Wednesday, March 01, 2006

 

Cubans at Charles B. and Chez H.

Bukowski’s Tavern, named after the famed writer, has two locations: the original, classic hole in the wall in Boston’s Back Bay, and the more expansive in Inman Square Cambridge. The later serves very good bar food to accompany its 99 bottles of beer on the wall.

Late at night on a cold Tuesday, the bar is rather quiet. With friends Marcus and Jamie, we cozied into a booth. The large selection of beers makes a decision difficult, but the knowledgeable server guided me to the perfect wheat beer with a touch of sweetness.

Between bites of a Cuban Sandwich and a hamburger, we discussed Bukowski’s “Women” and “Men” and new business ideas surrounding music. The Cuban was crispy and pressed with just enough meat and pickles. Probably the best “classic” version this side of the Mason Dixon Line. (Chez Henri’s thicker, heartier and more interesting version bears little resemblance to the classic dish). The fries, perhaps not made in-house, had odd shapes with the skin still on, suggesting homemade.

With the article about Random Apps in the Herald, I shared the story of its beginning. Marcus and Jamie decided it was a fantastic idea, so we continued the tradition. We scanned the room, looking for likely recipients. The crowd was thin, and the only options were a table of two men and a woman, or two women. With a glint in his eyes, Marcus suggested we send the app to the ladies. I nixed the idea, fearful he would use this kind gesture to win a date for Saturday night.

After further discussion, we decided that the random app should be anonymous as well. After much contemplation as to potential food allergies and preferences - are they vegetarian? Lactose intolerant? - we ordered a cheese quesadilla for them. Since we never identified ourselves, we’ll never know for sure if they liked it, but as we cautiously peered over our booth, we could see them nibbling away.

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Cuban Sandwiches (a la Chez Henri)

1 loaf French Baguette
½ cup mayonnaise
1-2 chipotle peppers (soaked in adobo), + 1 tsp. juice, chopped
½ cup diced red onion
2 tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lb. Pork butt (marinated overnight with juice of 1 orange, 1 lime and 2 cloves of garlic
¼ cup molasses
½ pound smoked ham
1 dill pickle, diced
¼ pound emmenthaler cheese (or gruyere or Swiss), sliced
1 tsp. oil.

1. Make chipotle aioli: Mix mayonnaise, chipotle, all but 2 tbs. red onion, and cilantro. Set aside.

2. Put pork in a roasting pan, and pour molasses on top. Roast pork butt at 325 for 2 hours.

3. Meanwhile, slice ham. Mix pickle with remaining red onion. Slice bread in half.

4. When pork is tender, remove from oven and slice.

5. To assemble: Slice bread in half, and spread mayonnaise on each side. Top with a few slices of pork, ham. Top with pickle mixture and cheese.

6. Put sandwich in a press and grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is crisp.

Comments:
I see no reason to worry about what you feed these people. They should be open to experimentation - so what if tomorrow morning they end up blowing their partner out of bed, at least you'll have your laugh then.

ha... ha ha.
 
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