Tonight my family and friends mourn the death of a large part of our lives for the last 4 years; Canela Cafe'. Another casualty of this horrible recession, she was unable to heal from hemorraging money. She was born January 14, 2005 and died September 14, 2009. Canela Cafe' was more than just a place to get some "Latin Soul Food", it was an integral part of the community in which it resided; the Design District area or Miami's Upper East side as developers like to call it. She was birthed and tirelessly maintained from day one, 7 days a week for 4 years by her doting mother, Margarita Vasallo. It was her sole passion in life. So much so, that you could taste it in every bite of the scrumptious menu.
You could literally savor the unprocessed love dripping from every morsel as if she were the chef in the classic movie, Like Water for Chocolate. People may have complained about the service now and then but her magic touch for good ol' sazon' was without reproach. She won the awards, Best Cuban Food in Miami by New Times 2 months after opening and earlier this year, Best Tapas in Miami. She attracted the likes of foodie, Chris Cognac from the Food Detective and even hosted indpendent films with Madonna's baby daddy, Carlos Leon. Gloria Estefan ate there and even Miami's own hollywood starlet, Catherine Keener. The oasis of comfort food or as I liked to call it "community center" affected so many and had so many lives intertwined that it took on a life of it's own in many ways. It was the epitome of the American Dream for a second generation Cuban exile living in America recreating the cafe' her grandfather left behind on Havana's malecon in the famed art deco gem, Lopez Serrano building. The walls were lined with photos of family past and present and all who came to eat felt like they were at a family gathering. The good times and good food shared within it's hearth will live on in the hearts and minds of the souls that were lucky enough to discover her hidden charm in the middle of MIA. She nourished a community not only with food but with pure love and a heartfelt desire to host a good time for all.
If you've ever had the pleasure of tasting her food or spending time in Canela, please go to her Facebook page and post any good memories that you can recall. It will mean the world to a mother who gave so much to her community.