Aruba beckons... although small in size, just 30 km long and 8 km wide, this stunning Caribbean island is big on beauty, with long stretches of white sandy beaches, sensuous sparkling turquoise waters and gentle trade winds that caress and cool the skin while enjoying the rays of the tropical sun. We are returning to this incredible island, after many, many years, as our father's identical twin started the very first hotel here, called the Manchebo Beach Hotel. Aruba has become an incredibly desirable destination with so much to offer and to celebrate including an annual Wine, Food and Art Festival, held at The Westin Resort and Casino, Aruba www.thewestin.com/Aruba right up our alley!
Watch The Wine Ladies TV and our adventures in Aruba here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6PGTRqcu7g
We look forward to a having an awesome week of a little R&R, some fun and some seriously yummy eating...accompanied by some fine wines of course! All this with our friends, a group of five fun loving ladies who also happen to be quite the foodies!
We are welcomed by broad smiles and happy faces with an aim to please. The native "Aruban" speaks three to four languages, is friendly and engaging, "bon bini" is how you are greeted, followed with Bon dia, Bon tardi, and Bon nochi as the sunset approaches. This is the vocab from the local language here, Papiamento, a creole language derived from African languages and either Portuguese or Spanish, with some influences from Amerindian languages, English and Dutch. We met one local, Romeo who could say this in almost any language known to mankind! Check out this talented man here. It's pretty cool! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUz-Y4hHWc0
We will soon discover, there is definitely fabulous food here, and they even have a winemaker on the island, sought after by international media, knocking on the barrel cellar door, anxious to discover and sample the wines made here in such an arid climate. How does he do it? Vincente Kock of Vino Vince, located in Santa Cruz, Aruba. Vincente explains how he became the Wine Wizard during our interview. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq5WhJ9rqGw
Requiring almost supernatural powers, Vincente manages to grow not only the “Mediterranean grapes”, likely Syrah, after we tasted one of his bottles, but also Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Quite a feat in this incredibly arid climate, 12 degrees north of the equator. Our winemaker, international celebrity now in his seventy fourth year is living his passion. Next project, to finish constructing a mini reservoir on his property to satisfy the thirst of his many vines.
Our home away from home is the Westin Resort and Casino, well known for their culinary program, with Pago Pago http://www.westinaruba.com/ArubaRestaurantsPagoPago one of their restaurants being awarded the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
Our first evening is the perfect introduction to the ways of the island, we are invited to the manager's cocktail reception, meeting Richard Roy General Manager of the Westin Resort and Casino where we inhale the beauty of the landscape, the glorious beach, and incredible sunset as it descends upon the Caribbean Sea, visible from the patio, where we are enjoying delectable hors d'oeuvres and a selection of wines from Chile and California.
Here we meet Executive Chef Matt Boland, responsible for all the restaurants and eateries at the Westin Resort and Casino. We quickly are taken with the enthusiasm Matt has for his craft, his mandate here and the island of Aruba captured here in our interview. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohzf2ZcJ480
Pago Pago, where we will dine this week is the recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, which we will soon appreciate, and be dazzled with; a steady stream of creative and delectable recipes paired with a selection of wines from Napa Valley, France and Chile will grace our table.
Susanne enjoys the signature Coconut Jumbo Shrimp dish, while Georgia savours the surf and turf, accompanied by a Portobello mushroom and chocolate sauce lightly drizzled on succulent filet mignon. Two of the wines we particularly enjoyed was a Simi Sauvignon Blanc, from Sonoma County, truly delish, with fresh and seductive aromas of lemon and lime zest with mineral notes and a lengthy finish, as well as the Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon, layered, complex, rich with ripe fruit, amazing with the filet and sauce. Magnifique!
And incredible selection of deserts that topped off the evening just right! Wow what a night.
Fun in the sun, on the water and under! A very big special thank-you to Beachy Keen Swimwear www.beachykeenswimwear.com of Oakville for all of The Wine Ladies swimwear fashions. We practically lived in our swimsuits the entire time we were there.
Taking in an afternoon off the mainland, on De Palm Island which included an amazing experience called Sea Trek , View us as we swim among the fishes here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjj9_Cy0E58
Never a dull moment, we experience the “sea trek” where we descend twenty-five feet to the floor of the Caribbean Sea and enjoy the multitude of tropical fish and a “toast” under water.
What will be on our plates this evening?
“Catch of the Day” Every day the fisherman set out to satisfy the “fish and seafood” needs of the many first class restaurants on the island.
On any given day over 3,000 fish can be caught, hauling in a terrific variety including the kingfish, barracuda, tuna, rainbow runner, needlefish, dorado or mahi mahi and many others. Livino, he’s “the man” and shows off his catch on this windy day, not good for fishing, this was a slow day.
Susanne is introduced to Jack, the pelican!
It’s not all about the fish! Lizards abound in Aruba! Tasty creatures, used in soups, possess a magical property, reputed to enhance a man’s strength and virility! Be sure to watch the video for more on that.
What’s up with all these trees blowing and pointing in the same direction, all to the southwest? Unique to the island of Aruba, the divi divi tree thrives here, and is decidedly one sided, responding to the constant trade winds blowing from the northeast, cooling and soothing to the sun bather, but don't be fooled, be sure to…take cover under the “palapus” for a welcome break from the big glorious sunshine!
The beaches are plentiful with beautiful white sand, warm people and stylish sun bathers! We are grateful to Val at Beachy Keen Swimwear for our suits, fitting in so fashionably!