Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Cubano

Chiffes Plantain Chips by Plantain Products Co...

We fought the holiday traffic today and drove to West New York, but, luckily, there was an empty parking spot waiting for us in the small lot next to La Pola Restaurant, self-described "King of the Cuban Sandwich." To that, I say, Amen.

Inside, proprietor Belarmino Rico, his wife, sons, grandchildren and merry band of helpful employees made and served hot sandwiches, or Cubanos, and packed up Christmas specialties his customers had ordered -- roasted hams, ribs and  whole, butterflied pigs; the rice-and-black beans combination called congris; tamales, Spanish potato omelets, plantain chips (photo) and chicharrones or fried pork rinds.

Rico, who was born in the Asturian village of La Pola in Spain, lived in Cuba and learned to make the sandwiches at his uncle's bodega in Havana.

My Christmas menu now is set:

Alaskan king crab and sweet corn chowder (Costco)
Cuban roast pork
Congris (white rice cooked with black beans)
Tortilla espanola (potato omelet)
Cuban ham croquettes
Organic spring mix salad
Pear and hazelnut galette (Balthazar Bakery)

One of my guests and her children don't eat pork, so I'll prepare Australian leg of lamb for her, and an organic hamburger and uncured hot dog for the kids, with mashed potatoes.

La Pola Restaurant, 5400 Palisade Ave (54th Street), 
West New York;  (201) 867-6028. Call for holiday hours.

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