We had a really nice Christmas Eve dinner last night at Carlos & Lucia's Restaurant. We got there a little after 6:00. There were already a big group sitting at one long table and a couple of other couples sitting at other tables. We chose ours and ordered drinks. We ordered micheladas made with Clamato and salsa piquante. However, our waitress (and Carlos & Lucia's daughter) Jaquelín told us that they refer to them as Cubanos, since the family is Cuban and all. Whatever you call them, they were delicious.
It's a fairly small restaurant. Very cozy. They even had a guy singing. He had a great voice and had the volume just right so that it was not intrusive on one's conversation.
Early on, Carlos and Martin (at least we think that's his name) brought the pig out to show it off. Vegetarians beware. You might want to skip this next photo. Carnivores, you might want to click on it to blow it up.
It's not a very good photo but it does show that they lay the pig out very flat and cut the skin in strips before cooking. This allows the juices from the skin to douse all the meat equally and also ensures that all the meat is about the same distance from the fire and therefore cooks nice and evenly. The foil is to keep the ears from burning.
The first course was a cream of vegetable soup. It was very, very good and, on this chilly night, it's warmth was well-received. Pardon the photo. I have trouble remembering to snap a photo before I dig in.
We had our choice of roast pork or roast turkey or a bit of each. We, of course, opted for a bit of each. We also had a choice of applesauce or candied yams and we both opted for the yams. This next photo was again taken after we'd already dug in. I tried to get Lulu to put some of her food on my plate just to, you know, sort of fill it out for the photo. I swore I'd return t right after I took the picture but for some reason she didn't seem to want to do that. Go figure.
Candied yams: These were not exactly mashed but were definitely chopped up fine after cooking. Then they were mixed with brown sugar and butter (I think). They were really good.
Roast pork: The meat was exceptionally tender and juicy. I made myself take small bites so it wouldn't be gone too fast.
Roast turkey: Again, very tender and juicy. There was a mix of white and dark meat and much of it was shredded like pulled pork and just as tender and succulent.
Rice and beans: Jaquelín had a special name for this Cuban version but I don't remember what it was.
Dressing: This was a really good dressing that was heavy on the bread cubes and celery. It turns out it was Lucia's recipe and she was very proud of it. It tasted great.
Steamed vegetables: Carrots and zucchini. The dish was very tasty in that there was liberal use of garlic. Yum!
Cranberry sauce: Just your standard canned sauce. Still good, though. It's the cranberry sauce we all grew up on.
Fried(?) Plantain: Okay, I'll admit, I don't really care if I ever eat another plantain. A bit too dry and winter-squashy bland for my taste, but I mixed mine with a little cranberry sauce and it tasted just fine.
Once the main course was over, we had a choice of a pumpkin cake that was made off-site or their own homemade flan. We chose the flan. There's not that much to say about flan. It was custardy and sweet and delicious.
The staff is primarily made up of family. Carlos and Lucia are the mom and dad, Jaquelín is their daughter and Roberto, their son, tended bar. Not sure how Martin fits in but he seems to fit in just fine so I suspect he's family as well. Sorry about this blurry photo. Sometimes digital cameras are just not to be trusted.
All in all, we had a really great time. The family made us feel so welcome and they were so appreciative that we chose their restaurant as the place to have our holiday meal. We will definitely be going back. For one thing, these folks are Cuban and they serve a Cuban sandwich. I've read about Cuban sandwiches for years in various books and now is my chance to have a genuine authentic version.
Today we slept in late, had a leisurely breakfast, Skyped the kids and our parents, and then went on about a 5 mile walk to check out some grocery stores. A fine Christmas as far as we're concerned. Hope yours was too.