Last week I returned from 2 weeks of cooking at the Casa Grande Mountain Retreat in Utuado, PR. The entire experience completely blew me away, and simultaneously molded me into more of a chef. I cooked from 6 in the morning until late night, not counting the 2-3 afternoon hours I would pass out by the pool (sun) or the hammock on my porch (rain).
The experience also turned me into a total coconut water junkie. I could not get enough of the stuff. There were two coconut-bearing trees that grew by the pool, and by the time I left, they were pretty much stripped.
At first, I used only their meat. I made everything from coconut ricotta to coconut breakfast scones and coconut cornbread. I kept their water in a large container in the fridge. Over the course of the first week, that container was what I reached for in the morning instead of coffee. And Puerto Rican coffee is GOOD.
By the time I returned to NYC, I had developed a dependency on the natural high you get from drinking a tall, cold glass of fresh coconut water. I have done my best, over the course of the week, to hunt down real coconut water and get my “fix.” Here is the winner, that beat out all the fancy boxed, canned and bottled drinks:
Young Coconuts- $1.50 each. Chinatown
Lots of Chinatown street vedors sell these shaved-dow- to-the- white-pith coconuts with the pointed top. I found these at Grand & Chrystie Streets. They come shrink-wrapped in cellophane. You have to do some grunt work to get a hole in the top, and the water is a little off in taste and color, but so far, this is the only option that has come close to giving me that coconut water “high.”