Seriously legit Cuban food in Torrevieja Spain
One reason we chose Torrevieja as our new home here in Spain was because of the large international community. Depending on where you choose to do your research the town is home to somewhere between 115 – 160 different nationalities. That almost seems impossible but according to the town census it is true. This influenced our decision because of, you guessed it, food. We have some excellent Indian and Chinese options here as well as Russian, Venezuelan and Columbian cuisine. There are Thai and Korean restaurants as well as a few sushi bars. One of the only things I do miss is Vietnamese and a big steaming bowl of Pho. For shopping we have very well stocked Asian and Indian markets. I can basically cook any cuisine in the world here.
Today I would like to introduce you to El Floridita our local Cuban restaurant. We are so lucky to have all these options and very lucky indeed to have El Floridita. As the headline states this is serious Cuban food.
The first time Terri-Lynn and I tried Cuban food was in Little Havana Miami Florida and this is where she fell in Love with the Cubano sandwich. I am usually not a big sandwich fan, in fact it is something I would typically never order but the Sandwich Cubano at El Floridita has changed that. Cubanos are made up of ham lunchmeat, pulled pork, cheese, pickles and sweet mustard. Yes, they put two types of pork on the sandwich.
I am almost certain they must make their own bread here. The sandwich is only $5 euros and easily shareable by two people.
Of course I wanted to try something different so I went with the Cuban Tamale and Ropa Vieja combination plate. The dish is $7 euros and to me, very exciting to experience here.
Like many great parts of Cuban culture, ropa vieja started life in Spain. It’s name literally translates to ‘old clothes’ and the story goes that a penniless old man once shredded and cooked his own clothes because he could not afford food for his family. He prayed over the bubbling concoction and a miracle occurred, turning the mixture into a tasty, rich meat stew.
Now, I am not totally sure that this story is absolute fact but it’s wonderful nonetheless. What I do know is that the recipe for ropa vieja is over 500 years old and originated with the Sephardic Jews in the Iberian peninsula of Spain. Because cooking was not allowed on the Sabbath, the Sephardi would slow-cook a hearty stew the night before.
The dish then travelled to the Americas with the Spanish people, where it became a staple dish across the Caribbean and Cuba. And although the recipe has been tweaked over the years, the fundamental base of ropa vieja remains today as it always has. It is a simple beef stew flavored with onions, garlic, cumin, tomatoe, red wine, oregano and bay leaf. The meat is slow cooked until it is tender fall apart and then shredded. It is delicious.
As for the Tamale it is quite different from a Mexican tamale. The masa here is a bit sweet and there is very little meat filling which is evenly distributed throught the dough. The combination of these two dishes is excellent as the Ropa Vieja is very nice to mix with the Tamale.
The restaurant sits just off Playa Del Cura and if you sit outside you can see the water and the beach. Inside can be lively and vibrant at times with loud Latin Pop music playing and plenty of laughter and visiting. The house wine is very good and is $12 euros a bottle which is a bit high perhaps for a casual restaurant here in Torrevieja but the value, quality and overall experience of El Floridita is excellent and well worth the price.