From Puerto Rico with Love…

Ooooh I know its been a while but I just just returned from the colorful and magical island of Puerto Rico recharged and ready to take on 2017. Puerto Rico was too good not to share. From the picturesque crystal blue water and white sandy beaches of the coastal towns, sparkling bioluminescence bays,  rainforest and the colorful streets of Old San Juan- Puerto Rico checked off everything on my list of a perfect vacation. And that’s not even mentioning the amazing fresh seafood and the oh so delicious mofongos…and endless empanadas! Guys I’m in love and already trying to plan my next trip.

We started our vacation on the eastern tip of the island in the beach town of Fajardo. From here there are ferries to the nearby Culebra Island which is claimed to have one of the most beautiful pristine beaches in the world (Flamingo Beach). We stayed at the El Conquisitor, A Waldorf Astoria Resort and Spa which had its own private and secluded island, Palomino Island (See Review). This large resort is perched on a cliff and has more than 1000 rooms, a funicular taking guests down to the ferry dock where guests can ride to Palomino Island just 15 minutes away.

The drive from San Juan took less than an hour on the main highway and was a great way to see more of the country. Other options on the east coast is the Vieques island where the trendy W hotel is located (on my list of places to stay). There are large biolumenscent bays where the water sparkles at night time.

After 5 adventure-filled days and 8 mofongos later we drove back to spend the weekend exploring San Juan. We had no idea that we happened to be there on the most exciting weekend of the year, San Sebastian Festival, where old san juan would be filled with colorful parades, dancing, music and street food. In San Juan we stayed at the beautifully renovated Condado Vanderbilt Hotel located in the trendy Condado strip of town. If you are planning a getaway to Puerto Rico and only have time for San Juan make sure to stay at this hotel. The attention to every detail and customer service was beyond 5* making it one of the best hotels I have ever stayed at.


Things Not to Miss in Puerto Rico

  1. Hike in El Yunque Forest
  2. Ride the free hop-on, hop-off trolley in Old San Juan
  3. Take a day trip to the island of Culebra
  4. Paddle through the Bioluminescent Bay off Vieques or Fajardo
  5. Partying in the streets of Old San Juan during the San Sebastian Street festival

Foods not to Miss Easting in Puerto Rico

  1. Mofongo
  2. The Mallorca and Mallorca diner in Old San Juan
  3. Tostones
  4. Beans
  5. Arroz con Gondulas
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Dinner at Big Fish Grill (Rehoboth Beach, USA)

One restaurant that my family always goes to when we’re down at the beach is Big Fish Grill. This restaurant is ideal for large groups due to its size, but there is always a wait after five p.m.  The wait was particularly bad this past Friday when we went as we were told the wait was two hours to get a table, a number that I noticed led to several other parties leaving.


However, since it’s tradition we waited it out and eventually got seated an hour-and-a-half later. The restaurant certainly has the easy-going feel of a beach restaurant to it, so it’s not a place to go to if you’re looking for a nice, quiet atmosphere, but it is a nice place to eat if you want a large selection of pretty good seafood and quick service.


Since we were all pretty hungry, we ordered a few appetizers and drinks. One of the drink specials for the night was a Star Spangled Tini. This tasty drink was a mixture of Stoli Razz, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, and grenadine.  Only one person in our group ordered it, but it was definitely appreciated by the entire table for its festive presentation.027

As we waited for our starters, our waiter brought out some crackers and a homemade smoked tuna dip, which is what they serve in place of bread and butter. We decided to start with the fried oysters, fried calamari, and garlic bread. I really enjoyed the fried oysters because they were crispy on the outside, but still retained the texture and flavor of the oyster on the inside. The fried calamari was also good, and my only complaint would be that I prefer it when restaurants serve the crispy tentacles in addition to the usual calamari rounds. The only appetizer I skipped out on was the garlic bread, but the rest of the group devoured the grilled bread, so it must have been delicious.


After we finished our appetizers, our group ordered dinner. Although we all ordered different meals, the one side that we all wanted was the Neva’s Potatoes. These potatoes almost make the long wait worth it and are a mouthwatering mixture of baked hash browns, onions, and cheddar cheese. In fact, we ordered so many of these potatoes that they accidently brought out an extra serving of them!


Of course, the main part of the meal is just as important as the sides. The main courses we ordered included Swordfish, Seafood Pasta, and Crab Cakes. The swordfish was encrusted in potato chips, but was a light balance to the rich Neva’s Potatoes. I particularly enjoyed the garlic cream sauce that topped it since it added a bit more flavor to the normally mild fish. 031

The pasta came with scallops, lobster, and some of the biggest shrimp I’ve ever eaten. The dish normally comes with linguini, but the kitchen was very accommodating and switched the linguini out for the penne my sister wanted. This seafood pasta came with a creamy tomato sauce, so the dish is best for people that can handle a rich dinner. Overall, I thought it was flavorful and came with a decent portion of seafood for the price it cost, and my sister could only praise it.


