We are huge fans of Brazilian pão de queijo, and we were excited to try its Colombian cousin the “pan de bono” or pandebono on a recent trip to Miami. No, not BUENO, bono. Hmmm. Like pão de queijo, the dough is made from tapioca flour, however, the addition of corn flour also gives it a more bready texture, and it is a bit sweeter than pão de queijo. Our first stop to try pan de bono was a Colombian bakery, Ricky (several location, we went to 252 Buena Vista Boulevard #108, Miami). We were hooked instantly on the slightly-sweet cheesy bread. There is nothing better than a cafe con leche and a pan de bono for breakfast in Miami, at least for me. I have not tried any pandebono offerings in Chicago yet, though I am intrigued by this recipe from Lucky Peach. Do you know of a good place for pandebono?
Sabor a Cafe (2435 W Peterson Ave. Chicago, IL, 60659) is deceptively small, but inside it is actually both a music venue and a restaurant with a great atmosphere. Our particular draw for the night was a show by the Brazilian singer and pandeiro player Clarice Maghalães, one of our favorite young Brazilian artists. The inside of the restaurant is divided into two parts, and at the back of one half is a small stage, as well as other creative flourishes like an indoor portico and Colombian murals. Sabor a Cafe also has a big meat-heavy menu to keep show-goers happy, but there are also vegetarian starters like arepas and empanadas ($2 or less apiece).
While perusing the menu we ordered a somewhat unusual drink – hot chocolate – but the interesting part was that it was served with a mild white cheese, which our server instructed us to crumble into the drink. We did and it was pretty good, not too “cheesy” at all, though we are not sure this would be a regular addition to our mugs of hot chocolate. For appetizers we ordered a requisite for M – the Ceviche de Camaron / shrimp ceviche ($11.99). This rendition came in a cup, like a shrimp cocktail but with a spicy citrus and tomato broth. Though not too similar to his favorite Peruvian ceviche, M was happy with his choice. In terms of mains, there were many traditional Colombian dishes, like Bandeja Paisa ($15.99) which is a mix of steak, sausage, beans and an egg. This is certainly a meat-heavy menu and if you are looking for steak (in many varieties) you won’t be disappointed.
We opted to share the Parrillada ($18.99) a large plate (board?) of grilled steak, grilled chicken breast and grilled shrimp with chorizo, baked potato, grilled onions, yuca and more plantains. However, if you are not in the mood for such a huge combo, there were a variety of smaller a la carte meat dishes and combos, including carne asada ($12.99) or chicken skewers ($6). We were impressed with our parrillada, all of the meat was grilled to perfection, and we also liked all of the starchy side dishes. Along with the ceviche, the parrillada was more than enough for the two of us.
Another good thing about the dinner and a show model as that you pace yourself a little more. After a short break in gluttony, we settled on a decent chocolate cake for dessert (which also had some sort of cherry flavor in it), but we were also tempted by the Brevas con Arequipe / figs with cheese ($3.99) and the Platano Maduro con Queso y Dulce de Guayaba / Plantain with cheese and guava ($3.99). Maybe next time! Sabor a Cafe pleasantly surprised us with a good show, and good food to match. We will definitely be back.
El Mago de las Fritas
5828 SW 8th St.
West Miami, FL 33144
We have tried a lot of burger joints in our day, and while we were more than happy that a Shake Shack finally opened in our neck of the woods, it is rare we try a burger place that is totally NEW. Well, Miami, you’ve done it for us again by introducing us to the unique and delicious Cuban burger, the frita. There are a couple of places that claim to have the best fritas in Miami, and we decided to make our first frita experience at one of the fan favorites, Mago “Magician” de las Fritas (another rival across town is Rey “King” de los Fritas).
