An evening of rhum tasting and a gastronomic dinner at Le Belem at Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa where Chef de Cuisine Hervé Rameau captures the essence of Martinique.
We began our evening at the well-stocked Le Cohi Bar which has 19 different Martinique rhums, nosing and sipping our way with Resident Manager, Mr. Gilles Trouillot, through a variety of Martinique rhums, as he explained the differences in aromas and flavors dependant on the terroir where the sugar cane was harvested, whether it was harvested by hand or by machine, and burnt or not burnt. Martinique rhum is made from 100% fresh sugar cane juice, and if the label holds the special designation of AOC (Appellation d'Origine Côntrollée) on the bottle, the rhum can be called Rhum Agricole. We really had a luxury experience of being educated by "Le Professeur du Rhum" (he even has his own rhum website), as we sipped Martinique's national cocktail, Ti' Punch, first made with sugar cane syrup and then made with sugar, (called a dry Ti' Punch). The bottles of rhum accumulated on our table, along with multiple glasses, in direct correlation as our knowledge of rhum increased.
Our rhum education finished, we proceeded to the stylish open-air gastronomic French restaurant, Le Belem, for a relaxing dinner. Parisian trained Chef de Cuisine Hervé Rameau, (Taillevent, a 2-star Michelin restaurant and Lucas Carlton, a 3-star Michelin restaurant) combines French technique with island experience (4 years at La Samana in St. Martin) at Le Belem. The restaurant provides the best of Martinique with its view of the lagoon in the distance and the night fragrance of the tropical flowers gently perfuming the air.
Chef Rameau began our dinner by sending us delicious amuse bouches of cream of vegetables served in porcelain scallop shaped plates. Our Sommelier paired our starters of Carpaccio of Red Mullet and Scallops with Truffle, and tender Scallop Ravioli with a foam-like Citrus Sauce, with a 2000 Meursault, Charmes, Domaine Matrot, from the Côte de Beaune region, a gorgeous white burgundy with a light gold color with a nutlike cream nose, with fresh peaches and fresh citrus en bouche, with a long creamy finish.
Tuna with Sesame Crust
We continued with Tuna cooked with Sesame, Fennel Salad with Fish Mousse and Scallops on a skewer, and Noodles stuffed with Shrimp, Scallops and Roasted Rock Lobster, Clams and Sautéed morel Mushrooms, which was paired with a delicious 2001 L'Esprit de Chevalier, Pessac Léognan, from Bordeaux, which was a deep red color, with leather and black cherry notes, with a long cherry finish.
For dessert, we selected Flambé Est, a delicious confection of coconut mousse with passion fruit coulis and pineapple. If that wasn't enough, Chef Rameau sent us a selection of small cakes that of course, we had to try. After dinner, we toured the restaurant's specially designed round tower-like wine cellar, which has over 400 bottles of wine, mostly from France, as well as a few selections from Australia, Chile, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa. Our Sommelier explained that wine is difficult to maintain in warm tropical climates, and to compensate for the weather they serve their wine at 17° C (63° F), which is close to the temperature difference of the air.
Chef Rameau changes the menu at Le Belem 4-5 times per year, which offers guests the opportunity to sample the best of the season. When planning your trip to Martinique, please note that Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa and Le Belem close from September to mid-October for annual maintenance.
Read other articles on Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Spas, and Chefs' Recipes (English and French versions) sections.
Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa
Quartier la Prairie
97240 Le François
Telephone: +596 596 54 80 80
Fax: +596 596 54 96 00
Read other articles on Martinique in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, Fashion, Events, Gastronomy, Liquor Cabinet and Travel News sections.
For more information on Martinique, please contact the Martinque Promotion Bureau at www.martinique.org.
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