The crab cakes were another winner at our table. As a girl from Maryland, I love crabs and have tried crab cakes all over the east coast. Personally, I thought the crab cakes seemed to be a bit on the small side, but my grandmother enjoyed them. The most important thing in a good crab cake, though, is the filler to meat ratio. There was definitely more meat than filler in these particular cakes, so they certainly won points for that, and I’m sure someone else in my family will get them in the future.


While it took us a while to get seated, our meal at Big Fish Grill was enjoyable. In addition to the good food, this place has incredibly quick service and is an ideal place to go if you want a casual restaurant for a beach eat. My family and I will certainly be returning, although we will probably be avoiding this place on the weekends from now on….

Big Fish Grill on Urbanspoon

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Dinner at Papa Grandes (Fenwick Island, USA)

Papa Grandes is a new restaurant opened by Matt Haley, a man who has already opened several restaurants in the area, including some long-standing favorites with my family. Each of Haley’s restaurants have distinct feels to them and offer up completely different foods.  When you first step into Papa Grandes it definitely has a very laid-back feel to it, as most places in near the beach do. The inside is decorated with various painting that remind me of the hand paintings you would imagine finding in caves. This atmosphere had us all ready to try the food as well.

To start my Mom, sister, and I got the seafood ceviche, queso fundido, and the shrimp and chorizo pincho. Before our starters came out, we were served complimentary tortilla chips with a red salsa that had a kick to it. It was a nice change from the bread normally served at other restaurants, but several of the chips were on the stale side. However, we didn’t have to wait long before the appetizers came out, so it didn’t damper our spirits too much.

The ceviche was good and came topped with a scoop of tasty avocado. While my sister and I both liked the avocado, we did agree that the ceviche didn’t really need it. Beneath this, the ceviche was made up of shrimp, octopus, and baby scallops, and it was a refreshing, tart starter for a hot summer night.

The queso fundido was the complete opposite as it was a heavy cheese dip accompanied by corn tortilla chips, but everyone at the table agreed that it was delicious. I think it was the overall winner for the night. The third appetizer received more mixed reviews. My sister enjoyed the entirety of the dish, but I thought the chorizo was a bit overdone. By the time we finished these, our main meals were already coming out from the kitchen.


 As we were eating in a Mexican restaurant, the emphasis was definitely on tacos for the main course. We got both the duck tacos and the tacos al pastor, and in order to change it up a bit, my sister got the shrimp quesadillas. I didn’t taste the quesadillas, but my sister talked them up and particularly loved the ancho honey sauce that topped them. I did, however, try the pork in the tacos al pastor, and I wasn’t crazy about the taste as it was a bit on the dry side.

As a long-term San Diego resident, my mother has had these tacos a lot and said that the pork in the tacos at Papa Grandes was a bit different than what she was used to. According to her, the meat is slightly wetter than what she was served here. My duck was the complete opposite of the pork though, and the meat was nice and tender. My tacos came topped with a bit of guacamole, shaved radishes, and spicy pickled red onions. Despite the pork being a bit dry, everyone was pretty happy with their main courses.

Although we had quite a bit to eat, I am always one for dessert, and we decided to get the churros and the chocolate pot. The churros came with chocolate and were a delicious, sweet end to the meal. On the other hand, the chocolate pot was a dessert that was a bit more complex. It was a thick chocolate served chilled that was topped with whipped cream and chili powder. It definitely satisfied my sweet tooth, but it is probably best for the more adventurous chocolate-lovers out there.

Overall, the service was quick and friendly, and I felt comfortable at this restaurant. Even though a few of the dishes weren’t the best thing I’ve ever eaten, I was satisfied by the end of the meal, especially since it is one of the cheaper restaurants in the area. I enjoyed my first Mexican experience down at the beach, and considering the fact that Papa Grandes has only been open a couple of months, I was happy with this new place and hope to come back.

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Greetings from Sint Marteen/St. Martin (Caribbean)

You may (or may not) have noticed that I have been missing in action and that my blog has been post-less for several weeks. It is not because I have been lazy or not eating, quite the contrary- I have been eating tons and travelling lots. But most importantly it was my wedding or I guess its more accurate to say that it was the Count and I’s wedding followed by our honeymoon in Saint Martin. Hosting over a 100 out of town guests in New Orleans pre and post wedding didn’t leave much time to keep my blog up to date. But I am back with plenty of treats to write about. 
Below is a photo of a slice of heaven on earth: Anse Marcel beach in St. Martin. My food adventures will follow shortly. 
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