Tuesday, July 29, 2014

PR 2: Ponce Continued

You may be thinking to yourself, "Has Emily dropped off the face of the earth? I see she isn't blogging like she usually does." The correct answer would be yes, kinda sorta. But we'll get to that more tomorrow. 

Today, let's finish what we started with Parque de Bombas. The oldest, more eclectic looking firehouse in all of Ponce. 


If you're visiting, this is a free museum. However don't expect a tour.

In fact, don't expect much English unless one of the local police are standing around. You're in the south of Puerto Rico, not the most tourist driven area.

Why were we hear? Well my grandmother's family is from Ponce and Salinas. Granny Aida specifically being born in Salinas, or Ponce, but growing up in Salinas none the less.



 The ceiling in this building was just amazing.


Like everything worth seeing in Ponce, Parque de Bombas is right in the town square.

It's super easy to get to, and I suggest getting there earlier in the day, everyone seemed to close up shop around 5.


Wandering around the firehouse we actually found a picture of a Capo (our family name was Capo Diaz, Capo being my great grandmother and Diaz being my great grandfather) who was one of the fire chiefs. 

We were told by someone from the area, my father's super knowledgeable oncologist, that the Capo's were involved in politics in Ponce. From what I've read about the town this was the epicenter of political change and a bit of protesting back in the day. Then again it's a college town, and those two go hand in hand.



The most Puerto Rican of the group, also known as "the old man." 

He isn't typically this bald, but we got lucky and he got a pass to go to Puerto Rico during chemo treatment. It pays to have a doctor from there for sure! 


Now what does Dad do once we get out of the firehouse, he hunts down a snow cone.

Of course it wasn't called a snow cone, and I'm not entirely sure what it was called other than good.


He went with strawberry with some honey syrup over the top. When given the chance always get the honey syrup over the top, it was divine. 

You'll probably understand that more after this series of the entire family eating Dad's snow cone. 


The honey syrup stuff was super sticky and actually really chewy.



I took a bite, Laura on the other hand will steal everything you have. 

I love her, but you'd think we did without growing up the way her, Dad, and I hid snacks from each other. Needless to say the four year old in the family has already learned you can't trust the three of us with your food. 


Lucky for us there are no known contagious diseases plaguing the family, if so we all got whatever we had after this snow cone. 


Right past Parque de Bombas, down a very long ally, are a ton of street vendors... during the day. These people closed up at five on the dot. Plus the farther you got down the street the less safe it felt. 

I suggest scoping this out during lunch when everyone is open. 


After our snow cone adventure Josh decided he had to have some ice cream.

Again, it will seem like all the food shops are empty and closed because the lights are off and there is no one there. Don't let that fool you, Puerto Ricans just don't eat out except for breakfast and lunch during the week. One the weekends places are packed in the evening.


Jeremy needed an iced coffee which Dad quickly let him know coffee doesn't contain milk or ice. Ice is blasphemy to the old coffee drinking men from what I gathered on this trip. 

I should have figured that out back at Easter though when he was barely out of surgery and wanting coffee (after having something done to his throat). I told him he could have some iced coffee and he said if he couldn't have real coffee he didn't want any at all. 









One thing I always suggest doing on any trip is stocking up on local candy. This was not a local candy I suggest stocking up on. Not that yummy at all. 


In the next post we will talk about the cheapest spa you'll ever go to and finding our family mausoleum in Salinas by chance. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

PR 2: Ponce Part Uno

After leaving Rincon we drove south to the college town of Ponce.

Interesting enough my Dad's doctor went to school and lived here for awhile. He was a great source of information when planning this trip and actually learning a bit about the Capo Diaz family.


To start off we stayed the night at the Ramada Ponce, which is right in the middle of the town square. According to the Lonely Planet guide it's the best place to stay in town, I found that out after booking, so lucky me.

The placement of the hotel was ideal, our room was very nice (Mom, Dad, and Pop had an issue and had to change rooms.) and the most comfortable beds by far on the trip. The only down side is that the pool is super small and it shares a courtyard with a few restaurants and a casino. I just wasn't game on swimming next to people while they ate dinner.

Now as far as Continental breakfast goes, as we're accustomed to it here in the mainland States... don't expect it too many places in Puerto Rico. We had to buy breakfast every day at every hotel.


 Back to Ponce, it's a beautiful small town as far as the main square goes. Venturing out past that wasn't all that amazing to me.

Dad's doctor actually described Ponce as being very much like our hometown of Natchez, MS, because of it's social clubs. It's an older city and gives off that feel for sure.



Throughout the town square are multiple lion statues that have been painted by local artists. The descriptions of them are in Spanish, so look them up before hand if you want to find something in English. 


There's a Burger King and a Church's Chicken in the square, absolutely hilarious to me. However I do have a pact I made with myself years ago that I would eat McDonald's in every country I visited, so far so good.

Now Burger King wasn't on my list, but if you are looking for a cheap breakfast in the square go here. Like fast food across the world, it's tailored to the area. I got a breakfast sandwich that I then ordered every morning at the cafe our hotel was attached to in Isla Verde.

The only complaint our old men had was that is was impossible to get coffee without milk. So if you don't want cafe con leche you better state it when you order, anywhere on the island.







I loved all the little architectural details around the city.









That's enough of a picture dump for today, I'll talk more about Ponce on Thursday (I don't have a recipe for this week) and we'll visit the Parque de Bombas which is the old firehouse turned museum in town.

Plus a good dose of why you need to eat your weight in Puerto Rican snow cones while you're there. 

Meal Pinning Monday

We are finally home and not going anywhere before work starts back up for me! This summer has by far been way too busy.

