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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The "He Set My Drink On Fire!" Story

Night-time photo of Il Nettuno
It was an ordinary day.  Visiting one of our favorite restaurants in the village known as Grand Case which is located on the French Side of the dual island of Sint Maarten/St. Martin.  Grand Case is known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean and with good cause since it has some of the finest eating establishments on earth.  Restaurants line both sides of the small one-lane street that winds its way through Grand Case.  Carol and I have tried many of the usual favorites, but over the years have enjoyed one particular restaurant known as Il Nettuno.  Not necessarily best overall, but we enjoy it for one particular reason ... Pierre!  Pierre began working at Il Nettuno in 1993.  
Longtime waiter and friend, Pierre.
He was born in France and came to St. Martin to begin working in the culinary trade.  We first met him in the early 2000s when we visited Grand Case for the first time.  He was so welcoming and made our evening meal a delight.  We have made return visits every year to the restaurant and he treats us as family when he sees us walk in the door.  Knows my favorite meal by now and what we enjoy to drink.  This year we made a few visits to Il Nettuno and were greeted once again by Pierre.  Seats us right along the water's edge and makes sure I have a great view of the sunset.  We talked about a variety of topics during our visit and on our final evening in Grand Case had to talk to him about his native France and the recent election that was held.  
My dish of ravioli.
After our main course he knew what was coming next and asked us if we were ready for our Apple Pie.  Wow, the stuff is fantastic.  Round warm apple pie with small dab of whipped cream on the side as well as a small scoop of ice cream.  But the best part was the small cup of caramel sauce that we enjoy pouring over the apple pie.  What a dessert.  After our dessert, Pierre asked if we would enjoy a shot of Limoncello.  Carol and I have tried the Italian lemon liqueur a few times and don't care for the taste of it.  We asked about any flavored rum drinks they may have and he suggested we bypass that and try the Sambuca.  We had not heard of it before and asked him about it.  
The delicious apple pie with whipped cream,
ice cream and caramel sauce.
He put his fingers to his lips and kissed them as he promised we would love the Italian anise-flavored liqueur.  A few minutes later he was back with two small glasses of the clear liqueur with a few coffee beans in each glass.  Took a sip and ... wow!   Evidently took too big a sip.  The licorice flavor was almost too much, but the alcohol content was truly overpowering.  I only could handle about half of the glass and when Pierre returned asking about it, I asked him about the alcohol content.  
Burning the alcohol from the Sambuca.
He took the glass, turned it so the liquid was close to the top, pulled out his cigarette lighter and lit the liquid.  It glowed a beautiful blue ... for almost half a minute, before the flame was distinguished.  I said to Carol, "He set my drink on fire."  Stuff had a very high alcohol content.  Will add that to my list of not to drink in the future.  Our evening was a very enjoyable culinary experience.  Hey, what's not to enjoy about a meal on a Caribbean island while watching the sun set.  Oh yeah, having Pierre as our server was the icing on the cake, as they say.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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