What's Cooking in Carolina?

Mainly creative menus and recipes (usually healthy) and always from scratch with tips for party planning, theme parties, weddings and decorating tips so you can give swank parties or dinners to delight your guests from a part time caterer, owner/operator of a coming soon Entree Vous, but mainly a cook and eater who grows much of her own food and loves to laugh.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas In Puerto Rico

What a week!

We just returned from a week in Puerto Rico. We love to go there during the holidays for many reasons: to leave the mad rush with the traffic and crowds, to go to a warm climate, to get away. We have gone to Vieques many time and do love it. Last time, we stayed Christmas Eve nite in Old San Juan and knew we had to come back. We had so much to see and do. So this time we did it all. Not the laid back beach vacation reading, swimming, snorkeling and sleeping, but seeing all that we could and enjoying the very different areas of the island. We drove most of the island and hiked in several forrests. We are glad we had this eco-tour. It was great exercise and the views were incredible. We even hiked to the top of El Yunque and could see Vieques and St. Thomas!
It sits in a cloud most of the time and we were fortunate to be at the top one of the few clear days!

First, if you have never been to PR, Christmas is a wonderful time to go. Most houses are decorated and it is very colorful.
They too are out shopping and getting ready for the holidays just like the madness we are trying to run away from. However, for us this means when we go to the 'sites' we have little, if any crowds. They are all out shopping. The major tourist crowds come after Christmas.

So what about the food? This is a food blog, after all. Well, to be honest, we are not big fans of typical Puerto Rican food sold in restaurants. I do love rice and beans, and they are widely available, but one can not live by rice and beans alone. There is much, too much, fried food for our taste. After a few days, we start craving salads and the best ones are not at the PR restaurants.

We did have two memorable meals. The first was at Guavate where there are 20 or more lechoneras that serve piping fresh, hot hunks of spit roasted pig and chicken, including sausages. Apparently, it is a big weekend destination for people coming to 'pig out'. We stopped by after a long hike and it was yummy, including the cracklings. Being from the south, it was comfort food to us (and not fried). Fresh, juicy, hot and spicy. The other was filete de chillo (snapper) at a seafood restaurant just east of Arecibo. Fresh fish and Medalla, the local beer. It was great!

When we were in Old San Juan two years ago on Christmas Eve night, we were having tapas at the Cafe Puerto Rico on the Plaza Colon when they closed and brought out the home made 'egg nog', called Coquito and boy was it good. Coconut flavor, rum and nutmeg was all I remember. So I went down to the bar in the hotel we were staying at and asked it they some. I was told that they don't serve it in the bar but bring it for their own consumption. The person that made it was very generous to give me a cup. I later went back down to thank her and get the recipe. I am sorry to say, I don't know her name, but a sweet, generous waitress at the Radisson Ambassador Plaza on Condado gets the credit. Here is her recipe.Coquito: Puerto Rican Egg Nog

Now that I know the ingredients, I know why I like it so much. Not good for you but good, non-the-less. Try it! I think you will love it.

Just don't drink much, but it 'tis the season!

Hope yours is merry and bright!

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