If you can’t tell from my previous posts, I have a thing for combining salty with sweet. It was only recently that I was introduced to the classic Cuban combination of guava and cheese, a delicious marriage of white, creamy cheese and sweet, sticky guava paste, typically found tucked away in the buttery folds of flaky pastries.
While I was in Los Angeles last month, my friends Stephanie and Ashley brought me to Porto’s Bakery, a Cuban-style bakery in Glendale. Going to Porto’s requires patience, usually a 10-15 minute wait on line before actually reaching the ordering counter. I wasn’t in the mood for any ordinary pastry. When it came time for me to order, I looked past the fruit tarts, eclairs, and cookies, and finally found what I was looking for: disguised as a normal Apple Strudel, the thick red paste and crumbly curds of cheese peeking out from the sides revealed its true identity–a Guava and Cheese Strudel. Biting into the strudel, the pastry crumbled into crisp, delicate flakes. After the first few bites, I reached the filling–a thick guava paste with a slight gritty texture, like drinking a can of Kern’s Guava Nectar but in paste-form, which paired so perfectly with a mildly salty and creamy cheese.
So you might be thinking, how do I try this if I’m nowhere near a Cuban bakery? Although this is not nearly comparable to eating a Guava and Cheese Strudel from Porto’s, Tristan introduced to me a snack with the same flavors, which you can easily assemble at home in two quick steps. All you need is a can of guava paste, which usually comes in a disc-like can, and a hunk of queso fresca, slice them into sushi-sized pieces and place one on top of the other–the guava paste is a little sticky, so try using the queso fresca piece on the bottom as the base. This duo can also be topped on a cracker, as a party snack or appetizer. For the more adventurous, simulate a strudel and make a guava and cheese sandwich using a croissant. In theory, the guava, cheese, and croissant should emulate the flavors of the strudel, but I have yet to try this myself.
Find guava paste and queso fresco at your local Latino supermarket / grocery store.
For more ideas on how to use guava paste, here’s an interesting article: click here
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