We finally had the time on this recent trip to NYC to cross over to Hoboken and have dinner in Maricel Presilla’s South American restaurant, Cucharamama. After the huge article about her that just ran in a recent issue of Gourmet magazine we were sure that we not be able to secure a reservation, but we did, for Sunday night.
The restaurant was smaller than I had imagined, but ample outdoor seating increased the capacity. It had been a hot day and was a warm evening. We had just wrapped up our tea seminar and day at the Fancy Food Show, so we were in the mood for air-conditioned comfort. The interior of the restaurant is dimly lit and softly decorated in warm, inviting earth colors. It gave us just the relaxing space we were looking for.
Cocktails were in order, and their listing offered many choices of Daiquiris with several types of rum: aged, white, and Venezuelan; a classic Pisco Sour, which features a choice of Pisco: pure, aromatic or acholado; classic drinks like Mojitos and Caipirinhas; and drinks with alcohol and fresh tropical fruit juices. The bar is located along the wall in the center of the restaurant, and two bartenders were kept quite busy all evening.
As we sipped our drinks, we began the serious business of ordering our food. We went right to the wood burning oven selections, and decided on the following from the listing of starters and main courses:
- Chorizo Argentino con Pimentos y Cebolla: Argentinean sausage with rosted peppers and onions, and Argentinean red Chimichurri sauce
- Camaromes Tatacua, Salsa de Aji Panca: shrimp in Panca pepper sauce
- Tamal de Maiz Tierno con Tocino: fresh corn tamal with marinated and roasted slab bacon
- Pechuga de Pollo Asado al Horno de Lena en Salsa de Calabaza y Mango con Boronia: boneless chicken breast in Peruvian abodo, pumpkin and mango sauce, ripe plantain and eggplant puree ( sorry, no picture ! )
All of the food was excellent and the flavors were true, clear and spicy without being overly hot. No one dish shouted above the others, so the dishes complimented one another quite nicely. Each dish was nicely sauced and was accompanied with salsa or more sauce for those of us who cannot live without sauce. During the evening, many singles and couples came in and sat at the bar and had a drink and a plate of something to eat. How I wish there was such a place where we live !
My only regret was that we were not with more of us at our table so that we could have tried more tastes of this lovely food. We passed on dessert, had a little nightcap, and then decided to bask in the glow of a great dinner and hired a cab to take us back to Manhattan. Yes, silly I know, but we could just not imagine jingling and jangling our way back to the Waldorf on the hot and nasty subway ( requiring walking and changing trains in two places ) after such a nice meal. Such are the moments of celebration !