mmmmm typing that title made my mouth water. that’s not hyperbole. i want to go back in time and re-eat these meals. the chef and i love finding favorite restaurants in new cities. places we talk about going back to and tell our friends to try. menus we google and read even though we’re 900 miles away. here are two of those places.
i’ll start with lechonara los pinos.
we went here because anthony bourdain told us to. well, not us specifically, more like just everyone who has ever watched no reservations. go there, he said, have the slow roasted pig. and we did. oh, we did. pounds and pounds of it. it was disgusting how much we ate at this place. i have so much more to say about it, but first you need to see this:
did the heavens open up and the hallelujah chorus start playing when you saw that? that’s what i imagined happening when i inserted the image. there are like 5 of these guys. tied up, impaled and rotating over a fire, dripping juices that later get scooped with a ladle and poured over your rice. then there’s another guy, an actual human guy, with a machete — like a two foot long machete — he uses to hack off chunks of meat. you order by the pound and you can ask for whichever part of the pig you want. research told us the cheek is the best part, the delicacy. we even learned how to say it in spanish: cachete de cerdo. but when we asked for it, the guy with the machete told us no. we guessed it was because we aren’t locals. the chef is japanese so i blame him for being the dead giveaway. anyway, who wants to argue with a guy who has a two foot long machete?! we took what he gave us, and smiled. it was delicious, nonetheless. he really laid on the crispy pig skin, which is my very favorite part.
thinking about this crispy skin, my eyes get a little misty. it was so greasy, so crunchy, so everything i love. it also looks eerily similar to this maple snow candy we made last winter.
there were so many sauces for the pork. those sauces, they were really really good. puerto ricans really know how to do hot sauce. we also had pounds of rice, and some veggies and of course a few medallas. when in puerto rico!
we met another couple at our resort who we became vacation besties with. we were so happy to have met them, they really made long journeys, like the one out here to lechonara los pinos, more fun. here’s a picture of us all together, in front of the roasted pig, before we ate. you do not want to see the picture of us after the meal.
seth and michelle also came with us to la casita blanca, a restaurant my chef found on his own, no anthony bourdain required. la casita blanca is the one of the cutest little restaurants i’ve ever been in. it felt like ernest hemingway, 1950s key west in there. it was like a perfectly preserved, eclectic glimpse into the past that just also happened to have the most amazing food. here’s a little corner of the restaurant:
we ate a couple times. the first time, the chef had the most crispy, savory whole fried fish and a giant pile (is that the right word?) of mofongo, the classic puerto rican dish.
the picture is very blurry because i only had half a second to snap it before he dug in. back to mofongo: it’s made with mashed green plantains, with broth, garlic and pork cracklings, then filled with anything you’d like — pork, shrimp, beef, veggies. its the typical side dish and comes with almost everything you order.
the menu at this place is on a chalkboard that gets carried around from table to table, tempting you with what you can see has been erased, already sold out for the day. jk we didn’t know what anything on the menu said and when there were only six things, we were relieved because that meant it would take less time for us to frantically google image search everything before the waitress came back. i have real ordering anxiety, guys. there’s a terrible story i won’t even get into about the first time i went to chipotle… i almost never went back. anyway, i freaked out, shouted a number and was gifted this beautiful plate of slow cooked crab stew. perfectly seasoned, perfectly tomato-y and so much crab.
plus, i’m all for a place that has a pig and cow planter by the front door. i’ve been searching, but to no avail, for a cow planter like that for the house. i think my new husband is glad i haven’t found one. yet.