As a serious dessert lover, trying the local specialty pastry or traditional dessert is something I always strive to do when visiting a new country or city. On a recent visit to Old San Juan in Puerto Rico I got lucky, as one of my favorite desserts, flan, is a traditional dessert of Puerto Rico.
Many countries have their own version of this creamy caramel custard — some use more eggs and some add different ingredients like cheese, coconut or coffee, to alter the flavor and texture. My first introduction to flan was by my mother-in-law, who, being from Vietnam, was familiar with the Vietnamese version, a light, custardy flan soaking in black coffee for a great contrast of bitter and sweet. After my first spoonful, I was hooked, and ever since I've been eager to try other versions of this satisfying dessert.
In Old San Juan, flan can be found on the menu in basically any place that serves food. A very common version served in the city is flan de queso, or cheese flan, in which the addition of cream cheese gives the flan a velvety, thick, texture reminiscent of a cheesecake. On my four-day stay in Old San Juan, I tried a flan for dessert every day, at least once — all slightly different, yet all delicious. On the last day of my visit I enjoyed a lunch at Café Puerto Rico, and saw something new on the menu I just had to try: almond flan. And I am happy I did, as it turned out to be the best flan of the trip, creamy and rich with that wonderful taste of almond paste.
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