Sparkling waves, salty breeze, a serenade by the Coquí every night, delicious fresh fruit, tasty spices (sazón) and much more are part of our everyday life on the enchanted Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico. I am Valerie and I am the author of Nuance and Bubbles Blog and for the past year and a half I have been living in San Juan, Puerto Rico with my husband, the person I describe as the one who is better than the man of my dreams. The way we ended up here is an interesting story but we are glad Providence led us this way. Something we felt was a detour led us to what has been a caribbean newlywed bliss, full of exploring (see pictures here), self-discovery and the acquiring of many new skills that I never imagined I’d have the time to learn.
Amanda and I are still not sure how we started our social media interactions, all we know is that it has quickly turned into a great online friendship. You more than anyone know how wonderful her blog is with all those delicious yet easy to follow recipes. She is one of the few bloggers that has really inspired me to actually try her tasty recipes. I love her simplistic approach to food and how she can make a classic staple look exceptional. She has really encouraged a food blog lover like me to not only limit my food love to the pages of the internet, but to also bring it to life in our kitchen.
Today I am thrilled to be sharing with all of you on Heartbeet Kitchen some of our food and life in Puerto Rico through the “lens” of our taste buds.
What is your favorite Puerto Rican food?
I was glad that Amanda’s first question when setting up this post was about my favorite Puerto Rican dish. My favorite “criollo” dish is “Mofongo relleno de Churrasco” which is basically a little (or big depending where you go) mountain of mashed, fried green plantain seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic, stuffed with tender pieces of skirt steak and chimichurri sauce. The best mofongo is not too dry but a bit moist. It’s not the best food choice when it comes to my aspirations of an all plant-based diet but it is heavenly. I would also have to add that Puerto Rican food is full of flavor (sazón). For example my husband makes the best beans I have ever tried and the secret to them is his homemade “sofrito” (think lots of cilantro, onions, garlic cloves, green peppers, all blended into a powerful concentrate of flavorful goodness that packs a punch with just one spoon), combined with his mother’s techniques which is all some sort of family secret.
My second favorite thing is a desert, obviously. It’s called “quesito”, which is a cheese (think cheese danish type cheese) stuffed pastry with a flaky crust and coated with a thin layer of sugar glaze. I do not know what could be a better compliment to a wonderful cup of Puerto Rican joe other than one of these freshly made pastries from a nearby panadería/repostería (bakery).
How does food differ from season to season?
Living on an island has great advantages, one of them being that fresh produce is basically available all year long with some minor exceptions. Some fruits like mangoes and quenepas (Spanish lime) are seasonal.
Do you normally go to farmer’s market, stores or how is the accessibility to food in general?
When we first moved here we would only buy produce from an ambulant produce seller that would pass by our home every day selling stuff out of his truck. Later, we discovered a fresh market, a small farm food coop and a fresh Mart (which is basically like a Whole Foods in the USA). Those are our options when wanting to eat more organically while living in the city. Though, in a small island such as this one we are never too far from the country. These options seem to really satisfy our needs in terms of fresh produce. For everything else we have regular supermarkets.
Do you garden?
Unfortunately, I presently don’t garden, I only have some cacti and succulents because they are the easiest to care for. I am, however, in the process of cleaning out our terrace because soon I would love to start a small urban vegetable garden. Wish me luck!
What is the norm for eating in vs. restaurants?
I don’t think I can speak for everyone but from what I’ve experienced, eating organically is a growing phenomenon here but certainly not yet the norm. Because of Puerto Rico’s history and status as part of the US, it has a lot of American influences and restaurants are one of them. They seem to be very popular and are always full. Eating habits certainly vary from one family to the next and I believe that is very tied to each individual’s lifestyle. My husband and I like to cook most days of the week not only because we enjoy catching up on our favorite shows over a meal that we prepared together, but it also helps us to eat more cleanly and adhere to a more plant based diet. That being said, there are some great places around the island to sample amazing food; a fact we do take advantage of from time to time.
Thanks so much to Valerie for sharing her experiences and beautiful photos about food and life in Puerto Rico. I hope you’ll hop on over to her blog (or Facebook, Twitter) to be further inspired by all of her insight from lifestyle, love, good eats and feel-good tips. Have a great Thursday everyone! -Amanda