Dominican Republic: Old vs. New in Immersive Gastronomy
Santo Domingo may very well be home to the oldest city in the Americas with a plethora of historic sites from the 1500’s, but its fascinating culinary scene is emerging as a trendy hotspot for international tourists. As Dominican Republic’s most cosmopolitan city, I had a chance to see the marriage of the old versus the new food culture scene. The sultry streets are filled with unique colonial-Spanish architecture, the sounds of merengue and an ever-evolving foodie scene. While there, I was able to get lost in the all-encompassing cultural experiences that Santo Domingo has to offer.
While touring different restaurants through the crowded, vibrant colonial streets, I came face to face with yuca encebollado (purple onions), red sweet beans with cream (custard), habichuelas con dulce … and a multitude of Dominican gastronomy that is as unique as the island itself. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the North and the Caribbean Sea on the South, the diversity comes from ancient recipes passed down from centuries. The culinary and cultural scenes collide with a mixture of the Taino Indians, (the indigenous culture), the Spaniards, and the African slaves they brought with them. It is the mixing of the cultures and the foods of these people that makes the Dominican Republic what it is today. Even taking a ride outside of Santo Domingo to Boca Chica Beach and eating street food known as Johnnie cakes, was a culinary delight. We also had a seafood platter that was to die for at Boca Marina, a gorgeous, seaside resort and restaurant.
Back in Santo Domingo, I had a chance to visit the well-known El Meson de la Cava, another Dominican Republic institutional restaurant that was built into a cave originally used as underground housing for the soldiers by the Organization of American States (OAS), serving classic seafood and shellfish.
Where to stay: (the choices are amazing!)
Billini Hotel: You won’t be disappointed in this boutique, up-scale hotel with a rooftop bar and the views, well, they are pretty amazing!
Hostal Nicolas de Ovando: Only the most gorgeous hostal you have ever stayed in (in your life!)
Casas del XVI: I can honestly say, there is nothing quite like it anywhere else, making Conde Nast’s 2015 Travelers Hot List! You will feel like you are in an oasis!
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