Tasting a Bit of Aruba is a Great Way to Experience the Caribbean

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There’s always something magical about attending a cooking class regardless of where the cuisine stems from! Let’s be honest — we love chefs, we love trying new things, we love culture, we love healthy bites with wine and we love FOOD! We had an opportunity to hang out with the Aruba Marriott Chefs at a cooking event in San Francisco recently in of all places, the North End. Tucked away upstairs next to the infamous City Lights Bookstore lies Cookhouse, which positions itself as a premier private dining venue for a culinary event.

What a perfect place to bring in chefs from another country and show off their favorite dishes to a bunch of locals — it doesn’t get much purer than that if you’re going to stay on home turf that is, which was the case here. I knew a few of the other invitees from my travel circles and so a group of around 10 of us were divided up into two teams in the Cookhouse kitchen, or perhaps you could say the chefs let us loose after showing us a cooking demonstration of how to make Tuna Ceviche. Each team member prepared their own ceviche and then a group of judges, which included the Marriott Chefs, voted on the best one for each team. How fun!  

Below is my creation, which ended up being the winning dish for our team. Truth be told, I watched Executive Chef Teddy Bouroncle like a hawk and as far as I could tell, the magic was mostly in the amount of lime you mixed it with, how much you spent mixing the tuna in the lime and the right balance of salt, chopped red onions or cut up chili peppers and garlic, which in my case, was just a touch.

If you’ve never been lucky enough to devour ceviche, it’s about time you ordered it next time you’re in the Caribbean, Mexico, Latin or South America OR you’ll easily find it on any Latin restaurant menu in the states. Additional seasonings, such as chopped cilantro is very common and since I love it, I added plenty, although clearly not too much. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado or plantains although in our case, we had it solo as there was plenty of food coming after our fun Aruban cooking experience.

The mixing and lime adding process….

Afterwards, the appetizers started coming or was it before? Or, perhaps it was both. I got the feeling they liked to eat well in Aruba, but the nice thing about every dish that came out was how beautifully prepared and healthy it was, even the Arepas with Crab, which involved a l’il deep frying action on the grill. Since I’m on a low carb diet, I was still able to enjoy this fabulous appetizer, focusing on the crab, spring onions and avocado. Let’s not forget traditional Pastechi, Patacon with Mango and Shrimp Papata Hot sauce salad and the Tuna Tataki which they also served.

And then….it was time for dinner!

Given how strict I’ve been with my low carb diet over the past couple of months, my eyes jumped out of my sockets when the ever so healthy grilled carrots and root veggies arrived on the table. While they may be healthy and high in antioxidants and Vitamin A, they do have a lot of sugar, which isn’t conducive to burning calories and taking off the pounds, but that wasn’t exactly the first thing on my mind that evening.

Fresh fish then emerged from the ovens cooked whole with cilantro and plenty of lime. The family style dinner included fresh Red Snapper (pictured below), Salad, Tentalaria Di Cashupete, which is a Cashew nut treat) and coconut rice.

Just when I thought it wasn’t possible for any new dishes to introduce themselves to our palette, a Sweet & Spicy Lobster and Cabrito Stoba (essentially GOAT STEW) with Funchi (Polenta) showed up on the table. YUM!!

We finished with the deliciously rich Keshi Yena is an Aruban and Curaçaoan main course dish, consisting of a large round ball of cheese stuffed with spiced meat, served steamed or baked. It’s all cheese baby!

If this scrumptious round-up doesn’t make you want to book a ticket to Aruba, I don’t know what will. Compliment fabulous fine dining with fabulous weather, beaches and handsome Aruban chefs and what do you have to lose? Below is a short video I shot of the ceviche making process. Thanks to Teddy and his sous chef Romeo Penacino and the Diamond PR girls who know how to throw a dang good party! Enjoy!

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