David’s Café, an iconic South Beach haunt for locals and tourists alike, closed its doors for good this weekend.
Located the corner of 11th Street and Collins Avenue, David’s was flanked road construction that has dragged on for almost a year. The project has blocked sidewalks and increased gridlock. Adrian Gonzalez, owner, blamed the construction and the recession for sealing the café’s fate.
As part of our occasional Cuban Kitchen series here at WLRN-Miami Herald News, we bring you stories about our relationship with food and how food shapes our relationships. Listen to the story about Michael Toledo and his grandmother here, and read it below.
Michael Toledo was dozing off at his computer. It was 4 a.m. He was desperately trying to learn a digital video effect to impress his boss.
Against his better judgment, the 24-year-old tip-toed down the hall to his grandparents’ bedroom. Both were was fast asleep.
Cuban cuisine has chewed its way into South Florida's culture. Many an abuela has shared family recipes for ropa vieja and bistec empanizado, through generations. WLRN wants a seat at your table to hear stories, memories or recipes from your kitchen.
"The maraca sound of steam escaping the pressure cooker" and the aroma of sofrito, the "holy trinity" of vegetables and spices that is fundamental to many Cuban dishes: These are a few of the salient memories of the Cuban kitchen that listeners shared with us. Take a look at the timeline below to read stories about "cake de nata," an industrial-sized flan recipe and more.
Thanks to all who shared your stories and memories with us. Some of the quotes have been altered for length or clarity.
Christina Gomez-Pina (second from left) with her daughter, mother (left), grandmother (second from right) and mother-in-law (right). Gomez-Pina's grandmother holds the copy of Cocina al Minuto that she brought from Cuba.
Nitza Villapol was basically the Julia Child of Cuba. She wrote dozens of editions of her cookbook, Cocina al Minuto, and she hosted a Cuban TV show of the same name for 45 years. In many Cuban kitchens, there's a well-worn copy of one of her cookbooks tucked in a kitchen drawer.
Christina Gomez-Pina, in Kendall, had a copy of the cookbook on her bookshelf. Her mother-in-law gave her Cocina al Minuto on Gomez-Pina's wedding day: "It sat on the shelf for nine years except for one time when I used it to make a dulce de leche cortadito."
Bren Herrera, 34, grew up hearing her mother, Betty, 62, tell stories about life as a young wife and mother in 1960's and 1970's Cuba, when food shortages and rationing were part of life.
They would both laugh over a story about a drunken chicken Betty smuggled into Havana from the countryside. (Below is the full, translated story, as told by Betty Herrera. The story was edited for radio.)
The Tale of the Drunken Chicken
We went to visit friends in Pinar del Rio, in the countryside.
Cuban cuisine has chewed its way into South Florida's culture. Many an abuela has shared family recipes for ropa vieja and bistec empanizado, through generations. WLRN wants a seat at your kitchen table to hear your stories of cooking Cuban dishes.
What are your favorite memories of being in, around, or inspired by a Cuban kitchen? Tell us what made them special click here.
Ropa vieja literally means “old clothes.” It’s not the most appetizing name for food, but it fits the dish, a type of beef stew, pretty well. For me, ropa vieja really IS like old clothes—familiar and used endlessly, and comfortable for those very two reasons. It is the dish I grew up with, being the meal my mom best knows how to cook.
Click the play button above to hear the radio version of this post.
Facebook, I think most listeners know, has a larger population than, well, possibly Earth. It is too big to contemplate or—probably-- trust.
But there is one small colony on Facebook I have come to find haven and even sense in. It is a sub-community called, “I remember Key West when.” I go there to remember, savor and taste the roots of my cooking all over again. Other memory treasure salvers who still live full time down there, (or at least seem to) post pictures of the places I wandered into as I came to know my adopted home town.