Coconut Telefax: 07/16/18
Southside Market Barbecue Pop-Up at The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba
Last week we were invited to a Texas-style smoked barbecue with guest pitmaster Bryan Bracewell, a third-generation restaurateur from Elgin, Texas. He set up shop under a tent on The Ritz-Carlton beach and got busy with the barbie for the American Independence Day weekend.
“We started selling barbecue from the back of a wagon in 1882,” he says. “Since then, we’ve changed pretty much nothing about the way we serve up authentic Central Texas barbecue. That’s not to say the last 135 years have been without milestones.”
The chef and his family members were invited to Aruba as guests of the resort to participate in the pop-up, a joint initiative of The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, under the guidance of Liz Wunderlich, a familiar name on the island.
Liz stays in touch with island chefs to make sure they are up to date with new special meat cuts available on the market and all cooking techniques. She annually organizes a chefs’ trip to Texas to experience everything from cattle raising to low and slow BBQ.
Chef Bracewell’s beach menu? Tender beef brisket, falling-off-the-bone beef short ribs, super-flavorful picanha—a popular South American cut—mac & cheese, incredible BBQ pinto beans, and mini pecan pie with ice cream for dessert.
With the smoker right there on the beach, the exhibition kitchen was an attention-getter, and the chef’s special homemade sausages, flavored with jalapeno and cheese, went very well with the smooth jalapeno margaritas. I am not a margarita girl, but I liked those very much. I hope the beach-bar bartenders remember the recipe—I will be back.
2nd Annual Long Table Event Takes Over Oranjestad
I missed last year’s, but I did not miss last weekend’s Long Table Event, with 1,000 dinner guests at sunset on the L.G. Smith Boulevard, closed for traffic in honor of the fundraiser from early in the afternoon for set-up to the end of the three-hour, all-white event.
The elegant, impeccably set table ran from in front of the r, over the bridge, alongside the Parliament building, to the Renaissance Marketplace entrance.
The boulevard was allowed to open around 10 pm, as the elves of both Renaissance hotels completed the post-party breakup.
The event exceeded all expectations, and it was completely sold out one month ahead of time. The event managed to collect $25,000 for Casa Cuna Progreso Foundation, a home for kids under the age of 6 who come from challenging social situations.
Just before the end of the evening, general manager Paul Gielen presented the check to the grateful and surprised director of the home in the presence of Aruba’s minister of social affairs. “Our community contributed to the good cause by buying tickets for $25 each, and all attendees enjoyed a three-course dinner accompanied by two glasses of wine. The Renaissance Aruba culinary team did a fantastic job out of field kitchens set up along the boulevard,” explained Gielen.
He also expressed his delight for being able to do this for the Aruban community. “This event fits perfectly within the philosophy of the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, which is now part of the Wind Creek Hospitality Group: to give back to the community and contribute to the positive development of our people. I would like to thank all colleagues who have worked hard to make another edition of the Long Table a success. I would also like to thank everyone who bought a ticket so that we could raise funds for Casa Cuna this year. We hope to be able to count on you again next year!”
The resort published the list of local companies assisting in the event, and they deserve recognition: Tropical Bottling Company, Caribbean Overseas, High Performance, Andmar, ARTN Photography, Aqua Panna & S. Pellegrino, Aruba Laundry, ASD Aruba Supplies & Distribution, Bite! Communications, E2 Events & Celebrations, EcoTech, Express Events & Party Rentals, Elite Productions, Elsa’s Flowershop, Island Girl, New York Laundry, Scaff Pro, The Greatest Inter Employment Agency, Thunder & Lighting, Wolff Independents, and Zen Designs. Excellent music was provided by singer Lilly Love and her band, supported by DJ Joa and radio personality Erin Croes from Magic 96.5FM, who emceed for the night.
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino also thanked its staffers who set up, served, and cleaned up on a voluntary basis. For pictures of the successful culinary event, please visit the Renaissance Aruba’s Facebook page.
The Hilton Aruba Caribbean Celebrates 59 Years
On August 18, 1956, the government of Aruba signed the deed founding Aruven, the company destined to build and own the first tourist hotel on the island, modeled after the great resorts of Florida. At the time of the building of the hotel, the number of Lago Oil Refinery employees had decreased to 2,000, reaching a crucial low, so it was a relief to be able to diversify the local economy and offer employment of a different kind to the local population.
To select the site for the hotel construction, American architect Morris Lapidus and the local decision-makers started walking the white sandy beach, inch by inch, until they reached the middle of the bay, which had a gentle slope, making it great for kids. They decided to construct the new Aruba Caribbean at that exact spot, which belonged to a coconut plantation.
Captain Johan Beaujon rented that entire area at the time for his coconut plantation and had taken care of the trees for the past 15–20 years. Beaujon, who had retired as harbormaster years earlier, also served as the advisor to Captain Rodgers and L.G. Smith, two central figures in the life of the island’s Lago Oil Refinery.
His plantation was deemed perfect for construction, and thus the government opened a negotiation process with him, at the end of which a check of Awg 25,000 changed hands for the coconut trees and the land.
At the groundbreaking ceremony on April 26, 1957, Governor-General Dr. Speekenbrink handled the spade, and the Dutch flag was raised, witnessed by an impressive crowd of thousands.
A hotel company by the name of Executive House was entrusted with the business of hospitality, and its president, Morris de Woskin, handed over a check of $50,000 as a token of his company’s participation in the project.
Taylor West Indies Construction Corporation and the local company Bohama were granted the building contracts, and construction was ready to start. The foundation was finished at the end of September, and construction was finally completed in July 1959.
At the grand opening of the Aruba Caribbean on July 18, 1959, Morris de Woskin said that “Aruba will never be the same.” How right he was!