So it was Dominican night at La Hispaniola Restaurant, an on site restaurant in Punta Cana’s Bavaro Princess Resort. The court yard outside was bustling with artisan craftspeople. A glass artist trained a precision torch on delicate tubes twisting and blowing them to create exquisite ornamental palm trees, and other decorative objects. Wood carvers spread out their inventive wares and classic Dominican cigars were being hand rolled from scratch right on a table using the most moist wrapper leaf I have ever put my lips to. A merengue ensemble played right at the entrance to La Hispaniola along with 2 ravishing cabaret dancers readily available for photo ops with guests.
along with desserts like rice pudding and sweet plantains baked with cane syrup & cinnamon sticks. The most visible made-to-order dish was the mofungo. A chef was behind a serving station vigorously mashing tostones (twice fried plantains) with garlic and olive oil in a pilon (a type of mortar & pestle). Before mounding the mixture into a ball, chicharrones (small cubes of decadently fried pork) were placed in the middle. The chef then served up the newly created mofongo with some gravy and more chicharrones on the side.
Originally from Africa and a variant of a dish called “fufu”, mofungo evolved in the Carribean, particularly the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Newly arrived Africans substituted green or semi-ripe boiled plantains with unripened plantains fried and then mashed. The results are a hearty dish that remind me of polenta only a bit sweeter. And when combined with the crisp and chewy chicharrones, absolutely to die for!
Videos courtesy of Steve Mirsky