Lechonera Encanto

8 Jun

Lechonera La Isla
256 E. 125th Street

Last year, around this time, when I started seeing the Puerto Rican flags streaming from car antennas, out of apartment windows, and draped across uptown streets, I immediately thought of the Cuchy Frito man, specifically, Cal Tjader’s rendition and the celebration of all pig parts fried Cuchy Frito Man.

I am seeing those same flags again now. And this year, instead of Cal Tjader and cuchifritos, I thought I would celebrate La Isla del Encanto by stopping by my local lechonera, Lechonera La Isla, for a taste of pernil, roast pork shoulder.

Plenty of room at the lechonera.

La Lechonera La Isla was quiet when I walked in; the few stools of the small restaurant counter were empty. There was beef stew available along with oxtails and roast chicken. And there were a few slabs of pernil that had been roasted to sweet oblivion.

The day’s remains soon to be devoured.

“When do you close,” I asked the young man who was chopping the pernil into pieces for me.

“When we run out of food,” he replied, his cleaver slamming into the very dense crackling of the pig skin. “Basically, my Mom cooks everything in the morning and when it’s gone, I can go home.”

I was lucky;  he hadn’t gone home.

Trying not to be too bold, I peered into the kitchen hoping to catch a glimpse of Mom at work. But from what I could see, the kitchen was dark and quiet. Apparently Mom had gone home.

Sawing through the good stuff.

He layered a generous portion of pork on top of rice and red beans. An accompaniment of a homemade hot sauce; onions marinated in scotch bonnet peppers and vinegar set my mouth happily on fire while a drizzle of a tangy mojo (garlic sauce) just added to the gathering of fiery flavors now imbedded there.

Roast pork and rice and beans.

The traffic on 125th Street heading towards the Triorough (now known as the RFK) Bridge was bumper to bumper. Instead of Cuban-born Celia Cruz whose picture was adorned on the busy walls of the lechonera, or Tito Puente, who I once saw on 86th Street just after performing at the parade, sitting in the shade being fanned by a group of elderly ladies, the only sounds I heard while gnawing through the delicious cracklings, was that of honking horns. I really didn’t mind, the food provided all the music I needed.

A smile from Celia Cruz to help the pernil go down.

 

One Response to “Lechonera Encanto”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Big Kahuna in El Barrio | Fried Neck Bones...and some home fries - April 10, 2013

    […] and have had my share of lechon including the addictive portions served at Lechonera La Isla ( see Lechonera Encanto). But this pork was different and had me fantasizing of a big pig slow cooked underground, […]

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