I just flew in from a tasting at the new Americas River Oaks with father-son chef team Michael and David Cordua – and boy are my taste buds tired! Actually, they are way more exhilarated than weary, thanks to dishes like the Pollo Encamisada pictured above. “Chicken in a Shirt,” complete with a delicious sauce of pureed black beans and seared panela cheese, may replace Chicken Parmesan as my favorite thing to do with the ever-versatile bird.
In keeping with the concept’s grounding in foods of the Americas, this version of pargo (snapper) is crusted in roasted corn. It is a delicious dish, paired nicely with achiote grilled shrimp and lemon-scented creme fraiche. And it’s a reminder why my fascination with Americas, first encountered at the original on Port Oast back in the ’90s, continues unabated.
The archiote-roasted pork loin is something like a pork tamale (or more accurately, like a Yucatecan cochinita pibil) turned inside out. You get the full-on pleasure of the tender loin that’s been cooked in a banana leaf, with a yuca stuffing that evokes the masa of a tamale. As far as I’m concerned, when in doubt, add lump crab meat, tomato and avocado.
I tasted several desserts at the new Americas River Oaks, including the Corduas’ deservedly famous tres leches – at their restaurant Churrascos, they’re the ones who made the dish famous in the first place. In addition to that and a nifty bread pudding with tequila in the sauce and cinnamon ice cream, I loved these melt-in-your-mouth chocolate-filled shortbread cookies.