Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hot Stuff

Things got better after a couple of mojitos. I found real peppermint and compiled a healthy one tonight so I could write this. Mojitos are made with rum, a lime twist, sprigs of the mint and club soda over ice. I used Cocoribe, which may not be strictly kosher in Cuba, but it tastes as good as Sonny says in Miami Vice.
Of course another reason to like that movie is for its sense of authenticity. Michael Mann does that in his films. When Colin Farrell and Gong Li (Crockett and Isabella) head for Havana in the cigarette boat for mojitos, we already know something sexy is bound to happen.

And sure enough, it does, basically from the time they hit the club.. First, on the dance floor. They dance to ``Arranca, '' by Manzanita (Jose Ortega Heredia)

The dance probably qualifies as salsa. And as most anyone who has been to a Taco Bell knows, salsa is hot and spicy, just as the dance that takes the same name. So, two weeks hence, since I am not able to get to Cuba, I will at least be taking salsa lessons. And I think, with a couple of mojitos, I will do alright.
To learn more about salsa the dance, check this site:
Cross-cultural footnote
Food, you may know, looms large in my life, because I love to cook, love to eat, and love to be with people who are willing to eat what I cook. So, I should tell you of a great restaurant in Healdsburg, California, up in wine country, called Manzanita. I know the Manzanita is kind of a hill-hugging scrub pine. In this case, it's also the name of a really good place to eat. You'll want some of the Sonma or Nappa region's white wine, I think, rather than mojitos, for this one. I could tell more about that later too.

Feet Notes
Another very personal footnote is about Cuba, which I am to young to remember visiting with my family on a Florida vacation before there was a falling-out between Cuba and the U.S. I'll personally be glad when that's sorted out, for many reasons. I want to have real Cuban Ropa Veja (literally Old Clothes). It's a stew of shredded beef, marinated in red wine, with peppers and onions and beans (frijole negro), as I had it. If you don't or can't or won't dance Salsa with me or have a mojito with me, please try my recipe for Ropa Veja:
Two pounds or more of chuck roast
2 teaspoons sea salt
Fresh-ground pepper. (I use the multi-color kind)
3 tablespoons Olive oil or Canola oil
Half-cup Sofrito, if you can find it, or a combination of ready-made salsa and fresh-chopped cilantro
one-quarter teaspoon ground cumin
two 8-ounce cans of Spanish-style tomato sauce
At least a half-dozen chopped pimento-stuffed olives
4 stalks of celery, chopped, leaves and all
3 medium carrots, trimmed and diced
1 cup black beans. (In an emergency, frozen peas will do.)
1 cup of water, plus a half-cup of red table wine
2 bay leaves
Preheat your oven to 350 (160C), pound the beef to about a half-inch thickness, season with salt, pepper and maybe onion or garlic powder. Use a cast-iron skillet to sear the beef in the oil until brown on both sides. This takes about 5 minutes on each side. Spoon out the fat, add the Sofrito or equivalent and the salt and cumin and bring to a boil. Add oil as necessary, then stir in the tomato sauce, olives and ay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover, then bake in the oven until the meat pulls apart easily with forks. this takes about 2 hours or more. Let stand in the sauce. shred the meat and return it to the sauce, simmer a few minutes and add the celery, carrots and cook about 10 minutes, until they are tender. Add the peas, cook a few minutes more, adding wine as needed to the broth. Buen provecho!
Yet Another Personal Footnote

I bought the Miami Vice CD after watching it with my (now former) partner, who really thinks Gong Li is hot. Of course she's hot. (Of course Gong Li is hot. My former partner is too!) See True Lies, or The Emperor and the Assassin, the most expensive movie ever made in China, for examples. So I have to be careful about having too many mojitos while watching that movie, because I get all misty over her not being with me. I also wish she could be in on the Salsa lessons, because the first time she ever danced in her life was with me.

Anyway, if you'd like a mojito, come on over.
You could stay for the stew and the movie.

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