When my last and final book deadline came and went this month, I found myself heading back to Miami again for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Now one of the largest in the country, the festival is essentially held in my own backyard though I’d never gone down for it before. After interviewing a few of the chefs who’d be participating for The Latin Kitchen, I was excited to be there for the event itself but had not idea what to expect. Read more
Posts from the ‘Miami’ Category
I wasn’t really excited about summer (too hot, too soon) until I finished my run this weekend and stopped by the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket on my way home. Seeing some chives in full bloom, I asked the vendor how they could be used. Holding on to the stem, he gently twisted off the light purple puff at the top and presented me with a handful of blossoms – suddenly I could see weeks mint tea, ripe berries, fat peaches and green tomatoes spreading out before me and couldn’t wait to get started. But, before I get lost in the corn fields, I wanted to catch-up on some articles that popped up in May. Read more
I was pretty immune to the award season fever that just passed, rooting for my favorites from the safe distance of the next day’s photo galleries and winner wrap ups on the Huffington Post. I did watch the Oscar’s though (I may be disaffected but I’m not made of wood). I know I’m probably alone in missing the endless montages in this year’s ceremonies but it was this one of great food movies posted by the Amateur Gourmet awhile back that had me thinking of Like Water for Chocolate. Read more
If my posts have been Miami-centric lately it’s because two weeks at home leaves a lot to unpack. I had one more Miami-inspired recipe I wanted to try and I finally got around to it over the long weekend. Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve slowly become less dependent on my trips home for Cuban food. Though I miss the fresh tropical produce and stock up on cans of cascos de guayaba, Brazilian condensed milk and Café Llave when I visit, there is very little (and increasingly less) that I can’t find locally. The restaurants that I loved are long gone or not quite how I remember them though I keep going back — nostalgia adding its own flavor. I promise myself I’ll seek out new spots but fall short and mostly play catch-up from the moment I land. Read more
When chef Michelle Bernstein described Miami’s lunch counter croquetas as “leaden”, I hated to admit that she was right. Made of pureed ham, chicken, or beef, they’re often left to sit out in glass cases for hours. Even if you’re lucky enough to come across a freshly fried batch, it’s more ham spread than creamy béchamel. On a recent trip home, I had one from an otherwise good bakery filled with a flourescent paste that could not have possibly been found in nature. Sold in large trays for family parties, the tiny versions pack an even weightier punch. Still, I haven’t given up on them yet. Using any excuse to visit the crowded coffee stands and bakeries that dot Miami, they’re usually the first thing I ask for when I land and the last thing I pick up on my way to the departure gate. Read more
After a wonderful fall break, I thought it was appropriate to wake up my blog the same way I wake up myself – with a cortadito. Landing in Paris was exhilarating, tinged with pink and capped with gold, the city smells like butter. From the first moment, I wanted to go in twenty directions at once. Exhausted but not wanting to lose the day, we went to the closest cafe for a quick lunch before heading out. Ordering in broken French, our waiter responded in broken Spanish. We weren’t getting very far until he hit on exactly what we were looking for – a cortado. Relieved to be understood, I finally felt awake. Read more
My sister Carmen has been asking me to make bistec empanizado for this blog for awhile. When I wrote about masitas de puerco, my favorite thing to order from Cuban menus, it seemed only fair to write about hers. Mine came with black beans and hers didn’t, so I’d always pass her my frijoles negros. This week we made a different deal – I’d finally make the bistec empanizado if she’d write the post. Here it is and I’m sure you’ll agree it was well worth the beans.
When I was little, the center of the universe seemed to exist at Casablanca. A bustling Cuban café on 8th street in the then sleepy little town of Miami. When my grandfather took me for lunch, I loved sitting at the counter where the vinyl covered, revolving stools gave me a 360 degree view of the action. When my parents took me at night, the same café was usually empty which gave my sister and I the odd run of the place. We’d feed quarters into the jukebox and play Donna Summer songs as my father talked about what life would have been like/could be like for us in Cuba. I don’t know exactly why I chose Donna Summer. I wasn’t crazy about disco (I didn’t want to dress like a that when I grew up) but there was something about her voice that kept me coming back. It was lonely and defiant. It spoke of another world I couldn’t possibly understand at that age. The boldness of it drew me in and it was endless. Very much like the breaded steak on my plate that I always ordered for dinner. Read more
Today I took my first steps in what I hope will end with the triumphant crossing New York City marathon finish line and not sleeping through the Staten Island start, crying on the 59th Street bridge, or passing out in Central Park’s closing stretch. Looking ahead the long Saturday training runs I have planned between now and November, I decided to play around with fresh fruit batidos (also known licuados or preparados depending on the accent). Read more
I collect links and articles for my monthly catching up posts every day so it’s not until I sit down to go through them all that a theme emerges. The New York Times City Room covered the struggles of two neighborhood restaurants. Due in part to the efforts of community leaders and a last minute fundraiser, Coqui Mexicano was able to temporarily stave off eviction from their South Bronx location but Manhattanville’s La Floridita, one of the last Cuban restaurants left in the area, was forced to close for repairs and faces an uncertain future. The Village Voice interview with Fernando Ruiz of the Tortilleria Nixtamal, which is doing well, was about mistakes, misconceptions, and underappreciated ingredients — a more interesting read but still. Even news that Rick Bayless would be preparing the state dinner President Felipe Calderón of Mexico stirred up some controversy both before and after. On a brighter note, Carolina González wrote for the Daily News about the prominence of women chefs and restaurateurs like Zarela Martínez and Sue Torres in high-end Mexican cuisine. I thought May would farmer’s markets and spring blossoms but there were some shadows too.
Before the official start of summer’s grilling, beaching, hazy half days, I wanted to thank everyone who’s been reading and commenting with my first cookbook giveaway. Since its release last year, Michelle Bernstein’s Cuisine à Latina has become one of my favorites. Raised in Miami by her food-loving Argentinian and Jewish family , she’s become known for the contemporary Latin cuisine with Spanish, South American, Caribbean and Mexican accents that she serves at Michy’s and Sra. Martinez in Miami and Palm Beach’s MB. The book is full of great recipes to make at home for anyone who’s home is always elsewhere. To win a copy, let me know what dish your most looking forward to having this summer. Leave a comment here (one entry per person) between today and June 4th midnight (EST) when I’ll pick a winner at random. Read more