More healthy food options, befitting our new year’s resolution to stay fit and trim
Alejandra Maya is the queen of the kitchen at Al Fresco. She is a personal trainer by profession and was looking for a sensible breakfast and lunch place, then she decided to open her own.
We loved her vegan falafel, made from a lentil-chickpea mash, drizzled with vegan mayo and escorted by sweet potato fries and a tasty green salad with shredded vegan cheese. The Killer Burger was a killer, a homemade veggie patty seasoned with love. We also ordered the black bean burger, it was delish!!
(Just remember to avoid big public gatherings in the afternoon, as some flatulating may occur.)
Alfresco is located in the old DeliFrance location on L.G. Smith Blvd #150, Oranjestad, Aruba, and they also have daily lunch specials, eat in or take out, from 11:30 to 2:30.
Call 734 1887, for takeout, open 7am to 9pm. Don’t go, if you are in a rush.
I understand Maestro Eduardo Maya pops in every once in a while, especially during Friday happy hour, to provide musical entertainment. He is Alejandra’s proud dad.
As the restaurant credo says: Make your healthy lifestyle a delicious and nutritious experience, Alfresco is an innovative concept, with a mission to promote a balanced food plan.
As part of its Eat Clean, Train Dirty philosophy, BODY TECH Fitness club, the new exercise shrine which opened in August 2017 on the boulevard, is now offering the Pura Vita Kitchen, inspired by healthy lifestyles.
The stylish restaurant claims it delivers portion-controlled, nutritious, tasty and clean food combinations that fit a wide variety of diets and healthy eating lifestyles…. so, we tested their credo.
We shared a pair of smoothies with apple, celery, and cucumber, with all the roughage in, too healthy for my taste… a delicious vegan chickpea and lentil curry dish, an overstuffed chicken wrap, smashed avocado & egg on toast, and aromatic, fresh fruit infused teas for the finale.
We liked all of our choices. We’ll be back.
Located on Italiestraat 40, open 7am to 9pm, for breakfast, lunch & dinner and I noticed it is a favorite hang-out place for many beautiful people, tourists too.
On a different day I tried Pura Vita’s grilled salmon with sautéed vegetable. Off the chart delicious.
BEACH FOOD Take Away
You will find a good looking Italian beach tennis and yoga star is in the kitchen. He cooks everything Sous Vide, which is French for ‘under vacuum.’ Basically, he portions his creations, seals them in plastic pouches, then cooks everything in very low temperatures, over a long period of time.
The vacuum-sealed food in plastic pouches or glass jars cooks for many hours in a steam environment; this verifies food cooked evenly, and retains all moisture and juices.
The Sous Vide is a popular trend on cooking shows and some famous high-end chefs made it even more famous, it has been around for a long time, and requires patience, but it is lean, zero added fat, 100% flavor retention.
WhatsApp your order, say Antonio, and it will be ready when you get there: Burgers, panini such as pulled pork, pulled chicken, different lasagnas – the traditional one was excellent — platters including rib eye, salmon, pulled pork or steak, baby back ribs and pastas. How about penne served with a bacon mushroom sauce with chicken?
Salina Cerca 9n, Noord, Tel.: 594 4741, open 10am to 10pm. Sometimes closed.
It’s the Umbrella’s Fault
We were treated yesterday to an explicit video, of the gospel according to Rodney Ramazan, a well-known beach bully, who makes his living in a variety of ways, I will let your imagination fill in the blanks.
He was having a pissing contest with the owner of Delphi watersports, Robert Leeuwe, who is a decent individual according to my sources. Their violent exchange stands in stark contrast to its gorgeous backdrop, Aruba’s #1 asset, Palm Beach, which now gets less than favorite reviews, when it is titled busy, crowded, loud, not the beach to relax.
Think about it. Palm Beach services 4,548 rooms, more than 12 resorts along an approximately two-mile stretch, without regulation or enforcement.
As we all know, the Beach Policy promised in 2014 set out to regulate all beach activity on the island. IRONICALLY the process of permit application empowered the beach vendors to claim more territory and add umbrellas and chairs to their menu of activities besides jet skis, catamaran rides, and parasailing.
