So, we start at Carli’s Fine Bistro & Piano (Carli was a muso with the Beach Boys for many years) and sampled three morsels - salted cod fish fritter with a spicy mayo , tostone with ceviche (scallops and prawns) and pumpkin fritters with squash. These were delicious and had our taste buds wanting more.
salted cod fritter, tostone with ceviche and pumpkin fritter
Our group is small and our guide, Victor is an awesome guide and is very passionate about the architecture, the history and culture of the town (he is currently studying to be an architect). Seeing the differences between the Spanish and French buildings was good (I would never have really noticed the difference).
Next stop was Cuatro Sombras and I have to say some of the best coffee I have ever tasted. Single origin, handpicked and dried in the sun, it is roasted and ground on site. It was a medium bodied coffee and had an amazingly smooth, soft caramel undernote -oh don't I sound like a connoisseur? Not really, but it was a fantastic shot of java - and a tip from the locals have it with brown sugar!
Cuatro Sombras coffee
Wandering the streets on our way to the next venue, we walked past the narrowest house in the world, San Cristobel Church (which isn’t open very often) and down through the shopping streets.
narrowest house in the world
We arrived at a mask shop which is also Café el Punto for alcapurrias. These are 'similar' to an empanada and are probably one of the most eaten snacks in San Juan. The pocket is made from shredded green plantain and a type of taro made into a dough with seasoned meat inside, then deep fried (like everything in Puerto Rico). They were tasty and piping hot but a little oily for my tastes.
alcapurrias - most eaten street snack in San Juan
Inside and the courtyard at Rosa de Tiana
We are here to taste the famous Mofongo, which is fried mashed green plantain with any number of meats and stews. Here we get our own pilon (mortar and pestle) to mash our own plantains, which is heavily laced with roasted garlic and lashings of butter – the aroma has me drooling as I mash away. It is served with a chicken stew. It’s absolutely divine. Comfort food in a wooden bowl! We devour it!
before, during the mashing and the end result
After a walk through the old gates and along the waterfront and old fort, we wander along Paseo de La Princesa promenade where there are some small stalls selling local products. We stop at the 'sweet' stall just have to have a look (really) - filled with coconut sweets and snacks - I decide to come back here later.
To the finish off our tour we arrive at Café de Princessa, an outdoor café along the promenade, lit with fairylights. It's a romantic spot for a coffee or a bite of dessert. Of course we finish off with flan made with coconut and a side of guava sauce. The sauce is sticky and sweet and the flan is smooth and custardy.
If you enjoy the local food scene I can highly recommend this food tour. It offers a taste of many local dishes and with the history, architecture and culture aspect it was very educational too. (* but I just came for the food.....really).