Doreen Colondres Seen Eating... Arroz con Gandules at Milly's

Categories: Scene Eating
Courtesy of Fox
Doreen Colondres is the woman behind the website, La Cocina no Muerde (The Kitchen Doesn't Bite). It's in Spanish, but she's starting an English version next year.

Since she started La Cocina two years ago, she's become food editor for Siempre Mujer, started a cooking segment for Fox en Español, and scored gigs as a spokesperson for General Mills, Archer Farms for Target, and California Raisins. In that whirlwind time, she's also returned to school for culinary training and to get her sommelier certification, "but I don't like to talk about it because people get scared and intimidated. I don't like to be considered a chef because it makes people think you need to be a chef to be able to cook."

After the jump: Where are the seafood empanadas?

Colondres started cooking when she was 9 years old.  "My maternal grandparents used to do big production for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they grew half of the ingredients in their yard. My paternal grandparents had bakeries and catering companies."

She would email friends and family recommendations about where to eat when they traveled, cook for friends, and teach them about wine. Then she had the inspiration for La Cocina No Muerde: "One day I thought, 'Most of my friends are so afraid of cooking, it's a shame.' I imagine there are a lot of people like that--a lot of people with really, really good taste in food who don't really even know how to boil an egg." She left her job in marketing to sell others on the idea of getting into their kitchen.

New Times: Tell me about a really good meal you've had recently.

Doreen Colondres:
In Spain, I just had the best meal I ever had in my life. It was cooked by Rodrigo de la Calle, which is also the name of his restaurant. He was the winner of the biggest culinary contest in Spain last year, which is called Madrid Fusion, and he's now nominated to be the best new chef in Europe.

He has a very charming, tiny restaurant in Aranjuez, outside Madrid. The first floor is traditional tapas, according to him, but they should be called "extraordinary amazing tapas." The second floor is upscale food which he serves in a tasting menu and I think I had 15 or 16 dishes.

His dad makes the olive oil a few miles from the restaurant.  All of the veggies are from his or his uncle's farm. The dates are from another's just out of this world! I'm supposed to write about him for the website and there's no way you can find the words to explain how good he is. He is not a celebrity chef. He's this really nice 34-year-old guy.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Since I've been traveling and eating so much food for the past month, I had a four egg white omelet with an organic banana, coffee from Puerto Rico, and fresh organic orange juice.

What are your top 3 places to eat in Miami right now?

I love Mandolin because it's not pretentious. The food is consistently delicious and I feel so relaxed in that place. I love the lamb meatballs, the fried calamari, and the grilled Mediterranean sea bass. The dips are to die for--the tzatziki, the hummus.

I also like Macaluso's Market, next door to the restaurant.  I love the salads, pizza, and the meatballs, of course.

Milly's is a hole in the wall Dominican restaurant on 8th Street.They do everything fresh every day. It's grandma's food. I like the lamb stew with mofongo. It's to die for. The arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) is also very tasty.

What are your favorite foods to cook?

I'm a Latina, but I love to cook Italian food. I love to make my own pasta and sauces, braised beef, or fresh bolognese with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil and a lot of garlic. 

What is your favorite comfort food?

My favorite one doesn't really exist in Miami. I love seafood empanadas and I don't know why we don't have more of them here. We're surrounded by ocean, and we have all kinds of seafood. In Puerto Rico, my country, it's so common to have a lobster or trunkfish (chapin) empanada. Every time I go to a seafood restaurant, I can only find chicken and meat empanadas on the menu. It's like, "Hello! Where is the seafood empanada?"

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