Philadelphia

My 4th trip to Philadelphia for the American Society of Nephrology Annual Meeting. City actually has some great food and I have eaten a few of my favorite meals, all-time there (Morimoto’s & The Fountain at the Four Seasons Hotel). This go around, I had one memorable meal at “Cuba Libre”. The menu is designed to reflect what Cuban food would be like if Castro hadn’t fucked everything up…

http://www.cubalibrerestaurant.com/

Restaurant has all kinds of Carribean/South American beverages and an extensive rum list…mojitos are made with fresh guarapo (hand-pressed sugar cane juice). Very tasty!

We got their tasting menu for only $39/each. Don’t know how they stay in business. This is what we had

Appetizers-
Ceviche!: Baja bay scallops, blackened tomatillo-truffle sauce, goat cheese confetti, flat bread
Chicken empanada with corn & jack cheese on a tomatillo relish
Guava BBQ Ribs on a jicama-Sambal salad
Black-bean hummus with plantain & yucca chips

Main-
Ensalad del Pais: mixed greens, arugula, jicama, pepitas, orange supremes w/ Sherry vinaigrette
Suntanned Salmon: Chilean salmon with honey-mango glaze with star anise tomato sauce
Camarones con Cana: pan seared sugarcane skewered jumbo shrimp, mango BBQ glaze
Churrasco a la Cubana: grilled skirt steak on roasted garlic mashed potatoes, parsley, lemon and onion sauce, watercress and rosemary mushroom escabeche salad
Cuban black beans and rice
Maduros: fried ripe plantains
Sauteed young mustard greens in a spicy chorizo broth

Desert-
Flan
Coconut rice pudding with chopped coconut macaroons
Chocolate-cinnomin fallen down cake

Best $40 ever spent. My favorite was the ceviche by far. So much so that I went back there by myself at at some at the bar. I wanted Jennifer to try, so I came up with my own recipe that was surprisingly close…I took several short-cuts, but here goes-

Mise:
12 oz bag frozen sea scallops (look for ones vacuum packed without any ice crystals), thawed in refrigerator overnight
1 large naval orange, juiced & strained
4 persian limes, juiced & strained
1 serrano chili, finely minced (flesh only)
1 chipotle chile, finely minced
3 Tablespoons minced red onion
1/2 tsp truffle oil
4 tablespoons store bought tomatillo sauce
About 3 drops of liquid smoke
Crumbled goat cheese

Best to make over 2 daysAfter thawing scallops, combine in non-reactive bowl with juice, chiles, and onion and “cook” for about 4 hours. Strain out most of the juice (or scallops become overcooked and mushy), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat.Before serving, strain again and toss with tomatillo sauce, truffle oil, and liquid smoke (careful with this stuff, I added b/c I didn’t want to make my own smoked tomatillo sauce, it worked well). To finish combine with as much goat cheese as you like (I used about 1/4 cup). Enjoy! I also bought some “veggie chips” in the hippie section of the grocery store that were made with yucca, plaintains etc that worked very well.

JW

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