Café Puerto Rico, Old San Juan. A must do!

For the first post of the new year, I am finally following up on the new years eve post with a must do for all of you traveling to Old San Juan. Heather had done lots of research on where to go for local cuisine, and the first place the hotel concierge mentioned lined up with one of her options. Café Puerto Rico. A few blocks walk from El Convento (more on this wonderful hotel to come), we ended up on the edge of Plaza Colon and entered the cafe. It was crowded and lively and we were told to come back in 38 minutes. Yes 38. Never have we received such an exact return time. We wandered a few doors down to the Parrot Club for a cocktail, and listened to a jazz trio for 36 minutes, then quickly returned.

We were rewarded for our patience with a private table on the balcony overlooking Plaza Colon. I can’t say how lovely a view I, in particular, had without showing you my view.

Heather at Café Puerto Rico, overlooking Plaza Colon.

Heather at Café Puerto Rico, overlooking Plaza Colon.

We ordered mero (grouper) and tiritas de churrascos (skirt steak) mofongos rellenos, and a couple of tropical drinks. This ended up being our favorite meal of the trip!

Here are a few more visual highlights from the evening. More from Old San Juan to follow soon. Cheers!

P.S. If those of you who subscribe (thank you so much for following along!), could let me know if the galleries appear correctly in your e-mail, I’d appreciate it.  They look lovely in the on line post, but it showed up in my and Heather’s e-mail all broken and random. I’ve contacted WordPress about it, so hopefully we can get it resolved. Thanks!

The “crazy good” bacon sundae. Believe.

I can’t believe how good this is. But really…..you need to believe. As Heather said, “This is crazy good.”

Flash back to our 2010 trip to New Orleans, and our second night at the Green Goddess, a tiny little gem of a restaurant in the French Quarter. We had come back on the last night of our trip, based solely on Scotty’s (the excellent bartender) recommendation to try the “notorious” bacon sundae: pecan praline ice cream with a creamy bacon caramel sauce carrying a bit of both pink Himalayan & black lava salts, micro-planed Nueske’s applewood bacon, layered with whipped cream. Sounds good, huh? It was! So….thus our attempt to recreate the experience.

The “crazy good” bacon sundae. Sign me up for that!

It worked! We did it! Well, it wasn’t an exact replica…but it was still crazy good! We used Edy’s Slow Churned Butter Pecan ice cream, topped with La Salamandra Dulce de Leche Milk Caramel, a touch of French sea salt, diced applewood smoked bacon, whipped cream, and chopped caramelized pecans.

Not your average caramel. La Salamandra Dulce de Leche Milk Caramel, all the way from Argentina! (By way of Wegmans.)

Bacony goodness!! Can’t you just smell it??

To give props to Scotty once again….the Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liqueur is an excellent pairing. It offers a smooth, sweet, nutty, caramelly taste. It’s very mellow, but has a nice warming effect.

Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liqueur. Warm me up, Scotty!

Go….you must make this now! Please comment and let us know what you think. Cheers!

Good morning…with French toast!

There isn’t much on the breakfast table that looks as good as maple syrup glistening French toast. Until you add the powdered sugar and raspberries! This tasted every bit as good as it looks. We used our left over Easter bread; a light bread with raisins and golden raisins. Being a day old, the bread soaks up the batter better. (Say that 6 times fast!) I like to cook as light as possible, so I only used egg whites and a touch of skim milk for the batter. Throw it on a hot griddle with a touch of cooking spray (once again trying to keep it light) until golden brown. Top it off with pure maple syrup, raspberries and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Mmmmmmm.

We decided to have some Tart Cherry Stomp to go with our French toast. This was our first time trying this 100% fruit nectar. Yum…tart and sweet, a great combination. Good morning to you!!

Easter bread french toast for breakfast! (click me and make me bigger)

Tart Cherry Stomp from Red Jacket Orchards, in Geneva.

Gooey, earthy, creamy, pungent French camembert.

French camembert. Gooey, earthy, creamy, pungent French camembert. Ours was super ripe, enhancing all the flavors and textures. If you don’t like strong cheese, this is probably not for you. If you have a slightly adventurous palate, then I highly recommend it!  Grab some crusty bread, maybe an artisan salami, some wine, and you’re in for a treat.

Heather and I decided to do a wine pairing experiment, picking a French red and a French white to go with our fromage.  This, if I may say…was a fantastic idea. First up was the 2004 Chateau La Guillaumette Bordeaux. This medium-bodied, balanced wine brought out the earthiness of the camembert. It was an excellent pairing, and was enhanced by the food. I probably would have preferred this had the cheese not been so ripe. Our second wine was a 2008 Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuissé. This lightly oaked chardonnay was an excellent match, as well, and brought out the creamy, buttery flavors in the cheese. We both preferred this wine, as it was a better balance with the rather strong cheese. What started as a little experiment turned into an excellent dinner!

Camembert and required accessories!

Just look at that ooze.....very ripe.

2004 Chateau La Guillaumette Bordeaux.

2008 Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuissé chardonnay.

The French know how to make cheese!

The juicy, finger-licking good caprese burger!

It’s fun to make a burger that’s way bigger than you can easily take a bite out of. It just looks really good! But then…you have to eat it. So, you smush it down, with the juices and dressing dripping all over, and take a bite. It’s so flavorful and finger-licking good, you don’t care what a mess it is!

Using irradiated ground beef has become mandatory for us. You can use the 90% lean (to keep it almost relatively healthy), cover it in spices of your choosing, cook it medium, and it’s incredibly juicy and flavorful. Next choose your toppings. For the caprese burger, we used fresh mozzarella, grilled onions, tomato, and fresh basil topped with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. As an added bonus, the “bun” became grilled rosemary olive oil bread! Skip the fries and grill some fresh pineapple wedges for a healthier side.

This will be the first of many burger posts for the upcoming summer season. Let us know what you’d like to see on the next one. Cheers!

The caprese burger! Yum!

Rosemary olive oil bread becomes the perfect "bun".

2008 The Stump Jump, G.S.M. 90 points in Wine Spectator and a great match for the burger.