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The morning Lisa and I went to Cuba was one I will never forget. It was slightly humid but a perfect summer morning regardless. We wore dresses and casually walked through the streets with hungry stomachs.
No, I we did not really go to Cuba. But step foot in Cuba Libre, located in Philadelphia and you will feel like you just set foot in downtown Cuba.
The beautiful trees, cultural decorations and open windows create an ambiance like no other.
We were lucky enough to be invited to enjoy brunch and try the new menu celebrating Cuba Libre’s 10th anniversary which was created by chef Guillermo Perno (James Beard Award for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Region & Best Single Subject Cookbook ) and inspired by his trip to Cuba.
At first we though we might be experiencing brunch with other bloggers. Maybe we would sit at a large table together. Maybe there would be a brunch style breakfast. Instead we were completely spoiled and sat at a table for two and were given the opportunity to order anything on the menu. Anything? Such dangerous words for food bloggers.
So we decided on the brunch without borders, a tapas style brunch where you pay $25 per person and order as much as you like.
We both started with the Café Cuba Libre which was exactly what I was looking for. Sweet, foamy and smooth.
Each table is given an assortment of bread:
Warm banana bread, guava cream cheese hojaldre, crispy churro and orange-ginger muffin.
Accompanied by mango butter and guava marmalade. Note to self, make mango butter.
And then the rounds of food began. I’m not kidding when I say “rounds”
African adobo-rubbed charred tuna, pickled cucumber salad
and avocado salsa. Preserved Meyer lemon-curry oil
Cóctel de Camarones
Cuban style shrimp cocktail. Latino cóctel and avocado salsa
Camarones a la Parrilla
Cuban pesto-marinated grilled shrimp, boniato chip
and arugula salad. Pimentón-lemon vinaigrette
Torta de Cangrejo Benedict
Jumbo lump crabmeat and potato cake, poached egg,
avocado mash. Tomato Hollandaise sauce
Frituras de Bacalao
Salted cod fritters. Homemade lemon mayonnaise
Pulpo con Berenjenas
Truffle and citrus marinated grilled baby octopus,
Haitian eggplant salad
Cesar de Oriente
Crispy spring roll of Cortez chorizo and shrimp.
Shredded hearts of romaine. Roasted garlic-Caesar
dressing and Cotija cheese
Ensalada de Pollo Rancho Luna
Citrus marinated pulled chicken salad, Napa cabbage,
romaine lettuce, sweet grapes tomatoes, red onions,
cucumbers and crispy wontons. Chinita mustard dressing
Chino glazed beef, pork, and pine nut meatballs.
Pickled carrot-cilantro slaw
Frituras de Malanga
A traditional Cuban appetizer of purple taro root,
garlic and culantro fritters. Tamarindo ketchup
Buñuelos de Espinaca
Spinach and Manchego cheese puffs.
Goat cheese-ranch sauce and organic olive oil
At first we considered doing a “dessert” round:
Hazelnut and almond encrusted brioche French toast.
drunken strawberry-honey drizzle
Waffle de Chocolate
Cuban chocolate waffle, chunky banana-sun dried
Which was pretty hard to turn down but our stomachs had all the amazing food they could take.
Our experience went above and beyond what we were expecting. Between the food, the atmosphere, the great service and fun we had…it isn’t if I will be back, it is when! And the brunch deal is just too great to turn down.
Why not take a vacation to Cuba this weekend? I hear there’s a mojito with your name on it.
It should be known that I just might get in trouble by calling my Mom Linny, even though it is her nickname. We grew up only being allowed to call my parents Mom and Dad, (and other parent related terms of endearment) but anything that came close to saying their adult names was off limits!
Lunch with my Mom is something special. She is a teacher so her time is often limited during the school year. And I’m a server, which means that when she has off on the weekend, I am at work.
But somehow we found time in our schedules to get together for lunch at a place we were both dying to try, Tarantella, located in Medford, NJ.
Tarantella is an Italian restaurant that has received rave reviews from many friends and family members.
The restaurant’s recipes reflect those from Naples, Italy and everything from the décor to the service is friendly.
And it is another great BYOB, so naturally we thought it was even better
Each table is given complimentary bruschetta which was a perfect way to start our meal. The bread was still warm and crispy and the bruschetta was perfectly seasoned.
On top of the bruschetta there is a fresh bread basket given to each table.
I loved that there was a choice of salad dressing although we weren’t quite sure what type of dressing was in each container. With a few tastes we figured it out.
As we were eating the desserts kept taunting us. We were dying to know what types of delicious treats were in there!
My Mom and I wound up ordering two of our favorite dishes. I had a special…sea bass! It was served over penne with spinach and sundried tomatoes and a cream sauce. I will admit that I prefer sea bass served with Asian flavors but it was still the same melt-in-your mouth fish!
Linny had chicken picatta, a lemony chicken dish served with angel hair pasta.
And then…it was time to reveal the dessert.
We were both surprised to find that the dessert menu was actually a little book put together of detailed descriptions and photos of each item. When we asked where the desserts were made we found out that they are imported from Milan, Italy!!
Although it was a hard decision I finally chose a lemon sorbet.
When I studied abroad in Italy this was my favorite dessert. They had all different flavors that were served in their respective fruit shells. I think this is a brilliant idea because what better way to serve a dessert that tastes like a specific fruit than in the fruit itself. The sorbet was creamy, cool, refreshing and a perfect way to end my meal.
And my Mom is a brilliant woman so naturally she had a piece of chocolate cake/mousse, which was rich, decadent and the perfect chocolate fix!
We had a great time, as anyone does when there is great food served. But most importantly, we embraced the Italian culture by having lunch together and taking time to talk and really enjoy ourselves. With that said, I think we really need to remember how great of a daughter I am and that I realize calling my mother by her first name is not appropriate. Let’s hope I don’t have any long lost mob family members that will be sent out to teach me about being respectful to my mother.
I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend! Did you try anything new and delicious? Please share if you tried anything different.
First, I would like to announce the winner of my Blogher Food 2011 giveaway! Congrats to Chelsey of Clean Eating Chelsey! I’m pretty sure I have your address somewhere in my archives but email it to me again just to be sure.
I wish I could have mailed all of you some of the goodies. Better yet, I wish you would have been there with me. Hey,why don’t you come next year so we can spend the whole weekend eating and being blog buddies.
But since the next Blogher Food won’t be for a year, how about I tell you another way to treat yourself?
I recently went for tea with some friends at Amelia’s Tea and Holly in Mullica Hill, NJ. I had been several times with my Mom, sister and Grandmother but this was the first time I was bringing friends.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. Tea? For adults? Isn’t that what little girls do while playing? Of course it is. But why can’t we play as adults?
Having tea makes you feel fancy, elegant and poised.
You get to use sugar cubes, tiny tea cups and floral tea pots.
You sip instead of slurping. And soup tastes better when you eat it slowly. (Actually I think Amelia’s soup is really that amazing.)
Most tea places will do layers of an assortment of food such as this one.
Tea sandwiches are so delicious and simple.
A scone, pound cake and fresh fruit.
And assortment of small dessert bites.
But most importantly, having tea is about enjoying the company you go with and actually taking time to slow down and relax.
You deserve to be treated like a queen! And I was under the impression that queens didn’t have to pay.