¡Hola! I am back from my recent trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. In addition to the amazing tan that I got from spending hours of lounging on the beautiful beaches of the island, I came back with a new respect for Latin American food. Being that I pretty much ate and drank my days and nights away, I should have a good case to make about the greatness of Puerto Rican food. I’m proud to say that I absolutely do! After only 4½ days of vacationing on the island, I have compiled my food experience into a list of 5 reasons why you should make Puerto Rico a destination for you, your family, and friends.
I’m still not quite sure if mallorca bread is just dressed up Hawaiian bread, but I will tell you one thing: it is a definite game changer! Similar to Hawaiian bread, mallorca is a sweet bread, but what makes it unique is the light topping of powdered sugar that is dusted over it. The mix of the delicate sweetness with the different savory fillings that can be sandwiched between the bread is what really grabbed my attention.
The first time I tried mallorca bread was at a tiny café in Old San Juan called Aromas Coffee House. Sandwiched between the two, thick slices of the bread was a thin layer of mozzarella cheese. To the unsuspecting eye, it was simply a cheese sandwich – nothing special, right? WRONG! The bread made this everyday sandwich everything dreams are made of. It was also what brought me back to the café two days later to have yet another cheese sandwich. The sweetness of the bread and the powered sugar mixed with the cheese was perfection! Who knew that I would be so enamored by a cheese sandwich?! If you are planning a trip to Puerto Rico and want to try mallorca bread, you are in luck! While I suggest a visit to Aromas Coffee House, mallorca is served pretty much everywhere on the island. Just be sure to request it. No plans of visiting anytime soon? You’re still in luck! I happened across a recipe for the bread at The Noshery.
Mofongo is everywhere in Puerto Rico. Even when you think that you’ve escaped it, it somehow finds its way on your plate. By day two of our trip we had coined the phrase “mofongo’d out” to represent the constant presence of the dish at what seemed like every restaurant we visited and how tired we had grown of both seeing and eating it. Before our “so over it” attitude seeped in, I definitely enjoyed my two experiences of the dish.
According to Wikipedia.com, mofongo “is typically made with fried green plantains mashed together with broth, garlic, olive oil, and pork cracklings or bits of bacon. It can be filled with vegetables, chicken, crab, shrimp, or beef and is often served with fried meat and chicken broth soup.” Okay, so I had absolutely no idea “pork cracklings or bits of bacon” was in mofongo. I probably should’ve asked more questions. Any way, I am a plantain fan so this dish won me over from the very first time that I tried it, which was at the Mojito’s Restaurant in Old San Juan. At Mojito’s, my mofongo was served with a salty codfish topping in a red sauce. It was really good and filling. My second and final experience was at Rosa de Triana where we not only got to eat mofongo, but we made our very own. With a pilón in hand, each of us smashed plantains, mixing it with the garlic and butter at the bottom of the contraption, then topped it with chicken and veggie fillings. Mine, of course, was the veggie filling. I enjoyed mofongo so much that I purchased my very own pilón! Looks like I will be making mofongo for some time to come.
Now, I’ve been drinking virgin piña coladas since I was a little girl. Once I made it to drinking age, I upped my game and let the bartender throw in the alcohol that I had missed all those years. Sadly, some years ago, I decided that I should probably forgo the piña colada for more “adult drinks,” so it had been awhile since I had partaken in the yumminess of the sweet drink. While in Puerto Rico, where I learned the piña colada is the official beverage, I jumped back on the wagon, and it was amazing! Not only did I drink piña coladas to my heart’s desire, but I drank them from one of the places it originated from, Barrachina. Now, I say “one of the places” because there is still some mix-up about who and where the first piña colada was created. Whoever did it first and wherever it happened first, I can’t say but what I do know is that the Puerto Rican piña colada is so much better than the ones that I’ve had before. Wherever you decide to drink your piña colada, just be sure to do it and do it as many times as possible.
Last year, I had flan for the first time, and I was completely stunned at how good it was. It took everything not to grab seconds then take home a piece for later in the day. The thing that I really like about flan is its light and creamy texture. Plus, the flavor isn’t in your face. It’s so delicate yet very flavorful. While in Puerto Rico, I tried flan twice. While both times were good, the flan that I had at Mojito’s Restaurant was everything! Made fresh at the restaurant, instead of coming in its usual round shape, it was cut like a piece of cake or pie. I do admit that it comes second to the flan I had at a work party, but in Puerto Rico it was the best hands down.
Casa Cortés ChocoBar
If you are a chocolate fan, you should run, not walk to Casa Cortés ChocoBar. Everything on the menu at ChocoBar, in some way, has a touch of chocolate. We were there during our food tour, so I didn’t have an opportunity to really look at the menu, but our slices of cheddar cheese topped with a square of chocolate then dipped in a cup of hot chocolate told me everything that I needed to know about the restaurant. They not only do chocolate, but they do it in unconventional ways. The packed tables along with the line flowing out the door made it pretty clear that it was a local and tourist favorite.
From the rich history to the beautiful beaches, there are so many reasons to visit Puerto Rico. But for me, food is probably the number 1 reason why the small island will forever be in my heart.