What kind of dishes should you try on your visit to the island of Aruba? Forget the mains – bring on the desserts!
If cake tickles your fancy, keep an eye out for keywords like coconut, pistachio, chocolate, rum, and bolo pretu, a darkish fruitcake eaten on special celebrations. One of the most traditional cakes is bolo di cashupete (cashew cake). Also prominent are nibbles like cocada, which are bits of coconut candy with lime juice; soenchi, made from egg whites; vanilla sugar cookies called pan lefi; and, if you like prunes, tert di prium.
Forget your grandmother´s banana bread – there´s nothing like the mashed-up and perfectly baked flavors of an overripe Aruban banana to top off your tummy, or the plantain-filled banana na binja. You might also want to try some puddings, especially pudin di coco (coconut) and pudin di maishi (corn). And although it has an exotic name, kesio will look familiar – like flan.
A good place to start your dessert tour would be the French-infused Papillon Restaurant in the Village, which serves a “Mayan Brownie” with Caribbean spices, as well as caramelized pineapple on a pastry with Aruban ice cream. Another prime choice is Windows on Aruba Restaurant atop the Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort (read: killer panoramic views to gaze at while you lick your spoon), which serves a banana mousse with crumbled peanuts and passion sherbet. For some marinated cherries or bourbon/vanilla bean/strawberry marmalade, head to Yemanja Woodfired Grill near the harbor in Oranjestad.
The Flying Fishbone in Savaneta, aside from an awesome name, also has blueberry cake with gin and tonic sorbet – and “Coco Parfait,” a pineapple mint compote and coconut truille. Oh, and you can eat with your toes in the sand. The farther away from the downtown areas you venture, the more traditional the cuisine, so coat your taste buds with an open mind and prepare to go home full!