Thursday, February 28, 2013

Overloaded milk shakes in Fajardo

Louis found a street fair near the beach in Fajardo where we spent most of the day prior to our kayak trip in the bio-luminescence bay

Everyone except for me decided to indulge in some pimped-out milk shakes.

Hyon Jae and Jason shared a coconut shake with virtually every topping imaginable:

Louis got a strawberry flavored one with whipped cream and pound cake:

Not sure why I decided to pass up on dessert... seems out of character, but maybe all that sun finally got to me

As for the bio-luminescence kayak trip: it's a must-do if you ever visit Puerto Rico. Unfortunately I couldn't bring my camera or my phone because of the 120% potential for water damage, but it was definitely my favorite part of the vacation

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Last Saturday Ameeka's friend Sharlene was visiting from India, and we decided to take her to Evoo (located in Cambridge's Kendall Square) for dinner.

Per the restaurant's web site, Evoo stands for "extra virgin olive oil," and they specialize in "New American" cuisine using organic, local, and sustainable ingredients.

They offer a daily $42 3-course menu in which you can choose one each from the appetizer, entree, and dessert selection. Their option is superior to the traditional "pre-fix" that is more commonly offered at restaurants, since at Evoo you can choose your dishes from the entire house menu (whereas pre-fix menus are a limited subset).

All of us elected to take advantage of this $42 menu with the exception of Sharlene, who passed on dessert (if you glance at their menu's delicious-sounding dessert selections, you'll probably agree with me that she clearly has superior self-control)

For appetizers, we got:

Shrimp and grits (mine): the popcorn on top was an interesting touch, but it was a bit too salty

Smoked rabbit confit, wild greens, port-soaked cherries, and toasted pecans with Vermont cheddar and Rosemary vinaigrette  (Meghan's):

Adobo braised smoked lamb belly-filled parsnip tamale with sweet potatoes, pickled jalapenos, and cilantro (Sharlene's):

Goat cheesecake with balsamic glazed pea greens, granola, and roasted red beets (Ameeka's):

For entrees, we got:

Garlic and parsley studded grass-fed beef tenderloin with sour cream whipped potatoes, grilled sweet onions, Portobello mushrooms, and orange bearnaise (both Sharleen and I):

Potato samosas with curried butternut squash puree (Ameeka):

Lamb tagine with dry fruit, olives, couscous, toasted almonds, mint, cilantro, and Harissa (Tunisian hot chili sauce) (Meghan):

Last but not least, we have the desserts:

I chose the chocolate-banana bread pudding with warm buttermilk caramel:

Ameeka chose the carrot cake with rum raisin toffee sauce and cream cheese ice cream (it's pictured right as the ice cream is about to slide off the top of the cake... so dramatic!):

Megan elected to have the warm apple crisp with almond-oat topping and salted caramel ice cream (there was plenty to share and the almond-oat topping was delicious)

At the end of the night I was full and very very satisfied. My beef tenderloin had been perfectly prepared, and the banana-bread pudding was awesome.

Even though it's not far from where I live, or far from our hospital, I don't often find myself venturing into the Cambridge-area, so "thank-you" to Megan for choosing this yummy restaurant and making the reservations!

Overall rating: 8/10

350 3rd Street
Cambridge, MA 02142

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kasalta: revisited

...Ok we probably revisited Kasalta closer to 4 times.

It was our go-to breakfast place for our entire stay in Puerto Rico, but given the variety offered there, redundancy wasn't an issue with our food choices

I decided to let everyone else eat their breakfasts in peace, so pictured below are only the items that I ordered:

Beef-filled pastry: (I have no idea what the Spanish name for this was. I just pointed to what I wanted and they gave it to me. Clearly 3 years of high school Spanish class went to waste...)

Spicy chicken empanada:

Kasalta's specialty pastry: basically it's flaky pastry dough wrapped around a cream cheese filling (very yummy - the only person who didn't order this at some point or other was Louis, who had a love affair with the Sancocho stew)

Coconut cake: this cake looked promising, but ended up being very dense. It had the texture of a coconut loaf. Or coconut block. Sturdy enough to build shelters with

Chicken-filled pastry: (I have no idea what the Spanish name for this was either)

It's no wonder that we saw so many runners - at all times of the day- through-out San Juan. Without regular exercise, eating like this on a regular basis would make most people morbidly obese.

