Shrimp Causa Roll at El Pollo Inka

In other words, think of this post as causa roll, take two.  The first time in my life that I ever had causa — octopus causa, in fact — was at Kamiko Sushi and I absolutely hated it.  Each bite was complete torture, since the causa and octopus were slathered in an olive-based sauce.  Bad news for me, since I hate hate hate the taste of olives!

Today I thought I’d give causa another try, a clean slate.  And if I didn’t like it, then well, that would be the end of that.

Today’s adventure… Shrimp Causa Roll at El Pollo Inka*.  The appetizer was described by the menu as “Exquisite yellow mashed potatoes molded into a roll (Maki Style), stuffed with fresh Hass avocados and topped with diced steamed shrimps.”

092614_elpolloinka_shrimpcausa2Overall, pretty good, good-fine.  Nice overall presentation, and the shrimp tasted fresh — they were the best part of the appetizer IMO.  The only thing that would’ve made the dish even better was a bit less sauce.  The causa was practically swimming in it, and it tasted rich in a not-so-healthy-for-you way, if you know what I mean.  The causa wasn’t a super large portion, but potatoes in general are filling, so the portion size turned out to be just all right after all.

092614_elpolloinka_cornnutsOh yeah, and as a complimentary snack, we were served some Peruvian corn nuts, or cancha.  Corn kernels prepared by soaking in water for a couple days before roasting/frying until hard and brittle.  Soaking in water allows the shrunken kernels to expand to their original size.  Or so Wikipedia says.  I tried the green sauce and had to go through a glass of water as a result — it had a mean kick!

I must say, El Pollo Inka’s menu seems quite extensive, definitely enough choices and categories of meats to go back multiple times and order completely different things each time.  Yeah, I think I’d go back.

*Location:
7285 NW 36th St
Miami, FL 33166

Carnival Glory Cruise Day 7: Second Sea Day

We’ve almost come full circle now — well… I guess technically the ship has sailed around the Caribbean in more of a pointed oval — and after just one more full day at sea, we’ll have returned back to Miami, FL.  Time to take advantage of all the ship has to offer, including the Serenity adult only area — no kids running around and making noise, yay! — the live production shows, and of course my (balcony) cabin!

And let’s not forget the food…

I started the last day off at the Seaday Brunch, after sleeping in of course.

Hey Pork Chop.  Flame roasted, double cut thick pork chop is topped with caramelized onion, served with green beans and carrots.

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Rating:  Good.  Very super tasty, but not too heavy and not too much in terms of quantity.  That may look like a buttload of onions, but I assure you their taste did not overpower the rest of the dish.  And look, I’m eating my fair share of veggies too!  Trying to be somewhat healthy, tee hee.  (Who am I kidding?  Look at that puddle of gorgonzola cream on the side… mwahahaha…)

At 3:00p on the dot, the activities calendar led me to Tea Time, which I wasn’t expecting on a Carnival ship (but would on a Princess or Holland America ship).  I’m all about new and interesting things, so I stopped by.

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Green tea — with milk! — with mini desserts.  That powdered white thing above is a scone (fine).  Chocolate macaroon (okay) to the right of that.  Sweet-cornbready thing (fine) to the left.  FYI, my “fine” ratings are based on the fact that the desserts were sweet but not overly so.  Like!  Sadly, no finger sandwiches were served.  Too fancy, probably.  About 30ish people attended the afternoon tea, and we were all seated/spread over a few large tables.

Continue on to read about what I feasted on for dinner!   Continue reading

Carnival Glory Cruise Day 6: Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos

Grand Turk… the last port of call on this Carnival Glory voyage.  Grand Turk was actually the only port of the four that I had visited previously, so I wasn’t super highly motivated to do a shore excursions on land.  I ended up spending most of the day shopping in port — one of my favorite activities!  Afterwards, I stopped by the gorgeous beach, with clear, blue-green waters and warm sand, lined with bright green palm trees, that was literally right in front of the ship!

Dinner in the evening featured the second of two cruise elegant nights.  Time for an American Feast!

Day 6: Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos
Dinner: American Feast, cruise elegant

Appetizer(s)
Chesapeake Crab Cake: Herb remoulade

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Rating: Good, pretty tasty.  FYI, crab is one of my favorite types of seafood, especially blue crab.

Four Season Salad: Lettuce, corn, cucumber, tomato

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Rating: Below average.  The salad was fresh, but seemingly unadorned.  What it lacked was some volume.  Obviously, it didn’t live up to my expectations.  Also, the turnips arrived unannounced and uninvited.

