The reader on our Free Range chat was in need of a local shop that sells Spanish cheeses, anchovies and olives. The best person to answer this question, I thought, would probably never answer his phone. He has too many handlers just to take any reporter’s call. Sure enough, when I rang him, my attempt rolled over into his voicemail, which was full.
Several hours later, Jose Andres called back and was only too happy to answer the question. He suggested that good Spanish cheeses are available at Balducci’s and Dean & Deluca. As for good-quality Spanish anchovies, he suggested the online retailer, La Tienda.com.
How’s that for service? It’s even more impressive when you consider that Andres was calling from Puerto Rico, where he’s overseeing his latest restaurant, Mi Casa at Dorado Beach, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve property located 15 miles west of San Juan. This got us talking about one of his new dishes, a spin on his famous liquid olives. He calls the creation “coquitos,” or tiny coconuts.
Every morning, Andres tells All We Can Eat, the restaurant’s staff wanders the expansive grounds of Dorado Beach to gather coconuts. The team then starts extracting the coconut water and flesh to create the dish. Using Andres’s spherification technique, the kitchen takes coconut powder and coconut water and turns the ingredients into little opaque orbs, which burst in the mouth.
The coquitos are served in — what else? — a coconut shell filled with a mixture of coconut water, rum and lime juice. A few mint leaves float on the surface.
“It’s like eating the palm trees in the Caribbean,” Andres says.