Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eating in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Even after arriving close to midnight the night before, we managed to pack in a whole lot of eating on our first day in San Juan.

First up - touring old San Juan, but not on an empty stomach. We hit up the institution La Bombonera, where we indulged in a cafe con leche and a mallorca. A mallorca is described as a Spanish danish, but it reminded us more of French toast because it's pressed and covered with a heavy layer of powdered sugar. I inadvertently asked for the mallorca to be plain - the standard is to slather it with butter, which I tried and promptly regretted when I was here last year since it sits in your stomach like a rock, even though it's extremely tasty while it's going down. At least we could walk it off on the path surrounding the old city with this view:

View from Old San Juan
Our stop for lunch was Cafe el Punto, where the specialty is stuffed avocado. I didn't write down the Spanish name for the dish and it sounds kinda lame in English. I think we were expecting something fancier than what we got based on the description, like meat stuffed inside an avocado. Instead, it's essentially a half avocado, piled with your choice of skirt steak (our selection), chicken, shrimp or crab. Not that it needed anything more to be done with it - both components of the dish were extremely tasty accompanied by a vinegar-based sauce, but check out the size of the avocado - it took up half the plate! I made an exception to my rule of no photographing meals in a restaurant because we were frightened by the size of the thing.
Giant avocado!

All that was left in the end
The other half of the plate was taken up by tostones, which are green plantains that are fried, pounded flat and fried again. They're very starchy since they're unripe and wasn't our favorite dish - it's hard to go wrong with double-frying, but we're very firmly in the sweet ripe plantain camp.

I should probably clarify that it was the husband who ate most of the meal - I only had a couple of bites because I was still feeling the ill effects of the flu I had the week before. It came back the day we left for our trip and I was not happy - it's not exactly a fun-filled adventure when taking a bite of food gave me a splitting headache and left me slightly nauseated! It also left me poorly-equipped to deal with the hoards of tourists clogging the small cobblestone streets. There were 4 cruise ships in the harbor which seemed to have brought Old San Juan to a standstill, so although we were trying to enjoy this beautiful part of the city, we ended up hightailing it out of there as fast as we could in search of calmer locations...

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