Puerto Rico is an island of abundance.. of hospitality, vibrance and freshness of fruits of the sea :). Much of the island's cuisine revolves around plantains, raw and ripe. Mashed with garlic and spices or deep fried into containers they can be part of every course of your meal.
My favorite was ofcourse the infamous Mofongo! It is typically made from fried green plantains that are mashed together with garlic, broth and pork bits in a special pestle called the Pilón.
The most common dish is ofcourse the Mofongo Relleno, which are mofongos stuffed with meat or seafood. While the tradition is of fried pork, when in the island, it would silly to skip on the abundantly fresh seafood! I highly recommend the conch and octopus served ceviche-d.
There is quite a bit of peasant-like, comfort food that is just delicious. Much of the food has high notes of pork seasoning including sauteeing in lard with pork bits that only adds to the rich flavor.
We were rather pleasantly surprised by the art scene in Puerto Rico. In Ponce, named after Ponce de Leon ofcourse, a historic town that is striving to be a tourist attraction outside of Old San Juan, we were greeted by an exhibition of very inspiring Life photographs.
And, also simply the best fresh churned ice cream. The Tamarind (a common flavor on the island) sorbet and almond ice cream were simply noteworthy! A visit to Ponce would be incomplete if you did not stop by this little gelatria in the Melia Hotel.
And ofcourse, not to be missed is some good, old fashioned Puerto Rican coffee. La Bombanera is a much acclaimed bakery that lives up to its name in serving up delicious Mallorcas to breakfasting visitors and locals alike. Mallorca is simply a very buttered home made toast but it's effect on you is not very different from nectar! Trust me, once bitten, always back!
The coffee here is made and served from a contraption that seems to have survived time travel but indeed seems to be quite effective in filling cups of aromatic coffee!
Not a whole lot else to do.. but kick back, relax, indulge and drink mojitos! :) A perfect vacation indeed!
Places to Eat
Old San Juan
La Bombanera - Breakfast, don't miss the Mallorcas
Punta da Vista - A small joint by the harbor that serves some fantastic food and one for one mojitos
El Asador - Best dinner pre-fixe, and lovely ambience
Cafe Puerto Rico
Popeyes's - Arepas (conch & octopus)
Icecream joint in Melia Hotel
For a travelogue of where to go and what to see, check out Puerto Rico Diaries, Part I