Arepas sandwich with plantains, homemade versus cafe

First off, my sincerest apologies to anyone who may have attempted to access tastyniblets.com within the last two days. My hosting provider exploded in a most unfortunate way, and as a result I, or anyone else, could not access this website. As a consolation, however, I will now write about and post picture of delicious and greasy Cuban food.

See, Drew and I went to Florida recently. I get all excited about visiting Florida, partially because of all of the palm trees, and partially because of the strong likelihood that I will get to eat Cuban food. I’ve not eaten a great deal of Cuban food in my lifetime. I’ve eaten at Kuba Kuba here in Richmond once, and it was tasty (eating there a second time was quickly thwarted by the long line and the realization that we’d decided to try eating there when everyone else in Richmond had decided to try eating there as well). In any case, we went to Florida, and decided to attempt getting Cuban food. More specifically, we decided to get Cuban food in Gainesville. Possibly not the best of locales to attempt to find such cuisine, but that’s where we were, and that’s what I really wanted to eat.

First attempt was at a place called the Green Plantain. Full of gringos, and had the ‘upscale fast food’ vibe going on. While I can’t say that my baked chicken, white rice, and three little plantain pieces I ended up getting were bad, per se, they still weren’t exactly wowing me, either. I felt that this was the equivalent of wanting Mexican food and ending up at Qdoba. Next attempt worked out a bit more in our favor. We went to Mi Apa cafe, and it was much more along the lines of what I was looking for in a Cuban place. Mind you, I have no idea if it’s actually *good* Cuban food or not, as I’ve not eaten nearly enough Cuban food to pass that sort of value judgment, but it was tasty. I got a papaya shake as well as an arepas sandwich whose actual name I can no longer recall, it consisted of fried plantains, avocado, and some sort of soft cheese, sandwiched between two pieces of arepa bread (a flat cornbread).

arepa sandwich

It was quite good, especially after I dabbed on some hot sauce (pretty sure it was chiracha sauce or something rather similar).

So we get back from vacation, and I decide it’s high time I try to replicate that baby. Avocados are simple, and I’ve recently mastered the art of deep-frying plantains. The cheese was tricky – I went to a local Hispanic market in search of a suitable cheese, but all of the cheese was either spready/liquidey or too hard. The actual cheese should be chunky and soft, sort of like if you mixed together ricotta and feta. I was at a loss, though, so I just got some harder enchilada type cheese.

As for the arepas, I could have bought a pack of five or six for entirely too much money, or I could get some corn flour. So, being the cheap bastard that I am, I went ahead and got the corn flour. I mixed some with water and a bit of milk, formed them into patties, and baked them in the oven. I ended up taking them out of the oven around the time I’d just finished frying the plantains, and here’s where things got all nutty. I was thinking, “Gee, these arepas just don’t look nearly exciting enough, how about I stick them in this here boiling oil?” And so I did, and they promptly became rather saturated with oil, and were soon getting crispy and tasty looking. In hindsight, I should have made them fatter if I was going to do this, so I could just saw one in half as was done with the cafe sandwich that I’d eaten. Mine were too thin, though, so I used two of those oil-saturated babies.

My arepa sandwich

The consensus: oily, not as good as the cafe one I had, but still tasty. Yeah, might have been better off not frying the bread. Also, there was a definitive lack of that soft and magical cheese. Wish I knew what type of cheese that was. I might have had better luck just getting some ricotta and trying to make them with that. Maybe next time around.

By the way, if you’re ever in Gainesville, go to Mi Apa, and get pastry, anything involving cheese, specifically either their cheese tube or their guava and cheese pastry. Eighty cents a pop, and absolutely delicious.

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One Comment

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