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.

Cuisines from 50 nations got mixed up and now get served on one tiny island
Pamela Robin Brandt
Cuisines from 50 nations got mixed up and now get served on one tiny island

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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