December 24 2011
In Denmark, we celebrate Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day – so our D-day is on the 24th. Our traditional Christmas dish is duck – and it just isn’t Christmas without a perfectly cooked duck on the table. I find it funny that for the French, for example, duck is a normal dish served all year around; for us Danes, it is a this-time-of-year-only big deal. What makes it particularly complicated for me this year is the actual getting hold of it here in St Barths, as we need a whole duck – not just the breast.
In my hunt for the perfect specimen, I started out at the local butcher’s and asked if it was possible to order a fresh duck. The answer, luckily, was yes – but my expectations were deflated when I asked what size of duck we could expect, and the butcher showed me a frozen one, indicating that this was not only the size that the “fresh” duck would be, but it was in fact the duck we would dine on. Just slightly less frozen.
Not ready to give up on my hunt for the perfect Christmas meal, I told him thanks but no thanks and headed over to a restaurant on Saline Beach. I had heard great things about the chef who has recently taken over the place, and was hopeful that he would understand the importance of my quest.
Luckily, some of the staff at the restaurant knew me from previous visits and were happy to present me to their new boss. After a quick introduction I explained my problem to him, and he listened and contemplated the matter. When he replied that we can have a duck here tomorrow if we ordered it straight away, I literally did a little jump of joy – then asked how this was possible. He explaining that he could fly my duck in from England with some other things he needed anyway. I can only describe my gratitude as a sort of love at first sight (or at first duck discussion); the restaurant will most definitely have one very frequent guest from now on.
My wife and daughter had a great first night’s sleep, and have already started to adjust to the island vibe, visibly happy and relaxed. If I ever had any doubts, the fact that the first thing my daughter said after finishing her breakfast this morning was “Where are we going for lunch?” proved that she is truly my girl. She continued by suggesting that we all go to Eden Rock, a hotel and restaurant owned by Brit David Matthews. Eden Rock is today a very successful establishment, and the biggest employer on St Barths – something I would have never guessed when I visited the place before Matthew’s time. It just proves that with the right vision (and enough financial backing) everything is possible. However, it did see some glory days back in the day too, with guests such as Greta Garbo and her ilk.
I actually threw my 50th birthday party there four years ago, inviting friends from the island as well as our closest friends from Denmark, so the staff at Eden Rock know us well (it was indeed a party to remember).
Anyway, before heading to a brilliant lunch at Eden Rock, we spent a few hours after breakfast sunbathing and reading by the pool. I love that reading is still the best entertainment around, and I do it as often as I can. Now all we need to make this is a perfect Christmas is for that duck to arrive tomorrow; fingers crossed it won’t get lost along with so much of the incoming luggage.