Restaurant’s Recipe for Success & A Blue Mountain Coffee Mousse Recipe

It’s fun winning awards.  And it’s doubly fun when you win twice.  That’s precisely what Windows on Aruba restaurant did this year.  First in May, for a Certificate of Excellence Award, honoring top hospitality establishments the world over; and then in October, with a 2013 Travelers’ Choice Restaurant Awards. Both awards are from TripAdvisor, which means the accolades come from our guests.  We couldn’t be more proud.

That last award, in particular, is a super biggie.  Windows on Aruba at Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort came in as one of the top five favorite restaurants in the Caribbean. The awards singled out 171 restaurants around the globe, based on millions of reviews posted to TripAdvisor. One of 171 restaurants In. The. World.  Wow!  And, we think Top Five in the Caribbean, well, that’s even better!

We knew we had a winner when Paul Zijlstra walked into the kitchen at Windows on Aruba in 2009. Zijlstra has become known for his seasonal dishes and creative specials with fresh market ingredients. He and his staff can do it all.  Those grand and delicious show stopping finales served up at the end of most meals at Windows have earned a following among Aruba visitors and island residents. The tranquil space, elegant décor, floor to ceiling windows looking out over the 9th hole of the Links at Divi to the Caribbean Sea beyond  – it all works together to create a memorable experience.

Zijlstra trained with Dutch masters in The Netherlands, then headed to Bonaire to hone his Caribbean cooking.  So, you’ll discover a dash of Meyers Rum in his brownies, fresh coconut inside the chocolate bonbons, mango and papaya sweetening the chutney served alongside scallops and Blue Mountain coffee beans in the chocolate mousse.

He’s sharing his mousse recipe with you.  It will make you a winner with your family and friends at home.  Invite 10. Or invite less and have seconds and thirds!

Blue Mountain Coffee Chocolate Mousse


  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee beans
  • 1 tsp. gelatin powder
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites, 2 oz. sugar


Add milk and coffee beans in saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove beans and add gelatin to saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in dark chocolate.  In bowl, whip heavy cream to medium peaks.  When mixture has cooled, add egg yolks and cream.  Whip egg whites until they peak, add sugar and whip again to peak.  Combine all ingredients well, spoon into bowls, cover, chill at least 2 hours.

November’s Employee in the Spotlight

Luz Elena Insuasti likes the simple life – a good meal, time with family, the sea breeze on her face and quiet time reading the Bible.  She has all of that in Aruba, her adopted country. Insuasti hails from Columbia and has been working at Divi Resorts for 15 years.

Most people know that Venezuela is a “stone’s throw” from Aruba (only 15 miles), sometimes even visible on a clear day.  Just to the west of Venezuela is Columbia, more than a stone’s throw, but close. Its Guajira Peninsula juts out into the Caribbean Sea within 80 miles of Aruba.  So, Columbia is another South American neighbor to Aruba and the other Leeward Antilles. Insuasti gets back to Columbia now and again.

Neighborly is a good description of Insuasti. Described as a caring person, that’s no doubt part of why she has risen through the ranks in her years at Divi and is now the assistant housekeeping manager at Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort.  She began as a public care attendant, then became a housekeeper, supervisor, eventually earning manager status on July 1, 2002.  Another thing about Insuasti, she is punctual, cooperative and a good listener.  Those are all good qualities of the staff at Divi.  As the assistant manager for housekeeping, she listens to Divi’s guests and owners to make certain her staff has the proper tools to work with to roll out the welcome mat for all the visitors to Phoenix Beach.

Her caring goes beyond the guests at Divi to her days off, which she often spends visiting Kia Hospital in Aruba to give patients strength through her scripture reading.  Insuasti sometimes makes the visits a family affair, taking her daughter and nephew with her.  She also meditates, which surely gives her a calm, patient aura when she comes back to work. She spreads harmony in the community, her place of work and at home.

A good thing about getting to know some of the people at Divi Resorts is that you can find out the local places.  Insuasti recommends Zeerovers for a fish dinner. Buccaneer is another favorite, whose local cuisine is excellent, in her opinion.  Everyone should experience the Buccaneer, she said.   She also recommends catching the sunsets at the Malmok and Arashi beaches.   The tranquility of the sea is a wonderful part of life in Aruba and, as many of us know, a wonderful part of an Aruba vacation, too.

