Tag Archives: Cuban Food

1905 Salad at The Columbia Restaurant

1 Jun

The entry to the Columbia Restaurant off of St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota. The Florida-based restaurant chain was originally founded in the historic Ybor (pronounced EEE-BOR) City section of Tampa way back in 1905.

Outdoor patio dining offers some great people watching.

Inside dining at Columbia is open air and quite elegant.

The colorful menu celebrates the restaurant’s impressive longevity.

The eatery’s decor and wall treatments are very tastefully done.

Each diner receives their own mini loaf of crusty Cuban-style bread.

We opted for the fried calamari appetizer with a lemon mayo for dipping.

The 1905 Salad (my favorite) is assembled by your waiter at tableside.

Only a large photo does this legendary salad justice. It is just loaded with garlic, julienne strips of baked ham, good earthy slabs of swiss cheese, big flecks of black pepper, red tomato chunks, finely grated romano cheese, and lots of pitted green olives. The secret to the salad dressing’s tang is a blend of fresh squeezed lemons, extra virgin Spanish olive oil, and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.  

The Columbia now has 7 Florida locations. Get to one ASAP and thank me later. And as a parting word of wisdom, please don’t forget that breath mint after your meal. The 1905’s garlic dressing is pretty potent stuff that will keep the vampires away for days!

www.columbiarestaurant.com

Mofongo Recipe Getting Lots of Attention

27 Jun

Benny’s in Miami, FL is said to make one hell of a mofongo. Or should I say they make a “mofo” of a mofongo??? The restaurant was featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” and has been generating lots of attention ever since the episode first aired.  It doesn’t look pretty, but it reportedly is a taste sensation. Look for McMofongo at your local McDonald’s in the near future.  

According to Wiki, “Mofongo is a popular meatball dish made with fried plantains or yuca. The dish is part of various Caribbean cuisines including Cuban cuisine (where it is known as fufu), Dominican cuisine and Puerto Rican Cuisine.”

Benny’s Mofongo

6 large plantains
6 small garlic cloves
3/4 cup pork rinds
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 cup pure olive oil, plus more for frying

Peel the plantains and cut into 1-inch slices. Put the plantains in a bowl of water with a pinch of salt to keep them moist until ready to cook.

Mash the garlic, pork rinds, 1/4 tablespoon of the salt, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a mortar with a pestle. Transfer the garlic mixture to a bowl.

Heat about 5 inches of oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot (or in a deep-fryer) until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 300 degrees. Line a plate with paper towels.

Drain and pat dry the plantains. Fry without crowding, in batches, if necessary, until the plantains are cooked, but not hard, 15 to 20 minutes. It’s best to check the plantains after about 15 minutes; to do so, remove a slice from the oil and cut into it – if the center is still pink, keep cooking; if it’s yellow, the plantains are ready. Transfer the plantains from the oil with a slotted spoon, and drain briefly on the paper towels.

Mash the fried plantains with the remaining 1/4 tablespoon salt and 1/4 cup olive oil until just soft. Add the garlic mixture and continue mashing until the mofongo is completely blended. Serve hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Jose’s Real Cuban Food

15 Oct

I visited Jose’s for the first time earlier today. The food was really good and Jose seems like a great guy. He is certainly a hardworking hombre. He does everything from the scratch cooking to serving diners inside this cozy little cantina. Jose is a native of the Miami area, but their loss is surely our gain.

Jose’s can be found at 8799 Cortez Road West in Bradenton, Florida

I ordered the Cuban sandwich and I was quite happy with the decision. Jose also gave me a complimentary taste of the Lechon Asado (marinated pulled pork) and some of his famous Cuban black beans. Both were quite tasty — especially the tender, sour orange marinated pork butt. Jose cooks it for just 4 hours, but it tastes like it has been stewing for far longer. Really tender and dripping with super-flavorful pork fat.

Although the “Mom’s Recipe” Cuban flan was on Jose’s “86 list” (he explained that meant they were sold out), he managed to conjure up a sliver for me. Man, it was soooo good. Jose has been in business for just 18 months and claims that business is pretty brisk. He asked, “Can’t you see the bags under my eyes?” He runs the eatery by day and caters at night. Please support Jose and his quest to provide Manatee County with some authentic Cubano grub. He’s located just a couple miles east of Bradenton Beach. Jose loves baseball and added that several Pittsburgh Pirates and TB Rays employees dine with him regularly.