When you are from the Caribbean and especially from Puerto Rica, you will soon miss a stuffed mofongo.
It’s one of the most satisfying comfort street foods you will ever find.
Besides Puerto Rican grown, freshly brewed coffee, I miss a good stuffed mofongo the most when I’m not at home in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
You can buy a stuffed mofongo on nearly any street corner in Old San Juan, whether you want a pork, beef, chicken, sea food or vegetarian version is up to you. All are equally tasty.
The classic stuffed mofongo is made with plantains and pork. However, since I’m missing my home in Puerto Rico now, it means I’m not there and couldn’t readily find plantains. Therefore I’m substituting it with nice organic Idaho potatoes. In fact, in Puerto Rico I’ve often had the option to get a potato or plantain stuffed mofongo, no worries.
Do note, the recipe is the same whether you use plantains or potatoes, there is just a bit of a difference in how you cook plantains.
*A note on potatoes, since they are one of the most laden-with-pesticides or GMO forms of food in the USA and the world, I choose organic potatoes whenever I can.
This recipe is for potatoes, how I made it, but you can also see the original recipe I followed here. Also, I made the mofongo upside down because that’s how I got to know it in Puerto Rico. For me, the filling part is supposed to be served inside a bowl that is made of potatoes or plantain. In other words, an edible bowl.
Lastly, I didn’t use pork cracklings because I don’t eat pork, but you can find it in the original recipe.
Here goes my version, prepare to have your taste buds dance the salsa! That is, the Puerto Rican salsa, of course!
Lots of whole garlic cloves
4.0 Large diced chicken breasts
1.0 Packet Sazón
Adobo seasoning or any of your favourite seasoning
Everybody benefits from supporting their local farmers market. It’s easy to do, especially when the market has multiple vendors offering a good variety and is close to your home. When you support your local farmers’ market, you are supporting something much greater than you imagine.
The Fiber of the Community
Local farmers markets have the unique ability to bring locals together by providing a lively, family friendly environment that everyone can enjoy.
Local produce; crafts; vegan, vegetarian, and mainstream food options; desserts; clothing and more can be found at your local farmers market. In a way it should be called a Community market as it represents a segment of your town coming together offering their best products for everyone to consume and enjoy.
Building the local economy begins at the farmers market. New small businesses often begin their journey here in order to test the market with their products. The level of success many of them find at the market will decide if they go on to open a local store front. The merchants that move to a brick and mortar space will look to hire local help. This is something that often gets overlooked but is very important to keep in mind as you support your local farmers market. The success of the small business merchants will spill over to the economical success of your town.
Tourist will come from far and wide to visit your town because of your beautiful beaches, your beautiful rivers or your grand mountains. One way of exposing tourists to the local people and culture is through the farmers markets.
Tourists often look to find the local farmers markets and see for themselves the produce and arts that are not necessarily available at your traditional malls. These folks want to take as much as they can from their experience in your town and what better way to do so than at the local, friendly farmers’ market.
One more attraction for tourists are local farms which gives your guests a refreshing perspective on how food is grown locally. We wrote a blog post on the tours we offer of our urban farm and we were amazed on how many great friends we made thanks to them.
Way too often the price point is overlooked. Local products, especially produce are immune to the price shifts in the general market as they are transported a very short distance to arrive at their destination.
In this jungle community, self-sustaining homes are built from trash and can withstand the deadliest storms.
When Noemi and Carlos Chaparro peered outside on September 21, 2017, they gasped at the destruction. Hurricane Maria, which had made landfall the previous day, had uprooted the gracious old palm and bamboo groves that once stood on their family farm in northwest Puerto Rico. The wind had torn the roof off the bedroom their two sons shared. The electricity was down. To get water, Carlos and Noemi had to carry buckets from a nearby river. To feed their three kids, they captured a pigeon and cracked open coconuts. The family couldn’t reach a working phone until early October. “It was traumatic,” Noemi told me. “Apocalyptic.”
For the Chaparros and millions of other Puerto Ricans, the hurricane served as a bitter reminder that this vestige of forgotten American empire still relies on a federal government that can’t be trusted to provide for even its most basic needs. After Maria, the Trump administration responded, but with delays. Convinced the funds would only go to paying off Puerto Rico’s debts, President Donald Trump tried to divert aid to the battered coasts of Texas and Florida. Poor communication, ruined infrastructure, and shoddy transportation left crucial aid stranded in Puerto Rico’s ports for weeks. Nearly 3,000 people died. Five months after the storm, a fifth of the island’s population still lacked electricity. No American community has suffered through a longer blackout.
