Wednesday, October 5, 2011

let's review: five brothers two cuban grocery

     Have you ever stumbled upon a place that is off the beaten track and had an unexpectedly good meal? Sharon and Steve, Chris and I were driving down US1 on Ramrod Key and spotted a sign for a Cuban grocery.
     A hand-lettered sign near the road said, Cuban Sandwiches. That was all of the prompting we needed to whip the car around the corner and into a shaded parking lot.
     This place was truly a little grocery store. In addition to hispanic pantry staples, they sold calderos (similar to a dutch oven) of all sizes, stove-top espresso pots and a tool to flatten a plantain slice into a tostone... all the essentials of a Cuban kitchen.
     The dining area was a small screened porch off the back, set with plastic tables and chairs. I had a good feeling about it... usually the more primitive the accommodations, the better the food.
     The elderly gentleman taking orders at the counter spoke little English, but lucky for us, my hubby is fluent in Spanish. The man seemed amused that a gringa would order Cuban cafe con leche, extra hot and very strong, sin azucar (no sugar.) That's just how I roll.
     Chris and I ordered a sandwich similar to the more familiar cubano. It's called a media noche, which means half the night, or midnight. The old guy asked him in Spanish who he would be with at midnight. Chris jerked his head in my direction and they both laughed;)
media noche
     The difference between the two sandwiches is the bread. A cubano is made on cuban bread. Media noche is on sweet egg bread. They both have roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. Sharon and Steve opted for the more traditional cubano.
yucca rellenas
     Chris ordered the yucca rellenas, a croquette made from cooked yucca root and filled with meat. They also have the same thing made with potatoes, pappas rellenas.
     Steve ordered bollitos, garlicky, black-eyed pea fritters that he remembered eating on vacation as a child. We also had cheese filled pastries called quesitos to share for dessert... they paired very well with my cafe.
bollitos
     I really wanted to speak with the girl in the kitchen to learn about the grocery's history. Who were the five brothers? Was the elderly man one of them? How long had they been around? Just as we finished eating, the store filled with people. My chance had passed.
quesito
     I love little out of the way places and on this trip we found quite a few hidden gems. My GPS told me there was another Five Brothers store in Key West. I feel like Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
     Next time you're in the Keys, stop by one of the Five Brothers and order yourself a media noche and a cafe. You can thank me later;)
5 Brothers Grocery & Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

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