A Taste of Aruba in San Francisco
By Kaye Cloutman
Images by Brian Wong Photography
With the holidays fast-approaching and the many demands that this season invariably brings, one might find that the best way to avoid the imminent stressful hustle-and-bustle is just to be stranded on an island. As crazy as that may sound, a recent hearty dinner with two amiable chefs got me thinking that perhaps a little getaway with Caribbean flair, including, for example, Pina Coladas by the beach – might just be the therapeutic kind of vacationing to do.
Last September 23, the Cookhouse in San Francisco was the designated venue for an immersive dinner experience where we got to create our own ceviche dishes with the direction and guidance of Teddy Bouroncle (Executive Chef) and Romeo Penacino (Executive Sous Chef), both from Marriott Resort Aruba Stellaris Casino. The duo indulged our taste buds with appetizing bites like Arepas with Crab, Traditional Pastechi, Patacon with Mango and Shrimp Papaya hot sauce salad, and my favorite – the Tuna Tataki. We also got to feast family-style with trays of Cabrito Stoba (Goat Stew) with Funchi (Polenta), the rich and flavorful Keshi Yena, Coconut Rice and Red Snapper Salad – but it was the Sweet and Spicy Lobster that really transported my palate to the lovely tropics. And if you’re anything like me, a trip to Aruba would be a great option for someone who not only enjoys immaculate views of the ocean but also has to have a travel itinerary that is focused on and surrounded with great dining experiences.
What is Aruba’s best kept secret?
Definitely the Aruban Pastechi is Aruba’s best kept secret. It’s a local snack that is made from sweet dough and stuffed with cheese that locals use as party snack or even have it for breakfast. The pastechi can also be filled with ham & cheese, chicken, beef or chop suey. It looks like an empanada but the dough used is different, it’s sweeter. The pastechi cannot be found everywhere, mostly just at local snack trucks, which makes it a kept secret. At the hotel we offer it at our La Vista Restaurant as well as part of the breakfast buffet and is always a hit!
What are your favorite must-visit spots for first time visitors and why?
First time visitors must visit Zeerovers, an authentic open aired seaside restaurant that offers fresh seafood right from the fishermen’s boat right to the grill or fryer. It’s where the locals hangout and a great spot to get the feel of the local culture. We also recommend the Cocoman at the Alto Vista Chapel for refreshing coconut water straight from the coconut while they are exploring the island.
Complete the sentence, “Don’t leave Aruba without …”
“…Trying La Vista’s one of a kind brunch buffet offering more than 95 food items including a fresh smoothie station, a waffle station, carving station, raw oyster bar, pasta station and much more! On Saturdays we offer the endless lobster night at La Vista which is also a must try! And who can forget the famous Aruba Ariba cocktail and remember to take along a six pack of local beer with you when you go to the beach.
What did you love most about your visit in San Francisco?
While in San Francisco, we had the opportunity to shop around for the food items for the media event and found that the city offers a great variety and freshness to their products. Supermarkets and fish markets were impressive overall and provided us easily with limitless fresh produce and seafood that we were looking for to prepare a wonderful meal for the media. Also, we had amazing bread and a great seafood chowder at Pier 39!
With its warm weather and turquoise waters, Aruba is the perfect destination for discerning travelers seeking the ultimate Caribbean vacation. Situated on Palm Beach, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino recently completed a $50 million renovation and boasts modern room decor while maintaining a sense of luxe minimalism. The eight-‐story complex includes 411 rooms (including 23 oceanfront suites), a pool with cascading waterfalls, seven bars and restaurants, Mandara Spa and Stellaris Casino.
• La Vista Restaurant
• Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
• Ketsu Sushi Bar
• Champions Sports Bar & Restaurant
• Waves Beach Bar & Grill
• Simply Fish Restaurant