Like Cuisine For Chocolate

A Venezuelan cook makes the sweet stuff stick to your dinner

Causa de camarones was constructed Napoleon-style with the crayfish filling in the middle of layers of smashed yellow potatoes, like the Lima version. But the crayfish turned out to be just a sort of shellfish stuffing, and the layer was sparse. Which was just as well. The stuff was powerfully fishy.

Most successful starter was watermelon and goat cheese puff pastry. One wouldn't imagine watermelon gutsy enough to balance goat cheese, but here it did, and the pastry shell was beautifully rich.

That an entrée of strip steak on the lunch menu turned out to be less expensive skirt steak was a blessing in disguise, as only the most flavorfully gamy of beef cuts could have stood up against almost-too-salty reduced wine sauce flavored with rosemary and nutmeg, plus chopped, toasted wild Brazil nuts. The steak was sautéed perfectly rare, as ordered. Accompanying roasted potatoes, interspersed with dwarf-diced squares of carrots and celery, also stretched the salt border but was a welcome change from today's usual universal side of bland steamed summer squashes.

Big and bold and just a little influenced by chocolate
Steve Satterwhite
Big and bold and just a little influenced by chocolate

Location Info

Map

Cacao

141 Giralda Ave.
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Coral Gables/South Miami

Details

305-445-1001. Open Monday through Thursday 11:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 to 10:30 p.m.; Friday 11:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 to 11:30 p.m., Saturday 6:00 to 11:30 p.m. Closed Sunday.
141 Giralda Ave, Coral Gables

Gouda cheese stuffed with diced pork sounds offbeat enough to be a cutting-edge creation, but it's actually an old-time holiday dish that drifted a few miles across the Atlantic to Venezuela from the Dutch Antilles islands of Curaçao, Bonaire, and Aruba. A whole Holland cheese is hollowed out, stuffed with a spiced pork stew, and baked till the ball flattens into a neater approximation of Salvador Dali's melted watches. Sadly, Cacao's version was oversalted. Otherwise it was satisfying in a hearty, peasanty, back-to-basics sort of way, and, probably needless to say, quite filling.

It goes without saying that Cacao's not a place to skip dessert, though two that we tried (Gran Saman chocolate mousse dome with fresh passion fruit mousse, and a dark chocolate tuile filled with milk chocolate mousse) were mixed successes, due to the pronounced graininess of both chocolate mousses. Still the earthy caramel notes characteristic of El Rey's 41 percent "dark milk" chocolate came through nicely in the lighter mousse, and the passion fruit mousse was refreshingly tart. And Icoa pearls and rubies (a smoothly rich, full-flavored white chocolate dome filled with three berry mousses) was as terrific to taste as it was to look at.

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