Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Spoonful of Sofrito: Sofrito Magazine/Marcha Cocina

A Spoonful of Sofrito:  A Pinch of advice that will add a lot of flavor to your life!

Sofrito Lovers,

The mini-review below was originally published in Sofrito Magazine, a wonderful webzine started by Chef Nelson Gonzalez Gonzalez.  Nelson has always been supportive of this blog, so I'm returning the love and support.

Sofrito Magazine is simply incredible.  It features a wide variety of articles about Latino cuisine, incredible food photography, recipes for Latin American dishes, and interviews with up and coming Latino Chefs.

So if you believe in supporting Latino culinary culture and Latino business, then check out Sofrito Magazine at: sofritomagazine.com


Marcha Cocina:  A piece of Spain in Washington Heights.

By Benjamin Ramos Rosado, Sofrito Magazine

Tapas!   For many, this five-letter word evokes memories of fun filled nights with friends in Madrid enjoying fine wine and those small dishes of incredible fare.  For those of us who’ve never been to Spain, enjoying the various tapas bars in New York City is the closest we can get to those raucous Spanish nights. Whenever I crave those wonderful Spanish flavors, I go to Marcha Cocina in Washington Heights. 

Located on W. 171st St and Broadway, Marcha Cocina is a cozy restaurant with a fully stocked bar and several small tables set out through the space.  The modern décor features stark white walls and tables, silver metallic chairs, and a few pieces of Spanish art on the walls. 

Despite the cold and clinical décor, the ambiance is warm and inviting; you can’t help, but feel welcomed when smiling servers greet you as you enter and the bartender goes out of his way to shake your hand. Marcha’s multi-ethnic and multi-generational clientele gives it a unique appeal that other tapas bars downtown lack; this isn’t some hipster or yuppie hideout, it’s an open and inclusive community space.

Marcha’s menu is divided into 9 sections: Ensaladas, Sopas, Sandwiches, Croquetas, Tapas, Charcuteria, Quesos, Platos Fuertes (mostly Paellas), and Cocas. Whenever I visit, I focus primarily on the salads and the tapas.  I’ve got nothing against the rest of the menu, but when I visit Marcha all I can think about are the tapas. 

Usually, I’ll start with one of my two favorite Ensaladas, which are the Marcha Salad and the Espanola Salad.  The Marcha Salad consists of grilled chicken breast, mixed greens, hearts of palm, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, croutons, manchego cheese and lemon dressing.  The Espanola Salad consists of mixed greens, grapes, goat cheese, almonds and white asparagus with passion fruit vinaigrette.  Both salads are light, refreshing and flavorful; they’re the perfect way to start a meal of delicious tapas.

I could write volumes about the tapas menu, but I’ve chosen to highlight my three favorite tapas dishes: The Marcha Calamari, Las Papatas Bravas, and the Pollo y Platano Croquetas.  I must mention that the Gambas Al Ajillo (Shrimp sautéed in garlic, olive oil, and chiles) and the Albondigas (Beef meatballs served with sofritos, green pepper demi-glaze, creme fraiche and tomato) almost made the list, except for the fact that I order my top three far more frequently than I do the others.

Of the three, the Marcha Calamari is my favorite.  The floured calamari is cooked to perfection; it’s soft and has the right amount of chew without being too rubbery.  Seasoned with a smoked paprika aioli, the calamari has a wonderful balance of sweetness and smoky piquant flavor.  

The Patatas Bravas are a classic tapas dish, made of fried potato wedges smothered in Brava sauce.  For those not in the know, Brava sauce is a spicy tomato sauce made with paprika, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar.  The crispy potatoes’ starchy flavor perfectly complements the brava sauce’s spicy flavor.  I would advise you to order the dish with half the amount of sauce, because the chef can be a bit heavy handed with it.

The Pollo and Platano Croquetas are incredible!  They’re made of plantain dough stuffed with organic chicken and served with a Tabasco based aioli.  The chicken filling is moist and well seasoned. These croquetas remind me of Alcapurrias, which is a type of fried Puerto Rican delicacy.  The Tabasco based aioli rounds out the dish by providing a delightful kick of heat and acid.

Marcha Cocina may not be a popular pub on the streets of Seville, but that doesn’t matter!  You don’t have to travel all the way to Salamanca to enjoy Spanish pub fare, just take the A train to Washington Heights and visit Marcha. You won’t regret it!  Buen provecho!

Marcha Cocina
4055 Broadway
New York, NY 10032
(212) 928-8272

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