The Croqueta Comeback: Shuttered Barley & Swine Wins Croquetapalooza
Past the flashing lights of slot machines and green poker tables, a battle for fried finger food supremacy raged on at the Magic City Casino Sunday afternoon.
Hundreds gathered for Croquetapalooza, the first event of its kind, honoring the crispy, gooey Cuban snack.
"This is an idea we had to simply find out who has the best croqueta in Miami," says Sef Gonzalez, event mastermind and creator of the Burger Beast blog.
Ten restaurants accepted the challenge of creating the best possible dish for what was the Super Bowl of croquetas.
Local eatery MEAT brought a yuca and chorizo croqueta, while Gilbert's Bakery shined with a dessert croqueta topped with either salted caramel or chocolate.
Winning the People's Choice, the day's top prize, was Barley & Swine, with a manchego cheese and ham croqueta topped with guava sauce.
The foodie favorite was recently embroiled in a dispute with its landlord at a Dadeland condo building. The relatively new restaurant closed last week due to infrastructure issues.
"With everything that's going on right now, it reassures us that everything is going to work out," said Jorgie Ramos, chef and owner of Barley & Swine. "My dad makes [the croquetas]. He couldn't be here today but the employees texted him, he's probably going crazy in the Keys right now."
Wynwood's Fireman Derek won the "flan-tastic" competition, judged in part by James Beard Award finalist Hedy Goldsmith of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink.