Culinary Island Paradise

Sitting in the Caribbean is possibly the best assortment of cuisines anywhere in the world

Indonesia was a former Dutch colony, so it's no surprise that terrific feasts of rijstaffel(literally "rice table"-- up to 40 small meat, vegetable, noodle, and dairy dishes with rice and an array of relishes) are available in several places, including Willemstad. For great Indonesian food with a great island view, though, locals prefer Gunung Mas, located on a hilltop several miles outside town center at Rooi Santoe 620. To sample the greatest number of dishes go with a group, or hit non-rijstaffel Friday and Sunday buffets. Open daily 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.

For fine dining there's no reason, even if Indian isn't your cuppa tea, to budge outside of the Kura Hulanda, a just-opened luxury resort that's also a historical preservation project. This village-within-a-village complex of dozens of Dutch/Caribbean townhouses, whose restoration has spearheaded the revival of Willemstad's rundown Otrabanda section, has, aside from Jaipur, elegant upscale Astrolabe. Here one can time-trip 200 years into the past while eating New World innovations (from ex-Bal Harbour boy-wonderchef Bernardo Espinel) like pumpkin cappuccino soup, lobster Cobb salad with tropical fruits, and bacon-wrapped cod sauced with champagne zabaglione. The Kura Hulanda complex is at Langestraat 8, in Willemstad.

That's a pretty full weekender. But if you want to throw a little nature into the mix and still keep eating, scope out a secret wild flamingo flock. Not in a formal fenced preserve, this bunch of birds blew over from Bonaire during a hurricane about fifteen years ago and have been hanging out ever since, directly across the road from an eighteenth-century landhuis called Jan Kock ... which, on Sunday mornings, does dynamite Dutch pancakes.

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