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Previous Reviews - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote
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Emergency Pet Hospital

by Eric Marion

There are cat people and there are dog people. I’m a little of both but a lot of the first. Three cats, one parent. My big baby was born in 2000. I adopted  him from a shelter in Boston. I was perusing the cages wistfully imagining myself as a cat owner when I came upon a cage blocked by a huge cardboard sign reading “DANGROUS. DO NOT TOUCH THIS CAT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!”  Read More

 

chocolate

 

Chocolate Covered Dreams

by Eric Marion

 

210 Calle San Francisco is San Juan's biggest and best kept new secret. The Old City's only private art collection is housed in a new museum facility owned and operated by Puerto Rico's legendary Cortes family.

A bit of history is in order. The Brothers Cortes started producing Chocolate confectionaries 97 years ago when the Caribbean Basin was still very much agrarian. The Company grew and prospered, and was handed down through three generations to the current owner, Ignacio Cortes. Cortes Chocolates are well-known in Puerto Rican, in no small part due to the advent of television. Read More

 

coffee

 

Dark Roasted Bliss

by Eric Marion


A Monster lives at 150 San Justo, just north of Calle San Francisco in the Old City in a shop called "Express".  He's a gentle giant, but he makes a mean coffee.


The "Monster" is a fifteen foot tall fire-engine red coffee roasting and grinding machine (he has other talents as well, I didn't inqure since he was rather imposing). Read More

 

curio

Fortaleza Antiques

By Eric Marion

“Antiquing” is a time-honored tradition among shoppers of a certain sort. Searching for that perfect curio (and finding a delightful tsotchke along the way) is one of life’s simple pleasures for many folks. In San Juan, there are a handful of hidden antique stores. None are as “hidden” or as well-stocked as Fortaleza Antiques. Tucked behind a non-descript reja (ornate grill-work) on Calle San Jose, passerbys will miss the store unless they are specifically seeking it out. Word-of-mouth has obviously worked well for Fortaleza Antiques; in business for 29 years, the shop has no signage or advertising. Read More

 

 

Kosher Popcorn

by Eric Marion

Jewish visitors to San Juan will find a vibrant and welcoming community with resources to provide for any exigency. Rabbi Levi Stein of the Puerto Rico Chabad has energetically applied himself to providing resources for visitors and residents alike. Rabbi Stein coordinates his activities from a small store in San Juan’s Old City at 263 Fortaleza. Read More

 

La Chola Peruvian Cuisine

by Eric Marion

 

As a vegetarian, I am very often challenged with Puerto Rican dining and in general with most Latin American Restaurants. Chefs will spend hours preparing animal meat to taste, but vegetables and fruits are too often deemed "secondary" elements to the main course. Thus, most of my restaurant experiences are tales of stale parsely, wilted lettuce, and second-class dining experiences. Read More

 

 

 

 
Emergency Pet Veterinarian - 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 votes
User Rating:  / 2
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Emergency Pet Hospital

by Eric Marion

 

There are cat people and there are dog people. I’m a little of both but a lot of the first. Three cats, one parent. My big baby was born in 2000. I adopted  him from a shelter in Boston. I was perusing the cages wistfully imagining myself as a cat owner when I came upon a cage blocked by a huge cardboard sign reading “DANGROUS. DO NOT TOUCH THIS CAT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!” 

Ooof. Must be a real tiger. I started pass over to the cage when a small grey paw reached from behind the cardboard and snagged my wool sweater (my rather expensive wool sweater). That paw snagged me and hasn’t’ let go after 13 years. Turns out the cat attached to that paw had upper respiratory syndrome, a common but easily transmitted feline virus. The warning was in place for the protection of the other cats in the shelter.

Mr. Kitty was with me when my dad visited, and comforted me when the call came that dad had died. Dad used to call him “dawg” because of Mr. Kitty’s obedient, humble nature. Mr. Kitty was with me when my grandfather and grandmother visited – traveling from Virginia to Boston was a once in a lifetime experience for them.  Mr. Kitty instinctively knew something was wrong when I received the news that ‘papaw’ had passed on, and that ‘granny’ followed him three days later.

