The pineapple is without a doubt the iconic image of Hawaii. But the tasty tropical fruit was introduced to the islands and originally calls South America home.
In fact, good ol’ Christopher Columbus gets credit for finding the fruit on the island of Guadalupe and giving Europeans their first taste.
Nearly 300 years later, in 1751, George Washington tasted his first pineapple in Barbados and declared it his favorite tropical fruit. Already, the pineapple was thriving in Florida but was still very much an exotic flavor for most Americans.
Today’s restaurant dish interprets a Barbados treat, Seafood in Pineapple. I found the tasty mélange of seafood, tangy pineapple and creamy sauce at Rancho Alegre — one of several new special menu dishes offered daily.
I expected a cold dish, like a ceviche, but was surprised to find that this is served hot. The half pineapple is hollowed and filled with bite–sized shrimp, clams, mussels and tiny rings of calamari and topped with a piping hot and flavorfully seasoned filet of fish. Mixed in with the seafood are bits of fresh pineapple and a sauce based in pineapple juice and cream.
At $21, it’s a bargain, served with fried plantains, rice and black beans. It’s big enough to share, especially if you’ve sampled some of the other treats from the appetizer menu.
The Cuban–inspired menu at Rancho Alegre has always been a drawing card, along with the city’s best selection of South American and Spanish wines. Add in live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights, and you’ve got the recipe for a great evening out.
Not a seafood fan? The roasted pork and chicken dishes are fork tender and delicious. Don’t miss out on dessert — the cheesecake with passion fruit drizzle is a winner.
402 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 912/ 292–1656, ranchoalegrecuban.com