Puerto Rico :
Island of Enchantment
Puerto Rico Does It Better!
a dyed in the wool urbanite. Give me a city steeped in history, culture and centuries-old architecture any day! Puerto Ricans take the Christmas holidays to another level. Celebrations begin in late November and culminate on January 6th with “El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos”, Three Kings’ Day. We were greeted by a parade (parranda) of teens playing musical instruments in the Plaza de San José and followed them, much to our delight, right into the center of town.
El Morro, the six-level fortress that rises 140 feet above the sea, had a tremendous impact on me. At first glance, I felt transported back in time to the late 1500’s. The views of San Juan Bay from the fort were truly awesome. I could feel the essence of Christopher Columbus and his Spanish Conquistadors—the feeling was that powerful and impressive. Follow the maze of tunnels, dungeons, barracks and outposts and see if you don’t feel the same! El Morro is a National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service and is open daily from 9am-5pm.
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
During the past twenty-five years, “MAC” has fostered an open view on contemporary art within the Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American context. We arrived as a group but quickly splintered off to wander the galerías on our own. David La Chapelle’s exhibit, “Humanity on the Edge” featured his iconic photograph of Madonna, dancing in the street with a group of Puerto Ricans. José Campeche’s “Mito y Realidad” paintings stirred vivid memories of my Catholic upbringing and Inés Aponte’s “Cut from the Same Cloth” showcase contained brilliantly constructed red paper dolls that piqued questions of social systems, civil rights and social justice. Hemingway once said that you must view art on an empty stomach. Luckily, I had followed his advice for my heart and soul were satiated with creativity. But now it was time for lunch…
We were greeted by Marco, the sommelier, who was polishing the wine glasses on our table. One look at the line-up of stemware and I knew that we were about to experience a serious five-course tasting…Marco and General Manager Rafael served us a refreshing cocktail made with Palo Viejo Rum, then set about dazzling us with Chef Ariel’s creations. Grilled Octopus and Fingerling Potatoes set the stage as an amusé. Then, Coral Cod Tartar, presented like a miniature Zen garden was set in front of us. Under Marco’s instruction, we “raked” through the Avocado Mousse and Red Pepper Crocant with our fork to capture all the flavors in one bite. A 2008 Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay from Santa Rita, California was poured-- absolutely stunning. Day Boat Scallops were preceded by Potato Gnocchi with Thyme-Pumpkin Sauce. Then, a 2008 Melville Pinot Noir filled our Burgundy glasses. I swooned. (I'll quickly mention that all of the wines we sampled were from the Santa Rita Region of California.) Veal Osso Buco Lasagna served with Black Truffle Emulsion was the final pièce de résistance. These bites were beyond spectacular paired with a full-bodied 2003 Melville Syrah. In a haze of gustatory euphoria, we succumbed to Marco’s effortless charm and genuine hospitality. I am certain that my meal at Augusto’s will be one of my fondest “foodie” memories forever.
In 2005, the torch of Augusto’s was honorably passed to Chef/owner Ariel Rodriguez. Since then, Chef Ariel has created an experience of the senses with his innovative tasting menus. Ariel is winner of the title “Iron Chef Puerto Rico” and continues to pursue his dream to place Puerto Rico among the highest culinary destinations of the world.
801 Ponce De Leon Avenue
San Juan, PR
Michael’s Limousine provided transportation services for this trip from the New York Tri-Sate area. Their uniformed chauffeurs are courteous and committed to responding to customer's every transportation need. For reservations please call 800.555.5593