I have burgered! I have blogged!
For the last two weeks I’ve been sunning it in Puerto Rico. Why? Because I’m not sure about Christmas. Now that Santa’s not bringing me toys Xmas just makes me feel claustrophobic. It makes me feel lethargic. It makes me feel like I don’t know what day it is, even more so than when I normally don’t know what day it is.
Christmas, for me, is better when the sun is blazing; when you don’t have Cadbury Celebrations chocolates for breakfast, because you’re having a beer. Or two. It’s Christmas!
14 days, four burgers, hundreds of deep-fried snacks. The Puerto Ricans love calorie-laden snackettes – cheese balls, corn sticks, fish nuggets and other unidentifiable crispy, oily, golden goodies served with a pinky mayo and a can of Medalla light beer. That’s just for starters.
Burger one: Villa Cofresi, Rincon
Rincon is a surf town where everyone says “what’s up, dude?”; where 60-year-old surfers have a better bod than you’ll ever have (I mean me); where you’ll hear a lot of Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi. At Villa Cofresi (sounds really grand but it’s just nice and normal) the tourists and locals mingle over coquitos – coconuts filled with rum, coconut water and cinnamon. And they eat burgers. These burgers:
Beautifully simple. Grilled patties topped with ‘shit cheese’, slithers of pickle and white lettuce that’s trying to be green. You add your own smears of ketchup. At five dollars with chips, this was one of the cheapest, and the best cheeseburgers in PR. I think about it and it makes me smile. Because who needs fuss? Not me, not Bruce. (You read this blog, right?)
Here are some more, in no particular order.
Burger two: Annie’s Place, El Combate
El Combate is a town that has been fiercely fought over because of the salt plains that back onto the beach – neon-pink pools of water with white mounds of salt at the side. Back in the day, everyone wanted a piece of that sexy salt.
The beach looks like this. It’s stupidly good.
Annie’s Place is the village’s best ‘restaurant’ – jammed with tables and chairs (sticky, plastic, groaning), it’s a place where they play the music’s so loud that you have to shout at your dining companion: “WHY DO THEY ONLY HAVE LIGHT BEER IN PUERTO RICO?/DO YOU WANT A COORS LIGHT OR MEDALLA LIGHT?/CAN I EAT THAT LAST CHEESE BALL?”, etc.
Here’s the burger:
It comes with two patties – thick, lightly seasoned, largely fuss-free patties topped with American cheese, a ring of raw onion and chips that – in a good way – taste like Burger King chips. Hundreds of them. It was huuuuuuge; so huge we had to split it in half – mental. I never share food.
Burger three: Bili, Vieques Island
Vieques is a little island off the coast of Puerto Rico, where wild horses roam free, standing in the middle of the road munching on a bit of leaf or something. This was the swankiest burger of my trip, but even then, it’s not swanky. It’s a beaut though – a 3cm-tall patty, dolloped with a sweet plantain chutney (yeah, chutney!), lettuce and blue cheese sauce. It’s then protected by a barrier of sweet potato fries.
Burger four: Hortas BBA, Vieques Island
I had this burger at a BBQ place serving some of the best local food we had on the trip (we tried local stuff too, I don’t only eat burgers). I LOVED this burger. It was biiiig, and I liked the Caribbean vibes with the sweet, fried plantain, which, combined with the salty beef, crispy bacon, cheese slices (two types) and tangy pickles, was a proper game changer for me. Should I eat banana in a burger back home? Hmmm. It came with tostades – crunchy, fried discs of plantain (the less ripe variety, so it tastes more savoury). I dipped it in the runny guava-BBQ sauce. Oh my!
Christmas + burgers + Puerto Rico = big fat yes.