We arrived on Saturday afternoon, and the place was pretty crowded. The Mago himself was even helping man the grill. The restaurant is small and set up like a diner, with a big flattop grill, booths on one side and blue swivel chairs at the counter. There are a number of items available on the menu, including hot dogs, chicken, and steak sandwiches, but rest assured that most people are here for the frita. There are few options for the frita, including a single, double and even one with egg on top (a Caballo). We settled in for our single fritas with a banana shake (mango, guanabana, and others were also available). Now, our only knock on the place is that it took us 30 minutes to get a burger. Sure, we don’t mind to wait a little bit, but it’s a burger…. Despite this setback, the staff was very kind and apologetic throughout.
When we finally received our frita, we dug right in. The thin, crispy burger patty was made out of beef and chorizo, and had a spicy, rich flavor. It was also topped by raw and cooked onions, and shoestring potatoes, a Cuban staple, on an egg carton shaped roll. The mix of textures was really delicious, and the chorizo added a whole new dimension. As always, we loved the crunch that the shoestring potatoes added. We are definitely converts to the frita burger, and El Mago de las Fritas was a fun place to try a frita for the first time. Just go when you have time to spare.
We previously wrote a post about Quiosques, small cafe kiosks located in city squares, and their awesome prevalence throughout Lisbon. Today, we are going to give you a guide to a special breed of quiosque – the Quiosque de Refresco (refreshment kiosk). The quiosque de refrecos is the brainchild of Catarina Portas, proprietor of the store A Vida Portuguesa, who wanted the revive the quiosques in Lisbon, and their old school drinks. The project was extremely successful, and the Quiosque de Refresco is something of a chain now with five locations throughout Lisbon. We were shocked to learn that there was no quiosque (in the recent past) in the bustling Praça Luís de Camões (below) until the Quiosque de Refresco appeared in 2009. Doesn’t it seem like it had been there forever?
What makes these quiosques so unique, despite being cool places to while away the time, is that they sell old-school drinks that originated in the mid-20th century or earlier. So what kinds of drinks can you get at a refreshment quiosque? The drink options are written on a little hanging chalkboard, pictured below, and include both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Seem confusing? Never fear, I will walk you through all of the options on the menu pictured below.
Leite Perfumado – I ordered what I thought was a Spanish horchata, turns out it was actually a leite perfumado. This drink, which translates to “perfumed milk,” is milk steeped with sugar, cinnamon, and lemon, which gave it a chai-like flavor. Even though it is made with UHT (boxed) milk, which I normally do not like – I thought it was great! This drink is served cold.
Mazargan – This is a classic drink made from coffee, sugar and lemon. The Portuguese are big coffee experts, and this storied coffee drink has quite an interesting history, and bears the name of a town in Algeria. Served cold, this drink is sweet and refreshing and good for a midday caffeine boost.
Limonada/oranjada- Perhaps the most familiar option, these are fizzy lemon or orange drinks, much like a San Pellegrino fizzy beverage. These crisp drinks are definitely great for a warm day, or for kids.
Xarope (Syrup) drinks – These drinks came in a variety flavors, and are served with a small amount of sugar syrup in a cup, and you then mix in a small bottle of still water. Two of the most iconic and unique syrups are the groselha and the capilé. These drinks were somewhere between a juice and Kool-Aid in taste, but not super sweet. The flavor Groselha is within my realm of knowledge – red currant. However, capilé was something else entirely – not that it doesn’t even have a translation on the menu – fern! We really enjoyed the Capilé, which had a sweet grassy flavor similar to green tea. Other syrups available included: chá verde/green tea, erva principe/lemongrass, tonilho-limão/thyme-lemon and the simple limão/lemon.
Vino quente- We were there during the winter, this drink was basically flying out of the quiosque. Vino quente is literally translated as”hot wine,” and is basically a mulled wine (usually Madeira or Port) with spices. Perfect for a cold night.
Grogue – For some reason we had this drink mixed up in our head with the Swedish drink glögg, which is actually more akin to the vino quente above. However, we did find a description of what makes us a grogue from the Quiosque site:
O nosso Grogue mistura aguardente velha, água, sumo de limão e mel, é servido bem quente e deve ser bebido de um trago. Sem medos! Which translates to: Our Grog mixes old brandy, water, lemon juice and honey, is served hot and should be drunk in one gulp. No fear!
So there you have it! Now you know exactly how to decipher the menu, and find your new favorite Portuguese drink. We also suspect these drinks may change with the season…mulled wine may not be suitable for a hot summer day. If you are in Lisbon, the quiosque de refresco is a great slice of history, and it fun to seek out all of the different quiosques across town. If you go, let us know what you order!
We were in NYC right before Chinese New Year and found ourselves hankering for some good, cheap Chinese food. Vanessa’s Dumpling House (118A Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002) came highly recommended by my cousin, who is always in the know. When we arrived on a bone-chillingly cold day, there was already a very large line, and huge trays of Beijing-style dumplings basically flying out the door. We knew we were in the right place.
The specialties of Vanessa’s are dumplings – obviously – but also an intriguing Northern-Chinese style dish – the sesame pancake. The sesame pancake was a must-have according to my cousin, and it was a completely intriguing dish to us, cooked in a giant round pan, and cut into manageable triangles. Despite the name “pancake,” this was basically a Chinese riff on focaccia bread. It had a light bread-y texture, coated with oil and topped with sesame seeds – a little greasy maybe, but totally delicious. And a slice is only $1! Yes, this place is crazy cheap. Vanessa’s takes the sesame pancake concept one further by even making sandwiches out of the sesame pancakes with fillings like beef and Peking duck ($2-3).
Onto the dumplings – we ordered a mix of fried and boiled. We got the four fried pork and chive dumplings for only $1.25, eight boiled veggie dumplings, and eight boiled chicken and basil ($4 for 8). The dumplings were perfectly formed and cooked to perfection, though we slightly preferred the slightly crispy skin of the pan-fried dumplings. We also appreciated the soy and chili dipping sauces that came with each order. It was a real treat to watch the production at Vanessa’s – talk about a well oiled machine. You can also pick up some 50-packs of frozen dumplings to enjoy in the comfort of your own home ($7-14). We took our goodies to go and heartily enjoyed our little taste of Chinatown. We can’t think of a better place to get a cheap dumpling fix – and you absolutely have to try the sesame pancake.
This lunar new year, the pastry post-doc is celebrating with an entirely new cake preparation format – steamed. Yep, the cake in question, Nian Gao, is actually a sweet steamed Chinese cake made from glutinous rice flour and brown sugar. Nian Gao (or nin gou) is popular across China, and varies widely by region, as well as in the Chinese diaspora. It is considered a lucky food to have around the New Year, partly because of its name. According to Wikipedia:
It is considered good luck to eat nian gao during this time, because “nian gao” is a homonym for “higher year.” The Chinese word 粘 (nián), meaning “sticky”, is identical in sound to 年, meaning “year”, and the word 糕 (gāo), meaning “cake” is identical in sound to 高, meaning “high or tall.”
Nian Gao is traditionally steamed, and therefore has a more gelatinous texture, as in this recipe, though Chow.com also has a baked recipe. Honestly, though the baked cake may be more familiar, I really appreciate the steaming technique, which is definitely not utilized in many Western sweets. Here’s to a sweet new year!
Happy Mardi Gras! In Chicago, the classic Mardi Gras treat of choice is the Paczki, however we are also big fans of a fried doughy treat right out of New Orleans, the Beignet! While we are not going to be near Cafe Du Monde, we are hoping to get some of that NOLA spirit, so where to go in Chicago? It turns out there are quite a few places. One pick is Jimmy’s, which specializes in beignets, and Big Jones is another classic choice. Of course, you can always make your own. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
It’s almost Mardi Gras, and we are in NYC, so we decided to indulge in a semla from the Swedish coffeeshop Fika (41 W. 58th St.), which we had visited on a previous trip. So while many may think of king cake for Mardi Gras, we were in a Scandinavian mood. A semla is traditional Swedish brioche roll flavored with cardamom and filled with whipped cream, usually eaten before Lent. Understated, yet indulgent, this is definitely a mardi gras tradition we can get behind.
