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
Posts tagged ‘Versailles Restaurant’
After last November, I promised myself that I would build my own altar for el Dia de los Muertos. Though widely observed in Mexico, I only discovered the holiday a couple of years ago. According to tradition, I should prepare some of the favorite foods of my dearly departed, lay them out in their honor, and wait for their promised return. The problem is that while I do have family living in Mexico that I adore, they are in fact living. I may dedicate an altar to welcome my Cuban grandmother’s spirit, but if she returned to find herself on top of a Mexican altar, I would have a lot of explaining to do. Wondering what I could possibly make to welcome her, I thought of hot chocolate. Read more
Though it’s typically full, it’s rare to see a line outside of Versailles restaurant in Miami. It’s only on the rare cold night that it actually reaches capacity, especially when there’s a run on churros. Any day that dips below 65 becomes an impromptu holiday in a summer town, a Miami snow day of sprinkled sugar and fried dough. The lines form and the usual late night orders for medianoches and mariquitas become churros and hot chocolate.
I think it’s the special occasion quality I associate with churros that keeps me from buying them in New York (though I’d never pass them up in Madrid – I’m not crazy). Yesterday, deciding I needed a little Christmas now, I brought out the churrera, that my mother who hates to cook but loves kitchen gadgets sent, and my Read more
I start every trip to Miami at Versailles Restaurant on Calle Ocho. Versailles lives up to its name with its mirrored walls, court in eternal debate, and heavily bejeweled matrons . The front entrance opens onto a long red carpet leading to the two, raucous dining rooms. There may be music playing at Versailles, but it’s impossible to hear over the sounds of politics, silverware, and full-blast air conditioning. Recognition is key, and upon entering everyone immediately scans the room for familiar faces. A quick table stop or two before being seated can whether you’re given the real menu or the tourist menu in English.
I rarely have Cuban food outside of Miami. Deceptively simple, it’s easy to get wrong. Today, I arrived with a checklist of things I’ve been dreaming of from the moment I booked my flight – tortilla de platanos, croquetas de yucca, ropa vieja, flan de queso. Nevertheless, once there, I ordered to please my waitress. Versailles boasts the boldest wait staff in the Miami and possibly the world. They’re like a female army in tight green, polyester leisure suits trained by hypercritical, but well-meaning Cuban grandmothers. One raised eyebrow or sharp comment, will prompt you to cut down a croqueta order and cancel the fries, yet they seem genuinely disappointed if you don’t clean your plate and order dessert. I had a media noche since it’s hard to find a cuban sandwich made with the traditional pan de agua outside of Miami. It was heavy on the ham but still delicious. The fried plantains were also fantastic, perfectly sweet without being oily. For dessert, I had the brazo gitano, a rolled cake with dulce de leche filling and chocolate frosting. My cake was a little dry, and I was soon begging my sister to share her flan with me. Finally, even though it’s just a macchiato, it tastes so much better when you can call it a cortadito and have it on a warm December day.
When I was little, I made no distinction between the plastic baroque of Versailles and the palaces of books and Disney movies. Even as an adult, it never disappoints. Like going through the looking glass, it becomes as small or big as you need it to be on that day, at that moment. I’ll visit Versailles several times on my trip as I work my way down my list. With each meal, I settle into it’s rhythms and sounds till it’s time to go home again.