The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Porking in Puerto Rico

Prior to our trip to Puerto Rico, I consulted with my friend and frequent commenter here – Max Doinel, for some local food recommendations.  Being from Puerto Rico and his knowing my passion for all things swine-related, he said that I had to go to a lechonera – a restaurant that specializes in roast pork.

Heck to the YEAH!

We arrived in Puerto Rico on a Sunday at around 1pm and then were thrown into a shuttle with other people right away.    So my hopes of going on a pork hunt in San Juan were quickly dashed.  Then, as we were approaching the Ritz in Dorado, my hope of finding porcine pleasures were further put to the test when I saw this duo of restaurants

alavara applebee

 

Because nothing ruins a foodie’s vacation more than the sight of an Applebee’s.   I probably should’ve taken a panorama so I could get the Wendy’s in the same picture.

I asked the kid who was schlepping our luggage if there were any lechoneras around there.   He said the best ones were in Guavate on “Ruta de Lechon” or “Route of the Roasted Pig.”  (Hope still has a pulse.)   But the restaurants weren’t open on Sundays and Guavate was 90 minutes away which would’ve cost me hundreds of dollars for a car to take me there. (Hope flatlines.)

But he did say that Alavara, a local dive bar, does serve roasted pork on Sundays along with other good food.

alavara seating

 

Dive bar is right… It was right across the street from that Applebee’s and I was a little concerned that there were more people there than at Alavara.   But it was al fresco, the weather was nice, and it was a free vacation.

I started with a bottle of Medalla, the locally made beer.

alavara beer

 

Ok, so maybe the craft brew madness on the mainland just hasn’t hit PR yet.

I ordered their spring rolls with morcilla (blood sausage) and papaya salsa.

Alavara morcillo

 

It was an interesting preparation and the wrapper was nicely done. However, the morcilla didn’t have much flavor and the papaya sauce was way too sweet.

But I easily shook that off as I didn’t go there for the spring rolls. I came for this –

alavara pork plantain

 

 

Roast pork with a side of fried plantains.

Actually, I didn’t really care about the plantains.   Which was good, because they were salty as all hell.

Nope, this was the prize…

alavara pork

 

When I was a kid, we had a roasted pig at just about every big family party. The big benefit to having the whole beast was… well…pork.  But the next biggest benefit was that you could grab the meat off your favorite part or even mix them up to get the right mixture of firmness, flavor, and juices.   The best part was always the crispy skin – I believe they’re called “cracklins” in the Carolinas – either alone or mixed in as a texture component.

This was good, but not great. The piece of crispy skin was fantastic, as expected. However, I’m not sure where the meat was from and it all seemed a little tough and slightly dry. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that the mix wasn’t right, that it could’ve used a few hunks from the belly area. Or it could very well just be that they didn’t know jack about roasting pork.

So the spring roll was bland, the pork dry, and the beer was at best the equivalent of Budweiser.

 

But hey, I was on vacation and it sure beat the places across the street.

 

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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

7 comments on “Porking in Puerto Rico

  1. Fashionable Librarian
    June 18, 2015

    Reblogged this on Concierge Librarian.

  2. Max D.
    June 18, 2015

    I should’ve warned you about the over-abundance of fast food joints. And Applebee’s. Really. This one’s my fault. I hope you didn’t see any Olive Gardens. But you probably did, so again, I’m sorry.

    As you may know, the Puerto Rican economy makes Detroit look like Zurich. How this affects the food industry is anyone’s guess. The fact remains that Puerto Rico has tons of KFC, BK, Wendy’s etc. They all compete for authentic lechoneras, who are struggling to stay afloat. I guess the good news (in theory) is that the bad chefs will all go out of business, and the good ones will triumph. If only there were solvent banks that would make loans to the good chefs. . .

    It’s too bad you didn’t make it to Guavate. Really, you would’ve seriously considered buying property right there. But that’s the problem with living in a small place: it’s all a matter of perspective. Here in Michigan, if you tell me that I have to commute forty miles away, I’d shrug it off. But in an island that is 100 miles long and 35 across, forty miles seems like another country. And if you have to cross the mountains, that makes it feel even more distant. I remember not really being able to visit some of my friends who lived in Guaynabo because they were too far. In reality, it’s like saying, “I live in Ann Arbor and my friends in Chelsea. I guess I won’t be seeing them till next summer.”

    there’s only two ways to travel to PR: stay in an all-inclusive resort by the beach and forget where you are, or stay with someone who lives there. The all-inclusive resort will get you killer piña coladas, but the someone who lives there will take you to Guavate. For free.

  3. wanderingglutton
    June 19, 2015

    Now that I have moved into my new place, I will have get my BGE set up and have you over. I can’t cook a whole beast, but I can definitely get a good combination of juicy meat and crispy skin.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 19, 2015

      I think i need one of those eggs… Or, since we r designing our patio, maybe just leave room for a big smoker?

      • wanderingglutton
        June 23, 2015

        I love the consistency in quality of food that I can prepare on my BGE, but I do wish I could easily increase the volume of food. I am thinking of adding a smallish smokehouse to my outdoor kitchen.

  4. Pingback: Maybe it’s all Puerto Rican food that sucks. | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on June 18, 2015 by in Dining, Travel and tagged , , , , , .
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