Keep reading for the main course — or courses?! — of this second cruise elegant night!   Continue reading

Carnival Glory Cruise Day 5: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Late nights like tonight call for short posts.  So, quickly… before I fall asleep at the computer…

Next stop of the cruise… San Juan, Puerto Rico!  It was very nice to walk around town, actually, in Old San Juan and right along the water.  Old San Juan was filled with historic, colorful buildings that kind of reminded me of an old downtown area.  Essentially what the area is anyway.  I walked up quite an appetite and was totally ready for dinner after boarding the ship in the late afternoon.  Got plenty of Vitamin D during the day, and was now ready for some other nutrients!

Day 5: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Dinner: American Table, cruise casual

Appetizer(s)
Beef Carpaccio: Shaved parmesan, vinaigrette

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Rating: Below average-no.  Beef Carpaccio is really good if done right, but that definitely wasn’t the case here.  This seemed kind of mushy.  The texture was just off… and I probably wouldn’t order it again on a cruise ship.

Escargots Bourguignonne: Burgundy snails, garlic butter

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Rating: Fine.  I’m pretty use to having this on a cruise ship (and in restaurants), so the novelty has kind of worn off.  Yummy nonetheless, though wish my snails were more plump.

Keep reading for more appetizers and most importantly… dessert!   Continue reading

Carnival Glory Cruise Day 4: St. Thomas, USVI

The cruise — and thus the eating — continues.  On day 4, the Glory stopped in St. Thomas, the port I was most looking forward to during the entire trip!  I’ve heard the scenery’s beautiful and the shopping’s great, and was disappointed on neither counts.

Speaking of St. Thomas, fun fact for you… There are four main islands that make up the U.S. Virgin Islands: St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, and Water Island.  The capital of the USVI is Charlotte Amalie, which is located on St. Thomas.

Anyhoo, I spent my day in St. Thomas touring the hilly island via air-conditioned shuttle — thank goodness for air conditioning! — a shore excursion coordinated via Carnival Cruise Lines, and of course, shopping!  Afterwards, I re-boarded the ship and got ready for dinner in the evening.  After all that activity during the day, I had worked myself up quite an appetite!

Day 4: St. Thomas
Dinner: American Table, cruise casual

Appetizers
Braised Ox Tongue: Onion marmalade

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Rating: Fine.  A bit tough, but still tasty.  And novel!

I also had the Ceviche (marinated redfish fillets and shrimp with fresh lime juice, cilantro, chilies), but that was so unphotogenic that I just didn’t take a picture of it.  It was also kind of sitting in liquid, which was slightly unpleasant.  It reminded me of the ceviche I’ve had at Fish & Chips, possibly a bit worse, except placed on a small white serving plate instead of in a small plastic cup.  Rating… below average.

Entreé
Shrimp Curry: Sauteed shrimp in a Caribbean curry sauce with chilies and tropical fruit.  Served with pilaf rice.

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Rating: Okay.  Didn’t really have anything negative to say about this.  Nor anything positive.  I guess the sauce was fairly tasty.  Not unexpected from curry in general though.

Dessert
And here’s what I had for dessert.  I don’t remember what it was called, but it kind of reminded me of a cinnamon roll in bread form, with sweet dipping sauces on the side.  Sugar overload for sure!  I’d give it an okay-fine.

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Carnival Glory Cruise Day 3: First Day at Sea

One of my favorite parts of full days at sea is the Seaday Brunch!  That’s right, no need to get up early to catch the breakfast rush before heading off the ship, into port.  I get to sleep in late, then go to what I think is probably the best meal of the entire cruise… Seaday Brunch!

I started my morning off right, with some protein… Huevos Rancheros.  Chicken quesadilla, topped with fried eggs, manchego cheese, and mucho más Mexican flavors and other words you wouldn’t understand.  Description courtesy of the actual menu.

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Rating: Fine.  The main portion was fine, but the salsa and mole — I think mole — weren’t too awesome.  And I couldn’t really tell what those little fried balls were.  Either way, they weren’t great and remained on my plate for the duration of the meal.

Right around lunchtime, I went to a cooking demo that took place in the steakhouse aboard the Glory, where I got to sample some prepared foods while watching chefs in the kitchen do their thing.  Mushroom cappuccino, baby leaf spinach and fresh mushrooms, boiled supreme of free range chicken, and tiramisu.  My favorite was probably the dessert — though I’m not usually a dessert fanatic —  since it tasted subtly rich, if you know what I mean… rich, but in a subtle way.  Plus, it was quite photogenic.

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Overall, all was fine except for the baby leaf spinach and fresh mushrooms.  I mean, a few leaves of spinach and a few mushrooms isn’t really anything to jump up and down about…

Keep reading for what I had later in the afternoon at the Taste Bar and afterwards at dinner… the first of two cruise elegant nights featuring American Table!   Continue reading

Carnival Glory Cruise Day 2: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Remote private island surrounded by calm, cool, refreshing blue-green waters and warm, semi-grainy off-white sand.  Relaxed yet?  Well, I bet you’d be even more so if you were actually standing on the beaches of Half Moon Cay, a private island (owned by Holland America Line) in the Bahamas.

