There is something utterly scrumptious about a dish that combines a balance of textures, flavors and temperatures…It’s about worlds colliding culturally and food-wise. For this “sandwich,” called “Rico,” a savory grilled plantain patty forms the base (read bread), ready to be topped. A savory plantain? Yes, those banana-like fruits we think of as sticky sweet, sautéed and caramelized to heavenly perfection, are also phenomenal in their unripe, green, starchier state.
Unripened plantains are a tropical foodstuff, used much like a potato with a familiar starchiness and neutral taste that easily lends itself to be sauced, slicked or slathered lushly. Often called “tostones” or “patacones,” the green plantain is twice fried – first to achieve a fluffy, tender interior, then flattened and fried a second time for crunch.
The Warehouse District’s Cafe Carmo, bills itself as a “tropical cafe” melding the culinary traditions of the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Gulf South and beyond – a fine definition of “Creole.” Their “Rico” features a twice-fried green plantain patty, topped with melted cheese, homemade spicy smoked and pulled pork, fresh salsa, slices of creamy avocado and their tangy-sweet-spicy “Rico” sauce. Spinach greens decorate the plate, dolloped with a mango-laced dressing for a fruity and crisp vegetal green hit. In all, this dish exemplifies that cross-cultural, textural, flavor and temperature merger in each bite – smokey, meaty, creamy, bright, crisp, cool, warm, Southern (in all the ways that can mean)…Creole, contemporary and completely delectable.