Playing Favorites

2008.Mar.19 Wednesday · 4 comments

in Casa SaltShaker, Drink, Food & Recipes

“I was the main complainer about not having my favorite dishes, and then someone suggested that I open my own restaurant.”

– Gary Edwards, Owner, Sister Sue’s, Asbury Park

Buenos Aires – Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that while Casa S is getting busier and busier, especially with private events, that I spend more time posting about what’s going on there than in exploring other restaurants, local cuisine, and events. Possibly it’s just that the dinner posts tend to be long, involving the various recipes and my thoughts when it comes to making them. Either way, I’m going to aim, I think, to cut those posts back a bit – maybe focusing on a particular dish that I was most happy with, or… well, we’ll see. I’m also finding that I’m reaching the point where, not that I’m necessarily repeating dishes, but I’m taking a dish that I liked and working on fine tuning it – so there may be something in there too…

A good place to start is a dinner held this last week for a group of friends from San Francisco, a couple of whom are living here for a several month period, the rest visiting. The host suggested that we come up with some sort of pan-Latin American theme, he’d enjoyed reading about our various dinners from one country or another – and I proposed back that we do a little tour of some favorite dishes from those dinners. He agreed, and then the question became – my favorites, or the ones that got the most raves from guests. I opted for the latter, because let’s face it, it’s hard to be objective about your own food sometimes. I flipped through our menus, realized there’s a whole lot to pick from, and came up with five dishes that we got a lot of positive feedback on: Peruvian tuna causa; Mexican potato melon soup; nuevo-Uruguayan smoked salmon and caramelized sweet potatoes; quasi-Brazilian Vatapá risotto; and one of my chocolate and dulce de leche desserts from Argentina…

Two things changed quickly – I realized that both first courses were potato based, and decided to change the soup to something different. Although not a dish we’d done before, regular readers know I’ve been experimenting a lot with yuca root recently. And I decided on a yuca soup – which will be the focus of the rest of this post, at least when I finish talking… The other change was that I still want to experiment more with my chocolate noodles before serving it up again – I just don’t feel like I’ve gotten it right – and instead, I actually pulled in a dish from our Australia Day menu, but one that translates perfectly well – chocolate, coconut, dulce de leche – it had been a hybrid to begin with. Beyond that, the causa stayed the way we’ve been making it, the risotto didn’t change, and the salmon dish only in the design of the plating – I made little cones out of the smoked salmon and filled them with the cream cheese and then perched them atop large cubes of caramelized sweet potato. It just looked prettier.

Yuca and Plantain soup

For the soup, I started off with a Colombian recipe for a yuca and plantain soup that sounded interesting, but also pretty heavy – involving chicken and potatoes as well. I decided to lighten it up a little bit – first off, for the base I had some brown chicken stock left from the big batch I made for last week’s stracciatella, and I mixed that with the whey from making the cream cheese for the salmon dish. Into that went a good amount of sliced yellow onions, yuca root, and plantains – not so much that it would turn into a really thick, stew-like soup. Simply seasoned with garlic, one yellow hot pepper, cumin, salt and pepper, and then cooked until the vegetables were soft. I took about a third of the soup and pureed it to give a lightly creamy texture when it was mixed back in to the rest, and then served it topped with lots of chopped green onions. Matched it up with Carlos Pulenta’s Tomero Semillon-Chardonnay 2006 which balanced perfectly with the texture and flavors. Add this soup in to the favorites column, not to mention some sort of little yuca manifesto…


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Paz March 20, 2008 at 09:15

As usual, the food sounds and looks delicious. I’m really intrigued by the yuca and plantain soup. Plantains are my all-time favorites. I’m definitely going to check out the recipe. 😉


Paz March 20, 2008 at 09:16

P.S. Love the quote above by Gary Edwards. Funny! 🙂


dan March 20, 2008 at 10:11

If you like plantains you should also check out the cream of plantain soup we did for the Cuban dinner recently!

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: