Hey Delicious! Cuban Sandwiches & Cooking
Reminder: Valentines Day is Monday; Cooking in?
If you failed to read last month’s column and forgot to make a dinner reservation, I hope you have a brilliant back-up plan (that, or some extra cash to throw to a hopefully sympathetic hostess). However, if your plan is to stay in and cook your sweetie a romantic dinner, have you found the perfect menu to prepare yet?
If the answer is “no” and you are still looking for some inspiration, let me just remind you about the Hoboken Library. Do you realize that the library has all of the new, popular cookbooks? I just took out Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table” and Mark Bittman’s “The Food Matters Cookbook” – two really amazing and easy-to-follow cookbooks. If they don’t have what you’re looking for in stock, they can always order it from another library for you. The library is an amazing resource here in Hoboken and don’t forget people… it’s free!
Best in Hoboken: Cuban Sandwiches
With all of the snow Hoboken’s been getting lately, I can’t help but yearn for warmer weather. I sit here envisioning tropical drinks and hot sand between my toes, but all I get is slippery sidewalks and frigid wind-chill. In the meantime, however, I thought to warm myself up that I would transport myself to Cuba and see who makes the best Cuban sandwich in town. Now, Zafra and La Isla are the two big Cuban restaurants in Hoboken, so trying their version was certainly a given. The third contender, Big Banner, was definitely a wild card, but I think their food is quite good so I gave it a chance.
Big Banner – 401 Jackson Street: Probably not the first place I’d think to go for a Cuban sandwich, but they were being advertised on the “Specials” board so I thought it was worth a shot. Big Banner is a good spot for inexpensive Spanish food done right. Their Cuban, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. First of all, no pickle! To me, that is what differentiates a normal pig-filled sandwich from a Cuban. The cheese was probably American as it didn’t have that piquant, Swiss flavor, so it was more of a sandwich glue than a flavor factor. The pork was delicious, however, and it was not greasy in the slightest. It was a nice sandwich, but not a Cuban. I gave it a 6/10.
Zafra – 301 Willow Ave.: Zafra is a great little Cuban restaurant. Their food is authentic, consistently tasty, and the owners also own Cucharamama – my favorite Hoboken restaurant. Zafra’s Cuban sandwich, on the other hand, did not knock me off of my feet. Let’s get back to the pickle problem, here. Their Cuban did have pickles, but they were sparsely distributed and not very flavorful. They may as well have not been there at all. Besides that, the other elements were spot on. I loved the chewy bread, the meats were tender and tasty, and the cheese was perfectly sharp. A great sandwich, but not what I was hoping for in the ultimate Cuban sandwich. 6.5/10 stars.
La Isla – 104 Washington Street: I found it! La Isla made an amazing Cuban sandwich. It was the perfect proportion of ham, roast pork, swiss cheese, and pickles. They added a little garlic mayo to the bread before pressing it, which added just that extra something to make it wonderful. The combination of flavorful meats and chewy bread with the swiss cheese and vinegary pickles, really sealed the deal. La Isla’s Cuban sandwich was definitely my favorite – 9 out of 10!