Most Sundays you'll find us playing host to some of our favorite foodie friends, but this week we took a turn as guest, pulling up a chair to chef Angelique Schoop's table on the island of Curacao, some 1,900 miles away from home.
In Angelica's Kitchen, an airy white space outfitted with matching stand mixers and vintage mint-green cabinetry, dinner preparation is a family affair. At the helm: Clarita Pieter Hagenaar, a long-time friend of Angelique, who's been running the day-to-day business in her stead since 2007; Magali, Clarita's assistant, who shops the local markets and seamlessly preps and passes the ingredients Clarita needs for each cooking demo; and Chichi, who arguably holds the most important job of all -- the dishes and the dancing.
Two to three times per week (and sometimes more, when the island's cruise ship season kicks into high gear from December through April) the ladies hosts groups of ten or so guests, teaching basic cooking techniques and the secrets of the island's Caribbean-meets-Dutch-meets-South-American fare.
It's a mashup of cultures that makes its way through every corner of the historic mansion Angelique bought and restored in 1994. From the casual exchanges between our hosts in the region's Papiamento language, to the home's colorful exterior, which mimics the charming, pastel-painted buildings of downtown Willemstad nearby, to the music of Juan Luis Guerra, which kept the kitchen lively (along with steady pours of wine) as we cooked.
While Angelique switches up the menu for different guests -- "For the locals we go international and we'll have many different recipes from Thailand, India, France, Italy, Spain and the Caribbean," she says -- Clarita kept it classically Curacao for the Huffington Post, finishing it off with a dessert of grilled pineapple drizzled with the locally-made Curacao liqueur.
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