On our part, the hearty breakfasts gave Louis the energy he needed to attack a coconut. Pictured below is him cracking one open on a rock in Fajardo (not gonna lie - I egged him on so that I could photograph it and subsequently post the pics all over the web)

Thursday, February 21, 2013


It's a little late in coming, but I'm finally catching up on my pre-vacation posts. The night before I left, Ameeka and Christina and I decided to have Spanish tapas at Toro -  a restaurant that I've been wanting to try (and almost would have tried for a New Years Eve party, if not for a last-minute change in work scheduling).

The restaurant is small, and due to it's popularity, also crowded. The tables are close together, which offers opportunities for eavesdropping on your neighbors... which could be a good thing. Or bad thing.

Our first neighbors for the evening were two girls - one of which decided to wear a top that was too small. I don't have any special love for boobs: I guess I can appreciate nice vs. not so nice pairs, but I see enough of them at work, and hell - I have my own, so the view didn't do anything for me. Obviously my pals and I weren't her target audience though. Poor girl would have done better if 3 male docs had been seated next to her instead...

After the chesty lady and her friend left, they were replaced by a young Chinese couple. I couldn't tear my eyes away from them: they ordered almost everything on the menu, and the guy hoovered his food so quickly that I was surprised he didn't aspirate on something.

A few years ago my mom and I were discussing a recently-published article about how an increasing number of the affluent Chinese families -in not only Hong Kong but also mainland China itself- were sending their children to boarding schools in Europe to be trained in "Western manners." Unfortunately the reputation for the Chinese people is that we have terrible manners. Down-right disgusting. In fact, prior to the Beijing Olympics, the government was enacting harsh punishment for citizens that were caught doing things like spitting in the streets (a habit that's not-uncommon there).

I was pretty insulted by the article. I simply found it hard to believe that people of my generation would have such a poor concept of manners and appropriate public behavior - regardless of what country they're from. I insisted to my mom that maybe people of her generation were still blowing snot into their hands and coughing sputum into the streets, but that the younger generation knows better - without the need to be sent to foreign schools.

Mom - I was wrong. Sorry

This young Chinese fellow seated next to us that night could definitely have benefited from some lessons in etiquette. He literally grabbed pieces of meat and shoved them into his mouth like a cave-man. And then tossed back his head and dangled pieces of prosciutto above his gaping jaws before dropping them in... O_O

Anyway... enough of my rant and onto the food!

Tortilla Espanola:  Egg, potato and onion omelet with alioli 

Atun Crudo:  Yellowfin tuna with white soy, spicy cucumbers, citrus and avocado 

Paté de Higado: Pork liver mousse on toast with whole grain mustard and sauerkraut 

Patatas Bravas: Fried potatoes with alioli and spicy tomato sauce

Hamburguesas: Grass fed mini burgers with smoked tomato, alioli and pickled red onion 

Maíz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija: Grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese

Pato con Membrillo: Smoked duck drumettes with quince glaze   

Empanada de Pollo y Papas:  Housemade chicken and potato empanda with tomatillo salsa y alioli  

Overall rating: 7.5/10

1704 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02118

Puerto Rico Part 4: Cafeteria Eljibario

Early in our trip to Puerto Rico, we stopped a police officer in the middle of the street to ask for restaurant recommendations (I don't know what the crime rate is in Puerto Rico, but policemen outnumber puppies there. There's at least 2 at every street corner - usually doing nothing but looking pretty).

Initially he told us about his favorite sushi place. Fail. Second try, he told us about a "fantastic" Thai place. Fail #2. The dude didn't seem to grasp the concept that there are Sushi/Thai places galore in Boston. What we wanted was authentic Puerto Rican food. We wanted enough mofongo that it would be oozing out of our pores by the time we were seeing patients again come Monday.

Finally, Mr. Police officer was able to tell us about a popular restaurant in Old San Juan that specializes in authentic Puerto Rican cuisine called Cafeteria Eljibario

The restaurant itself was very casual, tucked away in one of the narrow alleys that Old San Juan seems to have everywhere, but the food was hearty and simple with amazing prices

We shared some pork empanadas as an appetizer:

(a bit stingy on the pork)

Hyon Jae and I both chose the mixed plate that contained fried rice with pork and beans, roasted pork, and pastele (green banana mass with pork filling wrapped in a banana leaf = similar to the Mexican Tamale):

The boys both got the mofongo (common trend this trip) with pork (unpictured because they were hungry and dug in right away

For dessert I tried their individually prepared tres leches cake:

And Jason got the caramel flan:

Also included are a few pictures of Old San Juan - just for fun :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Puerto Rico Part 3: Punto de Vista

Day 2 in island paradise was filled with quite a bit of exercise (mostly walking long distances in the heat), at least for half of our group. It being V-day, we wanted to give Jason and Hyon Jae some quality time alone, and not long after breakfast they headed off to a secluded beach for swimming/sun-bathing/whatever other things happy young couples do in a beach town.

