After doing research for my Puerto Rico trip, I had already decided that I needed to eat at Marmalade Restaurant & Wine Bar. I had the concierge make 6:30 PM reservations for me on Saturday. When I arrived, I was promptly seated and was amazed at the decor that looked nothing like I imagined based on the restaurant’s outside entrance. The ambiance and decor was beautiful I would definitely recommend this place for a romantic date night, but there were groups and other singletons dining or waiting for their party at the bar.
My waitress, Rachel, or Ray for short as she prided, was very fast talking, but attentive all night. She knew the menu well and was patient with me as I decided between doing the 4 or 5 course tasting options, and my individual menu options. She was awesome!
Ultimately I decided on the 5 course option, with the paired wine.
Lucky for me, the options I chose were paired with white wine, except for my main dish. I’m normally not that indecisive with food, since I know what I like, but because I had read several reviews it made it a bit more difficult to decide. All of the reviews raved about the white bean soup. But since I loathe beans (any kind) I was rather reluctant to choose that as one of my courses. But Ray was so awesome that she brought me a shot-size serving of the soup, which was good. Just not what I had expected given the many rave reviews I read online. She also served me the wine it was paired with. WINNING!
Here is what I ordered:“Popcorn Shrimp”
cilantro & garlic grilled shrimp lacquered with anejo tequila
rest atop pablano guacamole and ancho-chili spiced popcorn Paella
“sushi esque” bite size pieces of crispy andalusian style paella
filled with smoked chicken, peas & peppers flavored
with a saffron- garlic espuma & a chorizo-tomato sauce Spaghetti Squash
poached in coconut water scented with ginger, orange peel and cilantro
alongside spiced cashews resting beneath an espuma of yellow curry Queen Red Snapper
poached in a Thai style curry & coconut broth
served over a bed of jasmine rice & finished
with a spiced steamed shrimp sesame dumpling Warm Banana & Butterscotch Bread Pudding
brazilian nut & aged rum ice cream My favorite course was the Popcorn Shrimp, anything that has cilantro on it, is a winner for me. I love that stuff! The Paella came in second and the Spaghetti Squash, last. I cooked spaghetti squash a few weeks prior and was looking for additional recipes. But this missed the bus and was only slightly enjoyable because of the cashews. I enjoyed the Bread Pudding but opted for regular vanilla ice cream instead of the rum ice cream. I have photos of the wines that were paired but after a few glasses, I can’t quite remember which wine was paired with which dish. What I do know is that my favorite wine of the night was the Chateau Montfort Vouvray. I wonder if I can find it my local wine store. Although I had only 5 courses, I had almost 7 glasses (half glasses) of wine. I was full and in a “great place” by the time I left Marmalade. I will definitely be back on my next trip to Puerto Rico. Marmalade was a great experience, but it was not cheap. My bill was over $100 bucks and with 20% tip the total was $150. But because I did my research beforehand I budgeted accordingly.
Don’t we all need a little blue water getaway every once in a while? I know I did. But I didn’t have much money for a trip and I didn’t want to go too far from home and take a lot of time off from work. After a suggestion from my co-worker, I immediately decided on Puerto Rico.
• it’s still in the U.S.;
• it’s in the same time zone; and
• it’s a quick flight (if you get it direct).
And what is even better is that once I decided on the location, I also decided that I wasn’t going to shell out ANY money and would only use 1 vacation day and travel over the Columbus Day holiday.
So how does one manage traveling to the Caribbean and staying in a decent hotel without spending any money? Using “rewards points and miles”, that is how!
Before I go too far into detail, let me just say that by “free trip”, in this case, I’m referring to the airfare and hotel portion of the travel.
I had over 100,000 Ultimate Rewards Points on my Chase Preferred account. So I used 61,542 reward points for my flight. Although there were cheaper flight option available, the flight I chose on JetBlue was a direct flight that left early in the morning, and gave me essentially the whole day in Puerto Rico.
I decided to take off from work on the Friday before Columbus Day (Monday). So because I got an early flight I would arrive in San Juan about noon on Friday and return on a later Monday evening.
For 5366 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, I also secured roundtrip ground transportation to my hotel. I did some social research and decided on La Concha Hotel & Casino for my lodging, which happened to be a Renaissance property aka Marriott property. Lucky for me I had enough Marriott Rewards points to secure three of my four days. For the fourth day I had to transfer points from my United Mileage Plus to my Marriott Rewards Account. With my hotel and flight costs covered with various reward points programs, I only needed to worry about food and drinks during my stay.
Stay tuned for my Puerto Rico Vacation Recap and Reviews