I bid farewell to my blog’s old theme- I figured it was time to change since the theme would no longer get updates. The new version still feels like a fit. Here’s to spring!
As part of our trip to Key West, Florida, we wanted to visit as many local restaurants as we could. One of our stops brought us to El Meson de Pepe. We wanted to try a little of everything, so we opted to split a #80- a plate that had three different dishes: Lechon Asado (pork), Ropa Vieja (shredded beef), and Picadillo Habanero (ground beef). I tried a bowl of the black bean soup, and our meal came with both sweet plantains and the yucca. We also split a piece of their Key Lime Pie (Torta de Limon). We are also fans of Tres Leches cake, but could not pass up Key Lime in Key West.
I had not had Cuban food before (just hadn’t had the opportunity yet). My wife had Cuban food previously, and she felt the flavors and tone of the restaurant were consistent with her previous experience. They had musicians playing outside, and had set up heat in the covered outdoor dining area since it was a little cooler that night (though still plenty warm, as back in Wisconsin it was nearly below zero!) Overall, it was relaxing, yet invigorating atmosphere.
The food was delivered super-quickly. My black bean soup was quite delicious, and a great way to start off the meal. My wife is not much of a fan of pork, so I had that dish to myself, and it was excellent. The shredded beef was just as tasty. I was the most excited to try the ground beef dish due to the combination of “tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell peppers, cumin, bay leaves, oregano, olives, capers, and raisins”. I was perhaps a little surprised that the flavors on the dish weren’t a little stronger given the ingredients, but it was tasty nonetheless. We both loved the plantains, and I had never had yucca before, but it was also good- a unique flavor. The Key Lime Pie was a refreshing way to end our meal, as well. All considered, we would certainly go back, and recommend that you do too, if near Key West.
What better on Valentine’s Day Eve (or national ‘Eat Italian Food Day‘) than to look to a classic Chow Ciao! for some last minute recipe ideas: Drunken Spaghetti! In keeping with the red wine theme, Chef Fabio also offers a recipe for Red Wine Risotto via his website. In either case, you have an excellent meal idea for Valentine’s Day.
I love soup. It’s not the first time nor the last time I will say that on this blog. I enjoy eating different soups as much as I enjoy making soup. I like that it’s easy, aside from much chopping (sometimes)! The above picture is of a curried squash and wild rice soup that I made a little while ago with the last of our squash we had from our Community Shares Agriculture (CSA) share. I often make soups with the abundance of vegetables we get, especially in the middle of summer. It tends to freeze well for winter, when CSA vegetables are nowhere around. I tend to use spices instead of salt, almost to the point of under-salting, though the broth adds much of what I don’t.
The recipe turned out fairly well. I followed some of the comments and caramelized the onions in brown sugar, as well as using tomato sauce for an acid instead of orange juice. I also upped the curry powder a bit. I baked the squash beforehand, which made it easy to mix together and used an immersion blender before adding the rice to cook. We didn’t have any butternut squash left, but some buttercup squash combined with other squash worked just fine and gave it a nice color. The wild rice (from our Minnesota trip) held up well in the soup and added to the texture. It was nicely toothsome even in the tasty leftovers. I would make this again, as we had been looking for some good squash recipes.
You can eat what they had for lunch today at the presidential inauguration! Check out the menu and recipes (with wine pairings).
Well, I’m back to the frigid northlands… I mean… Midwest… after a much appreciated surprise trip to Key West from my wife to celebrate my birthday. It took me a little bit to get accustomed to signs showing ‘January’ being in mental juxtaposition with the warm weather. It was my first visit to Florida, and I truly enjoyed it. We hope to return to catch even more of the things we missed. It was a long weekend trip, and we visited several museums and, of course, had to visit Duval Street. I’ll be posting some food highlights of the trip, in the event they may be useful in your travels.
First up was Mr. Z’s: a restaurant that offers cheesesteaks, pizza, and stromboli. We were wandering Duval Street and trying to decide what we were hungry for. We ran across Mr. Z’s, partly due to the enticing aroma that reached us on the sidewalk through the open window screens. It’s not a very large place, with a main counter and some seating on stools along the wall. This might make it easy to overlook amid all the food options available, but it was certainly worth our time and easily handled our hunger. I ordered the sausage and (sweet) peppers sandwich for a very reasonable $7, with an extra $1 for fried onions and cheese. It’s a sandwich that I will get hungry for from time to time, and this one did not disappoint. Coupled with a tasty red sauce, it was flavorful and satisfying.
My wife ordered a small veggie and four cheese stromboli, and they are not kidding when they say it will serve two people- my wife had leftovers. Again, it was a very reasonable price – $10. She let me try some, and it was prepared well. There was a good mix of vegetables complemented with the perfect ratio of cheese to the vegetable ingredients. The crispy crust held all the ingredients together well, also. They do advise it takes a while to cook, but it didn’t take too long to get our meals. I would certainly recommend Mr. Z’s in Key West if you’re looking to satisfy a craving or get a delicious meal for a reasonable price- just make sure not to miss it!