February 24th, 2016
My friends, Cindi and Jody, on their first trip to Puerto Rico, found the island very charming. When you visit with a local you get a different perspective. The people, the island, the food take a different meaning. So, this was our second day in Puerto Rico. We stayed in the areas of Old San Juan, Condado, and the northeastern side of the island.
On this Thursday, we took off for the area of Luquillo Beach. It was around 1 p.m. when we stopped to eat at La Parrilla. La Parrilla is #2 Kiosk out of about 60 that have been in this stretch of Luquillo Beach, right next to the famous Balneario Monserrate. They have been there as long as I can remember. They have also evolved, keeping their very relaxed open air dining. Some have seating, others you just stand and eat local Crab Tacos, Alcapurrias, Pastelillos and all that wonderful grub that you don’t eat on a daily basis.
We were on the look out for Caribbean lobsters. You know, when I lived in Puerto Rico I thought the local lobster was the best. Living in Delaware…I totally love the Maine lobster. But this particular search for a grilled lobster had me excited about tasting again that sweet local PR lobster.
So we picked our 5 pound lobster right from the tank. Here we were.
Okay once that was done, a little Sangria for the group. What a job!!
Our open air seating was perfect. If you look closely you can see Jody, Cindi, and my cousin, Sonia, on the right hand side.
We ordered the Sample Boricua for a little tasting. Filled potatoes, mini piononos, corn sticks, and fried Puertorican cheese. Knowing we were having a full lunch we had a light breakfast. You have to plan when eating in PR.
That 5 lb lobster was to be shared. We ordered Puertorican rice and beans and the tostones, also known as fried plantains. The grilled flavor was so distinct and as you can see we loved it all.
Why dessert was ordered, I don’t know. We were completely satisfied but a sweet ending of not 3 Leches Cake but 4 Leches Cake was a must. It is vey Spanish and usually served at all restaurants. Sweet, delicious and very fattening.
The Luquillo Beach Kiosks are great because you have options, even though a lot serve the same local food. Some families have owned their kiosk for so many years. At night you may find some offering local music entertaining and during the week-ends they are very crowded.
Please note that La Parrilla is on social media. Their website is http://www.laparrillapr.com.
Second stop was a drive through El Yunque. This is the only tropical rain forest in the national forest system. 29,000 acres, is is one of the most biologically diverse of the national forests. Please call 787-888-1880 for more info. the Forest is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Also, you may visit http://www.elyunque.com.
A stop at La Coca Falls. The temperature already had come down. It can get quite cool and humid as you go up the Forest.
For day trip tours, please visit http://www.puertoricodaytrips.com.
Have a great day…..Next? The Bioluminescent Lagoon in Cabezas de San Juan in Las Croabas.
February 14th, 2016
This winter in order to get guaranteed warm weather you better go way south, past Florida…..needless to say, my friends, Jody, Cindi and I took off for La Isla del Encanto, otherwise known as Puerto Rico. I think the best time to go to Puerto Rico is February. The temperatures? 77 degrees to about 84 degrees. I cannot believe that on my last day there I was complaining that it was too hot. Well, that stopped me on my tracks when arriving in Baltimore it was a mere 34 degrees. Brrrrrr!!!
My friends had not been there. I told them that the airport could be a little hectic. Guess what? It made a liar out of me. Smooth arriving and picking up the luggage. It early evening, and after a little wine on Ashford Avenue in the Condado section of San Juan we took off for some Puerto Rican fare.
Ashford Avenue is a tourist destination. Oceanfront hotels and a great avenue to do some shopping, exercising or hitting some of the hotels for a little nightcap or some gambling.
We decided to stop at Orozco’s Restaurant at 1126 Ashford Ave. Tel. 787-721-7669. This little restaurant has surprised me on other visits. Even though is in a tourist area, the food is true Puerto Rican. It is small and cozy. You can sit street side or go inside. Latin music is always playing.
A little Sangria for us….it was the first of many Sangrias on the island.
We ordered some Corn Fritters or Sorullos de Maiz. Every restaurant has them. They are served with a sweet sauce. They are stuffed with a little bit of cheese. I was trying to have my friends get a taste of “comida criolla”.
Plantains are a staple of the Puerto Rican cooking. They are used like a potato. You get it in different ways…..tostones (fried plantains) or Mofongo. The traditional Mofongo is shaped in a mortar, adding bacon crumblings, garlic, and broth until mashed to the right consistency. Then it would be turned over on a plate and served with broth on the side. The purists still like it that way like my cousin, Sonia, who was with us through the whole week.
Through the years as innovative chefs in the island learned that the Mofongo could be stuffed…..a new way of serving started. You can get it stuffed with lobster, crab, beef, pork, you name it. We ordered the one stuffed with beef.
Another walk after our meal completed our first evening in Condado.
January 18th, 2016
You know, it really has not been bad at all. The weather here, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, has been perfect when you think of what winters we have had these past few years. But, now that it has gotten a bit colder I see that some of my friends are taking off for milder climates.
I just thought that one place where you will have warm weather year round is Puerto Rico. One of my favorites cities is Old San Juan. It is so romantic and a National Historic Landmark District.
And one of my favorite walks is Paseo de La Princesa. It is perfect for a power walk, or for just checking out the vendors that come during the week-ends to sell handmade Puerto Rican artifacts.
Just follow the walk and you will see how beautiful it is.
The group of sculptures is called Raices or Roots, and symbolizes the roots that gave birth to Puerto Rico cultural heritage.
Continue walking, we are heading towards the San Juan Gate.
The San Juan Gate is named after Saint John the Baptist. This gate was built in 1635 and it is the last remaining of San Juan’s principal gates.
When I was younger you were able to drive through the Gate, but now is just walking.
My cousin, Sonia, and I continued walking on a very hot day along the walled City. The wall was started in 1630 and finished in 1798. The wall was 3miles long and encircled the whole City of Old San Juan.
Preserving San Juan National Historic Site…helping to save the historic wall. There is a lot of erosion of wind, rain, and ocean waves. The riprap was finished in the 1990s, the concrete coating sprayed onto the slope is called shotcrete.
You can walk all the way to the back of El Morro Fort, and it is a great walk but remember that you will have to walk back. There is no way to access the other side of town at the end.
I forgot to tell you to take some water with you. There is a water fountain at the end of the walk but the water is warm.
The small island across the channel is Isla de Cabra. It is also the site of Fort San Juan de La Cruz, a vital link in San Juan’s defense system. Today it is a recreation area managed by the Commonwealth.
Entering the City through the San Juan Gate will be perfect to continue your walk through Old San Juan.
When walking through Old San Juan please wear comfortable shoes. The streets are most all cobblestones. The original blue cobblestones are there to see, but soon many of them will be replaced by new ones. The original ones called in Spanish adoquines were cast from iron slag, which is the waste from iron smelting. The first came to the island as ballast in the bottom of European merchant ships circa 1700s. In Calle del Cristo you are sure to see original ones.
La Fortaleza is the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico in Old San Juan. On this photo is at the end of the street.
But if you are walking Paseo de La Princesa you can see it. When I was visiting, it was under renovation.
With all the problems Puerto Rico has at the moments, financial and otherwise, it is still a beautiful island, worth exploring.
January 10th, 2016
Growing up in Puerto Rico gave me an extra holiday to celebrate. This holiday celebrated in Spain and in Latin countries is called Three Kings Day. In Spanish it is Dia de Los Reyes. It’s celebrated on January 6th. Known as the Epiphany it is the Holiday celebrating the biblical adoration of the Baby Jesus by the Three Kings, or Wise Men…in Spanish Los Reyes Magos. Their names? Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar.
They offered gold representing Jesus’ royal standing as King of the Jews. They also offered frankincense referring to His Divine nature. And, myrrh which was often used to embalm corpses. This was presented to the new baby as a symbol of Jesus’ mortality.
So, when I was a young girl, I would go outside on the eve, which would have been January 5th, with a shoebox, and collect grass for the camels. I would place the box under my bed. Then, I would put cookies and milk for the Kings. In the morning I would find that the camels had made such a mess!!
Once John and I had children and lived in Bethany Beach, I continued with this tradition. It really was a mess, but so worth it!!
The tradition in Puerto Rico was to celebrate this day with roasting pigs, blood sausages, plantains, rice with green pigeon peas, flan and local music!! You still can find those parties but it is not like when I was growing up.
I invited friends for dinner on January 6th to celebrate Three Kings Day. I think this might become an annual tradition. I got some Puerto Rican flags to put on the tree….forgot to get the group photo. I will be more organized next year, I promise.
One of the typical drinks in Puerto Rico at this time of the year is Coquito. It is like an egg nog. My brother told me that the Rum Chata would be perfect to serve. Guess what? I forgot to serve it, as well!! But, Cindi and I tried it the next day. Sooooo good!!
I really thought I was very organized, but as my friends came and the chatting continued I almost forgot a few things that should have started cooking. Hey, don’t worry everything did come out pretty good.
As usual we all gathered in the kitchen…that’s usually the case. A few appetizers…not too many because I had a lot of food. Pasteles are like tamales, but made with plantains. My brother had a Puerto Rican woman in Orlando, Florida, make them for me. Federal Express and here in no time. My grandmother used to make the best plantains but these were a second best. Inside they had raisins, olives, garbanzo beans, and chicken or pork.
Fried plantains with mojito…I like the plantains thin.
Here is Donna helping out in the kitchen.
Pork loin chunks prepared with spices, cilantro, tamarind, olives, capers, and tomatoes. Cooked for some time letting the spices do their thing.
The rice with green pigeon peas was cooking but to tell you the truth I did not like the consistency. The taste was good, nevertheless.
A green salad to clean our palate.
For dessert 2 flans were made. One a traditional Puerto Rican flan with milk and eggs. The other also widely made with cream of coconut….Guess what? I forgot to take the photo but here is a photo of one that I had made some time ago. No kidding, I will have to be better next time. That’s what happens when you are a too relaxed hostess!!
Two tables with the sounds of laughter and story telling, celebrating long time friendships!! It is always amazing!!
And my new granddaughter, Sophia, experienced her first Puerto Rican Fiesta!!
Have a great 2016!!
Note: And if you thought you were finished with the Holidays, think again. In Puerto Rico beginning on January 7th….8 more days of parties…called the Octavitas.
January 3rd, 2016
We really should not complain here in Southern Delaware. The temperatures so far have been great and it has felt like summer all through the Holidays. But, as we start a new year, and being that it is January, the temperatures dipped a bit this a.m. Thinking about the blue waters of San Juan. Getting to Puerto Rico is pretty easy. It is a relatively short flight and there are daily flights from Baltimore (BWI) and Philly.
Every first Sunday of the month the Mercado Urbano or Farmers Market takes place at 1054 Ashford Avenue…9 a.m. until 5 p.m. It is a great way to get up close and personal with farmers, and artists. It is a family affair with plenty of food for everyone. This will be the first Mercado Urbano of 2016!!
This time of the year in San Juan the temperatures will be in the low 8Os, which is great for walking and exploring the Condado area. Mercado Urbano is also ocean front.
Fresh coconut water.
Every Sunday there will be paella.
Local cookies…bring back childhood memories.
Cod Fish Cakes or Bacalaitos. They are so good, and yes they are fattening.
Throughout the day there are plenty of activities. On Sunday, December 3rd from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. Yoga with Lara. All you have to do is bring your mat.
From 10 a.m. unti Noon you can participate in Boot Camp with Spartan Fit.
From 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. there will be live entertainment on the stage.
Shop around for Puerto Rican cigars.
Every household in Puerto Rico has “pique” or hot sauce, locally made.
And please stop by to meet Carla from Carla’s Rosaries. All made by Carla…they are beautiful. Check her out on Facebook. Her website is http://www.carlasrosaries.com.
This customer was so graciously posed for a photo.
If you are in the metropolitan area of San Juan, please stop by. It is a lot of fun!!
October 19th, 2015
On November 19, 1493 Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to claim lands for the Rulers of Spain. When he arrived the island was called Borinquen by the Indians who lived there, but Columbus named it San Juan Bautista. Old San Juan is 522 years old.
It has diverse architectural and historic treasures and these make Old San Juan quite distinct from any other place in the world. It has lively plazas, parks, and promenades, restaurants, and plenty of shopping as well. One such shop that I visited was Spicy Caribbee located at 154 Cristo Street or Calle del Cristo, Old San Juan, PR 00901 Tel. 787-725-4690 Website? http://www.spicycaribbee.com
Follow them on Facebook.
Their Spicy Caribbee line is their own recipe and has been created to make cooking fun. They have been serving customers since 1988. They do ship and there is also online shopping, as well. The photo shows Sica, the owner, taking care of customers.
The hot sauces looked amazing. It is their recipe and they are made for them. You can buy individual bottles or the small crates. Some of the sauces are hot and others are more a condiment to enhance your cooking like the Ginger and Garlic.
If you are in the store you will be able to sample some of the sauces before purchasing.
Coffee is so much of a part of the Puerto Rican tradition. At any time of the day a cup of coffee is always offered. Their coffee is from Hacienda San Pedro, which is a family tradition for 4 generations.