Mr. Kitty followed me to Providence, RI, and later to San Juan. That was a singularly difficult trip. Cramping Mr. Kitty’s 16 pounds into a carrier was a fete. (Mr. Kitty has insisted on being well fed over the years).

When I noticed last week that Mr. Kitty was dropping small bits of pee pee around the apartment, I assumed he was marking his territory against the new kitten that had found its way into my home Mr. Kitty’s home.  When Mr. Kitty started spending long periods at the litterbox, I knew something was wrong. I googled the symptoms, and learned that Mr. Kitty had signs of urinary tract infection. A disease that is fatal if not treated immediately.

It was a Saturday during one of Puerto Rico’s many (many, many, many) holidays. Nothing would be open. I remembered that I had listed a 24 hour pet emergency location when developing La Bochinchosa. I located the information and called the number. The receptionist advised me to do what I already knew – bring in Mr. Kitty immediately.

I looked into those wide gold eyes and told Mr. Kitty to ‘hang in’. I arrived at the hospital not know what to expect. Would this be a dirty cramped hovel, an impersonal large office space? Would I be price-gouged in my moment of need?

The 24 hour pet vet at 270-A Avenida Pinero, Rio Piedras-(787) 751-3737, (787) 758-4624 was an inviting (and surprisingly busy) establishment. The hard-working staff was making inroads into pet treatment at the very odd hour of 6 pm on a Saturday night (during a long weekend).  Aware of the emergency, Mr. Kitty was immediately examined by a vet, and then admitted within 45 minutes. He received a life-saving medical procedure within an hour and a half of arrival. And the damages were only $276. Turns out that the ‘emergency’ hospital visit fee is $39. (In Ocean Park, the vet charges $35 for regular visiting hours). The fees and costs were amazingly low – about half what I would have incurred in Boston.

The vet, assistants, and receptionist were warm, informative, and compassionate. I admit to breaking down a couple of times. I am not emotional by nature, but Mr.Kitty still has a grey paw snagged deep into my heart.

My ‘babies’ now have a health care provider. The 24 hour pet vet is their go-to for check ups and vaccines. I have been through a half dozen vets across the eastern U.S. I’ve seen good ones, and not-so-good ones. The 24 emergency pet hospital ranks in the top echelon.

If you are only visiting Puerto Rico, but especially if you are resident, there is a safe place to bring your puppy or kitty cat.  From personal experience, and with the upmost respect. I give the Rio Piedras Pet Veterinarian at 270 Avenida Pinero a solid A+ five star rating.

 
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La Chola Peruvian Cuisine

by Eric Marion

 

As a vegetarian, I am very often challenged with Puerto Rican dining and in general with most Latin American Restaurants. Chefs will spend hours preparing animal meat to taste, but vegetables and fruits are too often deemed "secondary" elements to the main course. Thus, most of my restaurant experiences are tales of stale parsely, wilted lettuce, and second-class dining experiences.

 

La Chola on 1859 Calle Loiza (near the Ocean Park Entrance) is a delicious vacation from the subpar norm to which I have become accustomed. Each meal is prepared to order. You want onions?  They are cut fresh within minutes of your order. Do you prefer mango or avocado on your salad?  No matter, they will both be freshly peeled. For meat eaters, the quality is of a similar stellar standard (or so I have been told by the countless referrals I have sent to La Chola).

 

My favorite treat is the red sangria. In true Peruvian tradition, the syrup is made from purple corn tea, freshly brewed and saturated with fresh tropical fruits, then mixed with a fine argentinian wine for zest. The sangria isn't served on ice. The attentive waitstaff has the forethought to pour your sangria from the carafe onto the ice as dinner proceeds (eliminating that watered-down cocktail so common in other less-attentive Caribbean venues).

 

The tasty sauces which accompany many of the menu items are brown-bag worthy. You know that the dinner is a success when you are imaging how such-and-such a sauce would taste in your own kitchen on your own dinner items. The zingy/tangy/sweet/rich sauce(s) are perfect compliments to the "carbon" cuisine of La Chola. ("Carbon" is "blackened" in English; thus, "blackened chicken", "blackened salmon"). Almost all items are served on crispy beds of vegetables and fruits (unless the recipe calls for La Chola's delicious ceviche, one of La Chola's more popular dishes).