And why not? There was no one to stop them from expanding their empires, they saw an opportunity, and they pounced on it.
The hotels were told to back off, and retreat into their boundaries. Obviously, they complied. And since there is no vacuum of power, someone was bound to fill in the space.
And fill they did. Chairs and umbrellas, umbrellas and chairs. For cash, an endless supply of unreported income.
Last year, I seriously pointed out that we are at the tipping point, where there is no way back. Things went out of hand, and it would be immensely difficult to re-introduced civility to the beach.
Without enforcement and supervision, the breakdown of law and order on our beaches has gone far.
For the umpteen time: All beach vendors must be licensed, and their license must spell out their does and don’ts and should be on display at their place of business, specifying the permitted scope of their activities.
The hotels welcome any legislation, it is in their interest, in the country’s interest, but GOA will have to take enforcement seriously. Why are the beach vendors above the law? Why are they protected? Why doesn’t the Police crackdown on illicit activity? Who really owns these beach concessions? Why are they allowed to ruin our quiet beach enjoyment experience?
Why do you torture the restaurants into compliance with health and safety regulations and exercise a hands-off policy on the beaches?
From a column last year: We recently saw pictures of our beaches, with chairs and umbrellas covering every inch of white sand. Apparently, the Beach Vendors have recently expanded their activities, they cleverly diversified, adding the sale of chairs and umbrellas, to their already obnoxious water sports portfolios.
Apparently, the sale of drugs was not as lucrative in recent years, with the aging Aruba tourist population, and the no-brain chair and umbrella scheme proved immensely successful for this uneducated, frumpy, badly behaved segment of the population.
A chair is a wonderful thing. Rent it out once, then rent it out again the following day, no maintenance, no need to even wipe it down; charge $30 in cash per piece, and literally piss on whoever attempts to bring their own chair to YOUR beach.
Just look menacing, strut around barefoot, beer belly hanging over tattered shorts, and if someone threatens to call the police – they don’t come anyway, set their palapas ablaze.
How did this saga begin: In July 2014 a certain misdirected bureaucrat was appointed by the MinTour, who decided to shoot himself in the foot, to write a Beach Policy.
The man wrote a studious brief. He measured, he spelled out the rules, the way he saw them. And like every other piece of legislation, it was NOT implemented.
Passionate Special People Create Extraordinary Products, in Aruba
Over the holiday I received an elaborate gift from Ha’Bon at Paseo Herencia, incredibly packaged Yerb’i Lamunchi, lemon grass soap bar, a body cream customized to match my personality traits, with incapsulated jojoba oil, and an Arubanita Lotion Bar, it’s really a stick — it glides on like deo, enriched with Cocoa and Shea Butter.
As I said the gift was incredibly package with original artwork, charming graphics, and held together by jute twine. The package proudly stated it was all eco-friendly and made by disabled persons.
We first heard about Ha’Bon in 2015 when it was created by a former news anchor at Tele Aruba, who had had it with politics. She went home, as in retired, and devoted some time to her candle making hobby, among other things such as domestic bliss and cooking. She shared the fact she was feeling homely with a business acquaintance, and the astonished look on his face convinced her it was time to look at her hobbies from a different angle.
The astonished acquaintance was marketing and sales guru Warren Stanley, and the message was com’on girl, you can do better than that.
Which proves my favorite saying right: When the student is ready the teacher appears.
Before you know it, Naline’s artisanal soap factory took off with the help of a group of disabled persons, from two local foundations, Trampoline pa Trabao and Funari, entrusted with wrapping the products. Trampoline, a coaching organization designed to help disabled persons integrate in the work place, provided the guidance. Naline shares that her sister is a person with special needs and growing up close to such a creative individual, gave her the idea she could collaborate with the foundations on her project.
Having studied the secrets of beauty potions, utilizing natural, organic ingredients she opted for a line of moisturizing, freshly scented soaps, which was introduced within a few months to Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts, the island’s leading green properties. They contracted Naline to produce Ha’Bon soaps for their guest rooms. Then they were followed by Divi Resorts.