Louis and I on the other hand - being more akin to siblings and NOT wanting to fill our day with the same type of activities as the other two, started off with some tree-climbing at the park (I'm the sibling with the superior tree-climbing skills - as you will see documented below), followed by a walk to Castillo San Cristobal: a former Spanish fort that according to Wikipedia is the "largest fortification built by the Spanish in the New World." For those of you who have not experienced it for yourselves, it has a remarkable view of the ocean for about 280 degrees, while the other 80 degrees offers a view of Old San Juan

... which ended up being our destination for lunch as well as souvenir shopping for some of our friends/loved ones back in Boston.

For our late lunch we decided on a restaurant located near the piers in Old San Juan called Punto de Vista (based on a recommendation from my friend Jenn). Another place known to specialize in delicious authentic Puerto Rican food, it looks quite "hole-in-the-wall" despite being in a high-traffic area.

The food was as yummy as expected though: we ordered the fish tacos

accompanied by some sweet plantains

In fact, the food was good enough that as I will document in a later post, we actually returned to Punto de Vista for dinner later in the trip - this time with the entire group

Overall we probably walked well over 6 miles that afternoon. Plus my tree climbing adventures:

And my older brother-from-another-mother chasing after a lizard in the park:

Needless to say, the lizard escaped

(And yes - I did indeed climb the trees in a dress. With a camera bag slung onto my back. *Badass*)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Puerto Rico Part 2: Kasalta

Yesterday was our first full day in Puerto Rico, and obviously it started with: breakfast!

Hyon Jae and Jason had taken a red-eye flight the day before the rest of us arrived, so they had a chance to scope out the breakfast scene in advance. The place where they brought us was a Puerto Rican restaurant-bakery called Kasalta, located in the older part of New San Juan.

This dining establishment was set up like a mix between a cafeteria and bakery: in that one side of the building was lined with glass cases full of the food offerings (anything from empanadas to croissants, and even stews or hearty sandwiches), while the rest of the space was filled with cafeteria-style tables.

Walking in I was almost overwhelmed by the sheer variety of baked goods, deli meats, and other items loading their glass cases. One thing that definitely first caught my eye was a gigantic pastry the size of my face and coated with powdered sugar:

Hyon Jae and Jason eventually ordered this, and although it looks like a powdered-sugar version of a cinnamon bun, the pastry actually had a hint of lemon flavor

I opted for a Puerto Rican version of a mix between an omelet and fritata: basically a combination of egg and french fries baked into a pie-shape:

I also ordered a dessert that was a combination of oreo, caramel, and cheesecake (you can see the cheesecake layer in the middle): definitely as delicious and decadent as it looks

Louis ordered a Puerto Rican stew (Sancocho):

and sandwich with chorizo and cheese

In addition to the powdered-sugar head-sized bun, Jason got a slice of the tres leches (3-milk) cake: the three types of milk typically used are a) sweetened condensed milk, b) evaporated milk, and c) regular whole milk. One of my favorite types of cake of all time, it always reminds me of my childhood (even though I'm not Puerto Rican). My dad used to buy whole tres leches cakes from a favorite bakery of his, and my little bro and I could devour an entire cake just between the two of us in one sitting

Last but not least, Kasalta had great coffee. Normally I'm not a coffee connoisseur, but even I could appreciate that the coffee was done well. Strong but without even a hit of burnt flavor, the coffee is served in mini-cups about the size of espresso cups. There's good reason for this: any larger volume of  their special brew would probably put less experienced coffee drinkers (like myself) into first - palpitations, followed by atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response, and finally into cardiac arrest

(I got my coffee "con leche")

*Of note, I actually lied when I said that the first thing we did yesterday morning was eat breakfast. In fact, the very first thing we did was play with animals. The Caribe Hilton where we're staying has a garden area with a variety of animals fit for a petting zoo. This includes several peacocks, both black and white swans, iguanas, ducks and geese galore, plenty of fish, and a turkey!

(Mr. Turkey let me get very up-close and personal for this glamor shot)