old san juan, puerto ricoAfter a wonderful day on the Island of Grand Turk, we re-boarded the ms Eurodam and got right back to work. There were wines, avocado oils and balsamic vinegar to taste! Linda Kissam was our host as we tasted 10 wines from Keyways, Tesoro and newcomer Lorimar. The group was impressed with the selection provided and Linda did an excellent job presenting the wines. We then tasted some incredible avocado oils from Oak Mountain: Toasted Onion, Chili, Roasted Garlic, Lemon Pepper and Key Lime, followed by the Dark Sweet Cherry Balsamic Vinegar. Avocado oils have a higher flash point, meaning they can sustain higher cooking temperatures before burning. All of them tasted delicious and the balsamic vinegar was a big hit. After the tasting, we retreated to our cabin to freshen up and then made our way to the Crow’s Nest for the drawing for IFWTWA’s scholarship auction. Not only am I delighted the group raised so much money for the scholarship, I was the lucky grand prize winner and received a publishing package from Infinity Publishing. We’re already working on ideas for our forthcoming book. It was time for dinner and conversation, a quick visit to the casino and then off to bed.

Eurodam Chef Brendan & Chef Jean Stephane Poinard

Eurodam Chef Brendan & Chef Jean Stephane Poinard

The next morning we were treated to a cooking demo by Chef Jean Stephane Poinard of the renowned Bistro de Leon in St. Augustine, FL. Chef is a charming man and a maestro of the kitchen. He stresses the importance of cooking with fresh ingredients and freshly ground spices. He did a grand job of adding a fresh twist to Caprese salad, hollowing out the tomatoes and filling them with a mozzarella basil mousse. I’ll put the recipe in our cooking with wine column. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the 80s and we had docked in San Juan.

About a dozen of us joined Poppo for a walking tour from the dock through Old San Juan to the fort at El Morro before winding up at Latin Roots. San Juan is a colorful and lively city and its residents were gearing up for their annual three day San Sebastián Patron Saint Festival. It was warm and we walked for about three hours, but we took in some splendid sights and Poppo was a patient and knowledgeable guide and proud of his island’s history and heritage. We wound our way up cobblestone streets and then climbed a grassy hill where we were rewarded with a cooling sea breeze. Some of us grabbed cold water while others went for snowcones featuring local flavors like tamarind and soursop. We ventured inside Don Collins Rum & Cigar store on Calle del Cristo. Don was on hand and persuaded me to buy a bottle of Ron del Barillito. I’m extremely glad I did. We assembled at Latin Roots, where Manny welcomed us and brought out platter after platter of savory food, including sausages, plantain and rice and beans. The mojitos were delicious and refreshing. Fellow traveler Pamela Lanier visited with the chef and got some recipes I’ll be sharing soon. Salsa dancing was on the schedule later, but I decided to head back to my home away from home.

old san juanalley in old san juan

cod fritters at latin roots, san juan, puerto rico

Cod Fritters at Latin Roots

poppo, tour guide in old san juan


After another delicious dinner on board, we turned in for the night. Next stop, St. Thomas. (to read the full story of the cruise, go here)