(The brand’s name is a fun play on words in Papiamento: while “habon” means “soap,” the brand name also highlights the word “bon,” which means “good.”)
Last year, the Ha’Bon’s product line grew to include body lotions and shower gels, the salt and sugar emulsified scrubs are coming soon, they will join the candles and candle holders, made from the wood of the native Kwihi tree.
In December, Ha’Bon opened at Paseo Herencia, where the complete line is on display. The space is clean and minimalistic with an oversize carved stone sink where customers may experience the products.
The way Naline sees it, your first day of work at Ha’Bon is your last day at work. Her team is passionate about the chemical free, natural product and under the guidance of two professional teachers, the clients of Man Na Obra, another foundation supporting intellectually challenged adults, do wonders.
“We focus on their strength,” states Naline, “and maximize it.”
Dedicated to eco-friendly practices, the company now also recycles hotel soap left overs, and candles they collect from churches, they give back to the community and champion the cause of intellectually and physically challenged locals.
We’re passionate special people, Naline concludes, we create extraordinary products, and you can get hold of them at 16 different outlets, including the flagship store at Paseo Herencia.
Sure, you can pick them up as gifts at the Reina Beatrix airport.
I know exactly what happened here, you were in a position of power so long, you developed a sense of entitlement, like you earned all this flattery and groveling, pleading and begging, of people lined up early in the morning in front of the parliament building dying to get your illegible scribbled on a piece of paper that would entitle them to a concession, which they figured out they would get if they kissed your feet, and licked them too.
You were in power too long. You think it is your birthright. So now, when someone points out you did a sloppy job, which you did, you get all huffed and puffed and explain to the President of Parliament you don’t give a damn.
You know what would be the decent thing to do? The decent thing to do would be to explain, to try to mitigate, to help us out of this humongous pickle.
We have this green monster on our hands, it needs to come to completion, we could have used your help if you were not so stuck up on your presumed hurt and humiliating defeat – if you weren’t such a narcissist you could be helpful!
Member of Parliament Marisol Tromp expressed outrage on our behalf. You shredded all documents when you left office, made sure there would be no paperwork to prove your criminal malfeasance, as you violated the public trust for eight years.
I feel dumbstruck, broke too, you spent 300 million on a half-baked project we will be paying for in the next decades, and you, the former man in charge, the former MinInfra, still the people’s representative, don’t give a damn?!
What can I say, you and Rodney Ramazan, from the beach mêlée, just redefined low.
Be Kind to animals
A few dozen dedicated volunteers gathered in the back of the Wayaca veterinary clinic, just in front of the notorious kill cage, on Tuesday, to protest the inhumane protocol used when culling unwanted animals.
Locals have for years placed unwanted puppies and adult dogs, cats of all ages, in that cubbyhole behind the veterinary clinic, and in the morning, a government employee working for the Veterinary Service unceremoniously sticks a lethal injection, attached to an end of a stick, into those animals, left to die, by their owners, then throw them in the back of an open pick-up truck and drives the cadavers to the dump, unbagged. We recently saw some aerial footage of the dump with a mound of animal remains in the center.
Poor guy. What a job.
I hear he is a sweet individual, stuck in a literally horrifying place. The demonstration on Tuesday against that barbaric process was organized by Criollo Trappers, an organization that took Aruba by storm, powered by some charismatic educators and retired nurses.
The volunteer organization picks strays off the street, spays and neuters them – all costs of spaying and neutering are carried by the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Stimami y Sterilizami program. The vets make sure the animals they spay/neuter are also chipped, and in decent shape to be released back into the street. The life of a neutered stray on the street in Aruba, is pitiful, not tragic; in most cases they attach themselves to a household, a snack truck or a car wash, thus surviving of table scraps. If not burdened by procreation and/or disease, most owned-strays chase cars, nap in the sun, and are basically part of our landscape.
Most locals show no inclination to spay and neuter their owned strays, and that is why the kill cage has become so important. It is a place to dump the unwanted pups, instead of poisoning them or drowning them in a bucket of water.
