Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Puerto Rican Food Adventures

As some of you may know, I went to Puerto Rico this last weekend for a little R&R. There were 2 things I was super excited about. The first one was tanzning by the pool. The second... food, doi! My knowledge of Puerto Rican cuisine is of course linked into Top Chef - Top Chef Chicago finished off their season in Puerto Rico where I learned a lot about Plantains. I was dying to try some authentic food, so we headed over to Old San Juan the first night. 

Per the suggestion of the young taxi driver (who by the way, was playing a horror movie in his cab) - we went to Cafe Puerto Rico. Cheap, great service, great food, he said. Super! SOLD! 

The restaurant was cozy and dimly lit with a small outdoor seating area. We were seated immediately and instantly ordered a mojito (the only thing I drank the entire time I was there) - I was ravenous so we ordered a Chicken Mofongo to start. Mofongo is mashed fried green plantains. You then form it into a little cup like shape and fill it with deliciousness, in our case, chunks of garlic chicken. Let me tell you, I'm completely sold on the idea. I love fried. And I love garlic. And I love plantains. All the rest is extra. 

We followed with our entrees. This is where I kinda fucked up - I ordered garlic chicken with fried plantains and rice. I mean, it was too much of a good thing. I wish I had ventured a little. Nonetheless, it was really delicious - the chicken was cooked perfectly and was moist.  

Although we were both stuffed, I insisted on ordering dessert. Three Milk Cake. It was essentially a fluffy cake with condensed milk pour over it. Sounds kinda gross but it was sooo good. I couldn't stop eating it. I'm going to be looking up a recipe soon to try it out. I really loved it. I also had their house coffee which helped cut through the sweetness of the cake. Yummers. 

Cut to the last meal in Puerto Rico. We were grabbing lunch before the flight at a place that was too crowded the night of our first dinner. This came highly recommended by everyone we spoke to - Las Raices. We waited about 30 minutes and were seated in a cute and authentic looking restaurants. All the servers were wearing Puerto Rican garbs and we promptly ordered fruity drinks. 

I couldn't get over the Mofongo from the other night, and it was one of their specialities so we ordered a mofongo with skirt steak and chimichurri sauce. Holy crap, was this ever delicious. It was my most favorite thing I put in my mouth that whole vacation (hardy har har) - the steak was cubed and cooked to PERFECTION. Totally moist and flavorful. And the mofongo? Served in a coconut cup. Love it! It was so good, I feel like I'll be hard pressed to search for that same quality in New York. 

For my entree, my friend and I chose the house special (also suggested by multiple hotel employees) - the Kan-Kan Pork Chop. For those of you not familiar, it's kinda similar to the Roast Pork you can get in a Chinatown BBQ shop - really really crisp and salty skin with tender meat underneath it. We got it with a side of yellow rice with beans. This was absolutely mouth-wateringly delicious. My only complaint was it took a lot of effort to eat. I don't know about you, but I'm a lazy eater. Hence my obsession with frozen yogurt. Effortless. I really had to pick up the steak knife and go for it. Was completely worth it though - I just gave up in like 10 minutes and ate all the mofongo.

Personally I love the food in PR. I wasn't really expecting to, but I am going to do some research on similar restaurants in the city. I may have to travel to the boroughs but I would do it to taste those plantains again....


ilse said...

technically its called tres leches, isn't it?

i bet if you search for that, instead of 3 milk cake you'll find a more authentic recipe. you know we eat that stuff all the time in new mexico, right?

Carmen said...

OMG, it was so good. I couldn't stop eating it..