Puerto Rico part 1: Spün Food Tour

On our first morning, I got up early and headed into Old San Juan to meet up for the Spün food tour. Our first stop was Café Don Ruiz, located in this breathtaking [yet underutilized] courtyard.

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Plaza Ballaja, Old San Juan (photo credit: Spün Food Tours)

The café con leche was perfection (I keep wanting to call it a latte). As a coffee lover, it felt pretty special to be drinking a cup that was entirely created in that very country – single origin grown, roasted, and brewed. How often does that happen? Maybe in Hawaii or Jamaica but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy say, Kenyan coffee in Kenya. I’m so glad I took some beans home. I tasted it when I got home (black, pourover) and found it to be rather “quiet” and soft both in aroma, taste, and texture but it warmed my soul nonetheless. I can see why it works best when paired with the soft richness of milk; there aren’t huge flavors that jump out. This was not Bustelo 🙂

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café con leche y mallorcas

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tasting notes for the coffee

Back to the breakfast: I also got to try the mallorca, a Puerto Rican breakfast staple. It’s a light eggy dough, similar in texture to a danish or challah, that is very slightly sweet. I think less sweet and more dense than a Portuguese sweet bread. It is served buttered first, then toasted in a panini press, and dusted with powdered sugar. I only ate half because I was saving myself for more eating, but I wish I could eat the other half right at this very moment.

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mallorca up close

As we ate our breakfast, she told us some more about the country’s culture and gave us tons of recommendations for how to spend the rest of our time. We then stopped at the farmer’s market, which was on my list of things I wanted to see in Old San Juan. I was surprised at how small it was; only a handful of tables. I think the Brown University farmer’s market was bigger than this. Paulina was able to give some context as to why it was small.

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plantains and aji dulce peppers

We tasted these little fruits called quenepas. They are similar in taste and texture to a lychee, I think. You even kind of eat it the same way because it has a big pit and you kinda just scrape/suck the fruity bits off.

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quenepas

After some more sightseeing and shopping stops, she brought us to the Convento Hotel, another place I would not have thought to walk into on my own. It was a beautiful convent-turned-hotel, and we ended our morning with sangria and tapas in the hotel’s restaurant.

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sausage, empanada, croquetas, and garlic aioli

I knew that I wanted to book the tour early in my trip because it would help me find my way around and get recommendations on what else to do and eat. My plan worked out perfectly so I recommend that you do the same. If I had more time, I’d do one of the dinner or drive-around tours. Paulina has that natural tour guide personality – she’s sweet to everyone, super energetic about the country, and smart on the history. So if you are up for an adventure, you will not regret signing up for one of Spün’s tours.

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