Category Archives: Food

Delicious Puerto Rican Piñon aka Pastelon


Posted by Cassie

IMG_7559

It has been so nice having a full-sized kitchen to cook in. I have been taking advantage of having an oven as much as possible. One of the things I wanted to try was piñon also known as pastelon for some time now. It is basically a Puerto Rican version of lasagna that uses ripe plantains in place of the lasagna noodles. I have had it before at some traditional comida criolla (Puerto Rican cuisine) places, so I had something of an idea what it would be like. I gave it a whirl and it turned out really good! It is sort of strange to have a slightly sweet flavor along with all the traditional Italian seasonings you would use in lasagna.

Here’s a video on how I made piñon. It is probably not exactly how you would do it if you were Puerto Rican, but it is my gringo-fied version. Haha.

¡Buen Provecho!

Pinon 2

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8 Best Places in Rincón to Eat for Cheap


Posted by Cassie

Food at Cambija

Going out to eat is one of those luxuries that is just so nice every now and then. Living in Rincón we have some of the best food around, but it is not always cheap. Food in general is expensive in Puerto Rico due to shipping costs and so eating out is often even more expensive. In Rincón it can be really pricey because it is a tourist town and you can easily find yourself in a “tourist trap” paying outrageous prices like around $20 for just a hamburger if you aren’t careful. Even in more moderately priced locales, if you have a couple of drinks, add in the tax and tip, two people could easily spend $50 on a night out! So in order to still be able to enjoy going out in our own town, eat something fairly healthy and not a chain (AKA not Churches or Burger King) and spend under or around $20 for two people, here’s what we do.

Firstly, we don’t go out anywhere feeling famished. We eat a couple of boiled eggs, bananas or some chia seeds to fill up on our way out. That way we can often just order one entrée and share it!

Here are our top 8 + stops when eating out on the cheap. Also note that businesses are always coming and going in Rincón so keep your eye out for new places and realize that many of these may not exist in a year or two. (Editor note: This is current for March of 2017.)

Nopales

1) Nopales. This place just opened up in the new Econo strip mall and we love it. It is basically a Chipotle or Qdoba concept of burritos or tacos. We order one burrito and split it. $6 plus tax. The women who work there are also super friendly and nice. Definitely our current #1 favorite place to eat out on the cheap in Rincon.

2) Panaderias. Pretty much any panadería in town (or on the island for that matter) you will find lunch or dinner specials. Try EC, Calvache, Rincoeño or Econo’s cafeteria. A huge stryrofoam container full of chicken or lechón, and rice and beans will set you back about $6 plus tax. Or sometimes we order a sandwich for about the same price. I like the pollo asa’o.

cassie-tommy-poke

3) Food trucks. These can actually sometimes be a little more expensive because they are run by the owners themselves and often with fresh, local ingredients. Sometimes they later become brick and mortar locations like Mi Familias and Jack’s Shack.  Pizza Truck on the 413 is a quick, easy and cheap stop, but maybe not the healthiest fare. We love all the trucks on the corner by Mama Mel’s. Generally, most of these have shareable courses for around $8-12.

Calypso PDub
Calypso during an event

4) Calypso. You just can’t beat the happy hour rum punches, sunset view, music and decent bar food here. We usually share some nachos and a couple of rum drinks and can get out of there for around $20. One note: bring your own water. They will not provide tap water but will sell bottles.

Sunset 2 (2)
Sunset on beach by Tamboo

5) Tamboo. Another favorite mainly for the location, but the food is really good too. It is located right on Sandy Beach where we have witnessed sea turtles hatching as well as whales waving their fins at us. We like Mexican Tuesdays where they have really good Mexican food that changes every week. We’ve had awesome chimichangas and stuffed bell peppers. Entrees are usually about $13-14. With a margarita and a beer or two we can walk away about $25 lighter and a belly full.

qc-view-from-roof-of-rincon
Downtown Rincon (la plaza)

6) Downtown. There are now so many options in Rincon’s plaza area. Some are much more expensive than others, but if you are willing to share you can still get out of most of them for $20. Try all of them if you have time: Rincón Beer Company, Rincón Gyro, Café 413, Roots, Cappriccio, Mangia Mi, De Bocas, Brother’s Pizza. Note for those really on a budget: A pizza slice and a Medalla beer will be less than $5 at Brother’s!

