Several years ago, my family collectively decided that Christmas was much more enjoyable when celebrated in a warm and tropical location. Hence began our tradition of migrating south to Fort Lauderdale at Christmastime. When it comes to a beach vacation, we are all pretty easy to please provided there is plenty of good weather and food to go around. Fortunately, luck was on our side this year and we enjoyed 5 days of fabulous weather, food, and drinks…
We began and ended (yes, we are creatures of habit) the trip with deliciously fresh seafood at Aruba Beach Café, a family favorite. Aruba’s atmosphere is exactly as the name suggests – a casual and beachy spot overlooking the water at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, complete with live music, great service, and terrific food. If you can’t already tell, I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the area…
To start off, we ordered a loaf of Bimini Bread – a local Bahamian tradition. Although it appears like a loaf of ordinary loaf white bread, the outer crust is actually coated with a sugary “Aruba” glaze. The inside is quite airy and fluffy, and it is served hot with a whipped honey butter. They only sell it ‘til they run out for the night, so you’d better order it early!
We also shared a plate of the Florida stone crab claws, the evening appetizer special. As December is right in the heart of stone crab season, this was a good choice. The sweet-tasting crab meat didn’t require any butter or dipping sauce and I found the stone crabs to be much more enjoyable to eat than the messy Maryland blue crabs I’m used to.
My entrée choice was a no brainer – a blackened trio of scallops, shrimp, and Mahi. It’s a pretty safe bet that anytime there is a blackened trio of anything on any menu, I will order it. The seafood tasted as if it had been caught from the sea five minutes prior to tossing it on the grill. The Cajun spices provided the perfect kick, balanced by the delicious rice & beans and veggies on the side – and I don’t even particularly like vegetables or rice & beans.
Although this enormous dish probably could have fed two, I happily enjoyed it all to myself, hence leaving no room for dessert. Really, the best way for me to describe how good this dish was is to explain that I ordered the EXACT same thing when we returned to Aruba’s three nights later (luckily with a different server who didn’t recognize us)…enough said.
Now for a short summary of all the highlights in between Aruba’s # 1 and Aruba’s # 2:
- LOTS of tropical drinks…
- Fresh fruit for breakfast on the balcony every morning at the Fort Lauderdale Hilton Beach Resort – a BEAUTIFUL hotel I would highly recommend.
- Christmas Eve dinner at Ruth’s Chris – a family tradition. The classic Caesar and filet combo.
- Rich and decadent flour-less chocolate cake from Ilios
Hopefully this time next year, I’ll be doing the EXACT same thing (hint, hint, Mom & Dad).