Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sabroso Brunch at Bar Marco

Social media is a powerful medium.

I received a message on my Facebook page from Sabroso: Comida Latina about a brunch being held at Bar Marco, featuring Latino foods from the Caribbean region of the Spanish-speaking world.  Knowing that "sabroso" means "flavorful" in Spanish (while my alias, "sabor", means "flavor", the noun form of the same word), my interest was piqued, as this sounded right up my alley.

I checked the logistics and discovered that two women, Tara Sherry-Torres and Carolina Almarante-Terrero, were behind Sabroso.  Their mission: bring authentic Caribbean Latino food to the 'Burgh.
That's a mission I can surely support!

Pre-sale tickets were available for $20 through Brown Paper Tickets, a service that I had never used, but found very easy to navigate - and I especially liked that it was paperless, as it is always so much more convenient to have the tickets available on your phone than printing them.  I also found out that I was able to make a reservation via email, which I did, because I did NOT want to have to wait around long, smelling the flavorful foods and not being able to indulge immediately.

Of course, I brought James with me, and when we drove into the Strip District, I was glad that I made a good decision making that reservation.  The Strip was bustling with shoppers, as it was a beautiful fall day, and parking was at a premium.  After 3 laps around The Strip, we found a spot in the $5 section next to the Produce Terminal, and arrived right on time for our 12:00 reservation.

Bar Marco
Bar Marco was PACKED, but because we had that reservation, we were able to snag two spots at the bar (other people who arrived before us had to wait, because they did not have a reservation), thanks to Tara, who introduced herself upon hearing my name for the reservation.

We were waited on at the bar by Giuseppe, a Bar Marco worker with one of the best mustaches I have ever seen on a real person (I didn't want to be creepy and take a picture, but for sure go to Bar Marco at some point, and you'll see what I mean!)  The menu was simple - pick your appetizer, pick your entree and your side, and pick your dessert - all for the $20 that I had already paid for the tickets.

But first - coffee.  I had taught on Friday, then worked Kennywood from 5:00pm-1:00am for the first night of Fright Nights, and needless to say, I was not nearly awake by noon.

We had a choice of either chicken or queso blanco pastelitos, which resemble the more popular empanadas of other Spanish-speaking countries.  James and I were trying to cover as much of the menu as possible, so he chose chicken, while I chose cheese:

Pastelito de Queso Blanco
Pastelito de Pollo (chicken)
Both were incredibly flavorful, but I preferred the queso blanco over the chicken.  Cilantro sprinkled the plate, and the combo of that plus the cheese and fried goodness was a great warm-up for my palate.

For our entrees, I chose the Pastelon, "a Puerto Rican casserole with sweet plantains, seasoned ground beef, topped with eggs and pepper jack cheese", with a side of Mofongo, "fried green plantains mashed with garlic and spices".  Each entree was also served with Ensalada de Repollo, which included shredded cabbage, tomato, and avocado in a lemon-cilantro vinaigrette:

Pastelon, Mofongo, Ensalada de Repollo
James chose the Pernil, "slow-roasted pork shoulder, seasoned with oregano and garlic", with a side of Boiled Yucca topped with sauteed red onion:

Pernil, Boiled Yucca, Ensalada de Repollo
Wow.  Wow wow wow.  That's all I can say about both meals.  "Sabroso" is an understatement for what these women make happen in the kitchen.  James's Pernil was incredibly tender (I only had a small taste, as I cannot technically eat pork - this made me wish I could!), and the yucca was a fabulous alternative to a typical potato starch.  My Pastelon was succulent, and anyone who thinks that garlic is just for Italians should definitely try Mofongo sometime - SUPER garlicky, but not by any means overwhelming!

We were already so full, but there was one more course - dessert.  With two options, James and I got one of each - he chose the Pudin de Pan, a Dominican bread pudding with cinnamon, sugar, golden raisins, and rum, while I went with the Tembleque de Coco, a Puerto Rican coconut flan:

Pudin de Pan
Tembleque de Coco
The Tembleque being the lighter of the two desserts, I for sure made another good decision there, but I could not resist trying James's Pudin de Pan.  Rich.  Definitely rich.  Incredibly yummy!

James asked me after the meal if the ladies of Sabroso planned on opening a restaurant.  My response: "After that meal, I wish they would!"  Then again, the idea of pop-up brunches and dinners seems pretty cool

I made sure to tell Tara how fabulous everything was before I left.  She asked me how I got into Latino foods, and I told her about my background and how difficult it is for my students to realize that there is Latino culture in Pittsburgh.  She informed me that there will be more Sabroso meals in the future, and she hopes to partner with me in the future for more educational opportunities for my students.


Thank you, social media, for bringing Sabor and Sabroso together.  My students, my belly, and I will be forever in your debt.  And thank YOU, Bar Marco, for allowing these ladies the opportunity to accomplish their mission!  I can't wait for more!

Sabroso: Comida Latina


Bar Marco
2216 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222


Bar Marco on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment