Bati Bleki, April 28th, 2014

A VISIT TO LES CRUSTACES. My visit to Les Crustaces, at the Ritz Carlton Aruba was accompanied by Myandra Croes, PR & Communications Manager, aka Miss Sunshine, who lends everything in her sphere some of her spark and radiance! The food just tastes better when Myandra is around, as her enthusiasm is boundless. We had a lovely time. I also met the colorful Alberto Michieli, an Italian-born food and beverage professional, who manages that primo restaurant. Blessed with a great head of hair, dressed in a slim-fit tailored blue, pinstripe suit with white buttons, Alberto expertly handled a bottle of Bollinger Champagne and poured out a flute with great flair, never spilling a single drop on his shiny patent leather shoes! Yes, he’s a dandy, a sharp dresser, with the quirky sense of humor to match. We shared the small Divi Platter loaded with Alaska King Crab Legs, Mussels, Clams, Oysters and Stone Crab Legs. I always thought they didn’t travel well. Apparently they do, because they are available on Les Crustaces’ raw bar every night. My chorizo-encrusted red snapper was very tasty, and Myandra’s swordfish looked five-star. Glorious desserts sealed the deal, a Molten Chocolate Cake and a Tart Tatin, which for some reason is called Tartin on the dessert card. Vincent, our waiter, oversaw our experience with great knowledge and intelligence, striking the perfect balance between friendly and professional. We’ll be back.

OUR DEAR MR DE VEER. You emphatically said: No press. But Lennie Theysen saw I was having issues with the directive. Rona, she said, go ahead, say what you have to say. So thus with her permission: Eduardo de Veer marked 50 years on April 24th, 2014, from the day he assumed the reins of the family business back in 1964. He just graduated from university at age 21 when he arrived in Aruba in time for his uncle’s funeral. Then, the family asked him to stay and take over the business, once flourishing, now on the brink of extinction. Wow. Amazing fifty-years had passed, filled with joy of creativity and tenacity, required to overcome hurdles and obstacle. I head your favorite Argentinean Jazz pianist with wings on his fingers, Raul di Blasio, was in town this weekend. I hope you got to listen to him, not just once, but trice, with family members and friends on Saturday, among your 1,800 MetaCorp employees on Sunday, and on Monday with Aruba’s high-school students, at a special youth-concert. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the room where the encounter between the Attention Deficit Disorder stricken electronic-generation and the unabashed and unbridled sentimentality of de Blasio’s music, takes place. They will love his bombastic musicality, his over-the-top orchestration, he is so easy to listen to. And I hope it teaches the twitters that greatness may also be achieved via repetitive-practice, not just with a slam-dunk. De Veer is graced with both, the long-distance runner determination and stamina and the short-distance runner fierce get-up-and-go. I always thought that in business you are one or the other. A short-distance runner accomplishing much in little time with a short-lived, super-charged burst of energy, or a long-distance runner, facing the inevitable grind, wrestling with the long haul in dogged resignation. Evidently, de Veer is both, and his business legacy tells a riveting story, that of a charismatic leader. In June 2014, the company will be unveiling its latest, as it purchased the technology to turn organic materials collected by EcoTech as commercial and domestic waste, into fuel. Imagine making garbage into gas, which will be sold to Elmar to power the island’s electricity-producing turbines. Our trash will be sorted for aluminum, paper, plastic and glass, then the rest of the disgusting gook will be gasified, in a process which recycles everything from tires to garden debris! I just have to conclude that vision entails more than the ability to see!

OPC MEANS OUTSIDE PUBLIC CONTACT. One of the most successful restaurateur in Aruba, was no doubt Carlos Cuzzoni of Don Carlos and Portobello fame. He rented the oceanfront space across the Renaissance Mall for many years, then also occupied the corner across the Renaissance Convention Center, serving Italian food in both places. It was a successful family business, a father and son collaboration. While the patriarch managed the company’s finances, Carlos’ role was simple. He would stand, practically in the street, and chat up anybody who happened  to go by. His friendly and convincing demeanor caused many people to stop in their tracks, drop what they were doing, and go eat his food and drink his wine at any of the two outlets. Carlos was the original OPC, and the terror of all of his suffering competitors, lacking the pizzazz or the chutzpa to stand outside their establishments and so openly and blatantly solicit business. When the patriarch pre-maturely passed away, the family underwent many changes, Portobello and Don Carlos closed, and as time went by Carlos decided to get back into the swing of things. He is now working as host and Pr personality at Hadicurari Restaurant. Guess what? He is the secret weapon. Standing practically in the street and chatting up anybody who happens to go by. His friendly and convincing demeanor causes many people to stop in their tracks, drop what they were doing, and go eat at Hadicurari!

OUTLAW COCKFIGHTING. A facebook page under Aruba Gallos attests to the fact that we still tolerate cockfighting, a barbarian, cruel, and abusive practice that tortures animals, and endangers the health and safety of the public. Cockfighting is a crime in the USA. In New York, cockfighting and possession of a fighting bird at a fighting location, carries a maximum sentence of four years in jail and a fine of $25,000. According to a poster, posted on line, an Aruban will be representing the island at the 4th annual international championships in Ecuador, in May. I would like to pluck his backside clean, and douse it with rum and pepper, see how he likes it.

GO WITH THE FLO. I wrote about Florian Gosset, Clinical Massage Aruba before, but not from a personal perspective, but recently my beloved right arm has been angry at me for hitting the computer keys so hard and for sitting many hours in the office. So I made an appointment with that therapist. Wow. He is powerful. He dug and dug under my muscles, and made peace with my pectoralis and my middle trapezius, sending me back to the office with instructions for change – the computer screen must be on eye level, and stretch exercises frequent. Freedom from pain and discomfort? It’s a good thing!!

OYSTERS & PEARLS. We recently ordered Oysters at Gianni’s. They are listed as specials on the lunch menu, and they arrived at our table on a bed of ice, looking exhausted, perhaps from their long trip from the Chesapeake Bay to Aruba. When the check was presented we cried. At this rate you should have served them with the pearls inside.

GREAT COCKTAIL LOUNGE. During Easter week we went twice for happy hour at Mira Solo Martini Bar, at the Radisson Aruba Resort Casino & Spa. The hotel strip was busy, practically bursting at the seams, every restaurant and bar under pressure, yet we found lots of space and serenity to match at the bar overlooking the Palm Beach tree tops and the spectacular ocean. This is by far the prettiest bar on the island and service is caring and friendly. Singer Shery, Sherida Ridderstap Paesch, sounds like a cross between Shirley Bassey and Whitney Houston. Just great.

RUMOR & SPECULATION. I heard that my friend Hubert Solagnier opened a sports bar facing Palm Beach on the second floor, next to Tomato Charlie’s at Brickell Bay. I say no way. We were good friends when he lived here, before he went to Curacao, so he would have told me about the opening if indeed Touchdown was him. Besides, in the event that the bar is his, and he didn’t tell me, perhaps we were not such good friend as I thought, or maybe he has a sufficient number of clients and doesn’t need any extra promotion?!