A croqueta is an ideal street snack. It's cheap, portable, and easy to eat on the run or while lingering over a counter. Typically filled with ham, chicken, or fish, croquetas pack a protein punch and will quickly subdue a growling stomach. They are perfect quotidian fare.
You can also find rarefied (and expensive) versions of the street snack at Miami restaurants. Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill serves orbs of fried goat cheese. Sra. Martinez serves a "croqueta of the day;" a recent version was filled with squid ink and mussels.
Some days, you just crave something a little more elevated. For these tiumes, we give you the battle of the upscale croquetas.
The blue cheese and jamon Serrano croquetas at Michy's are a signature dish of Chef Michelle Bernstein. Dolores, But You Can Call Me Lolita throws downthe gauntlet with their menu description: "Maybe, the best Serrano ham croquettes you have ever tasted." Results after the jump.
Jamon Serrano and blue cheese croquetas
Pros: Served piping hot, the panko encrusted croquetas are crispy and
golden brown. Inside, they ooze with heady gorgonzola and the fainter
tang of Serrano ham. They are rich and salty, balanced by the honey
sweet fig marmalade -- a perfect accompaniment.
Cons: Luxury comes at a price. You get three croquetas in a half-order, making these cheese fingers more than two dollars each -- a cost that would make abuelita balk. Also, the Serrano ham has a good flavor, but it's muted by the strong cheese. So if you're having a serious ham craving, these may not do the trick.
Dolores, But You Can Call Me Lolita ($6 for 6)
"Maybe, the best Serrano ham croquettes you have ever tasted"
Pros: These nicely fried Serrano ham croquetas are stubbier than what's typically served. They are also lighter, due to their mostly egg filling. The pleasing, yet unusual, texture reminds me more of the inner sanctum of deliciously undercooked French toast than any croqueta I've ever tasted. The price for a serving ($1 each) is more on par
with what you might get at your local Cuban place, although your abuelita may still exclaim.
Cons: Although you can see a few flecks here and there, the ham is
almost imperceptible. The eggy interior takes some getting used to.
Without much ham or cheese in the croqueta, it's a one-note dish.
The Verdict: Michy's croquetas are the champions in texture and
flavor. The croquetas at Dolores may satisfy the drunk denizens who
grow peckish after one too many (pretty good, but cavity-inducing)
"Silver Fox" lychee cocktails. However, Dolores's claim of the "best"
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falls flat. If you're going to treat yourself to a gourmet croqueta, go all the way and treat yourself to Michy's.
If you are craving a classic, turn to one of the traditional spots that
is a battle for another day...