We first ate an ensaimada, a sweet eggy, yeast roll on a warm day in Puerto Rico, not knowing anything of its history, other than that it looked pretty tasty (it is actually called a Mallorca there). However, we did not put two and two together until we stumbled upon the same sweet yeast roll, with the same spiral top, on a cold winter day in Madrid, except this time it was called an ensaimada. When we got home, we did a little research and sure enough these two rolls, encountered an ocean apart, were actually the same pastry.
Ensaimadas originated on the Spanish island of Mallorca, and gained their name from the pork fat used to make them, saïm. The pastry traveled with the Spanish around the world, and throughout the centuries have found their way throughout the Spanish speaking world to Puerto Rico, and to the Philippines, where they are particularly popular. Ensaimadas, due to their richness, are popular to eat around Mardi Gras time, before all the sweets and butter are given up for Lent, so why not whip some up now? Check out this Spanish-style recipe from Delicious Days, or a traditional Cabell d’àngel pumpkin jam-filled version from the Gusty Gourmet. Jun-blog has a recipe for Filippino ensaimadas, which are miniature-sized and made with butter.
We are going to NYC this weekend, home of one of our favorite chocolate purveyors, Mast Brothers (shop located at 111 N 3rd St, Brooklyn, NY, though you can get the bars elsewhere). Along with having superlative chocolate, we appreciate Mast Brothers’ attention to detail with the clean, simple packaging with interesting papers. While in Lisbon, we came across a store that reminded us a lot of the Mast Brothers’ aesthetic, Chocolataria Equador (Rua da Misericórdia 72, Lisboa). Located in the Chiado district in central Lisbon (with another location in Porto), this elegant and minimalist Portuguese store sells dark, milk and white chocolate bars with flavors including sea salt, port wine, crispy rice and hazelnut, as well as pure bars without any add-ins. The the chocolate is from around the world, but the bars are handmade in Portugal, with beautiful packaging. Though a little pricey, the chocolate bars came in a variety of sizes for appetites big and small. We sampled an 80% single origin bar – which was phenomenal – perfect for those who like their chocolate to be intense. Inside the shop, there is also a counter with beautifully-decorated truffles and other tidbits for a sweet tooth, including a riff on the iconic-in-Portugal chocolate umbrella. Chocolataria Equador is definitely a must-visit for any chocolate (or design) lover in Lisbon.
Tomorrow is the Thursday before Mardi Gras – fat Thursday – which means it is paczki day in Chicago – an unofficial holiday which is an opportunity to gorge oneself on Polish filled doughnuts called paczkis. We have done a little bit of paczki coverage over the years, and there are ton of places in the Chicagoland area that serve up great paczkis around this time of year, both traditional and inventively-flavored. Time Out Chicago has a shortlist of paczki bakeries, and DNA info has paczki locations mapped out. Evanston bakery Bennison’s even has a paczki-eating competition on Feb 14 for diehards.
We just returned from Miami, where we enjoyed the warmth, good coffee and the key lime pie, a staple of the region. Key lime pie is a custard pie made from tiny key limes (or often the more common Persian limes that most of us deal with) condensed milk, eggs and with a graham cracker crust. The use of condensed milk was born out of the lack of refrigeration in the area until the 1930s! Apparently, actually using real key limes is somewhat rare, since many of them were actually destroyed in the 1926 hurricane which devastated Southern Florida. Who knew? Despite key lime pies being available throughout the country (even in Brooklyn), when we visit South Florida we have to sample some of the classics.
The first pie in the area we sampled was in Key West, at the aptly named Key West Key Lime Pie Company (511 Greene Street, Key West, FL). There are a ton of companies touting Key Lime pie in Key West, but we heard this was the best around (YMMV). The store was shockingly key lime green, which, to be honest, made us want to go inside even more. The only thing for sale were key lime pies and variants of pies, like chocolate-covered pie slices on a stick, and key lime paraphernalia and postcards. We brought back a whole pie and shared it with our friends K and M in Miami, and the pie was great! It was tart and creamy filling (not gel-like as versions some can be) and with a cookie crust. Back in Miami, we also tasted key lime pie from Keys Fisheries (3502 Gulfview Avenue, Marathon, FL). Though made in the keys, these pies are also available from Whole Foods stores in the Miami area. This was an excellent key lime pie, with a pale, creamy filling and a sweet graham cracker crust. We really loved both of these Keys-made pies, and it has inspired us to make one of our own, hopefully soon, to re-capture some of the warm weather. Do you have any favorite key lime pie bakeries or recipes?
The name of this pastry says it all. In Portuguese, escangalhado means “messed up” and this pastry is basically a chaotic creation, made up of puff pastry and egg yolk cream. The bottom layer is merely a square layer of puff pastry, on top there is a huge dollop of cream onto which tons of puff pastry shards are stuck, all topped with a flurry of powdered sugar. There is no elegant way to eat this treat. We basically used the puff pastry as chips to scoop up the cream. We saw this special treat at only one location in Lisbon, one of our favorite bakeries, Pastelaria 1800 (Largo do Rato 7, Lisbon, Portugal). Have you ever seen it anywhere else?
Being the Portuguese pastry fans we are, we were excited to meet up with one of the masterminds behind the indispensable Portuguese patry guidebook, Fabrico Próprio, Frederico Duarte, for a cake tour. Frederico was generous enough to show us around the city to some hidden bakery gems of Lisbon. While we had previously visited the big names like Versailles and Confeitaria Nacional, Frederico helped us uncover yet another layer of sugary, pastry goodness in Lisbon.We first visited Cafe Paço Real (Rua da Conceição 55) an understated cafe with a full savory menu in addition to the bakery counter, in the heart of Baixa. When you walk in, you will notice one feature immediately: there is an azulejo mural of the ubiquitous Portuguese statesman Marques de Pombal on the wall. However, we were most drawn by the wide variety of pastries on display in the street-facing windows, which Frederico told us was more traditional in bakeries of the north, something we had not noticed to this point. We tried the specialty of the house – a unique treat for us – the rocha (“rock” in Portuguese). These little cakes do indeed have a somewhat craggy appearance, but the texture was almost like a banana bread, unlike a sponge cake or puff pastry. It was cakey, not too sweet, and contained bits of citrus peel and more than a hint of cinnamon. This was a different type of pastry and was a nice change from sugar and egg yolks.
The next stop on the cake tour was another old school cafe in Baixa that Frederico was familiar with: Cafouro (Rua do Ouro 177), usually spotted by its triangular “Tofa” brand coffee signs. There, Frederico recommended that we try a geladinho, a coffee-flavored version of the Indiano pastry in Fabrico Próprio. This pastry was composed of two layers of cake, split in the middle and filled with a coffee pastry cream and a shiny coffee glaze. The pastry was moist and delicious, and we appreciated the unique coffee flavor, not especially common in traditional Portuguese pastries. Like Paço Real, we definitely appreciated the down-to-earth vibe of Cafouro.
Next, we took the iconic #28 yellow tram up to the School of Hospitality and Tourism of Lisbon, located in Campo de Ourique, in the historic Palácio dos Condes de Paraty. Here, we got a glimpse of future pastry chefs hard at work in the teaching kitchen. Frederico also told us about the techniques manual that you can now buy along with Fabrico Próprio, which makes sense since so many people were intrigued to try the recipes behind the desserts in the book. However, due to the semi-industrial nature of most Portuguese baking, these pastries are not generally meant for a home cook (rats!). Still, we hope to try our hand at making them someday.