On day two of my week-long Carnival cruise. I stopped there for the day, toured the island, and dined at an afternoon BBQ, open to all cruisers.  Here are two quick snaps I took of the main entree and dessert lines.  Didn’t stay too long because it was super hot outside, so just grabbed a couple samples and headed back to the ship.

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And here’s what was on par for dinner.

Day 2: Port Day at Half Moon Cay
Dinner: American Table, cruise casual

Appetizer
Braised Rabbit: Garlic, Red Wine

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Rating: Good.  Yes, this little flavorful delicacy gets a good from me!  Plenty tasty and the pastry was pretty flaky too.  Presents nicely.

Entreé
Junkanoo Pot: Nassau hosts the largest Junkanoo street parade in the Bahamas.  Shrimp, calamari, and chicken combined in a tropical sauce with pineapple and peppers, you gotta try it.

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Rating: Okay-fine.  This gets novelty points since I’ve never had it before, but I wasn’t super impressed with the quality of seafood nor rice.  If I remember correctly, at least the sauce was flavorful.

Carnival Glory Cruise Day 1: Embarkation Day

As promised, I will share more about my culinary adventures aboard the Carnival Glory last week.  Can’t believe I just got off my cruise only a few days ago — seems like much longer!

Each subsequent day, for the next seven days, I will post either what I had during brunch, lunch, or dinner — or a combination! — onboard the Glory.  On this particular ship, I got to experience Seaday Brunch — best brunch ever! — and American Table and American Feast at dinner.  You can think of American Table as your standard dinner meal and American Feast as elegant night.  I won’t do full reviews, just share some pictures, quick descriptions, and maybe a few thoughts.  Enjoy!

Day 1: Embarkation Day
Dinner: American Table, cruise casual

Appetizer
Croquetas, Empanadas, Black Bean Salsa: A trio of Latin flavors come together in this tasty dish of ham croquetas, homemade chicken empanada and a side of black bean corn salsa

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Rating: Okay.  Standard fare, nothing special here.

Entreé
Grilled Mahi Mahi: Lightly seasoned fillet served with a side of coconut rice, a fresh pineapple and red pepper sauce

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Rating: Okay.  The fish was tasteless, though cooked well, and the rice tasted like coconut, but I’m not sure if I liked it.

Modern Latin Fusion at De Rodriguez

Right before I left on my cruise to the Eastern Caribbean two Saturdays ago, I got to see my friends Tia and Chris, who were visiting from Chicago, and we grabbed dinner at De Rodriguez* on Miami Beach.  Latin Fusion, woo!  It’s been a while since I’ve been to a fusion restaurant.  We were originally planning to go for the Miami Spice menu, but learned upon arrival that that particular menu wasn’t available on Friday evenings.  D’oh.  Oh well.

I ended up ordering two starters instead of a main entree because they sounded more interesting than the entrees.

First, Pork “Frita” Sliders.  These were far from extraordinary.  In fact, they were very very ordinary, both in taste and in aesthetics, though I did enjoy the little crispy potato fries — I forget what they’re called — inside the sandwich.  These sliders were tiny — and they came out to be $6 each!  Overall rating: below average.

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Second, Smoked Marlin Tacos, rum-marinated smoked marlin in a crispy malanga shell.  Intriguing description, right?!  Sadly, they actually sounded better than they tasted IMHO.  I was amused by the festive presentation of the tacos, but they turned out to be slightly less flavorful than I was expecting.  And I think the malanga shell actually diminished instead of enhanced the flavor of the marlin.  Pity.  Pity indeed.  I think I might rate this one an okay-fine, for the novelty factor.

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Oh, almost forgot to mention… Continue reading

Veal Chop and Black Truffle Pappardelle at Il Gabbiano

It’s been a while since I last posted, and I think at this point, I’m sadly about two weeks behind.  That means I’ve got a bit of catching up to do, so here we go!

Last last Tuesday, I had dinner at Il Gabbiano*, a fancy schmancy Italian restaurant right on the waterfront in Brickell.  This establishment was once on my Miami restaurants bucket list and long forgotten, but I was finally able to cross it off!  *happy dance*

The meal started off with a couple quick and easy starters, offered to all patrons, compliments of the restaurant.  Parmesan cheese — carved from a block thrice the size of my head — and vinaigrette.  An assortment of bread.  Bruschetta.  Zucchini chips.  *violin quartet*

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The cheese and bruschetta were good — very flavorful — but the zucchini chips were a disappointment, since they had gone limp, below average at best.  Sadly, I didn’t really sample the bread, since I wanted to leave room for my entree… maybe next time. Continue reading