While there are all sorts of sophisticated dishes in Cuban cusine, when I think of Cuban food, a more soulful food-home cooking comes to my mind (fried plantains, white rice and black beans, chicken soups, chicken and yellow rice, ceviche, Cuban sandwiches, and of course flan). I often frequented Cuban restaurants in Brooklyn and all over Manhattan when I was living there. I would deliberately make a journey to pick up flan for my girlfriend (even if it was in the next borrough and took me an hour and a half roundtrip). I would even go out for lunch while at work for a Cuban sandwich with a side of garilic sauce not caring if people would be offended sitting next to me in meetings. So when I heard that a Cuban-style restaurants opened in Żoliborz (located where the Maciej Zien restaurant was south of Plac Invalidów), I made an immediate plan to check it out.
I visited Caribe with friends who live in the neighborhood and have been there are few times before. They insisted I have a Hemingway Daiquiri with them when we arrived and I gladly accepted. The first sip of that icy cool sweetness loosened us up and got us talking all things Cuban. From their visits to Cuba eating at speak-easy style restaurants to my indulgent treks around New York, we worked up an appetite. After another round of daiquiris and a rusty Spanish dialogue, we decided what to order. My friend leaned over and told me that the cook is actually Cuban who arrived in Warsaw a half a year ago. I figured the true test of judging how authentic the food was here was going to have to in the beans, so I ordered the frijoles negroes (black beans). My friends ordered a steak, ground meat hash and I went with a pork with “mojo sauce’. While we were all content with our dishes. Everyone wished that my beans were on their plates with their rice since they were so good. I agreed. I felt the size of pork I had didn’t fill me up and a mess of beans with rice instead of chopped tomatoes would have been nice. But what had me dancing the cha-cha all the way home was the amazing flan. Truly a authentic dish that would have me on a quick metro ride from the south to again fill satisfy my craving.
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