Fresh Air, Food, and Fun in Puerto Rico!

El Yunque Rain Forest Puerto RicoOld San Juan, Puerto Rico

I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again; I am a very lucky girl!  Last week we had the good fortune of traveling (again!) with another couple with whom we are friends.  We were staying at a resort in the Luquillo/Rio Grande area of Puerto Rico.  It is near the base of El Yunque rain forest and our room looked out over a nature preserve.  It was awesome to watch the huge turtles and iguanas from our balcony, and the facilities there were nice and quite socially responsible.

We had done some research for food and activities ahead of time, but the best tips came from our usual ask-the-employees-where-they-eat/drink routine. We piled into the rented Toyota and drove to El Rincon Del Sabor in Luquillo.  I have to admit, three of us were nervous as we got out; but my husband (the adventurous researcher) never flinched.  We were definitely bowled over.  The owner was our server, his wife cooked, and their granddaughters helped clean.  The fish and seafood were out of this world.  The place was clean and the owner even came out and did a shot with us after our meal!

Another highly recommended place was the strip of kiosks near our resort.  The one we ate at, La Parrilla (a family-run place known as kiosk number two) was so good we went twice.  We don’t get a lot of Mahi Mahi in northern Minnesota, so we were all over that.  I loved the rice and beans and we also discovered we love mofongo (a dish that consists of cooked, mashed plantains combined with seafood, meat, or vegetables).  It is delicious, and I admit I’ve already been scoping out plantains locally!

We couldn’t go to this neighborhood without hiking El Yunque.  It was beautiful, rugged, and still had tons fairly accessible paths.  They had picnic areas with grills and running water—you don’t see that every day!  It made for a nice half-day adventure, but you could easily spend an entire day there.

I do wish we would have had more time for Old San Juan.  It reminded me so much of southern Spain.  In fact, Mike and I stumbled onto a neighborhood watering hole called Rosa de Triana that made me feel like I was back on the Costa de la Luz!  We had great company in the owner, staff, and a local gal as we watched Spain win a soccer game on the TV in the bar.  It’s the little places like this that have the most interesting stories.  We also found a cigar shop, el Galpón, where we bought outstanding cigars grown and hand-rolled by a local man.  Wow.

All this being said; I can’t stop thinking about what a great trip it was.  And a huge shout out and thank you to Four Winds Photography for the guest post last week.  The pictures were great!  In honor of all the great food we had on our trip, here is my rendition of Puerto Rican Rice and Beans.  Enjoy!

Puerto Rican Rice and Beans

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if you like it spicy, add a little of the sauce)

½ diced onion

½ diced sweet pepper or green bell pepper

2 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 can (about 15 oz) small red beans drained and slightly rinsed

8 oz tomato sauce

2 cups cooked brown rice

Olive oil, salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add onion, peppers, garlic, salt/pepper, and cumin, sauté until tender.  Add beans, tomato sauce, rice, and enough water to ‘loosen’ the mixture—about a cup.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until desired consistency—it should be creamy, not a fluffy appearance.

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