It's not easy to introduce the king of restaurants, chef Eric Ripert, to a Puerto Rico seafood shack he's never heard of. The restauranteur and host of the Cooking Channel show Avec Eric is married to a Puerto Rican (my pal Sondra) and has visited the island at least three times a year for the past 20 years. But I did it. (!!)
Eric was shooting his show in Puerto Rico and called to see if I wanted to come down and learn to surf. Obviously, I said (HECK) yes.
We met up at his hotel, the Condado Vanderbilt (as opposed to my hotel -- the Courtyard Marriott), and when I found out he hadn't been to my favorite food shack, Tresbe, I was shocked. Floored, even.
"But it has the best fish tacos ever," I said.
"OK, we go then!" Eric said.
Related: How to Go Full Local in Puerto Rico
A half-hour later we were digging into the dream tacos, ceviche, empanadas and ... pretty much everything on the menu.
"Oh, this is gooood," Eric said. "So light, so fresh!"
And somewhere, I felt like I won the food gods' approval.
Go now and school your friends and family. It's that good.
*Weird editor's note: There are times in traveling when you think no one is around. Someone asks you to do something like, say, sing on top of a piano in a bar and you think, "Why not? I'll never see any of these people again?" And then you... do. I hadn't seen Eric in a while -- but he'd seen me. A few years back, while in Hanoi, Vietnam, I'd been invited out by a couple communist officials who wanted to play a joke on the American -- by taking me to lunch where only hard alcohol was served and instead of water there was beer. Little did they know I was raised on and below the Mason Dixon Line. Six hours later, not unlike that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, they were on the floor and I was at the bar of the Sofitel Metropole Hotel belting out show tunes. Apparently, Eric was shooting a show there at the time, was walking through and ...
"Hey, I saw you!" he said. "I was so dirty -- I had been out in the fields all day so I thought, 'I will go change and come down, but then I fell asleep. You were having so much fun and entertaining the room.'"
Enter the face palm.
Check out the entire original adventure travel series, "A Broad Abroad."