First off, I saw the Martha Stewart show… granted this was a re-run of a show I had already seen, but yesterday featured the cuisines of 3 Latinas – Michelle Bernstein, Cuban Marisel Pasilla and Puerto Rican Carmen Gonzalez formerly of Lucy of Gramercy and soon opening her own restaurant in NYC. Granted, her main recipe was not vegetarian, but I can attest it used truly typical ingredients. She showcased 3 recipes, the most of any of the featured chefs, and her desserts you’ve already heard of here – Tembleque and Coquito. I was so very proud because I felt she was truly representing our cuisine and flavors… nothing gimmicky about it. I know that she’ll even make the Tembleque recipe in the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this coming week… where Puerto Rico will have its second showing. I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen a kumquat in Puerto Rico… if they’re available, they’ve never crossed my path.
Then, I checked out a re-run of America’s Top Model cycle 9 before deleting it… and to my surprise, the season starts in sunny San Juan where the aspiring contestants board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. That’s the extent of it…
But then, we go to the grand-daddy of the Puerto Rico product placements… the first episode in the Top Chef Chicago finale!!!!! I have to admit, the production crew did a really nice job highlighting a great local Puerto Rican chef, Wilo Benet as the guest judge and using plantains in a fried form as the main ingredient for the QuickFire Challenge. I love his food… Pikayo’s is one of my favorite restaurants. His Wild Mushroom Risotto is amazing and the Portobello Mushroom Carpaccio is awesome. I also enjoy very much his Gouda Cheese Balls with Guava Dipping Sauce in his less formal restaurant, Payá.
I told you… I was not making it up, that us Puerto Ricans looooooooove our fritters. I have given you some already:
But I need to do a nomenclature check here… I may have mentioned this before but just in case I didn’t… here it is.
Tostón is the singular fried, smashed flat and refried green plantain fritter. The plural is Tostones, and you need to pronounce the S at the end. Please refer to them in the correct manner… I could not stand Gail Simmons and Lisa from Top Chef calling a single tostón as tostone. I can understand the misspelling to help with the phonetic pronunciation, but it is said tostón – With emphasis and an accent on the last O.
The market where the sous chefs went to look for produce is the Plaza de Mercado in Santurce, where I go to buy some of my produce and particularly, get Coconut Water already taken out of the coconut. It’s relatively close to my house and I even know several of the attendants, so I’ll be giving them grief in the next couple of weeks about appearing on a US TV show.
I was totally impressed about Richard’s knowledge of Malta. Malta is awesome… I had one yesterday as a matter of fact, with my veggie version of a Cuban sandwich – A Puerto Rican baguette with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and mustard pressed and toasted to perfection. Malta is the perfect accompaniment because it’s sweet and it matches well with the salty pickles and mustard, plus it’s how I learned to eat a Cuban sandwich or a Media Noche. It’s not completely karma-free because of its caramel color and high amounts of sugar, but I will not hide it or deny it.
I just wanted to share my pride about witnessing my little Island of Puerto Rico being showcased all around US National TV all day yesterday. I will continue sharing my Puerto Rican Delicacies with all of you in the near future… a testament that you can eat veggie and still maintain your cultural roots, even when you grow up in a country with a non-veggie culture.
Buen provecho and please come visit me in sunny Puerto Rico soon.