Travels in Aruba 2016 – part fourteen

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At Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort, there is a very special, fine dining restaurant called Carte Blanche.  Seating only 14 guests per evening, the reservations must be made well in advance and re-confirmed 24 hours prior to dining.  We were celebrating my 60th birthday on this trip and I’m such a foodie that when I was able to secure reservations, I did so.

Promptly at 7:00 p.m., the doors open and the guests are ushered in.

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Hector puts the finishing touches in place as rose petals added to the romantic ambiance

Just a coincidence, when we sat down at the semi-circle, granite topped dining area, I’d chosen seats where the chef would be prepping and cooking right in front of us. Once we were seated Dennis and Glen, our chef, introduced themselves. Dennis would handle the adult beverages, offering a wine pairing with each of the chef’s special courses to come though diners could have anything they preferred. If you’ve visited this blog before, you may have guessed that we chose the wine pairing. Since we’d all be together for the next few hours they asked that we introduce ourselves, where we were from and if we were celebrating anything special.  Not surprisingly, we had anniversaries, newlyweds and birthdays.

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While Glen took drink orders, everyone had a glass of Prosecco (my favorite)  while we got a chance to talk with other guests, anticipating Glen’s first creation.

The Amuse Bouche was Grouper Ceviche, one of my favorite things in the world.  Dennis paired the Ceviche with a Reisling from Germany, Spence’s favorite wine.

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Absolutely delicious and such a refreshing start to the evening.

Glen prepared the appetizer next and to my delight it was a Seared Sea Scallop, wrapped in bacon and served over a Dutch-style potato salad with basil, capers, micro-greens, a dollop of creme fraiche, salsa verde and baby spinach.  Dennis paired this with a lovely Vin D’Alsace, French Pinot Gris.

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Presentation was perfection and the flavors were heavenly.

The next course featured white aspargus, finely chopped hard-boiled egg with ham and a white wine hollandaise with minced parsley and chives served with a Gruner Veltliner Terrassen, an Austrian white wine – perfect!

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Too pretty to eat (but I did)

Glen’s next creation was Red Snapper, Shrimp and Fennel with Carrot and Micro Mustard Greens plated over a Lobster Bisque cream sauce; Dennis paired this with Stag’s Leap Chardonnay.

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Seriously delicious!

Next up I saw the most succulent lollipop lamb chops that Glen was prepping.

The lamb chops were served with eggplant and basil roasted with tomatoes and spinach and paired with Malbec.

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What can I say?  Wow!

Around this time, Spence was nodding off a bit and I glanced at my watch – it was 10:30 and Glen was telling us that dessert was either a cheesecake or a chocolate choice, recommending we each try one and share.  As delicious as we knew they’d be, we were so stuffed, we opted to skip dessert and that last glass of wine.

All in all, a fabulous evening and a meal I won’t soon forget.

Travels in Aruba 2016 – part thirteen

While it isn’t necessary to have a rental car in Aruba, we decided to get one again on this trip.  Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort is in the “Low-Rise Hotels” area.  We love that because there are numerous nice properties – hotels, all-inclusives, restaurants, wine bars, shops, spas, a market and Alhambra Casino, all in walking distance. There are lots of sites to see in Aruba that don’t require tours or a guide. It’s fun to visit the High-Rise Hotel area (much busier and built up) with big hotels, restaurants and clubs, shopping – from kiosk to high-end retail and jewelers as well as numerous casinos and every type of water sport, if that’s your thing. We found it convenient to hop in our car and head out to explore.

One day as we were heading back, suddenly traffic was at a standstill. There must have been several dozen adult and 8-10 baby goats running across the road.  I couldn’t believe my eyes (not something I see in Michigan). I immediatlely pulled over to take photos.  Since my lifelong BFF and I have a running bit about our wanting to have baby goats as pets, I was excited to see them while also worried about them being in harm’s way.  No need to fear, it was apparently a common occurrence and everyone simply stopped to let them cross.

So that was fun!  Another day we drove out to the California Lighthouse which is a fun place for a cold adult beverage and photo opportunities as you are at a higher altitude, overlooking the oceans and High-Rise Hotels. (see my 2015 post for more about the California Lighthouse by following this link)

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From the beach, looking up at the bar/restaurant, La Trattoria El Faro Blanco and the California Lighthouse.

The views from the California Lighthouse

As we drove back, there were little cut-offs where the locals enjoy small beaches.  We pulled off and took a few more pictures.

Stay tuned, more to come on “Travels in Aruba 2016”

Travels in Aruba 2016 – part ten

As mentioned, this visit to Aruba was planned in large part to celebrate my 60th birthday.  Heading down that morning for breakfast, I told Spence I’d like to start my day with a mimosa.  Martin, who greeted and seated us each day said he’d take care of that request.

