We enjoyed one of our favorite Florida meals this evening, Tampa Cubans. This was a new meal to us when we moved to Florida two years ago. The Cuban sandwich is supposed to have been invented in Tampa. The recipe, or more really the order of ingredients is strict. You must have Cuban bread (long bread like a French loaf) sliced lengthwise and order the sandwich the following way: bottom cut of cuban bread, thinly sliced deli ham, shredded roasted pork (cooked in orange juice), swiss cheese slices, dill pickle sandwich slices, yellow mustard, and top of bread. These are then cut in about 6 inch segments and pressed and grilled. We have had them at several restaurants, but honestly our favorites come from the liquor store. I have never been in to pick them up, so I don’t even know if they have a kitchen, or how they prepare them in the liquor store, but they really are good. I sometimes get free Cuban bread a the farmers market so I decided to try to make them myself. They are lengthy to make, and pretty messy to make, but very much worth it. I press them in the George Forman grill, which I have read is not very authentic, but it gives the same result in my opinion.
While I am mentioning our favorite Cuban sandwich, I want to mention our favorite Cuban restaurant. Our favorite place for Cuban food is this whole in the wall restaurant in Oldsmar called Andy’s On The Bay. It is a bit like the soup restaurant on Seinfeld. It’s small, it’s popular, there is a line, the staff is serious, and you better be ready to order when it’s your turn. They have a daily menu that changes, but they always serve shredded pork and black beans and ‘special’ rice. To my best guess, the special rice is a yellow saffron style rice. They have a long counter you stand in line by and order from and you can see all of the food. The pork roast that they pull your meat from does not look like a lean cut, but it is worth an occasional indulgence.
How funny- I just went to look up Andy’s to see if they had a web site, they do not, but one of the comments on this site also compares them to the Soup nazi from Seinfield.