Hence Meal Pinning Monday showing up a day late and dollar short on a Tuesday.

[What is Meal Pinning Monday?]
MPM is how I meal plan for our little family. I once spent a lot of time searching the web and my recipe books hunting for new recipes and ideas for what to cook every week. Then, Pinterest came along and made meal planning much easier for me. Every weekend I look over what I have pinned the prior week and decide what I would like to cook and make my grocery list from these recipes. MPM came about as a way to share what I am cooking, and to also see what others are cooking every week to hopefully get even more dinner ideas from other bloggers. If you don't pin your recipes feel free to just share what you are cooking.

Monday - Porcupine Meatballs (these were great, I skipped the meatball part and just browned the meat - the next time I make it I'm doubling the rice)

Tuesday - leftovers

Wednesday - Grilled Chicken with Sauteed Cabbage

Thursday - Salisbury Steak Meatballs (I know this will make a ton, and I've been dying to try it so we are eating leftovers for days:))

Friday - leftovers

Saturday - leftovers

Sunday - Eating out

What are you making for dinner this week?


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gnocchi & Asparagus with Chive Butter

After a few nights in Puerto Rico and nearly running everyone ragged seeing the sites, we finally hit Ponce and half our crowd crashed. 

When I say that I mean that they got Burger King and hit the sack. It left only Jeremy, myself, and my parents to explore. 



Since there were just the four of us we headed to a place in town that served tapas and a whole slew of things we couldn't have convinced that four year old to eat. 

It was honestly amazing though, Jeremy had the best cooked ribs I've eaten. 

Since Puerto Rico has an Italian, Spanish, and Creole influence the items you run into on many of the menus are rather surprising. This is by no means the land of tortillas. 

So when we got somewhere that had a few more Italian inspired dishes I immediately jumped on their Gnocchi with Asparagus and it was divine! When I got home I immediately recreated it and wasn't disappointed, it's just an easy dish that you can't mess up. 

Simple as that. 



Gnocchi with Asparagus and Chive Butter Sauce


Ingredients::
12 oz package of potato gnocchi (or homemade)
1 1/2 heaping cups of asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
1 stick of butter
1/4 heaping tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste
3-4 tbsp chopped chives

Directions::
Bring a pot of water to a boil, when boiling toss in gnocchi and asparagus. Cook for 2 minutes or until all gnocchi is floating. In a separate skillet melt the entire stick of butter, add in garlic salt, chives, and pepper to taste. When gnocchi is done, drain well and toss into the butter sauce.


I used packaged gnocchi this time as a time saver, but the first time I made it I made homemade white potato gnocchi. After making it this second time I'm convinced homemade sweet potato gnocchi would be absolutely delicious too! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

PR 2: Rincon & the Lighthouse

Today is going to be mostly photos with a little bit info. 

Our second day in Puerto Rico we left the north west shore for the completely western side of the island. Rincon was a little over an hour away from Arecibo, and the drive was much nicer than the initial one from the airport. 


Rincon is known for whale watching during certain seasons and as a haven for the old surfers from the 1960's. It's a surfing community that is very laid back and does things on their own time. 

So expect things to move a little slower than island time. Suffer island time is a bit slower. 




The view at the lighthouse is Rincon is beautiful! 


 Locals swear you can see the Dominican Republic from there on a clear day, but after looking at a map I'm convinced I was seeing a smaller island in between the two. The local I'm referring to happens to be my Dad's oncologist who just so happens to be from the same part of the island that my grandmother is from. He said he's never see it though. 




 There is also an old nuclear reactor near the lighthouse, I'm not 100% if this was it or not. Either way they attempted to have a museum there years later, but apparently no one wants to wander around an old nuclear reactor. 

Can't exactly blame them though.  






 We've hit that age where the resident 4 year old doesn't want his picture taken, but he gets that honest from this mother. 

This is the only down side of getting family pics on vacation, the first one has Jeremy in it and the second has me in it. 

I should just photo shop myself into the first one. 





 Once we left the lighthouse we headed down to the beach side part of the city for lunch. We stopped at an old surf shack and had a ton of great food. 

I was actually sick to my stomach from the crazy up and down winding drive so I just snacked off everyone. Laura had a Kobe Beef Burger that was apparently divine, and Jeremy's and Dad's Grouper Burrito was great too. 

However, the fried cheese in the appetizer was my favorite. 


It really didn't hurt that the beach view from the surf shack was amazing! I really wish I would have had my swim suit on. I highly suggest just wearing it constantly on this side of the island, you just never know when you'll run up onto a really pretty beach.  







Probably the biggest highlight of eating out while we were in Puerto Rico was the fact that the US was playing in the World Cup around the days we were there and everyone knows how much Hispanics love their soccer. 

Literally every TV I saw was tuned into the games. 




Just know, what I've said about staying on this side of the island if you're making this a beach vacation still stands. Rincon is known for it's beautiful beaches and certain areas are great for surfing. 

Now for the travel to Ponce after leaving Rincon (we didn't stay the night there, it wasn't far apart at all) make sure you hit up a Frappe stand on the side on the road.  


They're basically just nonalcholic daiquiris, not enough dairy to call it a smoothie or milkshake. It's much more of a ice texture. 

I made it my person mission to taste the Pina Coloada at every stand I got to. 
It's my favorite flavor, but Mom's Nutella Frappe was really good too. 


This particular stand is Frappe & Piragua on Carr 115 (Frente al Mirador de Anasco). 


I though the Frappe was my favorite, until we got a Piragua in Ponce. 

But that's another post. 
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