Cuban cuisine, Cottonwood and South County showcase

The Cottonwood Restaurant in Truckee is a popular stop.

When Reed Campbell, of Morgan Hill, begged me to put his
favorite restaurant in my column, I hesitated.
It’s not often I take food recommendations from a
13-year-old.
When Reed Campbell, of Morgan Hill, begged me to put his favorite restaurant in my column, I hesitated.

It’s not often I take food recommendations from a 13-year-old.

Campbell’s plead was desperate and insistent so I felt I had to please the tyke (I guess he knows word of mouth is the only way to survive in the struggling restaurant business).

The Happy Fisherman, located at the corner of Monterey and Wright Avenue, celebrates its first anniversary this week.

Reed highly endorsed the Cuban sandwich so I took his advice and ordered the all pork lunch.

Toasted baguette, ham, pork loin, mayo and pickles all made for a satisfying meal. José Herraez, The Happy Fisherman co-owner, served it to me at the table billing the sandwich as “the best in the West!” It must be, because I wouldn’t argue with a Cuban.

José and his wife Irma have the flair for hospitality and greet their customers with ¡hola!

Curious about the name, I asked José for the story behind it. José simply explained “if people love fish, then they will be happy when they eat at our restaurant.”

Simply put, I was happy. Since eating there yesterday, I have found out many people are happy to eat at Reed’s find. Irma is happy when she’s in the kitchen making her delicious fare.

As in the movie “Like Water For Chocolate,” Irma makes it with love (and a beautiful smile!). Made with care are other Cuban specialties such as Papas Rellenas, Moros (white rice and black beans), Camarones Al Mojo De Ajo (shrimp in garlic sauce), Ropa Vieja (traditional shredded beef), Arroz con Pollo (chicken with rice) and a generous serving of homemade flan de leche for dessert (Very flavorful. I’m eating the leftovers over the keyboard at this moment … oops, syrup dripping, yum!)

My only complaint: I didn’t find the restaurant earlier, and I had to listen to a teenager (just kidding, you should listen to your teens … even if you don’t act on their every whim).

José speculates his business could be better if the city would allow him to more signage near the street. Hmm … seems to me real estate agents are allowed more signage in this town, but that’s just my hungry opinion.

A place where everyone is welcome, often the second hometown of many South County residents, is the Cottonwood Restaurant in Truckee.

Boy Scout Troop 730 of Morgan Hill headed up to ski this past weekend, bunking it at the Rusch cabin enjoying après pizza while the smart ladies of the group made reservations at the Cottonwood.

Owners Mike and Jennifer Blide create a cozy atmosphere on top of the hill overlooking Historic Truckee. Old skis, candlelit chandelier, and the best Pine encrusted fish entrée in the Tahoe Basin (skip Dragonfly, too expensive and portions way too small). The Calamari Fritti with a pineapple glaze and chimichurri sauce proves the theory “make it interesting, and they will eat it.” We did – all of it.

Top the meal off with a chocolate brownie and chocolate sauce that gave me weird dreams for two nights. Waahoo!

Congratulations to George Chiala for winning the Showcase Morgan Hill award. My spies told me they were impressed with new chair of the Chamber of Commerce Gina Barela-Foust.

Dynamic, bright, and articulate are some of the words used in connection with Ms. Barela-Foust.

President of St. Louise Hospital Ted Fox introduced Mr. Chiala, but the one who dominated the podium with her wit was volunteer of the year Jean Ferrara. Will you be considering a possible future in emceeing Morgan Hill events, Ms. Ferrara?

Ciao for now.

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