Eagle Beach — Every Saturday during the upcoming summer months the focus at the Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, is on local food. The two charming resort restaurants, Ike’s Bistro and the French Steakhouse, have recently introduced two different local menus, highlighting the island’s culinary heritage, and its unique flavoring.
Executive chef Ever de Pena, at the helm of the resort’s culinary brigade, reports the dishes featured in the menus rely heavily on the abundance of locally caught fresh fish, tropical fruits and herbs, also highlighting the island’s Dutch heritage. The novel presentation, fusing different tastes and textures, reflect the chef’s own personal version of the popular, age-old recipes.
The French Steakhouse local menu features Keshi Yena, delectable baked stuffed cheese with chicken, capers, celery, carrots, green olives, onions and raisins served with polenta and plantain or equally enticing Keri Keri Fish Cakes, served on mixed greens with Pica di Papaya tartar sauce. Pica di Papaya, the local hot sauce made with Scotch Bonnet peppers and sweet papaya is a sure way to jumpstart a hearty appetite among locals.
Both recipes are traditional Aruba favorites, and have starred in every grandmother’s kitchen in past decades. “It is our pleasure to bring these back into the limelight,” says Chef de Pena, “These two recipes are some of our most treasured.”
The menu continues with a Grilled Filet Mignon and Chicken duo served with pumpkin puree, seasonal vegetables and chimichuri sauce, or another irresistible choice, Catch of the Day, served the island way, with plantain, fried funchi, Creole rice and Creole sauce. “Nothing can more Aruban that this,” Chef de Pena, declares. The experience concludes with an ageless hit, Quesillo, an Aruban caramel flan with vanilla ice cream and seasonal berries.
The talented French Steakhouse pianist, Eddy Samson, provides live music through dinner.
At Ike’s bistro, a restaurant introduced at Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa in 2012, with a unique mission to offer guests flavors from the magical place where the Mediterranean meets the Caribbean, the local menu every Saturday features a Fish Soup & Pica di Papaya as appetizer. The soup is served with pan bati, cilantro and plantain chips. Diners may also pick the second appetizer Potato Croquettes on a Mesclun salad, with mango, drizzled with sweet mustard vinaigrette.
Chef de Pena’s selection of main courses is equally tempting, Land & Sea, a combo of filet mignon and black Tiger shrimp served with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and rosemary sauce; or Red Snapper & Funchi, pairing pan seared fresh fish and fried funchi, sweet pea and basil puree, sweet banana salsa and Creole sauce. A third option, Pasta Carbonara, delivers grilled Shrimp on a bed of homemade linguini, and Carbonara sauce flavored with the local basil. The dessert, a sumptuous duo of Pan Boyo and cinnamon ice cream, presents a fragrant and warm bread pudding, layered with sweet strawberry salsa, chocolate tuile and strawberry powder. The restaurant underwent a recent US$350,000 re-do, and boasts a brand new bar and lounge area, with live entertainment.
About chef de Pena: Just 29 years of age, the chef has nevertheless been cooking for many years. Born and raised in Aruba he entered the apprenticeship program at the local vocational high school at the age of 15, and for five years combined school and hands-on training, in some of Aruba’s finest restaurants under the watchful eye of the island’s top chefs. While the first dish he ever prepared as a young man was Pasta Primavera, he today deftly composes beautiful dishes with subtle and complex flavors, under-promising and over-delivering, on taste and on presentation, each time!
Hurry up and make your reservation by calling the French Steakhouse and Ike’s Bistro at tel.: 5823444, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org