Aruba’s Melting Pot

Aruba’s Melting Pot

By Hillary Latos

Around every winter, I have a recurring dream of dipping my feet in warm sparkling aquamarine waters, lying on a white sandy beach, snorkeling with tropical fish, and then dining amongst the samba beats of the Caribbean – then I realize this is just a dream. Or is it possibly a yearning and a homing call to return to the sunny paradise of Aruba – a place that you can leave but never leaves you.  In just 4.5 hours from JFK, paradise awaits and a dream becomes reality.

Located outside the Hurricane belt, Aruba boasts yearlong sunshine at a temperate 82 degrees with refreshing trade winds to cool off.  It's much more than just a beachy Caribbean island, but a cultural melting pot home to over 90 nationalities resulting Amerindian, Latin and European influences in the gastronomy, culture and language.  One of the unique attributes of the island is the vibrant cuisine coupled with a spectacular beach setting making it a one stop destination to satiate the senses.

To get the party started sip on the national Aruba Ariba cocktail which is comprised of the local coecoei, vodka, rum, crème de banana, grenadine, Grand Marnier and tempered with pineapple and orange juice which is as smooth as it is potent.  For creative cuisine and cocktails that dabble in molecular gastronomy dine at Modern White which offers a modern approach to fine dining with beautifully presented dishes offering unique flavor combinations.

For a romantic tete a tete and dining under the stars, Passions on the Beach offers exquisite local fare with seafood specialties on a sugary white sand beach with soft tiki light torches and strolling live musicians covering love songs to set the mood as the sun sets to evening.

Paying homage to the passionate struggle experienced by enslaved prisoner Henri Charriere's gripping road to freedom is Papillon Restaurant which serves classic French dishes with the exotic flair of the Caribbean.  Enjoy dining under the stars and twinkling lights on the balmy outside terrace and savor the delicious and extensive menu specializing in locally caught seafood and grilled or stewed meats.

Marrying the flavors of his native Peru with his experience in the finest kitchens of 5 star properties spanning from Singapore to Columbia and Spain is Executive Chef Teddy Bouroncle who oversees the menus at the Aruba Marriott Resort.  Be sure to try his take on the traditional Aruban dishes like the rich Keshi Yena – a sweet and savory stew made from spiced meat, raisins, capers and olives baked in a Gouda shell and his seafood version with a Peruvian influence.

For a classic Caribbean beachside dining experience, a local favorite is the Flying Fish Bone offering fine European cuisine with an Aruban flair located on a crescent bay in a charming fishing town.  Casually elegant and delectably delicious, dine barefoot on the sand under a palm frond with the soft glow of candle light while embarking on an unforgettable culinary journey.

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