Pure Ocean

Late last year, the Sunset Bistro at Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort became Pure Ocean.  The change was in part to match its sister lounge and restaurant Pure Beach, a new kind of dining and drinking establishment for Aruba when it opened in 2009.  Pure Beach has a decidedly Mediterranean vibe with lounge beds, curtained seating areas and white canvas and rattan décor. The place was a winner from day one, drawing guests from all of the Divi resorts in Aruba as well as other hotels.

It was decided that Sunset Bistro needed a reset, and among the changes wrought, in addition to updated décor, was a new name:  Pure Ocean.  It’s a fitting moniker:  all one sees from the restaurant is ocean, pure ocean. The place is still off the crowded path, surrounded by sand, swaying palms and soft white sand.  And, it still has great food.

Michael Ras, the food and beverage manager of Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort, says Pure Ocean is, “a wonderful combination of delicious food together with great service while experiencing the most delightful sunset on Aruba.” Is indeed one of the most romantic spots for dinner on the island.  Watching the big Aruba sun melt into the endless Caribbean blue is always a showstopper.

About the great food:  The people’s choice is the Crispy Coconut Curry Grouper.  It hardly needs any explanation.  But, allow me:  the flaky fresh caught grouper inside the crunchy coconut-flaked coating is perfectly balanced with curry. (Good as it is, I’m surprised that the Caribbean Mac & Cheese isn’t the big favorite, at least with true-blooded Americans.  Creamy mac and cheese au gratin with lobster and lump crabmeat.  What’s not to like, other than perhaps a few more calories?)

The specialty cocktail of the house is the Sunset Cooler, a sparkling mixture of citrus vodka, fruit syrup, cranberry juice and ginger ale.  I’m with you on that one.

Don’t be surprised while lounging on the nearby beach to see a wedding at Pure Ocean.  The new look has upped Pure Ocean as a prime spot for weddings, hosting 50 or even 500 guests.

One thing that has not changed in the transformation to Pure Ocean: The Divi staff will still set a table for two just at the water’s edge for couples that want to capture a few more ocean breezes and a bit more romance that night.

Prepare to Sip and Sup in St. Croix in April

Weather forecasts might have you thinking that January and February is the time to jet away to St. Croix, but gourmets will suggest April as prime-time for visiting this warm and wonderful part of the US.  April is when the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience happens, a six-day gustatory extravaganza, which annually prompts noted chefs and food and wine lovers to go dashing to the island. St. Croix is at its most festive and hospitable then and vacation packages abound.  Divi Carina Bay Resort offers the ideal location because it plays host to the week’s premier event: The Taste of St. Croix on Thursday, April 10th.

How does sampling regional fare, celebrity chef creations and special vintages from wineries around the globe sound on a starry night cooled by the ocean breeze on the sandy beach just steps from your balcony or patio?  Thought so.  That is precisely why the Taste of St. Croix is a sell-out year after year and therefore requires a little advance planning to score a ticket.   So Divi Carina Bay Resort has made it easy for 2014.  Their Taste of St. Croix package not only gives a free night stay as part of a six-night (or more) booking, but packs a free ticket into the Taste, too.  Book your stay and Bam! You are going to the biggest party on the island all year. Prepare to sip and sup the night away.

The Taste of St. Croix started 14 years ago on the Divi Carina Bay beachfront as a little get-together to raise funds for the St. Croix Foundation.  It has evolved into what called one of the world’s best food events.

I am definitely not alone in thinking that this is an ideal vacation. Warm days.  Warm nights. Beach. Pool. Food.  Wine. And, this being the Caribbean, there is also rum. On St. Croix, home to Cruzan Rum, (It’s not part of the official event, but the distillery tour is always worth it.) there are many concoctions.  We favor Lime in the Coconut, which Divi bartenders proffer in an actual coconut shell and is best enjoyed at Dockside Cafe.  Can’t wait for April to try it?  Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Coconut Rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. Vanilla Rum
  • Dash of Coco Lopes
  • 1/2 oz. Lime Juice

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well, and pour into a freshly cut coconut.

