Bati Bleki, July 27th, 2014

RAIN SONG & DANCE. Bachata super star Romeo Santos broke the long spell of drought on Aruba, delivering a deluge of much-needed rain water on the night of his performance. My friends who bought the $400.- concert ticket report finding shelter under tables, and soaking their butts in three- inch of muddy water. Some opted to squeeze, all five of them, into a Port-A Potty, for a full hour. The American heartthrob came on stage at 2:30pm, and gave the wet and wild crowd a decent lip-syncing show! According to Diario editor Nilton Lacle, we’ve had a long string of washed out concerts over the years, which made them ever-so-memorable.

DON JACINTO. My girlfriend, real estate power-house Muna Habash is a great cook. She favors home-cooked comfort food, with all 4 food-groups harmonizing on a single plate, with hot sauce on the side. Last week Monday, she took me for lunch at Don Jacinto on de la Sallestraat, a Colombian eatery by the entrepreneurial Mario & Rosa. The couple’s first venture, a bakery in Ponton, did not capture my undivided attention, but Don Jacinto did. The place is cute, and decorated in the rustic style of a Colombian finca with carved-wood and brown leather chairs, colorful ornaments, and spotless floors. The service is friendly, by a group of young staffers dressed in national costumes, including the sombrero and the red kerchief for the men, the ruffled skirts for the women. I ordered a perfectly tasty grilled Swai — let’s not call it grouper, though it appears as grouper on the menu, and tasted Muna’s Bandeja Paisa. For dessert the creamy Tres Leches took care of our daily calcium and vitamin b-12 intake. The Colombian espresso was delicious! My Swai, flavored with a lemon and cilantro sauce, with stewed yucca and a small fresh salad, cost Awg 20. Judging from TripAdvisor’s ratings, I am the last person on the island to discover Don Jacinto.

KEEPING THEM HONEST. The local freshly caught grouper that we love to order in many restaurants has been replaced for economical reasons by swai, which is native to Southeast Asia, and arrives here nicely frozen, in plastic vacuum packs. It is priced reasonably, and sells everywhere as grouper: almond or cashew crusted, broiled, fried or grilled. I understand that it tastes like catfish and is often called South Asian Catfish, but realize that it is river-farmed. You may also find it as Pangasius in the frozen fish refrigerators, and it always has a sweet mild taste to it, flaking nicely under eager forks.

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. Hashtag analytics for #aruba on Twitter showed an increased interest in the island in the past few days after the detention of a top Venezuelan official, the suggested and not-yet-sworn-in-consul-to-Aruba, Hugo Armando Carvajal. The Americans want him for alleged drug trafficking and aiding the outlawed neighboring guerillas, and the Venezuelans want him, as a Chavez strongman, closely related to people in high places. Aruba is uncomfortably trapped between a rock and a hard place, after all Carvajal tried to enter here with a false passport! What was he thinking? That he is above the law?! And I am asking myself how does a man earn the chicken nickname, Ell Pollo?! I hear it was by rooting out military dissidents within the armed forces, and carrying out special black operations for Chavez. Nice. Why couldn’t the Venezuelans send him away as the consul to the Ukraine or Libya, why Aruba??

THE PRESS PAMPERED AND ENTERTAINED. Hotelier Jan Van Nes and his staffers welcomed press members on Friday for a tour of Blue Residences and an unforgettable night at The Kitchen Table, by White. Even incurable news ferrets such as Patrick Paskel and Speed Andrade settled down for the night, enjoying food, drink and companionship in spite of the developing El Pollo drama. Admittedly, they continuously studied their smart phones between courses, but other than that they truly took time off to unwind and savor the incredible flavors. The start? Bottomless Prosecco flutes, on the terrace overlooking Eagle Beach and the theater of endless sunset. Chef Urvin’s interpretation of Aruban cuisine specialties took off with mixed hors d’oeuvres, including totally reinvented traditional snacks. Once inside the dining room the VIPs were treated to fresh fish Tiradito with passion fruit and tiny cocolishi, flavored with banana di reef, a slightly salty seaside weed, followed by a deconstructed Snapper Creole, with miniature Pan Bati, and pickled onions, a savory slice of pork with a deep fried kale chip and grapes, chased by a melt-in-your-mouth beef stoba with grilled onion and carrot, like nothing before. The evening was co-hosted by developer Alberto Perret Gentil, project manager, whom I met 10 years ago at the ground breaking of Oceania Residences. He has been doing very well ever since, with his two flagship condo complexes, a hard working, no-nonsense type of guy who over the span of his career earned the trust of many local and overseas investors. His gorgeous wife Veronica, a full time mother of three and a fashion designer by profession, is an excellent spokesperson for the project, living and breathing the Blue Residence lifestyle. A symphonic coconut and pineapple dessert went well with journalist Lia Tromp’s live performance inspired by the guitarist, alternating with the harmonizing Diva Duo, Erin Croes and Jacky Suttle. We had too much fun with Executive Chef Urvin Croes, Hemer Zambrano tapas chef, Carlito Castillo, manager/sommelier, Ludoviko Henriquez, sous chef, Moises Ramirez and Jean Claude Werleman, both cooks, supported by lovely waitresses Laura croes, Perlita and Shirley!

THANK YOU SO MUCH. On Saturday, Ling & Sons Super Center awarded me a much-appreciated gift certificate of Awg 150, to share my loss of groceries as described in a previous Bati Bleki column, and my favorite packer the charming Bryan Sila Orizco presented me with a box of chocolate.
IMPRESSIVE GROWTH. InselAir whose slogan is Reaching Higher, experienced an incredible growth over the past few years, prompting the company to also develop InselAir Aruba under the leadership of Frederick Nuboer. Nuboer and the company’s Chief Commercial Officer, Jurgen Lippinkhof made a presentation this week at ATSA, the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association, to mark the beginning of a hopefully long and fruitful love-affair between the regional carrier and Aruba’s loyal timeshare clientele, longing for price-breaks on airfares, and direct-flight convenience, which InselAir can offer, and will, once its expansion into the US continues beyond Charlotte, North Carolina and Miami, Florida.
PICA 96.5% RETURNS IN AUGUST. Returning to the air on Magic 96.5FM, a new season of Pica 96.5% with three colorful media personalities, including myself. The trio of radio live-talkers includes investigative reporter Jacky Suttle, world-class beauty and etiquette consultant Tabitha Fecunda and knewallogist Rona Coster, that’s me. The new season topics range from Menscaping what it’s all about, to would you make a sex tape with your husband/lover; last minute guests…what to cook, and friends with benefit…go or no-go, besides the usual updates on their happening life, from kid-raising to gardening tip and dog-loving issues. The program will be celebrating its second anniversary in October, that’s incredible two years. Supported from day one by Romar Trading Company, Garage Centraal, Pantene hair care, Dentyne gum, Nivea and Neutrogina products, with a number of other sponsors in and out seasonally. To advertise, or request a topic for discussion write to: RC@visitaruba.com