Chowing Down, Drinking Up St. Barths: Pig Blood and Rum

I had a great time in Syracuse this weekend – more stories to come – but let’s backtrack a few weeks to warmer weather. We took the ferry from St. Maarten over to St. Barth’s, and when the waiter at the Wall House in Gustavia Harbor told me the lunch special was creole-style fish and pig intestines, I wrinkled my eyes and raised the corner of my mouth.

I’m all for being adventurous, but I was hungry as hell and wanted a satisfying meal – not something I’d regret ordering – so I asked him, “How is it?”

He said it was good – that it came with a free glass of wine, a dessert plate, and coffee (approximately $20). He told me it was a nice deal, a solid choice, but I was not content with what sounded like a sales pitch.

“No no,” I said, waving him closer, “How is it man?”

He bent over and leaned in, put a hand on my shoulder. In a voice that was essentially a whisper, he said with a smile, “We wouldn’t put it on the menu if it was disgusting, sir.”

Fair enough, I told him, laughing. I’m in – bring on the intestines, but first the free drink. He went and poured the glass of red wine, but when he brought it to the table and set it in front of me, he had bad news.

“I was wrong about the intestines,” he told me in his French accent. “The fish special actually comes with Boudin Noir, not intestines.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s sausage made with and cooked in the blood of a pig.”

Taking a sip of the drink, I ordered another.

Wall House Restaurant: Stationed at the entrance to Gustavia Harbor, this French restaurant provides great views of the water from the comfort of an open-aired, shaded dining room. It feels classy (with a really nice bar and an old antique oven) yet maintains a Caribbean vibe thanks to its location and relaxed atmosphere. We sipped a glass of wine, watched the boats and yachts come in. One of my friends told us Jimmy Buffet routinely parks his yacht nearby, but it was not there.

Creole-style fish with Boudin Noir.

I ate the hell out of the Boudin Noir – as I said I am a fan of new things and adventure – yet I don’t think this is a dish I will anticipate finding on another menu. Nothing wrong with its preperation or execution, just can’t say that pig blood tastes any better than it sounds.

Although pricey because of the strength of the Euro, this is a fantastic place to duck in and get involved in a two or three hour French lunch. Arrive early to get a seat by the railing, and be sure to save room – the dessert cart will certainly catch your attention.

Just so you know: I would have stuck my tongue into that tiny cup of Creme Brulee if I hadn’t been in public – absolutely delicious to the last drop (see photo).

Le Select: Speaking of Jimmy Buffet, I visited Le Select, the place that claims to have inspired his infamous song Cheeseburger in Paradise (also in Gustavia Harbor). This is one of those stories that hasn’t been confirmed by the man himself, yet as far as I can tell it’s rather widely excepted. Jimmy is apparently a huge fan of the island, often playing small, unadvertised shows in and around the harbor.

Le Select is what we would all expect a French/Caribbean dive bar combo to look like: A cafe setting with ample outside seating, wooden tables and chairs, and green, leafy trees overhead that block out the direct sunlight. There’s no waitress service – you order up at the bar – which, to me, made it all the more relaxed and Caribbean. Because prices are in Euros (which is the case on most of the island), beers and booze aren’t as cheap as on St. Maarten. Le Select is about as good a deal as you’ll get on St. Barths – it’s about $3-$5 for a beer/mixed drink. I stuck to what they do best in the Caribbean: Rum punch.

I didn’t try a cheeseburger – it was a stop off before lunch at the Wall House.

Gustavia Harbor.
Gustavia Harbor.
The French know how to do it right!
The dark balls are the Boudin Noir.
View from our table at the Wall House.
View from our table at the Wall House.

Le Select Cafe in St. Barths.

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