Tag Archives: Florida

Bahamian Pot, a taste of the islands in Miami

BahamasWe were cruising around Miami, in the mood for some Caribbean flavors and seafood. Bahamian restaurants, specializing in the nation’s fish-heavy cuisine, dot the city. We heard good things about Bahamian Pot (1413 NW 54th St. Miami, FL), so we decided to pop in for a quick lunch. When we entered, a few tables were full, and people were chatting over glasses of iced tea and huge plates of fried fish and chicken.
BahamianPotWe scanned the tables and pretty much knew what we wanted to order, and what were the specialties of the house (FISH!). The menu was simple: a few breakfast items like fried chicken and waffles and a variety of fried seafood, including shrimp, whole snapper and tilapia. If you are feeling like meat, the oxtail draws praise. Bahamian Pot’s prices were reasonable, with everything falling in the range of $10-15. The portions of the dinner plates were generous and came with 2 sides, which included mac and cheese, plantains, string beans, crinkle-cut fries, okra or beans and rice.

BahamianConch

To start out with, we got conch fritters, and whole breaded tilapia and snapper for entrees. The fish are all fried to order, but before too long, we were presented with steaming plates of fried fish. Everything was tasty and fresh, and the fries that came with the conch are on point. To finish up we highly recommend the guava duff cake, a steamed Bahamian dessert. If you are looking for some down-home Bahamian cooking and are in the mood for seafood, this is the place to come!BahamianSnapper

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Warm Weather Memories of Key Lime Pie

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.

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Why did we leave Southern Florida?

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?

KeyLimePie

Keys Fisheries Key Lime Pie – yum!

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Adventures in Floridian Produce: Zapote

Well, we made a huge mistake and returned to Chicago (10 degrees) from Miami (80 degrees). But over the next week we will bring you highlights of our culinary adventures in south Florida, including our multiple visits to Los Pinarenos, a fruit store famous for its juices and smoothies on Calle Ocho, in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana (review coming soon!)

While sitting outside at Los Pinarenos, sipping our watermelon juices, we looked up at the tree we were sitting under, and grew curious about what kind of fruits it produced. We asked the amiable owner, and he responded it was a zapote. He pointed us to a small group of apple-sized, soft, brown fruits. We had never heard of them, never seen one, and had no idea what they tasted like. So, of course, we bought one!

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Our zapote, fresh from the tree.

Zapote is the Cuban name given to a fruit known widely as the sapodilla, which grows throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Today it is also widely grown in southeast Asia (why didn’t we find it while we were there?), bring introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish. The taste is difficult to describe, but unlike anything else we have had: semi-savory, with nutty hints of cinnamon, it tastes like a lúcuma crossbred with a honeydew and cotton candy, but without as much sugar. When ripe they are quite soft, with the consistency of a soft melon. As such, you can’t just bite it – you need to scoop it out with a fork or a spoon. Still, the flesh comes out a bit grainy, with flecks of tasty zapote goodness.

We were quite mesmerized by this fruit. Has anyone else heard of it? And is there anywhere to get it in Chicago? We’ll keep searching and get back to you. In the meantime, stay tuned for posts from the rest of Miami!

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Coffee Culture in Miami

cubaWe were in Miami for a friend’s wedding and we had a fabulous time taking in the local cuisine. One thing L especially loved was the coffee culture in Miami, where delicious espresso was found on every corner. Our Miami-native friend Fredo assured us that Miami’s coffee culture was the greatest in the US, so we were pretty excited to get drinking. Fredo was definitely right, people in Miami are truly passionate about coffee, and we got a ton of suggestions for where to get the best coffee from our Miami-local friends. However, no matter where you go, there are a few major types of Cuban coffee that you will commonly find offered:

Cortadito at Panther Coffee in Wynwood

Cortadito at Panther Coffee in the Wynwood Art District

Cafecito / Cafe Cubano – very similar to the Brazilian cafezinho, a strong shot of espresso, with a healthy amount of sugar. The drink is not sweetened after, but rather the sugar is added during the brewing process. This drink is ubiquitous, and will run you less than a dollar. We warn, though, you’d better like your coffee strong.

Cortadito – My favorite, a cafecito with some milk added. This drink is often offered to “beginners” who may think a Cafecito is too strong, but I like it anyway!

Cafe con Leche – Typically for breakfast, a shot of Cafecito with a generous amount of steamed milk

Colada – A quadruple shot of espresso with four (usually Styrofoam) shot glasses. Under no circumstances are you supposed to drink all four shots alone, but rather you are supposed to share with friends. Usually this ends up being a pretty good deal.

Another unique aspect of coffee culture in Miami is the fact that coffee counters abound, and are still the most popular way to enjoy a cup. This reminded us of Brazil, where people would enjoy their cafezinhos standing up at small counters. While you can get your cafe to go, many places also have small areas to sit down. You can find Cuban coffee all over Miami, but many of the most famous places are in Little Havana all along Calle Ocho.

Interior of Versailles, at the western end of Little Havana / Calle Ocho

Interior of Versailles, at the western end of Little Havana / Calle Ocho

Versailles (3555 SW 8th St.) is one of the more famous Cuban restaurants in Miami, and a solid bet for both Cuban food and coffee. There is a full restaurant, which is a favorite among visitors and locals alike (we were actually there about 1 hour before Beyoncé and Jay Z), but there is also a smaller cafe with a coffee counter attached. Along with coffee, you can also get a wide variety of tarts and pastels and while away the time. We enjoyed a Guava pastry and an apple and citrus Torta de Santiago. The coffee and pastries together reminded us a little of our favorite pastelaria in Lisbon, also called Versailles, though the Miami setting was not as opulent. Another good choice in the area is El Pub, with a more minimalist counter (1548 SW 8th St.).

Cortadito, a pastel de guayaba, and a torta de Santiago at Versailles

Cortadito, a Pastel de Guayaba, and a Torta de Santiago at Versailles

Offering a more modern take on the cafecito is Panther Coffee (2390 NW 2nd Ave.). Panther is reminiscent of a NYC or Chicago coffee shop, with a wide menu of small-batch coffee varieties, and even a menu of alcoholic drinks. Located in the artsy Wynwood district, Panther draws a young crowd that looks like they would be more at home in Wicker Park. Even if you are hipster-averse, the coffee is great.

Panther Coffee in Wynwood

Panther Coffee in Wynwood

This list only is the tip of the iceberg, and you can find Cafe Cubano on every corner of Miami. We are excited to try out more spots when we return there in February. In the meantime, maybe we should pick up some Bustelo Coffee at the supermarket.

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