My Resolve Dissolved at El Monte Azul

Morning light over the pool

All my resolve dissolved at El Monte Azul — it’s true.

When I began writing my travelogues, I devised a few cardinal rules. Number one states, “Don’t write about food or sleep.” Everybody else writes about what they’re eating, complete with pictures and recipes—just think about the comprehensive collections on Pinterest! As to sleep, who can compete with Trip Advisor if a reader wants comprehensive candor about a B&B or hotel? NOTE TO SELF: Remember that restaurants and hotels are tertiary experiences at best!!!!!!!

Dissolving resolve . . .

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But every once in a while . . . I’ve discovered in my travels that where I spend the night and what I eat for dinner become destination experiences that motivate me to write about them. El Monte Azul and El Sueno Azul are in this category!

First of all, the two names indicate two different entities located on the small top of a splendid little mountain in the Las Galeras region at the east end of the Samana Peninsula in the Dominican Republic. El Monte Azul is the restaurant and El Sueno Azul is the B&B. Both are owned and operated by Pierre and Vanina from France.

Lionfish at El Monte Azul

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The menu lists a large selection of Thai dishes from which we ordered, and the dinner was beautifully prepared. Pierre is an avid fisherman and introduced us to lionfish. Originally from the Indo-Pacific ocean area, these beautiful fish were prized as show pieces in aquariums, then dumped into the oceans by their owners. Unfortunately, they have a huge appetite for native fish and as an exotic invasive have no known predators in the Atlantic and Caribbean waters. Their beautiful flowing fins harbor poisonous barbs that make them dangerous to capture. Pierre not only catches them for sport, but also knows how to prepare them to offer his guests a truly gourmet experience.

While I tend to order fish and seafood in other countries if it’s on the menu, I’ve become cautious about doing so in the DR. This, due to the many meals I’ve been served where the ugly object on my plate looks me in the eye. (I prefer filet of fish.) Or else it’s tough and dried out, or gelatinous and mushy, or as rubbery as a hefty wad of chewing gum that can’t be swallowed. Lionfish at El Monte Azul Restaurant on the other hand has a light texture and delicate flavor. Truly a dish to savor!

El Sueno Azul B&B

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On our first visit we parked the van and walked past some buildings that I assumed were storage rooms. On this visit, however, we discovered that behind them lie the pool, the family apartment, and three rentable rooms. We found the accommodations clean and comfortable with queen-size beds and private bathrooms, living spaces I’d enjoy re-visiting.

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The guest list is necessarily restricted to an intrepid few. This, for practical reasons. It takes a 4-wheel drive or car with some power under the hood (plus a brave person behind the wheel) to get to the top of the hill. On our first visit, New Year Day of this year, we drove a large van with 4-wheel drive up the slippery muddy road and made it—just!

This June we drove a gutless compact car with front wheel drive on the dry rocky road and did not make it. Pierre graciously came to help us, but all passengers had to get out and walk to the top in order to lighten the car.

Yet . . . I’d visit again tomorrow if I could. And I’d hope to stay at least a week to enjoy congenial hosts and a cuisine that is excellent both morning and night. I found a deep kind of quiet on the top of that little mountain where frigate birds wheel above the ocean at eye-level. There is something of the sublime in that 360 degree view of flowers and trees and wooded hillsides dropping into azure waters.

 

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