Aruba Experience, in its new and exciting incarnation
Just north of Daniel Leo Plaza, two city blocks away, on Emanstraat #37, you will find a freshly remodeled Cunucu House, it is a classic beauty and it was totally invisible before restoration. I imagine it was a shell, I don’t even remember, perhaps abandoned, and the coming Friday is will open as the Aruba Experience Couture, Espresso & Patisserie. Congratulations to all involved.
If the name sounds familiar, it is, it was the name of a magazine, first published in 1986, a tourist publication that quietly went away when audiences transitioned to on line, but it did not go away completely, it morphed into an exciting business opportunity.
The restoration of the cunucu was entrusted to Tanya Dorer, Acme Real Estate & Development N.V., and she struck the right cord, balancing old and retro, it all looks gorgeous and respectful to the structure’s historical past.
The business initiative is by Susanita La Bella, that’s her Facebook handle, a fashionista, an entrepreneur, a diva, and a runner with a social conscience — the café will operate an Integration Room, where Papiamento language and Aruban culture will be taught to those newly-arrived, with a desire to belong.
The opening of the charming café provides another good excuse to visit Rancho, the heart of Oranjestad, once its most important neighborhood, down on its luck for decades, and reemerging now, thanks to private sector initiative such as Susanita’s.
Good luck with the barista training this week.
The recent urban revival projects are finally breathing new life into downtown Oranjestad.
Craft Beer, Beards and Tattoos
The three go together apparently, because there was plenty of facial hair and body art, at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino Grand Caribbean Ballroom, as the third annual Craft Beer Festival attracted a hefty crowd, Saturday night.
A local beer distributor by the name of Craft Beer Lovers created the event, and has been hosting it successfully, with the support of related initiatives such as Local Store, Bros & Beer and Balashi National Brewery Inc.
In fact, our national brewery created a limited edition, a small batch of unfiltered Balashi beer in honor of the festival. I tasted it, it was nicely chilled and light, no bitter finish – you understand I am no world class maven on the subject.
The Balashi Brewery display within the ballroom deserves compliments. It included the virtual tour of the plant and its production process, the one unveiled at the recent new image launch.
I noticed the Bros & Beer stand had Shoco beer on tap. Shoco was developed in the US last year, inspired by Aruba, embodying the island lifestyle. The beer is distributed here by Divino NV and poured at Bros & Beer. It derives its name from the tiny Shoco owl, a borrowing subspecies, our national bird.
Next stop, Local Store. The fun bar is located on Palm Beach, it usually carries over 80 kinds of Craft Beer, and according to my sources, makes the world’s best chicken wings. As expected, they had an impressive stand and owner Curt Harms was converting us all into Intergalactic Beer drinkers, so rare and so refined, they managed to get just five cases in honor of the festival. Curt was determined to teach the uninformed multitudes, including me, to appreciate the grapefruit-tangerine-orange spectrum of the cloudy libation. I did my best to graduate his program. He is adorable.
Great crowd could be found around Rogue and Coronado Brewery.
Overall, it was a nice effort. With rocker Mirugia de Cuba and the So What band.
The food court had some great selections of nibbles by White Modern Cuisine, Hollywood Smokehouse Bros & Bro, and Local store.
I had my pulled pork and brisket tacos at the Hollywood Smokehouse tent and went home quite content!