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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blue Island

Tonight we dined in Cuba. Well, not the actual CUBA, but in terms of the blog, it was Cuba... for it was Cuban food, right here is Spokane!  As we drove to Spokane's first Cuban restaurant, I had a lot of fun thinking of one of the more famous Cubans I know, Desi Arnez. I do not actually know him personally, but he has graced my living room over the years on that little box called a TV. He and Lucy. Fred and Ethyl too. Fidel Castro came to mind too, after all he is a Cuban, but that was not as pleasant of a thought as Desi and Lucy.

So why Cuba? Well, it came at the suggestion of a friend who said she really liked Cuban food and that a new Cuban restaurant had opened very recently in Spokane. She could hardly wait to go and suggested that we might want to try it sometime on our many food adventures, so we did. I read in a Spokesman review article, here, that the owners are political refugees from Cuba.

We had no idea what to expect as we headed to the corner of Sprague and Vista, (8122 E. Sprague Ave) but when we arrived we were pleasantly surprised by a very interesting rock/stone building and a rather elegant atmosphere. One of the dining rooms had a piano in it and there was a large banquet room as well. The restaurant is connected to a lounge/bar called Club Edge where we were told live music often plays. Being inside the building felt a little like being in a ski lodge, or a Bar B-Q restaurant. It didn't really feel like the jungley Cuba I was thinking about, except for the rubber plants used for decoration and the great Cuban sounding music that played while we dined.

Interestingly they serve chips when you come in, with garlic/lime sauce that you drizzle on your chips. The chips are not like those you are served in a Mexican restaurant, they are not corn either, they are flour tortillas, fried. It was quite tasty and unusual too.

The menu had a lot of pork selections. There was pork roast, pork Creole,egg dishes, pastas and sandwiches as well as more foreign sounding things like croquettes, roulettes and Congri. (Congri is rice with beans and pork seasoned with garlic and onion.) I ordered chicken creole and Geo had pork roast. We both were served fried palntains, congri and salad. Geo was was actually served French fries.

We did not like the plantain, but everything else was tasty. We ate our plantain though, In Cuba, the plantain serves as a sort of bread. We were not thrilled by it, but my friend who recommended Cuban food said she loves it.  It's  not my favorite, but not bad.  Different...

We had a lot of fun with our waiter who was not Cuban. He tried to be helpful, and he really was, but we had some memorable dining experiences by the time the evening was done. For example, he asked us if we wanted our coffee before or after dinner... we said after, but he insisted on bringing it so we so OK and then it seemed to us as though he had forgotten. Now as to whether he was thinking to bring it to us when we wanted it instead of when he wanted us to have it (before dinner while we were waiting), I do not know. But I am glad he ended up waiting.

I didn't quite know what to expect for Cuban coffee, but I knew it would be some kind of espresso. I guess that is why it was funny to me when he said, (while serving us the coffee, in it's tiny cup and saucer, "It's a little strong, but it's good!" I thought it was funny to warn us that Cuban coffee, which is basically espresso, is strong. He was right though, it was a little strong, but it was sweet, and as advertised, it was good.

You not only get to experience a taste of Cuba when you eat at the Blue Island. You can get a bit of Spokane history too. I told my friend about how I liked the building and she mentioned that the building was a historical sight for Spokane. It has been there for years and is located on what was once the Mullan trail. In fact, between 1858 and 1862, John Mullan, a Captain in the Army and an engineer, built a wagon road, the first wagon road to cross the Rockies to the Inland Northwest. It was a 642-mile road designed to support the westward expansion of settlers and this was where it lay.

There is a pyramid shaped marker on the corner of the street in front of this building that reads, "M-R Military Road located by Captain John Mullan A.D. 1858-A.D. 1862 crossed the highway here. This location monument erected by Washington State Historical Society 1922."

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