We felt it was time to bring back some Latin favorites. Most of these offerings can be frozen, and they all make it easy to feed and please a crowd.
We’ve got Delmy’s frozen pupusas; classic bean and cheese pupusas in the familiar white masa, as well as my favorite, loroco and cheese pupusas in Kernel of Truth’s organic blue masa. Loroco is the green flower bud of a native Central American vine and a traditional filling for pupusas. The pupusas come three to a pack, with accompanying salsa and curtido (cabbage slaw). They’re also great with a drizzle of El Salvadorean crema, which we are selling as well. The crema could also top the velvety black bean soup that Jason Kim from Forage is making for us this week.
Carnitas are back! We’re cooking pork shoulders for hours, shredding, and cryovac packing it so all you need to do is reheat and crisp it in a pan. You can stuff your carnitas in Tehachapi grain project’s tender sonora flour tortillas, or all-natural corn tortillas, made fresh for us on Wednesday morning by La Gloria Foods, a multigenerational tortilla dynasty that’s been a Boyle Heights institution for 67 years.
For meats, we’ve got whole free range chickens, grass-fed hanger steaks and wild mahi mahi, all of which would also be great with tortillas and our classic green tomatillo salsa.
We’ve also sourced some of our favorite Spanish snacks, which could all come together on a cheese board. There are Manzanilla green olives and fried and salted Marcona almonds. Equally essential in my household are Cantimpalitos, locally made, pork cocktail sausages. These are delicious grilled, sautéed or roasted and paired with dates and Garrotxa, a beautiful semi-hard, goat milk cheese from the Spanish Pyrenese. Add a dollop of our romesco, and you’ve got one of my most favorite taste combinations. Thick with toasted nuts, fried bread, roasted peppers, garlic and tomatoes, romesco is fantastic with many meats, cheeses, vegetables, or just spread on bread. (Click on it below for more ideas about how to use it.)
For sweets this week, we have some Cuban classics from Cafe Tropical and El Cochinito, two of my favorite Silverlake spots. The guava cheese pie is a like a Cuban turnover, with flakey laminated dough folded over whipped cream cheese and guava jam. It’s a great treat at any time of day. We’re also offering their perfect flan, baked in tins so you can invert them at home and let the caramel coat the silky custard.
But aside from the fantastic food, I’m a fan of Daniel Navarro, the chef/owner of both restaurants. We met years ago while cooking on the line at Canele. Soon after that, he took over his grandmother’s restaurant El Cochinito. And a few years later, when the building that houses Cafe Tropical sold and the cafe was going to close up shop, Daniel took over that business as well. So I feel like I owe a debt of gratitude to him. I appreciate the multi-generational family restaurant at the bottom of my hill where I order lechon and pollo asado with mojo, rice and beans when company is coming over and I can’t manage to make dinner. When I learned that Cafe Tropical might be closing after 44 years, I felt a pit in my stomach. I appreciate that it’s still there lighting up the corner with its cafe con leche, cuban sandwiches and guava cheese pies. I marvel at how Daniel has managed to respectfully maintain so much of these neighborhood relics, while conscientiously updating them with locally sourced ingredients and a beer and wine list that features brewers of color and small, family owned wineries. You can read more about Daniel and the legacy he’s inherited and creating here.