A Cuban Cortadita on a Dog Day Afternoon

I stopped into a Cuban restaurant called Conga and ordered a café cortadita and a glass of ice water yesterday afternoon. Conga is located on Richmond in a shopping center with a bunch of Columbian restaurants including the very popular rotisserie chicken stand called Dodo. There is also a Cuban sandwich stand in the same center called Café Cubano which also serves café cortadita. The two restaurants are owned by the same folks. Conga is a white tablecloth joint and the espresso there is 35 cents more expensive. I was willing to shell out the third of a dollar for the relaxing atmosphere.

Cuban espresso is usually made by adding sugar to the coffee grounds so the sugar melts while the coffee brews. This creates a very smooth sweet cup of coffee. To make a cortadito, (which means "little cut" in Spanish) the barista mixes the sweet Cuban espresso half and half with hot milk. Mysteriously, the waiter brought me the sugar on the side. I guess he decided that what I really wanted was a regular espresso with milk. Go figure.

I wonder why I find a hot coffee drink refreshing on a miserably hot afternoon? Is it the caffeine jolt? Or does it make my forehead even sweatier? I don't know, but a hot espresso is an old summer tradition in warm weather cities like Havana and Miami.

By the way, yesterday's high in Havana was 90 degrees -- seven degrees cooler than Houston.

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Robb Walsh
Contact: Robb Walsh