There are times in the summer when I get a sudden, shocking feeling that evertything is right. This literally does not happen in the winter, a side effect of believing that the harshness outside is a personal message of doom from a wise and cruel universe. Predictably, I tend to feel that hopelessnes waning in spring, but its typically deep summer before an epiphanic moment of "rightness." Thank you to Karis Medina, whose vegan Cuban dinner conspired wiith some circumstances of temperature and breeze to make me feel that in early June.
Wednesday night was part 2 of Movable Dinner Party, of which I have spoken. Basically we tried to have dinner at someone's house on Wednedsays. Its nice because it takes the impractical potluck aspect out, and theoretically, no one has to stress about anything more than once every while. Well, the system has stalled, mostly because only Karis and I have hosted, and because she is Leaving For A Very Long While. Damn her.
Before she left, though she made a traditional Cuban dinner for some lucky atendees. First was the only gazpacho I have ever had that tasted like anything. It was really delicious, all cold and slightly spicy and with a bracing dose of garlic. She had chopped cilantro to sprinkle on top, and it looked beautiful together. One of the aspects of cooking I have never quite mastered is presentation, but Karis seems to have no issue with this. She had also made beans, rice, and some kind of soy curry-ish thing, whose name I didnt catch. What the hell is it with the soy curry? I want to eat it every day. You damn vegans have some absurdly tasty food. She also fried up maduros and tostones. These are kind of like Plantains Two Ways. Maduros are the ripe ones, chunked and fried til dark, tostones are green plantains (platanos?) fried, mashed, and fried again. This made me wish I was actually in Cuba, where I believe we would have access to more perfect specimens of produce, but they were good. Anything twice fried has to be food, right? There was riece pudding for dessert, but I was too full...
I brought the mojitos, as resident barmaid, and spent most of my night happily doing what I hate doing at work. Its all about who you're muddling for. Mojitos are simple, but you do need to do some prep. First, pick your mint. There is plenty growing wild around here, I suggest the Women's City Club on Lafeyette and Fulton, they have plenty along their fence. You will need a good-size pinch for each drink. Next, buy your limes. You will need 1/2 a lime for each drink. Assuming your drinks are roughly 12 oz. Using a juice cup? Use less. You will need simple syrup, also known as sugar syrup. Fill an empty fifth with sugar up to the top of the label, add boiling water, shake, done. Light rum and soda water finish out the ingredients.
Put 1 pinch mint in glass with 1/2 a lime, in slices. Muddle with a muddler, a pestle, the back of a spoon, or a sawed-off broom handle. Muddling well here is the key, you are trying to juice the limes and crush the mint as much as possible. It is possible to go overboard, but this will only make you look silly, and will not affect the quality of the drink. Next, add 1 oz. simple syrup, or to taste. Fill completely with ice. Add 2 oz rum. Top with soda. Stir with a fork to disperse mint. The drinks should be cloudy and greenish, with bits floating about waiting to get stuck in your teeth! Yum!