|Pumpkin Flower Appetizer|
One of the items on the table was called a quenepa and we were encouraged to sample the fruit. It was unlike nothing that I had ever tasted before. It had a large pit in the center and had a pink fleshy fruit on the inside. The pit was larger than fruit output and I cannot quite describe the flavor of the pink flesh. It was mushy. sweet, citrus-like, and tropical tasting. Geronimo gave us the whole vine to take home with us and enjoy.
The meal started off with a cucumber and lemon juice water that was slightly sweetened. It was served in a wine bottle and left at our table so we could have as much as we wanted. Needless to say, we drank the whole bottle. Shortly after the bottle arrived that our first course was presented. Mendoza was so attentive and explained again to us what was in the first course. It was salad with local greens, pumpkin seeds, shaved fresh coconut, sprouts, and guava dressing. The salad was simple yet flavorful. The guava dressing was slightly acidic and sweet and was unlike any dressing that I had before, but wished that I could have it every day. I love seeds on a salad and the touch of pumpkin seeds and coconut shavings was creative and delicious.
We were off to a great start. The appetizer came out and we were wowed by the presentation and dish. It was a pumpkin flour breaded and stuffed with rice flower and pan fried. The plate was drizzled with a balsamic reduction. The dipping sauce was guava and coconut. The flower had a delicate and crunchy flavor. This was the first time that I had ever been served a flower as the main item on a dish. It was also the first time I had tasted a flower fried. We shared the plate and wished we had more, however; after the rest of the meal arrived were glad we did not. The evening provided us so much food that I even had some leftovers for breakfast the next day!
The main course took a while to come out, but we did not mind. We were still enjoying the flavor of the pumpkin flower and dipping sauce. The dinner itself lasted about three hours, but did not seem that it was that long because of all of the good food and conversation. For our main course, we were presented with chayote filled with pumpkin basmati rice, pumpkin seeds, chayote heart, and a balsamic reduction. While chayote is a fruit, it resembles squash and a root vegetable. There is not any sweetness to it and it almost tasted similar to a potato, but not exactly. The chayote heart was soft and almost creamy, much like that of a avocado heart but not the prickly fibers. I ate all of the rice filling and about a fourth of the chayote body. They wrapped up the remainder of the body for me to take home. I took back with me some of the guava sauce from the appetizer to sprinkle on top.
|This was my serving- it was huge!|
|Me, John, Geronimo, and Mendoza|
After wrapping up the dessert, we talked with Geronimo and Mendoza for a while. We also met another person who helped out, but I cannot remember his name. We even paused for a picture. While the quality is not the best, it is still a nice token from the evening. The staff was so kind and friendly and the evening really was a wonderful experience. I recommend eating at Paladar Vegetariano to anyone visiting San Juan. Make sure to call ahead and set up a reservation well in advance. If you are coming from the United States, you can call before you leave for the Island. You do not have to worry about calling internationally as Puerto Rico is part of the United States. I say this not to state the obvious, but I am amazed by the amount of people who thought I was leaving the country. We did not have to present passports! :-)
|Coming storm over the ocean|