CUBAN DINNER ON OCEAN DRIVE

Main_cuban

Tonight’s dinner was extra special, not only was the food great, but I also had some fantastic company in Allie – a SORTEDfood-ie from Florida!

Now Allie isn’t local to Miami, so we gave her friend Luna a call to get a recommendation of where to eat. She knew the perfect restaurant, Puerto Sagua, a local place serving up Cuban cuisine. Apparently 1/3 of Miami’s population have Cuban origins, so this choice couldn’t have been more appropriate!

We started by sharing a Tamal and a Stuffed Yuca Croquette. Both of which were a first for me… I don’t ever remember eating a Tamal before. It’s a sausage shape made with cornmeal and flavoured with garlic, flecks of pork/ham and seasoning. The entire thing is wrapped in the husk of a corn-cob and steamed. Best served with a drop or two of the multiple hot sauce options on the table, it was delicious. Sweet from the corn, salty from the ham, with a dense, but spongey, consistency and topped off with a vinegary kick from the hot sauce.

reel_cuban

And I didn’t think I’d ever tried yuca before either, until I realised it’s another name for cassava! This was a cassava mash wrapped around a minced beef filling, shaped into a croquette and then breaded and deep-fried. Again, the hot sauce added some extra flair but it was really tasty with or without.

Allie ordered the Cuban sandwich and I insisted on taking photos of everything as it arrived… before Allie was allowed to dig in! It’s easy to forget how people in the real world don’t do that with every meal!! Flavour-wise, it had similarities with the Muffaletta we ate in New Orleans… sliced pork meats and Swiss cheese in a gorgeous bread, toasted. This one omitted the olive salad and instead had pickles and mustard. The Cuban bread is what made it so special though… a bit like French or Italian bread but with a little added fat in the dough to enrich it.  Allie tackled some of it, I tasted a bit and the rest was boxed up for Allie’s lunch the following day… it was huge!

reel_cuban2

I went with Luna’s suggestion of ‘Ropa Vieja’. Described on the menu as shredded beef cooked Cuban-style, served with rice and fried sweet plantain. What a great choice! When they use the word shredded, I’d probably exchange that for pulled… it was like pulled beef. Long, slow-cooked beef in a rich tomato and bell pepper sauce. The sauce itself was quite thin, almost broth-like, but had an intensity in the flavour that reminded me of the richness of a French beef stew. The meat itself was melt-in-the-mouth and mixed up with the rice and plantain… yet another winner. When will you guys ever fail us? Every choice was more than I could have asked for… not least because they were all new dishes to me.

After dinner we walked back down Ocean Drive, grabbing shots of the iconic street as it turned from dusk to dark. Great choice for dinner, really tasty ’new’ food options and awesome company. Thanks Allie for putting up with me and my cameras! 😀

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