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My Great American Road Trip – Florida

July 18, 2020

Florida. The only place I can actually be on this imaginary journey around the country and the place I least want to be right now. When I moved to the very bottom of the state and our country as 2020 dawned, I was so optimistic about the new decade, new job, new beginnings. For two glorious months, I took morning walks on the beach before settling into my office in the super coolFrank Gehry designed New World Center. On the weekends I would wonder the farmer’s and antique markets on Lincoln Road. And so many friends popped down in those two months that was too busy to make any new ones in my new town.

And then the world ended. I’m not good at working from home, but at least I had my best buddy MagnifiCat. Unknown.jpeg And then my cat died. So, not really feeling Florida.

But, on we go. The Great Catsby came to live with me, I figured out my work from home groove, started going on daily walks, and weekly drinks with a workmate, and as well as regular zoom calls and facetime and it’s almost like normal. Except, you know…

Anyway – food for Florida. Hmmm – well there’s Key Lime Pie, which I don’t love and anywhere there is one in my freezer from my day trip down to Key West to satisfy a little wanderlust.

Unknown-14Stone Crab is a big deal in Miami, but, as with Delaware, I think I have to wait on crab for Maryland (also crab feels like a lot of work for not so much payoff. Also, also – there’s no substitute for Joe’s.). Other foods that come up are orange juice, strawberries, and oysters. All things I love, but they don’t involve much cooking. And then there was the Cuban sandwich. Cuban sandwiches, for the record, not from Cuban – from Florida. I love a Cuban sandwich and after making pizza and dumplings, that seemed simple enough. So it was decided! Easy.

It is not so easy! Step one of a Cuban sandwich is to roast a pork shoulder! I marinated mine in a mix of brown sugar, orange and lime juice, cumin, paprika, and garlic. Unknown-17.jpeg

I cooked it using my mother’s secret hack. Put it in a very hot oven for like ten minutes then turn the oven off, but leave the roast in there as the oven cools. It works every time and leaves the meat moist and perfect.

So then it’s time to assemble. A Cuban sandwich should be made with Cuban bread. It is a white loaf that is a lot like a French baguette. Apparently, Cuban bread was invented in Florida – either Tampa or Miami. Since I live in Miami, I’m voting for that, but the smart money is on Tampa (created by a Sicilian, no less). I tracked mine down at a local bakery. You slice the bread down the middle and butter the outside. On the inside you slather each slice with yellow mustard (don’t even try fancy mustard!). Then layer some sliced ham, dill pickles, swiss cheese, and some of the sliced pork. Then you pull out your panini maker, which obviously I don’t have. So I heated up my trusty grill pan. Butter side down, I pushed down with another cast iron pan and grilled each side for about 3 minutes.

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The end result is crunchy and meeting and tangy. This might be the best sandwich ever invented.

Ok – Florida. I’m back in.

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One Comment
  1. inacity permalink

    Yummmm!! Anything with pickles, sign me up! Have you seen the Jon Favreau movie, “Chef”? It’s pretty sweet, but I’m kind of biased since he and I were married in a dream I had once. Anyway, lots of Cuban sandwiches. I wish I had one now…

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