Today was an awesome day.
It started off with an almost 5k on Bayshore with friends, Mr. KKM and Deb, our triathlon trainer. Deb is a plethora of knowledge and gave us some much needed tips on running and walking form, shoes, stretching and more.
After our little jaunt on Bayshore, Mr. KKM and I decided to head to Tampa’s local historic district, Ybor City, for the annual Cuban Sandwich Festival. Tampa is definitely known for it’s Cubans, but everyone claims that they have “the best”. So every year restaurants, cafes, bars and local dives come together for a day of battle offering samples of their version of this ham, pork, salami, Swiss, mustard and pickle Cuban breaded delicacy.
We got to Centennial Park around noon, and let me tell you… we weren’t the only ones that had the idea to check out this festival. The place was PACKED! The line to get into the sampling was over an hour’s wait, and aside from that, there weren’t any vendors actually selling Cubans. We walked around at some of the tents and checked out things for sale, listened to some music, then decided to head across the street and just go buy our own sandwiches at our favorite spot for Cubans- Gaspar’s. We hadn’t eaten anything since our snack of a breakfast before our run, so we were pretty hungry.
So hungry that I failed to take a pic of what we think is the best Cuban until I was almost done with it.
Here’s what we think makes a good Cuban:
- Chewy and fresh Tampa style Cuban bread (flaky and made with lard).
- A few slices of ham. Many places pile ham on their Cubans as cheap “fillers”.
- Roasted Cuban pork made with mojo (sour oranges + garlic)
- Swiss cheese
- Salami (which is optional, but adds a nice wine-y, sour flavor to the sandwich)
- Pickles (dill, not sweet!)
- Pressed with a little butter on the bread.
Although the guy orders them without pickles, he still thinks that this version of the Cuban reigns supreme, and I agree. Scrumptious to the last crumb. Oh, and if you try Gaspar’s, opt out of fries and get the cinnamon sugar plantain chips that come with the sandwich. You won’t regret it!
We rested up for a few hours before it was time to go shrimpin’! (which ain’t easy).
I’ve done my share of fishing and crabbing, but shrimping was completely new to me. The guy had it all planned: nets, bait buckets, head lamps and beer.