Friday, August 12, 2005

Pan Cubano

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This is what I miss up in Sarasota. Really.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


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Fresh yellowtail marinated or "cooked," if you will, in lime juice, cilantro, jalapenos, red onion and tomatoes. Not too many better ways to take advantage of the fresh seafood here. I would love to make ceviche more at home, but the places up there that I trust to have fresh seafood are a bit of a hike from where I live. This isn't something I would do with a tilapia filet from Publix ("They're still nice and frosty," the seafood guy once told me with pride.)

Kent Mango

Let me just say that I hope there are still enormous hills of these mangoes at Robert Is Here when I go back on my way to Sarasota. I'll surely pick up more than a few. After settling for those hard, stringy Tommy Atkins mangoes for a while, this seems like an entirely different fruit. I know I compared the monstera to custard before, but really, it's very accurate. The flesh of this mango has no fibers and it literally melts under the pressure of your tongue. Uncut, the smell was noticeable from across the kitchen. Once I'd sliced off the cheeks or lobes from either side of the seed, the aroma became much more intense. Aside from that distinct and pronounced sweetness that mangoes have, I could also taste some acidic, lime-like notes, and maybe even something a little heavier, almost like vanilla.
I had heard the meaty sections of the mango referred to as cheeks before, but in browsing another mango site, I also heard the red patch near the stem end referred to as the shoulder. I like the functional metaphor.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Tropical Fruit

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I drove home to Key West on Monday. I think I wound up making the best time yet, which was just about seven hours, give or take a half hour spent at Robert Is Here in Homestead. For those unfamiliar, Robert Is Here is a fruitstand and milkshake shop that sits among the tomato fields and palm nurseries on SW 344th Street. When I worked at the Waterfront Market, our produce buyer would occasionally purchase hard to find tropical fruits from Robert Is Here, and that's how I first came to know of the place. This visit had perhaps some of the the most interesting items I've seen there so far. Particularly interesting was the monstera deliciosa that you see above. I had heard the name of this fruit before, but I guess I never connected it to what it was. The taste is similar to a sugar apple in that it's sort of a composite of mango, banana and pineapple. My first reaction to its taste was to compare it to something artificial, as it was more intense than the regular flavors of any of the fruits I mentioned. At $5 a pop, it had better be intense.
As you can see, the hexagonal scales have started to flake away. The pulp beneath is to be eaten, the scales are not. We learned this last night after trying a few of the scales and discovering that eating them was akin to gargling fiberglass. The pulp, however, has a custard-like texture--slimy and yeilding. I now have to wait for more scales to flake off before I can start eating more of it. As I understand it, the pulp is as unpleasant as the scales until they separate from each other.

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More visually impressive, but not nearly as tasty, was this dragonfruit. Actually, I found the pulp, which was similar to a very ripe pear, to be just slighly sweet and otherwise bland. It was similar to smaller cactus pears, maybe with slightly less of the berry-like taste that I associate with them. It sure was pretty though. I had kind of hoped to get one of the white-fleshed ones, but the red is pretty striking as well.

I also came home with a Kent mango (background in the first picture), but I havn't cut into that yet. I'll post an update when I do. Almost all of the mangoes I have access to in Sarasota are the stringy Tommy Atkins variety. The Kent is supposed to be less fibrous. It also smells amazing, like a mango ought to.