This incredible island is home to some incredible tastes
Without fail, when I mentioned to friends and family my upcoming trip to Puerto Rico, everyone’s reaction was pretty much the same. Mostly a combination of confused looks and concerned comments about the state of the island. I guess it’s understandable since most people on the mainland still have images fresh in their memory of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Even though the small Caribbean US territory had suffered terrible losses due to the storm, Puerto Rico and its resilient people today are all about restoring and rebuilding to be better than ever, while moving towards becoming a more sustainable and self-sufficient island. In fact, the saying I heard time and time again from locals is their excitement for the island’s “new beginnings,” symbolizing a rebirth after losing almost everything to the storm.
On our first day in Puerto Rico and after a blissful night’s rest at Hyatt House San Juan, we embarked on a three hour Old San Juan Walk & Taste Tour by strolling through the cobblestone streets and popping into cafés to sample local, sustainably-sourced eats.
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, SAINT THOMAS, USVI. It’s been just about a year since two witches smashed their way through the Virgin Islands. You know their names – hurricanes Maria and Irma. As you know, the thrashing was particularly bad this time with various houses, businesses and lives completely destroyed.
When you think of St. Thomas, you might have a nice resort, beach and lounge chair reserved for yourself in your head. Yes, resorts (and jewelry) have been the main business here of late. In terms of resorts, whichever type you may like, they had it pre-hurricanes. Post-hurricanes – as you can imagine – the well-known ones are not the same anymore. But the blessing is, there are some new and old ones with new facelifts:
The Ritz Carlton took a helluva knock. After one year there are still renovations in place, although, some rooms are available. The beach and wonderful pool are still there, if that’s all you’re after – by all means book in.
Bolongo Beach Resort (you might know Iggy’s as a party spot at this resort) is almost in full operation, and all the rooms that are operational are fully booked! That’s a good sign if you take that as an indication of popularity.
Frenchman’s Cove, a timeshare location, seems to be back in full swing. Seems, because the various buildings on the property don’t show any sign of injury. The pool is fabulous, the shop, bar and restaurant in working order and they have many guest activities and live music to liven up your visit to the island. What’s more, one can take a sunset cruise from here with The VI Cat (thevicat.com) and enjoy a dinner and cocktails on the luxury catamaran. Day cruises are also available.
Things are on the up and up too at the brand new Margaritaville Resort on the other side of the island. It looks nearly as good as new, post-hurricanes.
The Marriott Hotel at the Frenchman’s Reef is completely closed as it suffered severe damage.
Lindbergh Bay Hotel and Villas are operational again too with restaurant Oceanside Bistro in full swing. They host theme parties there, this month it’s the Halloween Costume Party on 27 October 2018, sure to be fun! Their pool is being fixed as I type this blog. This is a very convenient location for tourists, as it is walking distance from the St. Thomas airport.
Emerald Beach Resort is great as it’s right on the beach. This is one of our favorite swimming spots and the ocean truly has an emerald color here (especially through some good Polaroid sunglasses!) Great views from every room and many resort activities (like karaoke) at the beach bar and water sports: including jet ski’s, kayaking and SUP-ing with Jetskivi.com. This beach is also very suitable for sunset wedding ceremonies with beach goers respecting the space. Chances are high that these blissful unions have been organized by Heart And Soul Unions.
Sometimes a big natural disaster also brings new life to a town. Although, many people have suffered severe loss emotionally, financially, morally and physically, other people’s lives are now better than it was before that fateful September of 2017:
Downtown St. Thomas has seen a few businesses closed down, but there is a new high-end supermarket called Moe’s (also one in Red Hook) next to FirstBank in Charlotte Amalie.
Café Amalia is still where it has been for many years in Palm Passage. Food is still lovely, the people friendly and a nice cool breeze sweeps through the plants and other businesses located in the well-designed, old Danish building that has stood the test of hurricanes for hundreds of years. This is a good restaurant to stop by if you’re shopping downtown, sometimes the heat can be a drain on your energy, especially in summer time in the Caribbean. www.amaliacafe.com
Barefoot Buddha, at Havensight Mall, is a cool oasis to visit for great healthy food (real fruit smoothies, love their veggie wraps and organic cuppa Joe) and to try on the latest fashion at their boutique. Lots of yoga mama’s hang here because right next door, at Breathe, there are now yoga classes offered for free – donations welcome. barefootbuddhavi.com
Tap & Still – discovered this bar and grille at two locations on the island. One is located at Havensight Mall and the other in Red Hook. It’s a burger and beer joint with a modern flair and you can watch the latest sports events on big screens all around the bar. Love the open plan design and fresh breezes cooling the place through no windows, in true old Caribbean style.
