Cuban Food in Key West

El Meson de Pepe on Map

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.

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Pasta perfect

Bionaturae pasta

Photo from Amazon

We belong to a local food co-op that offers organic and other healthy food options; we do our best within our budget to maximize our options.  One of the products they carry is Bionaturae pasta.  They had a coupon available, so we thought we’d give their organic whole wheat spaghetti a try.  I have to admit that my expectations weren’t too high… I’ve tried some other whole wheat pastas from other grocery stores before, and they’ve tasted more ‘wheat-y’.

(That is a similar issue I have had when attempting to use whole wheat flour.  I used it for cookies before, and the wheat taste was very easily detectable…)

We were pleased to discover that Bionaturae had a taste like ‘regular’ non-whole-wheat pasta.  It took a little longer to cook than regular pasta, but it held up well in the cooking process and was pleasantly toothsome texture-wise.  It also paired well with sauce.

It is not available everywhere, but there is a store search feature available on their website and it is also listed on Amazon.com– (no specific recommendation implied).

Overall, this product holds true to its motto on the package: “Exceptional tasting whole wheat pasta! Enjoy the health benefits of whole wheat pasta without sacrificing great flavor.”