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Entries in On the Road (3)


Hungry Sam on the Road: Cuban Sandwiches and Guava Cheese Pastries in Miami

My travels continue! Last you heard, I was raving about excellent barbeque in Alabama and a ginormous ball of cheese from Mississippi. Since those storied days, I've been on similar work trips to California, West Virginia, Florida, and Illinois. Missouri is next weekend, and then, in rapid succession and for more personal reasons, I'm off to Arizona, home to Maine, then to North Carolina for a wedding.

In the midst of my travels, however, the only place where there's yet been a confluence of awesome food and decent pictures is Florida. After the business end of the trip, I spent the weekend with family down in Miami; Jen joined, and our friend Clare took us out for Cuban coffee and a bite on Sunday morning.

We hit up Cafe Versailles, a strange, vividly real Cuban cafe in Little Havana filled with locals out for brunch after church. Apparently it's an institution, and was filled to the brim with loud chatter in Spanish, little kids bouncing off the walls, and the occasional bemused tourist (played by Hungry Sam). The walls in the restaurant were mirrored, which means they were probably two-way glass so the CIA could watch us drink ultra-sweet coffee and complain about the Castro regime (or whatever it is we were supposed to be doing). I ordered with my weak but enthusiastic Spanish, and this guava and cheese pastelito is (part of) the epic result:

I ordered this pastelito mostly because the filling combo sounded too interesting to ignore -- sort of a Cuban version of a Danish. The pastry wrapping itself was crisp and buttery and flakey; the interior oozed sweet and savory flavor with just a little tang from the guava. It went perfectly with the cuban coffee and milk I ordered on accident. Very, very good.

Then, even though I wasn't hungry, because you have to when eating at a place like Cafe Versailles, I ordered a Cuban sandwich. Folks, THIS is where it's at: 

And this is also where it's at:

Imagine: melty, buttery cheese, with tangy mustard and pickles covered in ham and chopped pork on the most perfect crispy Cuban bread you can imagine. Crazy Cafe Versailles, Hungry Sam salutes you.

So damn good. 

Until we eat again, stay Hungry!


Sweet Tea, Barbecue, and Giant Cheese; or, Things I learned in Mississippi & Alabama

Note: To any MS/AL natives, proponents, defenders, or Mississippi/Alabama state tourism bureau officials who may read Hungry Sam -- this list of food-oriented lessons learned is not exhaustive, significant, or even planned out. Don't worry about it.

1) Lesson Number One: Sweet Tea is Sweet

Sweet tea, as it turns out, is very sweet. Very, very, very sweet. Wicked sweet. Extraordinarily sweet. And is served in quantities far greater than I could reasonably stomach.

I have somehow lived my life to date without ever trying true southern sweet tea. Now, that has been rectified. Let's move on, before I offend anyone.

2) Lesson Number Two: Birmingham has Pretty Damn Good Barbeque

I have a hard time comparing barbeque because of the endless varieties and styles and meats and all that good stuff. You might say I'm a barbecue relativist -- I appreciate (most) individual barbecue experiences for what they are.

That said, I managed to find some seriously legitimate barbecue in Birmingham, at a joint called Jim 'N Nick's BAR-B-Q. Below, revel in the glory of my combo pulled pork and spare ribs platter with a side of corn muffins, bacon collard greens, and baked beans. (I wasn't hungry for another 18 hours.)


3) Lesson Number Three: At Mississippi State University, You Can Obtain a Giant Ball of Cheese

I know this because I was given a four-pound ball of Edam cheese from Mississippi State University as a thank-you gift by the members of my org's Mississippi state affiliate. I kid you not. It's the size of a medium-sized canteloupe. Or a canonball, which was apparently the origin of the mold size.


Thank you, AAUW of Mississippi, for the cheese.


The Best Brunch in All of Atlanta

I have a favorite brunch place in several cities. Visiting Portland, ME? Bintliff's is the absolute bees knees (get the corned beef hash, made with huge chunks of house-made corned beef). Swinging by Rochester, NY? Hit up Simply Crepes (and order a crepe. Duh). In Washington, DC for the weekend? I do dearly love Busboys and Poets (pretty incredible crab benedict; they call it "The Neptune").

If you live in, are stopping by or just within a couple throusand miles of Atlanta, I'd like to recommend The Best Brunch in All of Atlanta: Murphy's.

Why Murphy's? There are the basics (great service; superb coffee and espresso drinks; shafts of brilliant sunlight which shine through the open french doors; the calm breeze which meanders through and around the restaurant). Oh, you want three really, AWESOME, food-related reasons? OK:


Oh my God. You might think you don't like grits. I betcha you'd like them if someone were to, say, cook them in cream and cheddar cheese, cover them in a piquant tomato and andouille sausage stew, toss on a handful of giant spice-rubbed grilled shrimp, and top it all off with a perfectly poached egg and scallions for good measure.

Seriously. I have dreams about this shrimp and grits. It's what brings me back to Murphy's every time I visit Atlanta (every two months to see Jen). They're so good, I'm salivating just writing about them.

Two more reasons and a Hungry Sam Housekeeping Note after the jump!

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