As you can see, a lot of good times are still to be had on this island, so don’t wait too long to book your next vacation here. There are so many resorts and restaurants to choose from, not to mention beaches, scuba, snorkeling and sailing trips to explore.
“I hear from clients all the time, today, who think the entire region is decimated, no power, nothing open, no flights,” said one of the thousands of luxury travel advisors attending the annual Virtuoso conference in Las Vegas two weeks ago told me, shaking his head in disbelief.
Totally not true.
In fact, most islands were unscathed by last year’s horrific hurricane season, and even those hit hard are nearly back to the hotel, villa, restaurant and flight levels they enjoyed before the storm. But what may surprise many high-end travelers is the silver lining – because so many hotels rebuilt partially or completely, taking advantage of the opportunity to expand, improve or update, many of the Caribbean’s top resorts are better than ever. Another surprise – occupancy for the coming peak holiday, winter and spring break season is nearly back to normal levels, so don’t expect bargain, and if you are waiting to see what happens and book last minute, you will likely get shut out. For the most part this winter the Caribbean will see business as usual – only better.
Anguilla is a perfect example. One of the most traditionally luxurious islands in the Caribbean, it is home to five top tier luxury resorts and countless deluxe villas, a favorite way to stay on the island. Even after Anguilla was ravaged by storms last summer, owners managed to get 70% of the villas reopened before last Christmas season. Most of the rest of the work was done in the first quarter of this year, and currently the vast majority of the villas, 95% of the island’s restaurants, and three of the five top hotels are already open. The remaining two resorts, the Belmond Cap Juluca and Auberge Resorts’ Malliouhana, are both reopening in time for the holidays. These are two of the best luxury properties in the entire Caribbean and they will essentially be brand new.
The Nature Conservancy is launching a revolution to save our coral reefs throughout the Caribbean and beyond. Joining forces with the world’s best scientists, we are developing and deploying groundbreaking techniques to grow new corals and bring dying reefs back to life.
Learn more about how we’re fighting to save these unique and essential ecosystems before our oceans are irreversibly damaged. The Year of the Reef! Keep up with The Nature Conservancy’s latest efforts to protect nature and preserve life on Twitter (twitter) and Facebook (facebook) Text NATURE to 97779 to join The Nature Conservancy on text.
Caribbean countries must transform their energy systems by creating new, greener sources of power.
Puerto Rico lost electricity again on April 18th, seven months after Hurricane Maria first knocked out the island’s power grid. For people in some remote rural areas, the blackout was more of the same. Their power had yet to be restored.
The dangerous fragility of Puerto Rico’s energy systems has put other Caribbean countries on high alert. Across the region, electric grids are dated, ailing, and overburdened—making it easy work for a powerful passing storm.
Now that task seems far more urgent. To move beyond fossil fuels, Caribbean countries must transform their energy systems by building in new, greener sources of power. That will also make electric grids more resilient to weather extremes because they will be decentralized—pulling from a diverse array of power sources.
I’m visiting Guadeloupe currently and loving the views! Guadeloupe, if you didn’t know, is a French territory island in the Caribbean. It is shaped like a butterfly on the map, surrounded by a few other islands under its government: Marie Galante, Les Saintes, Petite Terre and Désirades. The mainland is divided in two islands that are connected with a natural bridge: Grande Terre and Basse Terre.
So far we’ve explored Grande Terre from St Francois to the furthermost eastern point of the island to the north at Le Moule and west past St Anne and Le Gosier to Pointe-á-Pitre where the international airport is located.
Here is some proof of the beauty of this place. Enjoy!
Since our blog titled, “Elon Musk Willing to Power Puerto Rico” of 6 October, a few hundred Powerwall battery packs for solar power energy arrived in Puerto Rico.
According to *Frederic Lambert of Electrek.co, “The new shipment arrived not long after Musk spoke with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello last week to talk about ways for Tesla Energy to help rebuild the power grid destroyed by the two hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean.”
That’s not all. Elon Musk is now putting extra effort into bringing power back to Puerto Rico AND other affected areas by unveiling his new Tesla Semi truck earlier than planned:
Tesla, the automaker, is changing the planned revealing date of its electric truck, the Tesla Semi, from October 26 to *November 16 (according to Electrek.co) as it focuses on Model 3 production and aiding “power-less” Puerto Rico.
Tesla Semi, Model 3 truck image from trucks.com
Currently, less than 20% of the island has power and some areas may experience months without electricity. That is why Tesla plans to first focus on helping hospitals and medical centers to get stable power.