So let’s just put it out there. Ive been slacking on my posts. Its summer for goodness sake! Give me a break. 🙂 Ive been traveling for the past month and bought everyone back a gift. Inspiration!
This year our family visited Loiza, Puerto Rico. Loiza is located about 35 minutes from the San Juan airport and is filled with awesome beaches. Though not as popular as San Juan for tourists, the locals dominate this area and now I understand why. We stayed on a beachfront rental community. I cooked most of our meals but we did get a chance to try two places that we enjoyed.
El Verde is a truly local, no frills restaurant. Great for grabbing food on the go for the family as the portions are huge! The meat is sold by the pound and the sides are very large. Before I get to the food I must mention their pina coladas. The pina coladas were sooo good! No mixes used at El Verde; very authentic with just the right amount of rum. They were so good we went back two times during our stay. Now onto the food… We ordered the chicken(whole), rice and peas, sweet plantains, mofongo, and pork ribs. Monfongo is a staple of Puerto Rican cuisine. It consists of garlic flavored mashed plantains that are not ripe(sweet) yet. It’s a savory dish that pairs well with various meats and sauces. El Verde makes their mofongo very simple but tasty. If you are visiting the San Juan area try to visit this local gem. The prices are low and the food is just plain good!
We decided to visit the Old San Juan area to walk around pick up some local treasures. When we arrived in the city we were hungry and decided to stop at Punto De Vista. It was conveniently located on the corner right across the street from the water and offered outside seating. The waitress mentioned the mofongo was really good so I ordered that with skirt steak and a garlic sauce on top. I would imagine this version of mofongo would be perferred by someone not familiar with the dish. I enjoyed it because it reminded me of steak and potatoes. The consistency of the plantains were more like chunky mashed potatoes so they paired well with the small strips of steak. The garlic sauce was just salty enough. The rest of the girls ordered fish tacos as they weren’t as daring as I was. They were just as tasty as I snagged one from my sister’s plate. Their version of tacos are rolled up versus being rolled over.
Cape May, NJ
After a great week with the family, I decided it would be a great time to spend some time with Shonn before he heads off to grad school. The time has finally come for my Mason scholar to head into the world of higher education. I know that he will be studying and networking for the next two years so I wanted to plan a little getaway. He decided he wanted to visit somewhere with sand so I chose Cape May. I always wanted to visit Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast so this was a perfect opportunity to get what I wanted and what he wanted. We stayed two nights at Akwaaba’s Buttonwood Manor in Cape May, NJ. Before we got on the road we stopped at Panera Bread for breakfast. I ordered the egg white, spinach, tomato, and avocado power sandwich. The sandwich also came with white cheddar and I added ham as well. Yummy!
En route to Cape May I started reading articles about the town’s food offering. Based on reviews, we decided we would try 410 Bank St for dinner. Upon arrival we were immediately seated outside in the garden area. Our very attentive waiter greeted us and opened our bottle of wine(they are BYOB but also carry local wines from Cape May Winery).
We started with the mako shark. Overrated, but Shonn enjoyed it. It was seared in a sweet thai chili sauce. Very popular dish according to our waiter. Shonn ordered the gumbo after rave Yelp reviews and recommendation from the waiter. I order the chilean sea bass. I usually order the sea bass whenever its on the menu. The gumbo was really good; not too spicy as I feared. It was more of a stew consistency and was loaded with yummy andouille sausage and seafood: shrimp, scallops, crawfish, and a lobster tail. The chilean sea bass had a pecan crust and was accompanied by a shrimp and crawfish creole sauce. So good and the portion was huge. The fish was cooked to perfection, so moist and flaky. I attempted to eat all of it but Shonn was ready and waiting to finish it for me. The thing that made this restaurant a winner was the service. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been blown away by stellar service. This was at the top of my list. We recommended 410 to a couple staying at our B&B and after visiting, they shared my sentiment. Great place!
Rea’s Farm Market
Simple review… Stopped at this small farm market on our bike ride to the Cape May Lighthouse. I picked up a ripe, sweet tomato and was greeted by Mrs. Rea. She was so sweet and told me the tomato was a great choice. Agreed!
In our journey to the lighthouse we stumbled upon Willow Creek. Needless to say I was super excited to stop and sip. We rode our bikes through the beautiful vineyard which was about a five minute bike ride to the actual tasting location. I enjoyed seeing and reading about the different grapes in the wine making process. We made it to the tasting room which was a massive room with immaculate woodwork. They offer about 10 different types of wines ranging from ones that were exclusively made on sight and some that were mixed with a California grape. The best part about the visit was our wine tender, John. He was very helpful and passionate about each wine. I definitely recommend this place for anyone in the Cape May area. Oh, and they also sell eggs! The chickens greet you as you ride by their area. 🙂
After an afternoon of bike riding, we were pretty hungry. On our walk back to our B&B, we walked past Key West Tacos. This place is very true to it’s surroundings and has a nice outside garden area for seating. My favorite taco was the shrimp taco that happened to be on special at the time. There was a nice pineapple habanero sauce that was super tasty. Shonn ordered the pork and mahi mahi tacos.
It was our last night in Cape May so we decided to end the trip with a good meal. I hadnt been hungry the latter part of the day for some reason but knew I needed to eat something. I asked my friend Jessica for recommendations as she owns a shore house in Wildwood and knows a thing or two about the NJ shore restaurants. She recommended Black Duck so Shonn and I made reservations for their last seating of the night, at 9. We walk in and the restaurant was a bout half full as patrons were ending their meals as the restaurant closed at 9:30. We started with the guazpacho: roasted tomatoes, blackened shrimp, and housemade guacamole. Burst of flavor! Shonn ordered the crab cakes with spiced Yukons, garlic spinach, and a lemon nage. I ordered the pan roasted salmon with lobster, spring vegetable risotto a red wine syrup and spiced shallot. The food was phenomenal. I couldnt finish my food but savored every piece I did manage to get down. I can’s wait to go back when we are in the Cape May area. By the end of our meal we were one of the two parties left so the wait staff was very attentive. We felt like we had the place to ourselves. What topped it off is that it was a 2 minute walk from our B&B.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my awesome time away from reality! Where are you vacationing this summer?