 

La Chola's spacious and artsy interior make this spot an ideal setting for a romantic last night out in San Juan. Of the many restaurants in San Juan, La Chola is a sure bet that never fails to impress.

 

Loiza St. 1859, 00911 San Juan, Puerto Rico

(787) 200-5877Today 4:00 pm - 11:00 pm

 

 
Fortaleza Antiques - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote
User Rating:  / 1
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curio

Fortaleza Antiques

By Eric Marion

“Antiquing” is a time-honored tradition among shoppers of a certain sort. Searching for that perfect curio (and finding a delightful tsotchke along the way) is one of life’s simple pleasures for many folks. In San Juan, there are a handful of hidden antique stores. None are as “hidden” or as well-stocked as Fortaleza Antiques. Tucked behind a non-descript reja (ornate grill-work) on Calle San Jose, passerbys will miss the store unless they are specifically seeking it out. Word-of-mouth has obviously worked well for Fortaleza Antiques; in business for 29 years, the shop has no signage or advertising. This speaks mountains about the quality of merchandise offered by that store. In an age dominated by million dollar mouth pieces, gauche advertising that too often includes wardrobe “malfunctions”, and the unrelenting ubiquity of the “social media”, witness first-hand the success of old-fashioned customer service and quality merchandise. The store's stand-alone marketing campaign is refreshing (in a vintage, reminiscent sort of way).

The store is filled (but not “stuffed”) with merchandise that spans periods, genres, and continents. Mission period pieces are found in abundance (this was, after all, colonial Puerto Rico). English and German antiques hint at frequent shopping trips abroad by the owner, Sharon Bartos. The Orient is well-represented (although presumably these items traveled to Puerto Rico via the American Colonies at the height of British and American obsession with Oriental art). The Chinese and Japanese items fit nicely into the Victorianesque feel f of Fortaleza.

The store opens into a courtyard, one of those “hidden gems” for which San Juan is known. The sitting area is exposed to dappled light and ensconced in lush yet subdued ferns, an additional nod to Victorian design sensibilities.  Fortaleza’s Antiques all but whispers in the voice of owners past.  Heraldic emblems in one of the rooms would indicate that some of these previous owners were men and women of some importance.

Fortaleza Antiques is most certainly a “must-see” for San Juan visitors and residents who enjoy the finer things in life. Even the coldest contemporary condo needs a little heart. At Fortaleza Antiques, that heart is easy to find, even if that heart is a little tea-stained.

Fortaleza Antiques
Sharon Bartos
Calle San Jose No. 103
Old San Juan 00901
787-723-1229

 

 
Kosher Popcorn - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote
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Kosher Popcorn

by Eric Marion

 

Jewish visitors to San Juan will find a vibrant and welcoming community with resources to provide for any exigency. Rabbi Levi Stein of the Puerto Rico Chabad has energetically applied himself to providing resources for visitors and residents alike. Rabbi Stein coordinates his activities from a small store in San Juan’s Old City at 263 Fortaleza.

263 Fortaleza itself is an interesting concept; ostensibly the space functions as a kosher popcorn storefront. Bags of flavored popcorn line old paneled walls like artifacts of a jeweler’s window. The storefront appears, in fact, to have been a jewelry store at one time or another. Now, the precious gems come flavored in hues of rum, coconut, and wasabi.

Rabbi Stein provides kosher paninis, fries, salads and danishes from what once may have been a jewelry repair counter. Next door to the store is the Jewish Welcome Center, a small cubbyhole that serves as the digital headquarters of a branch of the Chabad (the Chabad is actually located in Isla Verde at 17 Calle Dalia). For travelers, the headquarters is a handy and accessible application of Rabbi Stein’s vision. At the heart of the enterprise is the Rabbi’s new website, www.chabadpr.com, which provides residents and visitors with a menu of the extensive resources made available by the Chabad. Those resources include a kosher food service, a kosher grocery order service (Rabbi Stein regularly orders kosher food items from the mainland), and a kosher valet and catering service.

For more information, visit the Chabad’s website.

 

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