It was April of 2006 and I was on my honeymoon. My eyes were twinkling, my heart swelling with love. Love for café con leche and mallorcas! ❤ (Oh, and for my husband too! Of course! 😉 )
Let me start at the beginning: we had just gotten into Puerto Rico for the second half of our honeymoon and it had been a pretty rough start. We’d been stuck at the Nassau airport for hours on end due to a storm and trying to get seats on another flight was like stepping into the middle of a cattle stampede and a bar fight wrapped up in one. Yikes! When we finally did get on a new flight, it was late and we did not get to Puerto Rico until the middle of the night. But that’s okay Darling, it’s our honeymoon, at least we’re together! Then we stood in the baggage claim eagerly waiting for our luggage. The carousel went round and round and bags were picked off one by one until the carousel was empty. Uh, yeah, our luggage was not there. Next was an hour trying to fill out the lost luggage paperwork by pointing to pictures that looked most like our missing bags. Oh well, we don’t need luggage–we have each other! Let’s just go to the hotel where we booked a beautiful renovated room with a rainfall shower. It’s fine, no worries! So we hopped in a cab and headed to our hotel. Where they put us in a standard room. With wood peeling off the door. And a bandaid on the ground. Thankfully the phone worked so we could have a nice 2am chat with the front desk! But it’s fine. Let’s just go to sleep and I am sure we will wake up to a new room and all of our luggage!
Well, there was no miraculous reappearance of luggage and/or room renovations when we woke up, but thankfully the next afternoon we were in fact relocated to the correct room category and our luggage showed up. Hooray! So the next day, having been able to get a good night sleep, a nice shower, and some clean clothes, we headed out into Old San Juan with a fresh perspective and hopes lifted high once again. And this is when it happened. The very moment when Cupid came and shot his arrow right into my heart. This is when I met and fell in love with café con leche and mallorcas! ❤ ❤
It was at the 104-year-old La Bombonera where we sat down at the counter and asked the waiter what he thought we should have. He immediately brought us 2 cafés con leche and then suggested some mallorcas alongside. We were game. And so glad we were!
We are black coffee drinkers at home, so we were not too sure what to make of this light tan coffee we were served. But we took a sip and… ahhhhhhh, delicious! It was rich and smooth, just like coffee should be. Why had we been drinking plain old black coffee all these years??? Reading recipes of how to make proper Puerto Rican café con leche, it seems the procedure is making good strong coffee or espresso and then mixing in very hot milk to the balance that one prefers. But if I recall correctly, I think at La Bombonera they had everything premixed and ready to go in a big vintage-looking coffee maker. Regardless of how they make it, it is a great cup of coffee! We have since ordered café con leche whenever/wherever we are in PR and it is always good (but I think my favorite will always be from La Bombonera!).
Then came our mallorcas. They were just the simple pastry, warmed in a press and dusted with powdered sugar, but they sure made a big impression on us! I am imagining a cartoon or emoji version of myself with big hearts for eyes as I stared lovingly at my breakfast that morning. And I am pretty sure I had to wipe away a tear or two when I realized my plate was empty! Having enjoyed this breakfast so much, we made sure to come back that same trip (and every Puerto Rico trip thereafter) for more. But we did not stop at ordering the plain mallorca. Imagine our joy when we saw mallorcas with ham, cheese, and egg on the menu. It’s a little sweet, a little savory, and very indulgent. Think a Monte Cristo sandwich or a McGriddle (but way better!). This quickly became the food that I associated with PR as well as being our staple breakfast on our first morning each trip.
Sadly, in 2012 La Bombonera closed its doors and we had to find our mallorcas elsewhere. But how do you find something like mallorcas? Do you go knocking on every restaurant door until you find a winner? If only there was a way to know, like a sign or something… And there it was, like a beacon calling to us, CAFETERIA MALLORCA. And guess what: they even served mallorcas! 🙂
A Few Last Thoughts:
- La Bombonera has reopened! After four years of breaking hearts, they have reportedly reopened and still serve the staples that kept the lines out the door. We are so thankful that Cafeteria Mallorca was there for us in our time of need, but you bet we’ll be back in line at La Bombonera on our upcoming trip!
- As much as you might want to indulge in café con leche and mallorcas every day of your trip, you might find (as I did) that it gets a little heavy and starts to lose its luster if overindulged. So if you want to keep it on its breakfast pedestal, be sure to exercise more restraint than I did!
- If you can’t make it to PR any time soon, you can always try to make your own. I have not done it myself, but I found this recipe from BreadIn5 that looks doable. You can also find café con leche recipes like this. So don’t be sad if you can’t head to La Bombonera or Cafeteria Mallorca right this very second–try making your own!
- Sorry to any poetry lovers who thought they might be getting a real ode here. I am way too long-winded and unpoetic to go there!
- My husband would like it on the record that all of my italicized sentiments of sweetness during our honeymoon travel debacle are just the teeniest tiniest bit sarcastic. Alas, we are neither that positive nor that sappy. I was more like Monica from Friends on her honeymoon when she was ticked off that the other honeymooning couple ahead of them got the last 1st class flight upgrade and the last honeymoon suite at the hotel! 😉 haha!
Day Trips from San Juan