Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ybor City -Tampa, Florida

We recovered from an evening at the casino, and decided to do a little sightseeing the next day. We headed down to the Port of Tampa and walked around a little. It was fairly early and nothing was open yet.

We popped into the shopping arcade, checked it out and went window shopping
(Uncle Steve even posed with an aquarium backdrop),

and decided to move on and head to Ybor City.

We had been driving around the day before checking the area out and kept
seeing signs for Ybor City, but didn't know what it was.
It turns out that Ybor City was an area of Tampa that was known
for it's cigar making. It was settled by the Cubans, and later,
the Italians, Jews, and Germans immigrated into the area to
help aid in the cigar making industry. Even today, the area
is loaded with stores that sell cigars. In fact, Marc and Rae
bought quite a collection of vintage cigar boxes.

Here are some views of one of the main streets where you can
see the multitude of boutiques and cigar shoppes

If you look at this view, you will also see some of the
influence of New Orleans with the wrought iron railings
some of the workers also migrated from the Port of New Orleans

We stopped to do the tour of the Ybor Historical Society and Museum
that explained the most interesting history of Ybor City

(the building used to house one of the most famous Cuban bakeries in Ybor City)

The tour started with the explanation of the history of Ybor City

showing the influences of the various ethnic groups

of course what would the history of cigar making be without the cigar store Indian

from the little bodegas and dry goods stores that opened to support the workers

Remnents of the Cuban Bread Bakeries

The bosses were quite progresses, having a gentleman read the
classics to the workers as they worked, so they learned while working

They instituted medical care

Mutual Aid Societies
checking out the exhibits

A picture of the working factory

Spaniards and Cuban had their own distinctive rolling styles

A cigar rolling workspace

Some of the cigars produced in the factories

and the cigar bands
I remember my Uncle Manuel (who was Portuguese)
always smoking cigars and saving the rings for me to wear
this brought back great memories...

The Rise and Fall of the Cigar Industry

Opposite the front of the museum was a little park area
with a wall of names of those who helped build the city
the names themselves are a testament to the many
ethnicities that lived and worked here in harmony

A Statue in Honor of the Immigrants

Complete with the two hams posing in front

Of course, at the end of the tour, there is always the gift shop, and for the first
time in my life, I opted not to go in, thinking what did I want in a cigar gift
shoppe. Luckily, Marc and Rae headed inside and Rae bought me two
great cookbooks as a remembrance of the trip. The first was called
A Taste of Cuba by Linette Green - Recipes from the
Cuban-American Community
The Second was Recipes and Remembrances
Great Cooks of Ybor City

I feel it would be a great tribute to the Cuban-Americans who
built Ybor City to include a recipe from the second cookbook
for Boliche (Eye Round Roast)
my dear friend Carmen who is of Cuban descent makes this
wonderful recipe all the time. Here is the version from the book:

(Eye Round Roast)
Jennie Rodriguez

2 - 3 pound eye round roast, stuffed or unstuffed
1-2 chorizos
4-5 smoked ham chunks
5-6 cloves of garlic, cut into medium pieces
Salt and pepper
1-2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large onion, sliced and separated into pieces
5-6 pats of butter plus 1 stick of butter
1/2 - 3/4 cups wine vinegar
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

Stuff roast by making hole down the center of the roast. Stuff with chorizos and ham pieces. Make small holes on top of the meat with sharp slender knife. Stuff each hole with a piec of garlic. Put meat on large platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, oregano, and paprika. Lay pieces of onion over the meat. Place butter pats on top. Sprinkle with vinegar. Cover. Put in the refrigerator and allow to marinate overnight. Next day, remove onion from top and drain off the marinade. Set aside. Melt stick of butter in bottom of a large pot with a cover. Slice boliche into 1/2-inch slices and place slices in melted butter. Cover with onions and marinade again. Cook, covered on medium low heat on stove top for 1 hour. Then add cubed potatoes and cook until meat is tender and potatoes are cooked, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Our little friend bids us hasta luego!

This was a great tour and very inexpensive, visit Ybor City
on your next trip to Tampa and give a round of
applause to all those hard working Cuban immigrants who
built this great testament to hard work and caring!

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Boliche on Foodista

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