La Cambija

7) La Cambija. Kind of a weird location right on the road down from the balneario, but they have some of the freshest fish at decent prices. The parking situation is also a little awkward because they have a little golf cart that will ship you back and forth. I like their fish ceviche, pinchos, tacos and burritos. About $8-10 per course or $4 for a pincho. Another place to bring your own water to avoid paying for it!

cofresi-pirata

8) Villa Cofresí.
Right on the water, it’s a great place to watch the sunset and drink Piratas which aren’t cheap, but pack a punch and are served in a coconut! We call this place the cruise ship of Rincón because it has that sort of feel. There is a fancier, air conditioned restaurant but to eat on the cheap, order from the bar and sit outside. A burger and fries is less than $10 I believe. Note: drink the piratas at happy hour and it’s about $2 less than regular price.

Honorable Mentions: These places are not very cheap, but they are really good, beautiful and/or different. You can still get out for around $30 if you are careful of your selections and share food.

Secret Thai
Having fun at “Secret Thai” or “Thai Lady’s”

Secret Thai: Ask around and you will find it through a series of strange directions that include two snakes. The very best authentic Thai place that everyone knows about but…hush, doesn’t! Bonus: You can bring your own beer!

Dancing
Bar area of Copa Llena

Copa Llena: Right on the water by the marina. Romantic and beautifully lit. After a fantastic meal you can sit out on the Adirondack chairs and put your feet in the sand.

surfer spot
Surfer’s Spot during the day

Surfer Spot: This is the place for the best cheeseburger I have ever eaten and we are from beeflandia Colorado! They have great pies and other food too, but the cheeseburger is just divine especially at $9 including fries that we can share. I don’t even really eat beef, but I make an exception for this cheeseburger in paradise! The only drawbacks are that it is only open really late at night to serve the night scene and right on a busy road (the 413).

English Rose: Up in the hills overlooking the ocean you can have a wonderful breakfast. There are not many breakfast places, and this is the best both in food and ambience. It’s really not too expensive either.
english rose view
View from the English Rose

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Random Photo Update: Life in Toon Town


Posted by Cassie

Here are a few photos that don’t probably deserve a post on their own but are just a part of the slice of life living in Puerto Rico. Sometimes the scenes and places we end up just seem so surreal, like we are living in a dream or some sort of cartoon. Sometimes it’s very strange, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s just strikingly beautiful. But whatever it is, we’re living it up!

Palm Tree Cassie
The beach is always right around the corner

Ardilla Mongoose crop
I finally got a photo of the mongoose! The little egg bandit!

Turkey bridgeTurkeys need to cross bridges too! This particular guy is the hope for the future of our turkeys. The last surviving male.

Corazon
We are harvesting more and more of our own fruit from the finca like this corazón, a fruit that looks like a heart

Bilimbe
And these interesting bilimbes that are juicy and so sour but leave a cool buttery taste in your mouth

More plants
And we went out and got some more plants too!

Kitty
I forgot to mention that Kitty is adapting well to the move over to the cabin too

Cassie Aquario
Out and about there is always something cool to see and do

Barrita Los cocos
Like this little Coconut Barrita

Hibiscus Flor
Or this amazing hibiscus flower right in the plaza that took my breath away

Britton and beer
Check out the view from this roadside liquor store

Mannequin house
And there is nothing like the bottom half of a naked mannequin to draw attention to your store! :-)

Britton congas
One of the conga players from the balneario came down and practiced with us in the jam space!

Sunset
There’s never a shortage of spectacular sunsets here!

Sunset
Marina Sunset

Sangria Cassie
And new spots to check out like Pal Monte

Cassie Ultimo Brinco stand
Which is just up the road from El Ultimo Brinco, Rincon’s little waterfall spot

Cassie wanted  Anthony Loops and Cassie
Or at the restaurant Cowboys which is like a little slice of Colorado in Rincón (with friend and musician, Anthony Lee). They even have rodeos here!

Cowboys Rubberneckers
And we got to see our friends play some country music – the Rubberneckers

Viking B
And if Puerto Rico is like Toon Town, we are now part of the loony fabric too! Here’s Viking man at the beach!

Cassie contemplating coco
Or the contemplation of a coconut in an abandoned house without a roof

Colorful downtown
And everything is so colorful!

Bienvenidos a rincon
Rincón even has the cartoon-like welcome signs!

Cassie rock
And did I mention the beach is around every corner?

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Living in the Cabin and Preparing the Studio


Posted by Cassie

Car and Finca
Looking down at our finca from the road you wouldn’t even know a cabin existed!

I suppose it’s time to do an update on the move to the jungle tree cabin! There is always something more to be done so it’s a little hard to say we are “finished” moving over. But we have been sleeping in the cabin for about 2 months now! Once we moved the bed over, we were officially living here!

Bed
Our bed in the cabin!

This, like everything, was quite the process because we had to haul everything over on foot.

Moving out
We loaded the truck and took the furniture half-way down

Jungle flowers
And then carried it through the tropical gardens

Bridge Britton
And over the bridge…

Cabin
Up the stairs…and into the jungle cabin

We also cleaned out the studio cabana and it needed a full scrub down! Even though it is tiny, things still get really dirty here. Having all our stuff out made the job a little easier.

Britton hoser
At least in the concrete cabin it’s acceptable to bring a hose inside! Haha

Then we bought another bed for the cabana and cleaned it again so that it will be ready for visitors.

Bed to Cabana
Unloading the bed for the studio cabana

Cabana bed (2)
Cabana all cleaned and ready!

So the studio cabana is now officially open for visitors! Contact us at lifetransplanet@gmail.com to stay with us! Here’s the page with information on staying in the cabana!

Cabana Table and view Cabana kitchenette
Roof top dining and view and inside living space of the studio

Back at the jungle cabin, while we had running water, electricity and even internet, we didn’t exactly have a kitchen. Not that that was a deal breaker considering that we lived for 3 years with a mini fridge and a hot plate for our method of cooking, but I was pretty excited to have a full sized kitchen.

Britton Kitchen
Britton in the kitchen/living room of the cabin with the new sink and stove just waiting to be installed

Santa Cassie
And though I have been loving our new bathroom, it just doesn’t make the best place to wash dishes! :-)

So we started building the kitchen including making our own counters/lower cabinets.  

Counters
Building the counters

Britton installed the heavy enameled cast iron sink but had to drill through our very thick floor in order to have a grey water drain out.

Thick Floor
Like a tree core sample. The floor consists of 3/4 inch plywood, thinset, 3/4 cement board, more thinset and the tile

Kitchen Sink
Kitchen currently with counter tiles and functional sink! Yay for washing dishes out of the bathroom!

The next big thing was to hook up gas to our new gas stove so that we would literally be cooking with gas! We went down to Rafucci’s next to Ventana Al Mar to get the parts and the friendly owner said he would just send the gas guys down. We warned them that this was not a standard hook up and that you wouldn’t be able to find us from the road, but he didn’t seem worried.

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After stopping at Rafucci’s we walked 20 steps to Aloha for a beer and that always makes BK happy

When the two workers showed up, they walked down the drive, through the meadow, past the chicken and turkey coops, through the tropical gardens, down the ridge line trail, across the bridge, up the stairs and quickly concluded that they would not be able to hook up a big propane gas tank. They said they would return with a 25 lb tank in about an hour. After waiting about 3 hours, we went back to Rafucci and talked with Alfredo again who said he talked with the muchachos and they said that the site was a little too difficult for them. (Would have been nice for them to have told us that instead of having us wait…)

So we decided to go ahead and do what we were going to do in the first place and just install it ourselves. We have found that often people don’t like to tell others bad news so they will just tell you what they think you want to hear and then just avoid you. Because of that we always have a Plan B especially since we know that we are an odd case in general.

Gas hook up
Britton hooking up the gas

Last night we actually ate our first meal cooked in the oven: lasagna; and it was so good! We have been joking that we are going to get chubby again eating with a real kitchen with a full fridge and everything! haha!

Stove
We can’t wait to cook lots of meals on this stove!

Overall, living in the cabin has been a lot of fun. Because there is no road and we are deep in the trees we are immersed in nature. The hummingbirds buzz around, the doves flap and the hawks are always swirling high above. We often see the mongoose running around and of course lots and lots of iguanas, geckos and coquis everywhere. The trees sway all around us and we feel like we live in and amongst them. It’s a really cool feeling.

Cassie stairs
You don’t want to forget anything or it’s quite a walk back!

It can be a bit of a challenge to walk home in the night so we have to always remember our flashlights especially because there are very few guard rails. One night we forgot them and had to crawl on our hands and knees across the bridge because it was a dark and moonless night and…we had been drinking. But we laughed the whole way across.

Coqui
This cold, wet and clammy coqui landed on my leg and then hopped on this ginger leaf

 

First party
We have even had our first “unofficial” get together with a few friends at the cabin!

Cassie jungle
We have lots of fun in our own jungle park!

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