derryX in Puerto Rico 2014 – Day 5
This was our last full day in Puerto Rico, and we wanted to make the culinary adventure worth the trip. All of the finer dining we did on this visit was great and all, but we wanted to bask in the more humble offerings on the island. Namely, I wanted to enjoy more of the coffee, a special sweet treat, and to revisit one of our favorite lunch spots in Old San Juan, Cafe Manolin.
I walked down the street for a solo breakfast. Actually, I really was just going to Ben and Jerry’s Cafe for a cafe cortado, but seeing someone with one of the breakfast croissant made me want one.
We went back into Old San Juan for lunch at Cafe Manolin. I think I ordered the same damn thing as the first time, and I’m not at all sorry about it.
This time, they had arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) on the specials menu, so I ordered some for good measure. It was a perfect example of what this dish should be, and just a buck to boot.
While we were at Cafe Manolin, I asked the owner if he could recommend a place in Old San Juan for el brazo de gitano, a classic Puerto Rican pastry not unlike Swiss/jelly roll. He was pretty confident that there was nothing like that in Old San Juan, but recommended a bakery in Isla Verde (the next “town” over from where we were staying) where we could find that and a lot of other things. Before we went to Puerto Rico, this was one of the items I had obsessed about having while I was down there. I’m amazed it took me 5 days to even look for it. Actually, having not seen any thus far, I had given up hope. But, now we had a dinner/dessert destination.
We walked around Old San Juan and did some shopping. I bought a guyabera at a specialty mens’ clothing shop. That was pretty cool.
We stumbled upon a bakery while walking, and I saw a place with pastries in the window. Lo and behold, they had the damn brazo de gitano! The lady there called it something I didn’t recognize. It was only like a buck or two. I probably made a scene the way I stuffed that thing in my mouth on the street. I didn’t care, and I still don’t.
I stopped back into The Poet’s Passage for coffee, just because it was pretty good the first time. This time, I had cafe con leche, which is what everyone would recognize as a “latte.” It was pretty good.
We spent the afternoon at our hotel, then tried to take the bus down to Isla Verde to check out the special bakery/restaurant, Kasalta. We waited a while, and no bus came. We figured it would be worth the money for a cab, so we just went that route.
The place was impressive and overwhelming. I have quite a bit more to say about this place, but, suffice to say, it was a neat spot for a great Cubano sandwich (also popular in Puerto Rico), and there were rows and rows of sweets, charcuterie, cheese, and other world specialties.
We took a box of treats back to the hotel.
We spent our last night snacking on these goodies and getting most of our things rounded up.