Around a nondescript corner we came upon a truly old school cafe, Panificaçao Mecânica (Rua Silva Carvalho 209), our final stop on the cake tour. This was by far the most unusual stop on the tour, a pastry shop crossed with a breadmaker. The opulent setting was the highlight of the cafe, with two large crystal chandeliers and two types of Bordallo Pinheiro azulejos with wheat motifs (seen above and below). We not-so-secretly covet these azulejos for a future kitchen.
The inside was straight art nouveau, with some anachronistic 1950s plastic-y touches. They had a variety of traditional pastries as well as a wall of breads and an unusual streusel from the Alentejo region. We ordered a new-to-us type of cookie, called a Húngaro (yes, after the country Hungary), and a passable Pastel de Nata. The Húngaros were two sugar cookies joined with cherry jelly and coated in chocolate. Another showpiece of the cafe were the bolinhos de Algarve, little marzipan cakes in the shape of fruit, which reminded us of some of the marzipan candies we had seen in Sicily and Naples.
We finished up at one of our favorite Pastelarias for a superlative Pastel de Nata, Pasteleria 1800 (Largo do Rato 7), brightly decorated with yellow, blue and white azulejos. Though not officially on the cake tour, we were excited to return to one of our favorites before parting ways with Frederico. The cake tour was certainly one of our Lisbon trip highlights. We visited bakeries we would have never noticed, thanks to Frederico’s guidance, and gained an even greater appreciation for the world of Portuguese pastries. Thanks so much for showing us around town, Frederico!
Happy World Nutella Day! We have written about several Nutella-concept shops throughout the world, and in honor of Nutella Day we wanted to do a little update on a few of these locations. We are sad to report that the Nutellerias in Germany and Bologna may have closed, while there is a new Nutelleria location in Leiria, Portugal. Additionally, the Nutella concept store in NYC, which we first reported on in Fall 2014, now named Nuteria, has opened one location, and will soon open another [update: they are also being sued by Nutella’s parent company…]. If you are in the mood for some Nutella closer to home, there are certainly a lot of great recipes to tempt you, including these salted dark chocolate Nutella sandwich cookies from Faux Martha (pictured above). Nutella in both the cookie and the filling – seems pretty appropriate for Nutella Day. Or how about a Nutella babka?
Ich bin ein bola de Berlim. Yep, this is an offshoot of the Berliner, the classic German jelly donut. The Bola de Berlim is popular throughout Lisbon, and is a basically a fried donut split and filled with yellow egg yolk-based cream found in many Portuguese pastries, creme pasteleiro. However, we have also seen them filled with chocolate cream, occasionally. The regular and mini-sized classic BdB above are from the Padaria Portuguesa bakery chain, though you can get them pretty much anywhere pastries are sold in Lisbon. M liked these as a Portuguese replacement fix for his beloved American donut (though we saw some bizarre prepackaged versions of “American donuts” in the supermarket as well). You can even make Bola de Berlim of your own at home.
We figure we take plenty of pictures of our adventures – so we should put them to even better use. Follow ETW on Instagram here. Let’s be friends!
When we were in Brazil we felt like we were in a paradise of exotic fruit, and we certainly tasted a few unique varieties. When we arrived in Portugal, we put our hunt for exotic fruits aside. However, we were stopped in our tracks by an exotic Portuguese fruit that bore a striking resemblance to the Brazilian sugar apple, the anona. When we saw the distinctive green nubby shell in the grocery store we did a double take. It looked like a sugar apple, but with less nubs. The greengrocer informed us it was from the island of Madeira, and was ripe when soft. After two days, we broke the anona open, and like the sugar apple, it had white fleshy nodes surrounding large black seeds. The flavor, while similar, tasted a bit more like banana. We were happy to find the anona though it gave us saudades for the sugar apple.