Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pure Hondure....Meche's is The One...

Jaiba-Crab Soup....A Sunday Special

Hangover Cure Pork Chop Takeout

While riding on NW 2nd Ave two months ago, where I shop at the cheapo produce market near 34th St., I spied an interestingly-named restaurant. Meche's sounded so much like Michy's, that I was instantly intrigued. Let's face it, I got lucky. Even though I had been thinking of touting NW 2nd Ave as Miami's New/Old Restaurant Row for some time now, I had never been inside this cozy joint, which you enter through a blue screen door.

Well, over a month ago, I posted about this great Honduran restaurant I had discovered. I failed to give the name and address, because I had written a piece for publication, that examined how two very different restaurants feed their customers. 'A Tail of Two Eateries' is here... and I thank my readers for their patience. I think the food at Meche's is some of the best authentic homemade grub in the city, and the atmosphere is old Latin Miami, in the historic Wynwood neighborhood, located at 3104 NW 2nd Ave. This part of the neighborhood has definitely NOT been gentrified, and it still retains its small-town 'charms', for better or worse. Please read the full article, and grab a hard copy, if you can. There's a great photo of Meche's Mondongo that accompanies the text, as well as one of Michy's delicious Colossal Shrimp. The beautiful thing about Miami is that there is plenty of room for both...

Full Pot of Beans, Bubbling On the Stove,
with a homemade tortilla grilling (above)

I have eaten some good food. Haute cuisine prepared by some of the world's finest, and most cutting-edge chefs. Foie Gras popcorn and 36-hour short rib; scallops, picked from the bottom of the sea by a Portuguese diver named Jõao, and of course geoduck tartare. But earthy, authentic food, which can come from anywhere, with recipes handed down from the indigenous, to the conquerers, and on and on to the great-great-grandchildren of the inter-marriage of both, can have such a family history, that the ingredients, and the final product, are unique to a place, yet universally recognizable, and satisfying. I was lucky enough to experience this at a Honduran restaurant, in a place that I will soon christen 'Miami's Hidden Restaurant Row'. Not NE 79th St., or Biscayne Boulevard on the 'Upper East Side' (I know it's tired, but I'm tired of fighting it), but an old neighborhood that's never left us for a more gentrified, yuppified, and generic future. Where the lingua franca is good, hearty, inexpensive food, a meal that will cost under $10, and will satisfy a very large man or woman's appetite (I'm speaking about the appetite, not the man or woman-no letters, please), or anyone's craving for honest fucking food. I think you know what I mean. I'm not talking about some Miami simulacrum of Cuban, or Spanish, etc., etc., or another, endlessly tedious take on Italian or 'Mediterranean ' (geez, isn't anyone as tired of this stuff as I am? We got it, you can cook a damn noodle). I'm talking about the uncompromising cooking of a mother/chef, a person who remembers and can recreate those home-cooked meals in a restaurant setting, which is so much harder than it looks, and rarely succeeds in its true dimensions. Well, I have found that place. The Touchstone. The Motherlode. And here are the pictures. Baleados, 10” across, dough homemade, browned on the grill, crisp and smoky, like an Indian chapati (the world is a small place, oh my brothers), filled with eggs, queso blanco, and sweet, crumbled chorizo; or carne asada (grilled steak, carnalitos) and beans, queso blanco, and crema (sour cream). The über-taco? Heresy? Well then, hello Satan, because I'm a convert. And the Sopa De Frijoles? Contains more chicharron de cerdo (pig skin, to be exact) than is to be believed-and it is pure skin, not crisped but SOAKED in beautifully rich broth. A slurping shock to the system....Each piece bringing another shake of the head, and another dive into the Full Quart, damnit, of soup. And then there's the Jaiba....Have a great weekend, I'll see you on the nickel. Till then, I must be on my way....Part Two next week: the mystery is revealed....

Yes, they're that big. Ten Full Inches, homes.

Pig Skin Makes It All Better, Baby