Monday, March 14, 2011

Alluring Aruba Part II

Come and experience more of Aruba, where you’ll discover a windmill, the island nation’s natural wonders and a sanctuary for some adorable hooved natives.

De Oude Molen is an old windmill first built in 1804 in Holland, then shipped to Aruba in pieces. It was later reconstructed and features a decent restaurant—moderately priced--that specializes in continental dining.

The once popular Natural Bridge, unfortunately, is no more. This unusual phenomenon collapsed in September, 2005 (too many tourists, me thinks), but its remains are still interesting to see. The bridge was a formation of coral limestone cut out by years of pounding surf, and spanned more than 100 feet.

The Cura di Tortuga is a secret (yeah, right), hidden Natural Pool on the windward coast. It is surrounded by rocks and some of Aruba's most rugged terrain – definitely off the beaten path, making it even more worthwhile. Many come here to dive from the rock cliffs into the protected pool of ocean water.

And finally…The Donkey Sanctuary! Is this guy cute or what??? The non-profit sanctuary was founded in 1997 and is run by volunteers. Their mission: Save the Donkeys! Although not originally native to Aruba, they have existed there for 500 years, starting out as a primary form of transportation. The Donkey Sanctuary is located just northwest of the Natural Pool.

Like fish? Here’s another recipe from Aruba:

2 pounds fresh, firm, boneless, white-flesh fish fillet
1 quart water
1 tablespoon salt
1 celery stalk, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 tablespoons margarine
1/4 teaspoon annatto powder (can usually be found in the Mexican foods section of the grocery store. Also known as Achiote powder. Can substitute turmeric. I think paprika would also suffice.)
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, boil fish in salted water for 20 minutes. Remove fish and flake. Saute celery, bell pepper, onion and basil leaves in margarine for 3 minutes, stirring. Add flaked fish and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in annatto powder and freshly ground pepper.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Alluring ARUBA

Aruba! Think beaches…and so much more. It’s true, Aruba has some of the most amazing beaches in the world (often featured on travel channel and “best beaches” lists). Wide, clean, and gorgeous, all with easy public access, like Eagle Beach pictured here. But wait til you hear what else there is to do when you want a break from the sand and surf.

Ancient ruins, eerie caves, a very cool church, a lighthouse…and that’s just the start! Here’s Part 1 of Aruba. I’ll cover some of the other attractions in a few days.

The Bushiribana Ruins are the remains of a gold smelter built of natural stone in 1825. The ruins are crumbling, and unfortunately, marred by graffiti, but still fascinating. If you go, don’t expect guides or brochures – you’re pretty much on your own to wander through them and ponder the past.

You might not expect caves on a Carribean island, but Aruba’s Quadiriki Caves are everything caves should be: damp, dark and full of winding passages and bat guano. On the walls you’ll find Arawak petroglyphs of people, fish and other objects. The caves are located high in the wall of a limestone cliff. At the front of the cave is a small concession that rents high-intensity flashlights. Don’t pass up the opportunity – you’ll need one.

Alto Vista Chapel is another great place to visit on this island country. The bright yellow chapel was built in 1952 on the site of the original Catholic church built in 1750 by a Spanish missionary. To reach it you’ll travel down a winding road lined with white crosses marking the stations of the cross.

California Lighthouse was named after a ship called the Californian, famous…or infamous, for being in proximity of, and receiving distress signals from, the Titanic as it was sinking. Unfortunately for the Titanic, The Californian's radio operator was off-duty and asleep. A few years later, the California sank off the Aruba coast. Now the ship is a popular dive site and the lighthouse is a popular attraction. It’s is surrounded acres of stoned-filled flat land. An area called California White Sand Dunes is very popular with kids who go dune surfing – basically sliding down anyway you can.

More on Aruba in a few days. And next week, stop by for an interview with author PATTI LACY and a chance to win a copy of her latest book: The Rhythm of Secrets. (Absolutely fantastic!)

Here’s a recipe from lovely Aruba:

Pudin di Coco
(Coconut pudding)

¼ cup rum
2 Tbs. gelatin
3 egg yolks, beaten until creamy
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup milk
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream

Soak in one-fourth cup rum:
2 Tbs. gelatin

In a saucepan combine:
3 egg yolks, beaten until creamy
1/2 cup sugar

Stir in:
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup milk

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.
Blend in the gelatin until it dissolves.
Chill in the refrigerator until the mixture begins to thicken.
Beat until stiff but not dry:
3 egg whites, pinch of salt. Gradually add the sugar while beating.
In a separate bowl whip until stiff:
1 cup heavy cream

Beat the custard mixture with a wire whisk, then fold it gently into the egg whites.
Fold in the whipped cream.
Mound the pudding in a serving bowl and chill until firm. Serve with lime sauce.

Lime Sauce

1 Tbs.cornstarch
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/2 cup Key lime juice
1/4 cup, plus 3 Tbs. water

In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the 3 tablespoons of water. In a small non-aluminum saucepan stir together the sugar, the lime juice and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil over moderate heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and boil, stirring, for about 30 seconds or until the lime sauce thickens.