Bati Bleki, March 17th, 2014

DANIEL’S STEAKHOUSE ENTERTAINS PRESS. Gianni’s Group is embracing a higher profile in our hospitality community these days, as signaled by their first press-event this week, announcing an Early Bird special during the month of March. Overseen by the ever-so enthusiastic Joanne de Mey, and the good-looking duo of PR and marketing personalities, Marylu Ras and Derek De Nobrega, with effervescent event-organizer Orlando Arcaya and operations man Navio Valdes the steakhouse showed off its culinary treasures and invited the local community to drop in for a reasonably-priced meal in honor of Aruba’s national day, March 18th. The three-course dinner with a choice of 4 appetizers, 4 main-courses and 4 desserts is served from 4:30 to 6:30 at Awg 50, which is an attractive option. The chef, a local EPI, culinary arts graduate started with Gianni’s Group as an apprentice and after proving himself as a capable player, he was offered the grill-master’s position at Daniel’s Steakhouse.  As I walked in from the street through Gelatissimo and Amore Mio to Gianni’s Ristorante Italiano, I was truly impressed with how clean it feels, the floors scrubbed, the table linen crisp, the chairs standing like well-disciplined soldiers at a perfect angle, the plants happy, looking as if they just came out of the nursery, the mirrors sparkling, the exhibition kitchen spotless and best of all, no broom and bucket abandoned next to the toilet, no heaps of paper supplies, no clutter – the WCs look cared for, and well stocked. My compliments to the housekeeper and to the owners, Philomena Ferrarra, Daniel, Gianni, Lara, JP – who did I forget? –  for their remarkable attention to detail.  Gianni’s terrace overlooks the busy Palm Beach road so you can’t really say that the view is spectacular, but judging from the long lines at dinner, the food hits all the right notes, as far as quality, price and quantity, in the spirit of the unforgettable old man, Gianni, who left giant culinary footsteps, for the clan to follow in pursuit of excellence. In the old days, we used to go to Gianni’s Garden in Oranjestad, lick our plates clean then lick the cream off the top of the complimentary after-dinner drink, not a care in the world, never thinking about calories. At the recent press-event I stayed away from the delicious-looking Johnny cakes and garlic or cheese sauce, this stuff is dangerous!

NEW IDEA FOR THE BANKS. I already told you how much we enjoyed last week’s Women’s Day Conference, but now that girls are all set, we must worry about boys. Perhaps the time has come for Aruba Bank or Caribbean Mercantile Bank to undertake the initiative to support them, because in Aruba and across the globe boys are falling behind girls, they are more likely to suffer learning disabilities, they lose ground to girls in tests in high school, they tend not to like school as much as girls do, and in universities boys are now the minority, widening the achievement gap between the sexes. So this is a serious challenge and Yamila Hoeverts who works at CEDEHM on Oranjeastraat in town, agrees. She is the Gender Consultant of the center and she is currently recruiting suitable candidates for her Big Brother program, looking for positive male role-models for boys to both admire and identify with.  Because that’s what they need, that’s the medicine, they need someone to admire and emulate and someone to identify with and find kinship. Yamila reports that training will be provided, but the commitment has to be there, 6 hours a month filled with companionship and goodwill.

INTRODUCING ARUBAVILLE. Imagine a laid-back bar and casual restaurant suspended over the Caribbean sea on a lovely pier overlooking the blue Spanish lagoon, where you are welcome to hang out any time of the day, watch the sunset, stay for happy hour, dinner or after-dinner drinks, bring your colleagues or your loved ones! A kind of inviting place, a mini village on the water, where you can borrow a boat for a few hours and sail one beach over, for the price of a cooler filled with iced drinks. Your kids can go visit the goats and the duck-pond, while you meditate over a Tequila-sunrise, and a flavorful home-made stoba! Don’t you wish you were there right now?! Coming to Laguna Pier in June, the next incarnation of Marandi, the next BIG thing, by Marvin van Paridon and Addie Meijer.

AHATA A LOBBYING ORGANIZATION. At the first Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association General Assembly of 2014, on Friday at the Alhambra ballroom, the slate of candidates for the AHATA board  was introduced and approved unanimously, with Ewald Biemans as the new El Presidente. The all-male board is unsurprisingly an Ol’ Boys Club. Alas, there are hardly any women members in AHATA. Ewald has been president before, I don’t remember exactly when, but one thing I know for sure, he pissed some people off at the time, because as a genuine green advocate, he does that well. His second round as the AHATA president signals that the organization now requires an independent nothing-to-lose hotelier at the top, when going back to the government for the renewed Social Monologue negotiations, which hopefully this time will evolve into a dialogue. We were repeatedly told that AHATA is now a lobbying organization, speaking on behalf of the hotels, making sure their voice is heard. So… if Ewald carries the big stick, can CEO, Jim Hepple, carry the carrot? Over brunch at Windows on Aruba some of my clever friends suggested hiring a blonde bombshell CEO lobbyist with a short skirt. If AHATA is now a lobbying organization, it should look like one, and who knows it might accomplish more talking to the ministers.

WHERE’S THE COOKIE? I went to check out a store with a most complicated, absurd name: Brownies, Goodies, It Ain’t Fair Baby, It’s Flavor, and found nothing, absolutely nothing for sale, not a single cookie to justify the bombastic promise the name is making. The place on Caya E Petronia is nicely decorated and doesn’t sell anything. We ran out said the friendly sales woman. If that is the case, run out to the closest supermarket and get some Pepperidge Farm chocolate chunk cookies to place in your showcase, yum.

WHICH BLUE IS BLUE. So which one is it? United Nations Blue, or Larkspur Blue, I looked high and low for the exact Pantone color of the Aruban flag, and found lots of talk but nothing specific. Even Marinus Wegereef wasn’t sure. True, every flag looks a bit different, even the government issue flags don’t always agree with each other, anyway, this blue or that blue, enjoy your national day!