View the line-up of St. Croix Food & Wine Experience events.

Tis the season for feasting

You know how we at Divi love a food festival.  For example, Divi Carina Bay has played host to the Taste of St. Croix right from the start.  The thirteenth edition is coming up April 10.  (Here’s a foodie tip: Book now!)  Today, we have another food festival to tell you about – this one, in Barbados. The event’s website says it all:  It’s the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival, November 22-25, 2013.

The event’s line-up of culinary stars is well, truly stellar.  There is Marcus Samuelson, the youngest person to ever earn three stars from The New York Times.  The internationally known chef’s latest hot spot is Red Rooster, a New York City mecca for the food-obsessed.

Anne Burrell is also taking part.  You know her, if not by name, the TV chef with the BIG personality and spiky blond hair that teaches you to cook like a rock star.  And, Jose Garces, he’s both an Iron Chef and a James Beard “Best Chef.” His seven Philadelphia restaurants all feature produce grown at his Luna Farms.  (That’s a big thing now.  Did you know when you stay at Divi Southwinds, you enjoy ‘farm’-to-table produce, from the resort’s own greenhouse and garden?)

Big Daddy also will be in the house at the festival in the form of Aaron McCargo, Jr.  McCargo beat out thousands in the 2008 edition of the Next Food Network Star competition to land his own show – “Big Daddy’s House.”  Representing Canada is Mark McEwan, food luminary from Toronto. Not only his is One restaurant the place to be seen, but so is his new 20,000 square foot gourmet food emporium. And, since this is Nobel season with all the Nobel prizes being awarded – we’ll mention his burger bar Nobel.   You can try it at Terminal 3 at the Toronto Airport before you head down for your Barbados stay.

Tickets for the Food & Wine and Rum Festival are still available on their website.

If you can’t come to Barbados in November, perhaps this will be consolation.  Mix up a batch of Perfect Rum Punch.  (The recipe is available at www.foodwinerum.) There’s even a poem about it:

One of sour, two of sweet.
Three of strong and four of weak.
A dash of bitters and a sprinkle of spice.
Serve well chilled with plenty of ice.


You may already know about this, but it was a first for me: free diving.  That is diving without a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, or in other words, no oxygen tanks and breathing tubes. Using scuba gear would be too easy, and “unnatural,” say those who free dive. I only discovered free diving in conversation (not by actually doing it) when I was told that Carol Schrappe, one of the world’s best free divers, Brazilian record holder (242 feet!) and considered one of the top 15 female athletes in the world, was a guest at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino in Bonaire. The resort is a magnet for divers from all over the world, so the staff of Divi Dive is accustomed to having divers around all the time. But, the presence of Carole Schrappe at the property created a buzz. She is aqua royalty, known and admired the world over.

The Bonaire Tourist Authority recently invited her to come to learn about the island. Naturally, that included introducing her to Bonaire’s many sensational dive spots. Schrappe did many free dives while in Bonaire, many right at the Divi Flamingo. “I loved this place. It’s unique and perfect for free diving,” she said. “I’ll be back for sure.”

Schrappe practices competitive apnea.  We’ve all heard of apnea, defined as the suspension of external breathing, but I’m pretty certain that most of us would not consider it a contest. But apnea competitors attempt to attain great depths, times or distances in a single breath.   Which is probably why free diving qualifies as an extreme sport. I will stick to snorkeling by the Chibi Chibi the next time I’m in Bonaire. If you’ve ever dined there, you know you can peer right over the railing and watch myriad and colorful fish swim by.

And, wouldn’t you know there is an association governing the sport, sometimes called breath-hold diving, and staging competitions around the world. Given Schrappe’s stature in free diving circles and her impression of Bonaire, an international competition is bound to come to Bonaire in the not too distant future.

I also learned that there are records showing that Greek and Roman armies employed free divers to cut anchor lines so that enemy ships floundered on rocks. Thank goodness those days are over (hopefully) and we can just considered this all good fun and sport. Some spear fishermen and underwater photographers use it, as do synchronized swimmers and mermaid shows. I even read that free diving is part of underwater rugby, underwater hockey, and underwater target shooting.  Huh?  Now, those do sound a little extreme.