, sautéed Foie Gras, and fish fritters called accras; which I ate like they were my last meal.

Accras at Las Bredas

The bountiful fishing of the Lesser Antilles marks seafood the majority of any menu. If you’re a dedicated foodie, Chef Brédas of Le Brédas recommends visiting his restaurant, and the island in general, in December for “a big selection of fish, and the best lobster of the year.” A usual catch around the island is tuna, kingfish, marlin or swordfish. While eating at Le Brédas (which was sinfully good in August,) I had the chance to meet Chef de Cuisine, Eric Gestel, of the famous Le Bernadin in New York City. Originally from Martinique, he was on vacation with his family. Chef Gestel said the vegetables and spices used in French-Creole cuisine often act as a base in his invention of new recipes. There’s always a menu item, often fish, which embodies a fusion piece from the Caribbean…something to remember when in NYC.

Plein Soleil, another boutique art hotel, won the award for most romantic in my book. The food is exceptional, and you dine surrounded by twinkling white lights and enchanting coy ponds. The rooms are luxurious and feel very organic, defined by white linens and custom wicker furniture. Outside guests can make reservations for lunch or dinner…a date night second to none!

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