April 14th, 2010
Catano, Puerto Rico, La Lancha de Catano, Bahia de San Juan, Don Tello
No, we did not take La Lancha de Catano, (ferry) from San Juan to the town of Catano. Many years ago, taking La Lancha, was a novelty; probably to take a tour of the Bacardi Distillery; to sample Puerto Rican rum. I did that too. So, if you want to learn about the rum manufacturing industry in the island and the Caribbean, this might be a good place to start. Afterall, it is one of the largest rum manufacturers in the world.
Last Saturday, we drove to Catano. I did not dare to blink because I might have missed it. It was busy because a new “politico” was going to make a speech in the afternoon.
I was so pleasantly surprised to see the promenade along the San Juan Bay, where La Lancha launches. It was really nice; clean, good landscaping and kept up. Several monuments and sculptures will be found on this promenade, as well, including the Monument to Taino (Indian) Culture.
Just for information for anyone that does not know where Catano is, and that maybe on their next trip to PR might want to do something different, I will have to tell you more about this town.
Catano is located on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. My friends that go to Rincon, well, this might be a little bit of a trip for you. Catano is also part of the San Juan Metropolitan Area.
One of the first physicians that arrived in Puerto Rico during its colonization was Hernando de Catano. Part of his payment, upon accepting his position, was a piece of land across the San Juan islet. From then on, Catano was known by its owner’s name.
In the middle of the 19th century, Catano became one of the most prosperous “barrios” of Bayamon. They were trying to separate themselves from Bayamon all the time. Finally this happened in 1893 and Catano became a municipality called “Hato de Palmas de Catano”; shortened to Catano. It is the smallest municipality in Puerto Rico.
Catano has its own Flag and its own Coat of Arms. It also has several “apodos” or nicknames; “La Antesala de la Capital” (the Foyer of the Capital) because of its location across the Bay from San Juan.
Back to Don Tello; it really was the reason why I had been taken to Catano. I told you before, Puerto Ricans take their eating seriously. Don Tello is located at Avenida Las Nereidas #36, across from the ferry terminal. The telephone is 787-721-5000. Its website, www.dontellorestaurant.com. They are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. and on Sundays from 12 until 8 p.m. The specialty? Typical Puerto Rican food, of course.
Don Tello came from the town of Utuado with his wife, Louisa and 13 children. Again, I keep saying; Yikes! But, his real passion was the instrument called the “Cuatro”. The Cuatro is unique to Puerto Rico, smaller than a guitar with a violin shape. It is carved from solid blocks of Laurel woods. Originally, it only had 4 strings, but later changed to 5 sets of double strings.
One of the most attractive features on anyone is a smile. Don Tello’s waiters definitely had that smile and friendly disposition. A good sign.
Sonia, Mr. P. and I sat there, outdoors for quite some time. I had to be outdoors. The breeze, the palm trees, the sunshine, the conversation, and the view, all complemented that moment.
Some of the drinks made with rum were Passion which had Bacardi Apple, Passion & Guava Mix. Another was called Catano Vice which had Bacardi Select with Island Oasis Pina Colada & Strawberry. Mojitos are everywhere, so one with Bacardi Rum was also on the menu. The Rum Island Ice Tea had Bacardi Limon, Razz, Coco and Big Apple with Sour, coke and splash of cranberry.
We had appetizers of Sorullos de Maiz, which are corn sticks, mini alcapurrias, which are made with plantains and need to be fried, pastelillos, which are turnovers, croquettes, queso frito which is fried cheese (local), and fried beef.
We left Catano pretty much satisfied and to La Plaza del Mercado in Rio Piedras, just for me to see all the little restaurants surrounding it. So much info. for my blogs, so little time, though.
That was it….We were saving for a big paella that evening…
Note: Information for this blog was taken from http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Cata%C3%B1o,_Puerto_Rico