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An Ode to the Pastel de Tres Leches

Three milks majesty. Photo by Jennie Warren

As I write, I've just taken my third bite into the tres leches cake my friend Andrew made. (Actually, Andrew is my wife's dear friend from high school, but I consider him a friend too. But had I just continued on about Andrew's cake this and Andrew's cake that, you'd have been under the false impression that he made this cake for me. Andrew made it for my wife, and I just happened to be around to reap the rewards, just as it is with our friendship, which I cherish, mind you, it's just that we probably would not even know each other were he not already connected to my significant other. I mean, if I met Andrew through some other means, I'm sure we'd hit it off just fine, he's a great guy, but not to belabor the point . . . Aw, fuck it. I want another bite.)

Okay, so I've scarfed down two and a half bites, and it's apparent that describing a tres leches cake as moist is ridiculous, because, crap, any cake-like substance would be moist after sponging up three leches, which I'm next to certain is translated from the Dutch to mean tres milks. But what's amazing about Andrew's cake—which, to be clear, I'm indulging in through a totally platonic sloppy-seconds arrangement—is that the cake ingredients do not break down so fully that it all quickly coagulates into something like runny cottage cheese.

Pastel de tres leches is one of the few things upon which Latinos can agree: a sponge cake baked with evaporated, condensed and cream milk (hence the "three-milks" moniker), each layer dripping with dairy-licious charm. While many local Latino restaurants stock the cake, you'll find the best at Felix's Continental Café. Not only are the slices larger than a hydrocephalic infant's head at this venerable Cuban eatery, but Felix's also tops the cake with a scoop of cold, sugary frosting that they somehow manage to squeeze into the center of the slice as well. Order that pastel de tres leches with an outside table overlooking the Orange Circle, and you won't be sad one bit that Death is finally dusting the ashes from Fidel's cigar.

Felix's Continental Cafe, 36 Plaza Square, Orange, (714) 633-5842; www.felixcontinentalcafe.com.

 

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