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Archive for the ‘Puerto Rico’ Category

February 15th, 2015

Breakfast on Ashford, CrepeMaker, Ashford Avenue, Condado, Puerto Rico, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert!! Open 7 Days a Week, La Isla del Encanto, The Caribbean

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Waffles, topped with powdered sugar, cinnamon, bananas, strawberries, and whipped cream on the side.  Nutella?  They do have it.

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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.

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You can also find at the CrepeMaker soups, fresh salads, and crepe combo specials for kids.

Have a good one!!

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February 11th, 2015

Puerto Rico, Parents, Fines for Overweight Children? You Decide!! La Isla del Encanto, Love the Food! Chowdown PR Style, Guilty!

Beach in Condado

Beach in Condado

Local talk radio in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware I heard this a.m. that some legislators want to introduce a law in Puerto Rico where parents of overweight children are going to be receiving some fines.

At times pictures are worth a thousand words…..Have you been to Puerto Rico?  Have you tried any of the local food?  Full of flavor and probably not the healthiest if you make a point to eat it all the time.  Large portions, as well.

I just came back from PR and look at these photos.  And I participated in the chowdown.

Well, the fries were made from sweet potatoes.  That helped.  Adding the plantains and cheese….that side salad is what pretty much you get in a lot of places.  Don’t ask me why the tomatoes have to look that way on this tropical island.

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Two side dishes that were shared, but meant to be for one person.  The second photo shows half of the portion of the beef.  The salad was excellent, but not the norm.

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Good way to start the day?  Of course!!

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A popular booth at the Mercado Urbano in Condado….the Roasting Pigs!!  Lechon Asado.  The line never stopped.

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A little paella after the Lechon Asado….yum!

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Fresh pineapple to clean your palate?  Maybe.

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Instead of dessert, why not finish with a tiny fried bacalaito….cod fritter.

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Heavier meal at lunch for many Puertoricans….who can resist this at Dona Ana in La Plaza del Mercado in Bayamon.

A side salad with stuffed plantains…with local beef.

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Rice and beans because the stuffed plantain was not enough.

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And cheesecake, which is nothing new, but it was drizzled with Guava.

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The “pirulis” reminded me of my childhood.  Did not buy any, by the way.

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Back on Ashford Avenue in  Condado, you can find a good salad on the second floor of FreshMart.

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This roasted chicken on Ashford in Condado was awesome….totally surprised me.  Fried plantains, of course and “some” veggies.

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Pizza from Via Apia on Ashford in Condado.

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Exercising at Ventana al Mar…We were too busy eating and checking things out.

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But the best fresh vegetables and fruits can still be found from the vendors that sell out of their trucks.  A scene still found in the Metropolitan area of San Juan.

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Self control?  I used to have so much of it.  Back in Delaware trying to get rid of those unwelcomed pounds…..but, It Was Worth It?

So, you decide…fine the parents for overweight kids?  That’s ridiculous!

NOTE:  Where to eat the above mentioned foods in Puerto Rico…..stay tuned.

February 10th, 2015

Destination? Walking on Ashford, Condado, Puerto Rico, Art Deco Building, Miami, Mission/Spanish Revival Hotel, Condado Vanderbilt, Localista, Puerto Rico Designs, La Isla del Encanto

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Walking on Ashford in Condado is a past time for many that are visiting the island of Puerto Rico….plenty of upscales shops, restaurants, and hotels on this very popular Ave.  I hear the community is involved in making sure Condado lives up to its name.

Ashford Avenue is within walking distance of beaches and everything else to make your vacation a special one.  As a matter of fact Ashford Avenue is parallel to the beach.  Taxis, and public transportation can take you to Old San Juan, a city over 500 years old.

The Art Deco Buildings are beautiful and one in particular is the Miami building located at 868 Ashford Avenue and built in 1936.  The colors are peach and light blue.

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“The Art Deco style represented luxury, glamour, exuberance and faith in social and technological progress.”  Bold geometric designs, lavish ornamentation, and colours characterized this style.

Congratulations to San Juan, Puerto Rico since the National Register of Historic Places has recognized 3 iconic hotels and has welcomed them as members.  They are the Caribe Hilton San Juan, built in 1949, Condado Plaza Hilton built in 1963 and the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel built in 1919.

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The Condado Vanderbilt is located at 1055 Ashford Avenue.   http://www.condadovanderbilt.com The style?  Mission/Spanish Revival.  This is a 5 star hotel, known for luxury and special services.  Ballrooms, banquet meetings…the hotel is oceanfront.  So, I stopped to check it out with my Puertorican cousins, Sonia, and Margie.  Resort wear is the choice for dressing.

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The hotel has been updated completely.  The marble floors, I believe are the original ones.

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We stepped into the Vanderbilt Court…here are some of the photos.

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Please visit http://www.condadovanderbilt.com/our-story-condado-en.html to learn more about the history of this gorgeous hotel, which is very interesting.

LOCALISTA – Puerto Rico Disena.  Location?  Condado Vanderbilt Hotel.

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A must stop shop for everything designed by independent designers.  Local brands and Puertorican designers, promoted by Localista.  Website?  http://www.puertoricodisena.com.  Catching our attention…..

La Mantilla by Marx Rosado is a modular surface that works well as a wood carpet, a flexible parquet, a non-permanent wood flooring or a cover for horizontal and vertical surfaces.  It is open modular assembly.

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Jewelry by Marcia Budet.  You can find Marcia Budet on Facebook as Designer Marcia Budet.

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The clutches made in crystal clear acrylic Plexiglass with original photography, I loved.  They were made by designer Natalia Subira.

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Promoting Puertorican designs, buying local…http://www.puertoricodisena.com/localista-a-design-store.

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And then, as you come out of the hotel head over to Ventana al Mar….and forget that is winter at home.  Have a good one!!

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November 23rd, 2014

Horseshoe Casino, Baltimore, Maryland, Table Games, Slots, Entertainment….Dining!! Guy Fieri’s Baltimore Kitchen & Bar, Casual Dining, Burgers, Wings, Small Bites, Shareables, Downtown Charm City, Maryland

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I’ll bet you…..Who hasn’t said this at one point or another?  We all have.  You are gambling on the outcome of something.  Growing up in the Island of Puerto Rico, a destination for gambling, it was no big deal. Let’s face it.  You “wanna” gamble, you’ll do it anywhere, even from the comforts of your own home.

In Puerto Rico the islanders do visit the casinos which are in every hotel.  Years back the dress code was:  men would wear coats and the women were very smartly dressed.  Casinos would have racks filled with coats of every size for those that did not have any.   After dinner it was fun to go to the casinos and try your luck and hopefully nobody would have to stroll the walk of shame.

One of my favorite casinos in Puerto Rico was the one at the El San Juan Hotel in Isla Verde.  Elegant and classic, just like casinos should be.  It still looks that way.

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Casinos bring out a lot of emotions on people.  The gambling factor, the drinking, the undesirables….but, some will always live La Vida Loca.  Pennsylvania, and Delaware have casinos.  So, when Marylanders were up in arms about the casinos coming to Maryland……I was like, what’s the big deal?  The State needs money, and jobs. Otherwise, they will come to Delaware and Pennsylavania, so if you can’t fight them, you might as well join them.

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Horseshoe Casino opened in Baltimore, in August of this year.  Arriving in Baltimore, I passed it and did not even notice it.  That’s how understated it is.  Located at 1525 Russell St., Baltimore, MD 21230.  Tel. 844-777-SHOE.  Website?  http://www.caesars.com/baltimore.  Right next to the Ravens’ Stadium, Orioles Stadium, and the Inner Harbor….walking distance!!

Horseshoe Casino offers free parking, which by the way is bright, and with plenty of security around the perimeter of the casino.  We are in Downtown Baltimore and just like any downtown, security is a must.

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Horseshoe has partnered with the local hotels.  You can make reservations right from their website.  The casino has 122,000 sq.ft. of gaming space.  For those that love table games…Blackjack, Craps, Bacarat, Roulette and plenty more.  Check the website above mentioned.  Slots?  Many, many.  It is also a multi-level casino.

We arrived early afternoon, just in time for lunch.  Entertainment in this cool bar at Horseshoe was already on-going.

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For those that love to sit at a bar and enjoy a food court for there is a level just for that.

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Celebrity chefs have taken notice of Baltimore and the charm this city has to offer.  We decided to visit Guy Fieri’s Baltimore Kitchen & Bar.  This restaurant has seating for 350 customers, but it does not feel that big.

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Guy Fieri has about 7 other restaurants throughout the U.S.  So, this latest one is part of the branding of a chef’s cuisine.

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Immediately, we noticed that the servers were attentive and friendly.

Are you hungry?  Be prepared for large portions.  Shareables, they call it.  Eat them tapas style.  I am not kidding, the portions were huge and the food was great.  You will have to “up” your exercise routine, after dining here.

I started to notice other customers getting their food brought to the table….wow, we were in for some trouble.

The B-More Fries passed by….waffle cut with a creamy blue crab dip, Old Bay and green onions.  You see what I mean?

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A Caesar Salad!!

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A Burger followed those gigantic dishes for 2 people.

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We had already ordered and suddenly our table was covered with food…decadence!!

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Following is what we had.

Shashimi Won-Tacos – Love these, really, they were delicious.  Sashimi grade ahi tuna and mango jicama salsa on crispy wonton taco shells, drizzled with sweet soy and wasabi cream.

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Vegas Fries – A Guy Fiori’s signature dish.  The crispy cut fries, the spicy buffalo sauce, topped with blue cheese crumbles, served with a blue-sabi dipping sauce. Crispy, well seasoned and the sauces were just right.  Yikes!

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Lollipop wings served with veggies and Guy’s blue sabi sauce, added to an already exciting afternoon lunch.  These particular wings a little sweet and a little tangy!  Easy to handle!

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How could we not have a salad?  Always complementing a lunch or dinner….this was a meal in itself.  The Guy-Talian Deli Salad it was called.  It was in a crown of prosciutto-wrapped smoked provolone.  It was also filled with crisp romaine lettuce, imported Italian meats and cheeses, pickled veggis and tossed in a red wine vinaigrette.  Totally, awesome!  Presentation and taste did not disappoint.

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Needless to say….no dessert was needed or necessary, but they do offer desserts comparable in size to our lunch.

I think Horseshoe is a good addition to Downtown Baltimore.  Check the websites for the upcoming events at Horseshoe.

Something that caught my attention was that on Thursday nights, except Thanksgiving and Christmas…Chips & Salsa is a happening thing at Johnny Sanchez.  This restaurant offers extended Happy Hour on Thursdays and free Salsa Lessons by dance instructors Mike Fok and Kaya Barraza.  This Mexican and Southwestern restaurant was opened by celebrity chefs John Besh and Aaron Sanchez.

Have a good one!!

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October 23rd, 2014

Curried Carrot & Apple Soup, Tostones (Fried Plantains), Rehoboth Beach Eats!!, Meatless!! Delaware Beaches, Southern Delaware

I love the title my Mother in Law gave to a family cookbook of recipes:  Begged, Borrow, & Stolen.  That’s how I feel when I use recipes.  The good thing is that I usually change them with a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  I make the recipes my own.

So, being that it is cooler, rainy, windy…and Fall, I think that the Curried & Apple Soup could be a keeper.  Served with a side dish of tostones or fried plantains and Mojito….it is even better.  The word Mojito has been around for such a long time.  In Puertorican cooking it means a sauce made for dipping certain local delicacies.

Carrots are so healthy and the saying of “an apple a day, keep the doctors away”, is probably so true, as well.  Hope you like it.

CURRIED CARROT & APPLE SOUP

2 tablespoons margarine

1 small onion, chopped

1 leek, thinly sliced

1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped

salt and pepper

1 pound carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds

3/4 pounds celery root, chopped (regular celery will do)

1 Granny Smith apple, chopped

4 gingersnaps cookies

1/2 tablespoon yellow curry powder (more if you like curry)

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger

2 thyme sprigs (1/4 tsp. ground thyme will do)

3 cups chicken stock (I used unsalted chicken stock)

1 cup Apple Cider

1/2 cup sour cream (I used non-fat)

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Garnish:  Toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped mint, fresh cilantro or cilantro paste, and favorite hot sauce; optional.  The pumpkin seeds were toasted on the stove in a frying pan.  Make sure they do not burn.  So good!!

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In a large saucepan, melt butter.  Add onion, leek, fennel, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Cook stirring here or there until softened and veggies are browning.

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Add carrots, celery, apple, gingersnaps, curry powder, garlic, ginger, and thyme.  Cook until the carrots and celery soften somewhat.

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Add chicken stock and apple cider.  Bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat for about 15 minutes until the veggies are very soft.  If using thyme sprigs, remove, otherwise, continue with the next step.

Working in small batches, depending on the size of your blender, puree the soup with the sour cream and vinegar until smooth.  What I did was mixed the sour cream with the vinegar and added a tablespoon with each batch.  This is a creamy soup so, make sure there are no lumps.

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You can reheat the soup and seasoned it with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Laddle the soup into bowls and top it with the garnish above mentioned.  ENJOY!

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I decided that Tostones or Fried Plantains would be great with this soup.  A meatless meal, no less!  Plantains are a starch.  If you let them ripen, then, they are sweet and if green you can make Fried Plantains.  For the longest time I used to mashed them with a plate, but now I have my Tostonera from Puerto Rico.  The Tostonera and the Pilon are a necessity when cooking Puertorican food.  The Pilon is very versatile…use it to mash garlic, make mojito, and other PR dishes.

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The plantain was peeled, cut, and ready  for the next step of frying.

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Fry the chunks of plantain in oil until lightly browned.  Then, place on the tostonera, or between wax paper.

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The tostonera is going to make it so much easier to mash.  Otherwise, while between the wax paper, mash with a plate.  2 plantains were used on that evening. Finish mashing them and keep on paper towels until the next step.

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Heat the oil back again and place the mashed plantains in batches once again.  They will rise to the surface. Let them get nice and light brown.  Take them out and place on paper towels again to drain the oil.

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You can serve them on a platter with just butter and garlic salt.  Or you can make the mojito by placing in the Pilon or Mortar 1 garlic clove, a pinch of salt.  Then with the pestle, crush garlic and salt together.  Add a bit of olive oil, a tablespoon or so, a small can of tomato sauce, tabasco and cilantro.  Then squeeze half a lime and add it, as well.  That’s it.

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Note:  This recipe is gluten free.  Make sure you check the tomato sauce, the chicken stock, and apple cider. Have a good one!!

August 27th, 2014

DE Beaches Eat!! Tomato, Peach, Corn and Feta Salad, Sugar Meets Salt, Easy, Delicious!! Perfect for Labor Day Cook-Out!!, Southern Delaware, Delaware Beaches

The tomatoes are at the height of the season, the peaches are still sweet….this is pretty much a raw salad.  Bursting with flavor, it has everything to offer for a perfect end of the summer 2014 meal.

When I made this salad I used gluten free bread.  The recipe, actually calls for white bread with crusts removed.  Your choice.

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TOMATO, PEACH, CORN, AND FETA SALAD

2 slices white bread, crusts removed, cut or torn into small pieces

1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt, to taste

2 ears fresh corn, shucked

4 ripe tomatoes, a variety of colors….or plain red will do.  About 2 lbs.

4 large peaches (about 2 lbs. too)

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion or shallots (I used red onion.)

3/4 cups of sheep’s milk feta, crumbled

Pulse the bread in a blender or food processor until the bread breaks down into coarse crumbs.

In a medium skillet, over medium heat, warm 1/2 cup of oil.  Once warm, add breadcrumbs and gently toast until golden and crispy.  Transfer crumbs to a plate line with paper towels.  Season with salt.

Using a sharp knife, slice corn kernels off the cob.

Cut tomatoes and peaches, preferably into wedges.  Place in large bowl with onion slivers and corn kernels.  Season with salt, optional.

Add the Feta cheese.

Add  6 tablespoons of oil and toss to combine. And then, sprinkle your favorite white balsamic vinegar.  My choice was Cranberry Pear White Balsamic from the new store in Downtown Rehoboth Beach….The Olive Orchard.

Distribute salad among plates, then scatter breadcrumbs on top…..serve and enjoy!!

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August 10th, 2014

Summer Travel? Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto, The Caribbean, Sunny Weather, Hot and Sizzling!

Summer Travel?  Yes, Puerto Rico, year round!!  I was just talking to my cousin in Puerto Rico and she told me that it is a spectacular day in La Isla del Encanto.

Locals in Old San Juan take to The Castle of El Morro, which was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century.  It was needed to protect Old San Juan from attacks by French and English buccaneers.

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On a beautiful sunny day, having fun at El Morro is a must.

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Old San Juan is a city protected by a wall….The Paseo de La Princesa is very walkable and gorgeous.

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Stroll on Calle Del Cristo on the cobblestones take some maneuvering….but you can do it.  The Chapel at the end is full of history and forklore.

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Many of the old 17th and 18th century Spanish houses have been restored and now serve as attractive shops, restaurants, and museums.

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A stop at Rosa de Triana, a traditional Spanish Tasca is what we did.  This building was built in 1523.  It is one of the first structures of the Old San Juan Government Center during the XVI century.  It was also the first City Hall.

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It is located in one of my favorite streets in Old San Juan #72 Caleta de San Juan, across El Convento Hotel.  Tel. 787-722-1144.

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We sat by the cellars which also served as the first jail of the capital.  The walls were so thick that cell phones did not work well inside, which was a good thing ,by the way.

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We ordered tapas for the table:  Boquerones, Sorullos, Salchichas, Pulpo, Papitas, and plenty Sangria.

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So easy to get to Puerto Rico….major airlines, no passport, English is spoken.  See you.

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May 31st, 2014

Destination? La Placita, Santurce, Puerto Rico, Market, Don Rey Cigar, Plaza del Mercado, Open Air, Dancing, Drinking, Eating, Local Color, Puerto Rico Year-Round, The Caribbean…There Is A Block Party Going On!!

My uncle Guiso, who is in his 8Os said to me…”this is true Puerto Rico, local color at its best”.  Uncle Guiso does not go on the computer, let’s hope.  Here is a photo of part of my group as we enjoyed La Placita in Santurce, Puerto Rico, on a Saturday evening.

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It is Saturday and going to La Placita is something Puerto Ricans do every week.  In reality it is the Plaza del Mercado, the true market in every sense of the word.  La Plaza del Mercado was established in 1910.  It was a farm that was donated to the Puertorican Government with the condition that they would build this type of market.  Many years ago, before supermarkets came into the scene, people went to these markets and got everything they needed.  They got to know their vendors up close and personal.

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This Plaza del Mercado in Santurce is the only one in Puerto Rico with its own Code of Arms.  You can see it on the photo above displayed.  It is located at Stop #18 between Ponce de Leon and Baldorioty de Castro.  It opens Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday until Noon.  Website?  http://www.placitasanturce.com.

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After 6 p.m. locals gather and the open air block party begins.

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You can buy drinks from the bars around La Placita, like we did.  That’s my group waiting for twilight.

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You can also buy homemade coconut ice cream.  The best!!  The vendor will be strolling with his cart anouncing “Helao de Coco”.

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I know that Cuban cigars are sought after, but in Puerto Rico the cigars are also well known.  Right at La Placita you will find the home of Don Rey Cigar.  Don Rey Cigar has been preserving the tradition and artistry of cigar making.  In 2005 they made a cigar that measured 62.5 feet and earned them the award for the longest cigar in the world given by the Guinness World Book of Records and, therefore, breaking Cuba’s record holder.  If you want to know more about Don Rey Cigar, please visit http://www.donreycigar.com.

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They call him El Azuceno….he sells the most fragrant flowers, and in Puerto Rican homes you can usually find them displayed in vases.  El Azuceno was there that evening, but you also can find him in different areas of metropolitan San Juan.

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Surrounding La Placita, many restaurants and bars have opened and all of them compete to see which one is the most popular.  La Placita is a place where many Puerto Ricans come to socialize after work.  Puerto Ricans are gregarious and love to party.

We went to Tasca El Pescador.  Usually, know for their good food.  On that particular night, it left us very disappointed. The food was okay, but nothing to write home about.  It should have been excellent.  Everything we order was so local. The service was definitely lacking.

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Like I was saying….Puerto Ricans love to party and dance….and when it is on the streets, it is even better!

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