Tenga Leche? Tres Leche, That Is…

Visited Miami recently for a Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference (visit www.womma.org for the scoop on all things word-of-mouth related); had not been there in almost 20 years (not counting a brief stop at the airport a little more recently).

Yes, the town has changed. More traffic, more people, more of almost everything. A chatty cabbie gave me a rundown on real estate prices since he moved to Miami almost 30 years ago–they’ve changed, as well.

But the tres leche cake hasn’t changed, thank goodness!

Twenty years ago, I was on assignment in Miami, working for an NC-based company (said company, owned by some of the most wretched people on the face of the earth, shall remain nameless!) in the swanky Bal Harbor district. Most nights, a group of us went out in search of more authentic Cuban food than what we’d found the night before.

We visited Versailles in Little Havana (check reviews at http://www.yelp.com/biz/versailles-restaurant-miami), and I still remember the criollo platter: slow-cooked chunks of seasoned pork served over saffron rice and black beans–so good you could just roll in it! And teeny cups of inky-dark espresso–one sip was enough to keep you awake for three days.

When the meal was over, we were offered tres leche cake for dessert. No one in the group spoke Spanish, so we asked for a description: a plain-but-rich cake (made with milk/cream) soaked in a milk-sauce, then topped with a milk/cream sauce, which is where the tres leche/three milk title comes from. Sounded too good to pass up…and it was!

The cake itself was very plain, but very, very rich. It had a somewhat coarse texture, like a large-grained poundcake, which allowed it soak up all the milk sauce (something like a thinned-down condensed milk) without falling to pieces. The creamy “sauce” on top was somewhere between whipped cream and frosting. Result: complete and total satisfaction, and a taste I *never* forgot.

Now that you know a little more about tres leche cake, I think I’ll post the rest of the story next time. Never hurts to have dessert first–or to save the best for last!

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