Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Arriba Arriba: Aruba Cultural Dinner at the Kitchen NYC

By: Finance Foodie

During these winter months,  I often wish for a little warmth to help me escape the freezing wastelands known as the Northeast United States. Last week I got a bit of sun and sand (in the form of heat lamps and table centerpieces, respectively) during the Aruba Artistry and Cultural dinner held at the fabulous event space, Kitchen NYC.
Feel the warmth...

Sponsored by the Aruba Tourism Board and hosted by the minister of tourism himself - the dapper Otmar Oduber, this beautifully executed intimate dinner brought the little Caribbean island to life. The flavor rich three course dinner was prepared by none other than Urvin Croes, the famed owner and chef at one of Aruba's best restaurants, the White Modern Cuisine. I thought it was especially meaningful that each dish during the evening was inspired by the local artwork that was flown in to decorate the Kitchen's event space.
Chef Croes in the Kitchen
The dinner began with a festive yet light lobster salad (an homage to the island's abundance of fresh seafood) paired with an avocado creme, cashews and lime dressing.  Even though I indulged in a plethora of lobsters during my Thanksgiving break (my seafood loving family=not a fan of the turkey), I always say one can never have enough lobster, especially ones from Maine.
Lobster salad
The main course was the Banana Stoba, a veal strip loin served with stewed plantains, plantain chips and tomatoes, all on top a soft polenta. This colorful dish was created to showcase Aruba's love of tropical fruits - the veal was nice and juicy and paired well with the sweetness of the plantains.
Banana Stoba
I didn't have time for dessert (a Tres Lechi cake), but did stay long enough to sample the Aruba Ariba, a favorite tropical cocktail among Arubians. Made with rum, Creme de Banana, orange juice, cranberry juice and pineapple juice, this dessert like concoction was a fantastic way to end the meal (and make me dread going back out into the cold!).
Aruba Ariba
During dinner, we were entertained by pianist Jonathan Vieira, who twinkled the ivories of the baby grand with his festive tunes. Having not been able to even locate Aruba on a map before dinner (math, not geography, was my strongest subject in primary school), I also learned a great deal about the country during the dinner. Some fun facts: Dutch and Papiamento (a creole blend of Portuguese and other West African dialects) are Aruba's official languages, tourism is one of the largest industries (no surprise there - seems like everyone has their honeymoon in Aruba) and there is a growing Chinese population on the island (whoo!). All and all, a lovely warm evening on an otherwise cold island - here's to visiting Aruba in 2013!

Photos: Finance Foodie / Steven Freeman 2012 for Aruba Tourism

1 comment:

Your Friends From Aruba said...

Hi Athena,

It's great to hear that you enjoyed the mix of art, music, and cuisine throughout our evening of Aruban Artistry, Culture and Cuisine. We're sad you had to miss dessert, but we have a feeling that Chef Croes would be happy to serve you his Tres Leche cake on a future visit to Aruba. We're so glad we were able help you escape the winter temperatures and hope that you can visit our One Happy Island soon.

Masha Danki and wak bo pronto atrobe (English translation: Thank you very much and see you soon),

Your friends in Aruba

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