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Saturday, February 28, 2015 |  Madison, WI: -8.0° F  Fair
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Tropical Cuisine brings Puerto Rican fare to downtown
Plantains, please

Credit:Linda Falkenstein

Madison's first and only Puerto Rican restaurant, Tropical Cuisine, is now open at 15 N. Broom St. That's around the corner from Maharani Indian restaurant and part of the Metropolitan Place retail strip. Plans for the restaurant have been in the works for at least a year; the official opening was July 9. The dining room sports colorful murals of tropical scenes, a large map of Puerto Rico and a dozen or so tables. Outside, the patio terrace for outdoor dining takes advantage of Broom Street's larger-than-usual setback.

The staff is happy to explain menu items such as the Jibarito (hee-bah-rito), like a regular sandwich except the filling (steak, pork or chicken) is placed between two plantains instead of bread slices. It's also a good idea to get some instruction regarding the contents of the steam table, which holds a dozen options that make up the pick-three daily plate (your choice of one meat and two sides). Some options include a chicken stew, stewed pork, fried chicken, red beans and sausage, and yuca (a root vegetable similar to potato). Salads, stuffed plantains, turnovers, fritters and other appetizers fill out the menu. The restaurant is owned by Darryl and Wanda Malone.

Ingrid's Lunchbox will represent Madison at the third annual San Francisco Street Food Festival on Saturday, Aug. 20. That's in conjunction with the second annual National Street Food Conference. In the mix of 50-some trucks and carts from the Bay area that will be vending together in the Mission District will be three invited guest chefs from street-food hotspots across the country. In addition to Madison's Ingrid Rockwell, guest cart-chefs are Joshua Henderson of Seattle's Skillet Street Food and Brian and Lisa Wilson of Portland's Big-Ass Sandwiches.

Rockwell reports that she'll be making apple crisp crepes for the festival and her fried egg sandwiches for a brunch at the conference the next day.

The Madison Area CSA Coalition is holding a recipe contest, the winners of which will form the fodder for its second cookbook. Its first, the local classic From Asparagus to Zucchini, is now in its third edition. The new book, with a working title of Farm-Fresh and Fast, will focus on recipes designed for home chefs to prepare in under an hour (take that, Rachael Ray) although still primarily using healthy, fresh local produce. Contest details and submission form available here. The deadline is Oct. 31.

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