It has probably been at least 2 years since I saw the episode of Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” in which Guy Fieri gushes about the mofongo at Benny’s Seafood in Miami, FL and decided that I MUST try it out. Yes, it took me a while. If it wasn’t because I was broke (refer to blog name, HA!), it was because I didn’t have the time. If I had the time, I had no one to come with me. Because, who wants to venture into the unknown alone!? This would be my first time having Puerto Rican food, and I wanted some moral support!
We decided to split a pitcher of sangria. When trying to decide whether to go with the small or large pitcher, I asked our server how many glasses we can get out of a small pitcher. She said we could get three glasses out of small, so we ordered a large.
Whoa, momma! The large pitcher not only came with 3 prefilled glasses of the sangria, but it was the size of Happy Hour pitcher of beer. Bonus points for using fresh fruit, not canned. I am not knocking the canned fruit (heck, I use canned fruit when I make sangria), but the extra step says a lot. The sangria was strong and sweet, just like a sangria should be.
Based on the reviews that I read beforehand, I anticipated service to be slow. Plus, it was Mother’s Day, which is the #1 busiest restaurant day in the US. So, I ordered a soup to hold me over while the food arrived. I went with the clam chowder. It being a seafood restaurant, I wanted to see how it measured up.
The first thing that I want to point out is that, even at super-expensive dining establishments, I have been subject to the occassional grit in my clam chowder. This one had none. The consistency was not as thick as other clam chowders, but that was a good thing. The flavor of the clams really came through, without the heavy taste of butter and cream. Not that I have anything against either of those two ingredients. I shared it with one of my dining buddies, and it was obvious that both of us were a bit sad when the bowl was empty.
I took Mr. Fieri’s advice and ordered the mofongo for my entree. Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish made of fried plantains that are mashed and then mixed with olive oil, garlic, and pork cracklings. I added the sauteed garlic shrimp to my mofongo, just for the heck of it. And, since I knew there might be additional forks invading my food, I made it a large.
Beneath those gorgeous shrimp (which were perfectly cooked, by the way), is a bed of plantain deliciousness. They serve it with a side of chicken consomme, which I dipped each bite of mofongo into. I am not sure if that is what you’re supposed to do, but it seemed right. Each bite was absolutely incredible. The garlic was subtle, and not overwhelming. The occasional crunch of a pork crackling mixed into the mofongo would take it to new heights. It was good with or without dipping into the side of broth, but the broth added additional depth and complexity to the dish. Complaints that the mofongo here is greasy, to me, were unsubstantiated. I did not find it overly greasy. Besides, it’s FRIED!
As I write this, my mouth begins to water. I cannot wait to have more of this. If you have never had mofongo, you should try it at least once.