Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Comida de Puerto Rico

Rick and Emma were kind enough to get married in a tropical paradise so I was already looking forward to eating tons of exciting food while there for their wedding. And it was clearly meant to be--on my flight down I was lucky to be sitting next to this guy who had encyclopedic knowledge of his island's specialties (I took copious notes the whole time which he found hilarious for some reason). I'm pretty sure I got to try most of the dishes he mentioned and I'm planning to make some of his recipes in the very near future now that I'm home (coming soon: an octopus salad with avocado). So a big thank you to Food-Obsessed PR Mystery Man In Seat 11B--you got the party started right.Most nights were cooking in--people staying at this big beach house all took turns. The night that I was cooking, our group made fish and meat tacos. The fish ones were tilapia chopped in a pan with cilantro and soaked in lime juice at the end.The meat was for carnitas--I ended up roasting it in the oven in pineapple juice for a quick and dirty version of carne al pastor. We also had mashed yuca, black beans and all kinds of other good stuff. Just glancing around the environment in Puerto Rico really explains why the Caribbean has such incredible food. Everywhere you looked there were coconuts or mangos falling out of the trees--and there were fish everywhere! Rick and I saw a fresh catch of mahi-mahi and red snapper for sale on the roadside one afternoon that looked amazing. One day a few of us hiked down to Rincon and ended up drinking rum and eating for the afternoon. Stephen had something that I think was mofongo--a stew topped with mashed plantains.
These tostones were great--crispy mashed and fried plantains, delicious with the tangy green chile sauce.And more carnitas...because fried pork? Is delicious.Even on the day of the wedding we ended up going in search of more street food.This place had an amazing cornmeal fritter that was filled with cheese and slightly sweet. I think they're called sorullos and when I die I want to be buried in a nest of them. We also ended up with great empanadillas from here.I really like the seafood empanadillas best but these were a pretty amazing carne asado version.At the wedding dinner we had barbecued chicken, shrimp all kinds of wonderful things...Grilled slices of mango, papaya, pepper, pineapple and sweet onion.I'm completely in love with this style of eating--naturally local, fresh and simple. And there were so many other great things! These fried potato puffs in Old San Juan, piononos (fried, stuffed plantains), light and dark rum in everything you are drinking, the flan with cheese that Rick and Emma had for their wedding cake (and that eventually got smashed into his face late that night while we were all playing in the ocean)...anyway. And that's all just the food! I haven't even talked about how damn pretty it was there.Damn. So pretty.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A delicious sandwich

I intended to post on halibut topped with a wonderful, fresh-tasting relish (pistachios and tiny green olives chopped together with blood orange segments and olive oil). But then the power went out and it was too dark to take pictures or even really see what I was doing, although dinner turned out pretty well despite it all (I have found in the past that being able to cook in the dark is just a necessity for living through stormy summers in Atlanta). So eff it--here instead is an emergency leftovers sandwich I made the other day that was completely delicious: toasted whole wheat sourdough bread with slices of flank steak, arugula, roasted red peppers and goat cheese.