We proceeded to fill our plates from the phenomenal buffet (see part six of this series for more about our daily breakfasts at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort).  I’d just finished my first plate of goodies when I saw Martin approaching with my mimosa, followed by Oriana and Sali, singing “Happy Birthday” and bringing me this delicious surprise:

I learned from Sali that Nakarid, who we saw most mornings, had the day off but had asked Sali to prepare this for me in her absence. It was so thoughtful and I got a number of heartfelt hugs as well.

Later that day…

We think Bucuti’s own Elements Restaurant is the best in Aruba so when Spence asked where I’d like to have my birthday dinner, it was my first choice!

Yolanda, our server, was so accomodating and our meals were perfection. She took the picture of us below.

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OMG – I can’t even describe this soup. I’d wanted to try it since our last trip here. Amazing!

On to the entrees:

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My choice, the duck!
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Cooked to perfection.
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Spence had Gnocchi with Roasted Vegetables – yum!

As we toasted and enjoyed a leisurely dinner, the sunset was spectacular.

What a way to celebrate my birthday, from beginning to end.

Travels in Aruba 2016 – part four

When in Aruba, you are surrounded by the sugar sand beaches and the ocean which varies between shades of teal, turquoise and indigo depending on sun, clouds and the depth of the water that can’t help but captivate your attention. On land, there is equal beauty in the flowering trees and shrubs at every turn. With my love of gardening and photography, I was compelled to take these pictures and share them.

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Travels in Aruba 2016 – part three

Spence and I decided to check out some new spots while in Aruba on this trip which led us to the Hilton Inn.  We visited their casino, small, quiet but with good drink service and suprisingly, generous slots!

After the casino, we strolled through the hotel and decided to visit their pool bar, Gilligan’s Beach Bar and Grill.  I had a delicious Pina Colada, Spence – Aruba’s own beer, Balashi.

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We perused their menu and decided on an early dinner. I ordered the Foccacia with Prosciutto Flatbread and Spence opted for the Gourmet Bacon Cheeseburger, both were delicious. This was a fun spot with both servers and guests engaged in a rousing soccer game between Manchester and Real Madrid that was being televised on screens over the bar. Good times.

As we left, we investigated sounds from exotic birds near the pool bar and found these beauties.

Follow along with this series, Travels in Aruba 2016 – there’s more to come.  Also, check out my October 2015 series Travels in Aruba!

Travels in Aruba 2016 – part two

Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort is our home away from home in Aruba.  An adults-only resort, they truly cater towards couples and a romantic, care-free experience.  This year we were ready to experience something unique – a movie under the starlit sky.  Each Sunday and Wednesday, they select a movie and this time was An Officer and a Gentleman, a movie I hadn’t seen in years and Spence had never seen.  With front row seats, we lounged on the beach on a balmy night and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Very romantic!

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Projected on a large white wall, a very young Debra Winger and Richard Gere, wonderful performances. So enjoyable.

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Lou Gossett Jr is wonderful in his role

Travels in Aruba 2016 – part one

Spence and I got home a week ago from a return trip to our beloved Aruba.  Last October we travelled there and had so much fun that four days later, we booked two weeks in May to coincide with my 60th birthday.

Those who’ve followed this blog may recall my 15 part series, Travels in Aruba from 2015.  Hands down, it collectively brought the most activity to Spence’s Girl since it’s launch. I’m hopeful that you’ll enjoy this series as well.

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Starting the trip with an airport mimosa as we traveled Flint to Atlanta to Aruba.
We awoke well before the crack of dawn to arrive at the airport to check our bags by 4:00 a.m. and took off shortly after 6:00.

Arriving at our final destination around 2:30, we picked up our rental car and headed a short distance to Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort.  Having stayed there last trip, there was no question that we’d return there, we’d even requested and got the same room.

Upon our arrival, we were offered cool, lavender scented cloths to wipe away the travel grime – and a glass of ice cold champagne.  Nicole, who we’d met last year at check-in, took care of the formalities this year and got us settled in.  As always, they’d provided lovely welcome gifts.

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Chilled wine, gouda, crackers, cookies & Aruba Aloe lotion!
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Knowing that the first of two daily cocktail hours commences at 4:00, we scooted down to the Sand Bar for drinks and our first sunset of the trip.  Life is good!

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A little Prosecco

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Exhausted but we made it! 
We opted for night one to have dinner at Elements, the restaurant at Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort, which we think is the best on Aruba.  The menu is creative, food delicious, presented beautifully and excellent service guaranteed.

For our first night, we opted for a light meal and the selection of appetizers was very appealing…..what to choose???

Stay tuned for more in this new series……