Rag Dolls, homemade in Puerto Rico are a tradition….their particular ones were so cute and my little granddaughter, Sophia, got one of them.
Their tropical jams are prepared just for them, as well. Banana, Mango, Guava, Pineapple, Mango Pineapple and Hot Pepper Jam…use them on toast, pastries or in any cooking were you want to add a bit of the Caribbean. Honeys and teas!! Remember that they can ship everything to your home.
Rubs are so easy. Just rub your chicken, steak, or fish and then decide your method of cooking it….got some of the rubs!!
So as the weather begins to cool off in the Northeast….the Caribbean is warm year-round.
Have a good one!!
February 19th, 2015
I am praying that it gets a little warmer at the Delaware Beaches…..but I remember well a couple of weeks ago when visiting Puerto Rico we went to the Mercado Urbano or Urban Market that takes place at Ventana al Mar (Window to the Sea) on Ashford Avenue in Condado the first Sunday of every month. A popular place to be in order to get up close and personal with many local artists….and taste that delicious Puertorican food.
The rosaries did attract our attention. They were beautiful. Meet the artist behind Carla’s Rosaries and bracelets…Carla. Very friendly and most accommodating. So many of us asking questions…could you add this other medal or replace this one for that one. With a smile on her face she obliged.
Carla’s Rosaries are sold in Puerto Rico at Carla’s Sweets in Guaynabo and at Carla’s Sweets cart at Plaza Las Americas in Hato Rey. Please visit http://www.carlasrosaries.com. Tel. 787-792-9777 You can find Carla’s Rosaries on Facebook, as well. Please note that Carla’s Rosaries can be purchased online.
Carla is also the baker behind Carla’s Sweets. So successful in San Juan. I will have to try them next time, but in the meantime you may visit http://www.carlassweets.com. Shop online, shipping available.
Carla’s Rosaries and bracelets are made with semi-precious stones. The metals are not silver, but alloy and pewter. With time the rosaries will take a “vintage” look. With a bit of care they can last you a lifetime.
Please open http://www.carlasrosaries.com, to read about her story. At times when a door closes, another opens. It was pretty much the case for her. Going through a difficult time in her life, she went to a family retreat. She stated that during the retreat she felt anxious….a couple acknowledged the fact that praying had changed their lives. Carla started to cry. Some began to pray for her and gave her a Rosary, blessed by the Virgin of Medugorje. They also gave her the novena of the Divine Mercy, which is supposed to be prayed at 3:00 p.m. Her story is passionate, she is devout of the Divine Mercy, very spiritual, and very much at peace.
Carla wanted to wear a rosary, not in a traditional way. She loves accessories….so Carla’s Rosaries began. Carla’s Rosaries can be worn in a traditional way, or you can wear them like a scarf…worn like that by Carla on the above photos.
The Mercardo Urbano or Urban Market will be at Ventana al Mar on Sunday, March 1st, and you can be sure that Carla’s Rosaries and bracelets will be making a statement like they usually do.
Note: You may have your rosary blessed.
February 15th, 2015
While we celebrate Groundhog Day in the U.S. on February 2nd, the French celebrate Fete de Chandeleur or Crepe Day!! Walking on Ashford brought us to the CrepeMaker, located at 1302 Ashford Avenue in Condado. Tel. 787-545-5138. Find easily on Facebook as CrepeMaker de Puerto Rico. In San Juan, they have 4 locations.
Visualizing the fact that at this time of the morning, the weather is warm with plenty of sun in Condado. Outdoor seating available but if it gets too warm for you, there is plenty of seating indoors.
The CrepeMaker was a pleasant surprise for us. So many types of crepes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also offer wine and beer.
I thank them for letting me take the photos. They were very busy.
At the time of our visit the majority of customers were getting the Breakfast fare….Better Cheddar, Florentine, El Rancho, the Western Crepe…you name it.
Waffles, topped with powdered sugar, cinnamon, bananas, strawberries, and whipped cream on the side. Nutella? They do have it.
My Very Veggie was totally awesome!! Marinated sun-dried tomatoes, sweet red onions, roasted red peppers, fresh baby spinach, basil, tomatoes, mushrooms, melted mozzarella and their signature pesto sauce. The crepe was crispy and perfect for that particular morning.
You can also find at the CrepeMaker soups, fresh salads, and crepe combo specials for kids.
Have a good one!!