So, in reality, we cannot get rid of the kill cage, but we can introduce a more humane procedure. And that is what the demonstration was about.
The demonstrators asked for the two people to be tasked by the culling job, a team, they asked for the executioners to be trained and certified. The asked for animals to be scanned for ID chips before being euthanized to fend against the possibility of a vengeful neighbor dropping dogs they do not own, off. They asked for a grace period to facilitate adoption. Water and food for the doomed over long weekends and holidays. They asked for the existing Dog Law to be enforced and for International Animal Rights to be upheld. Then demanded respect for remains, and spoke in the names of those who cannot speak.
The organization also shared they have been talking to the new MinTour and are bringing him up to speed regarding the many issues involved.
I really would like to see a change in the way euthanasia is handled. In a perfect world, put the dogs to sleep first, then put them out.
Most importantly, add animal care and ownership to schools’ curriculum, introduce a dog tag system collecting an annual licensing fee for every owned dog, AND ban the amateur rampant breeding for greed. Enough talk, we wanna see some action.
Artist, musician, chef Frenk Graat has passed
In 1997 talented chef Frenk Graat and business-savvy restaurateur Daniel Kameier partnered to open the Flying Fishbone restaurant, seaside in Savaneta, and together they created an iconic eatery, that is still relevant and exciting in 2018. Five years into the successful venture, they recruited culinary support from chef Patrick v/d Donk when Frenk no longer wanted to cook, full time.
The Flying Fishbone wasn’t Frenk’s only successful collaboration. A few years prior to that, he joined a number of dynamic food & beverage personalities to open Que Pasa, yes, in the old Schelpstraat location. With time Que Pasa moved to Wilhelminastraat and still commands our loyalty and admiration for food, service and ambiance.
Frenk inspired the creation of Three Little Birds on the third floor of what today is the Mango building in Oranjestad. But that flopped understandably, the main street at night was hardly a point of attraction. The tiny restaurant was one of my old favorites.
In his early thirties, Frenk was one of the driven and determined F&B professionals who flocked to Aruba. These were exciting times – the end of the 80s, the beginning of the 90s. We were new to culinaria and Frenk and his compatriots taught us about European food and fine dining.
With success Frenk branched into art, and in 2004 and 2005 hosted two brilliant exhibitions at Access Gallery. According to my journalistic notes, they were both well attended and enthusiastically received.
Tall, handsome, with wild curls, sparkly eyes, Frenk was the talk of the town: Bohemian, creative, an artist, a high-class chef, a musician.
I remember standing on the terrace of Access Gallery, looking at the spectacle unfolding in the street below, a cocktail in hand, many of town’s glitterati around me, craning our necks over the banister looking at the activity, where on a flat bed, in a truck parked in the middle of main street Frenk was rolling a live, butt-naked model in paint pressing her flesh onto a virgin white canvas to create the most alluring and fetching hills and valleys, curves and hollows.
I remember who the woman was, lovely hair, great figure, the painting was later sold at auction for a hefty price, I don’t remember the name of the buyer. That must have been 2005.
At the height of his artistic and culinary success Frenk decided to distance himself from the materialistic world. He sold his share in the business, he painted, he traveled, he broke hearts. Then he disappeared in Brazil as a caretaker of a very needy and run-down animal shelter. He dedicated his time and all of his resources to help those in trouble, in the Amazonas.
Two years ago, he was back on Aruba. One of his closest friends writes: As we all know Frenk was living a different life, had no need for material things and provided his basic needs with the sale of his sea glass necklaces, on the beach. For the last few months he was struggling with his spiritual thoughts and he lost contact with reality. From my last talk with Frenk on Wednesday and the conversations with neighbors and the police I can conclude that it all became too much for him. There were no drugs or alcohol involved, he just grew tired of the rate race, it gave him zero satisfaction, and resulted in his premature death, age 55.
Frenk was a man with a big heart and in his good times he was always there for his friends, the note concluded, Frenk You!
His friends collected the funds to give him a simple farewell on Thursday. He will be remembered as a different and enigmatic man, a true romantic.