Sunday, January 31, 2010
El Coqui Restaurant
Driving past every few weeks, we were surprised at the location since there were very few cars at any of the other shops and most of the mall is closed up. However, today, there were at least twenty cars in the lot and lots of people inside the restaurant even though it was 2:30 in the afternoon.
The atmosphere was quite nice, except that it's got that modern restaurant feel where everything is overwhelmingly loud because there's not one sound-absorbing thing in the place - no curtains, no rugs, nada. I suppose lots of noise makes a place chic. The staff were warm, welcoming and almost too attentive. Hector, our waiter, must have checked with us 8 times on how everything was, but I'd rather that than being ignored.
For dessert, we shared a Tembleque or coconut pudding. It was smooth, buttery and just a little bit sweet. And then David told me it's made almost completely of coconut fat. Doesn't matter... we finished it anyway :-)
In all, I give El Coqui a very high recommendation if you want good traditional PR food, attentive staff, and cute little coquis on your tableware.
And for those of you who aren't able to make it to Tucson, here's David's favorite bean recipe. Don't let the list of ingredients scare you off. Most of it is spices which can be adjusted to meet what you have in the pantry. Sofrito is a mix of chopped onions, sweet red peppers, garlic, and cilantro. You can substitute the ingredients chopped separately if you don't have sofrito handy.
1 lb beans, canned (pinto beans, pigeon peas, kidney beans, or even navy beans work well)
3 tbs sofrito
¼ cup annatto oil (can be replaced with olive oil)
½ roasted red pepper (not hot)
½ can tomato paste or crushed tomatoes
12-16 stuffed olives (green Spanish olives would be best, but kalamata are good, too)
½ cup chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
1-½ cups vegetable broth (can be chicken if desired)
3 bay leaves
2Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp crushed dried oregano
2 tsp crushed rosemary
2 tsp Spanish paprika (sometimes sold as smoked paprika)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground thyme
If using canned beans:
Clean and rinse the beans in a colander under running water until the water runs clear.
Put the oil in a 2 qt sauce pan and heat up on medium until a drop of sofrito sizzles in it, fry and stir in the sofrito, onions, red pepper, and olives; after 2 minutes add the tomato paste, the spices garlic and bay leaves, but NOT the fresh cilantro. Stir continuously for 1 minute. Add the drained beans and the vegetable broth to the pot. If the beans are not covered in liquid, you can put a little bit of water. bring everything to a boil, then turn down the heat and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Stir and add a little water if it’s too dry (please be careful adding water as the beans are supposed to be a little dry, too much water will make them mushed). About 5 minutes before you serve them, add the additional cilantro. Take out the bay leaves and add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over white rice and enjoy!