Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The "Sandwich" Generation!

La Esperanza is most definitely a family business.  And like all families, there are dynamics to be deciphered and lots of compromises to be had!

Mama and Papa are the top slice of bread in the generational conglomerate at La Esperanza.    Matthew, Jacob, Joshua and Alejandro are the bottom slice - the base that takes all the weight!  And the meat in the middle of the sandwich is a mixture of old and new and the meld of two families....


Francisco Queiruga:

Our mechanic and oldest son-in-law, Frank, is a native of Galicia, Spain.  Born on July 28, 1948, he worked as a Merchant Marine and traveled the world while working as a mechanic on the boats.   He came to United States in the early 1970's and soon found his way to our first site in Englewood, New Jersey on S. Dean Street.  It was here that he first set his eyes on the "bosses daughter" who was working in the office during Summer vacation....  

Elena Queiruga:  

Elena is Heriberto and Margarita's eldest of two daughters.  Born in NYC, on May 17, 1956, she graduated from CW Post University, in Long Island, NY in 1978.  Although she majored in Spanish, life has a way of making a full circle and she came back to her old summer job at La Esperanza, full time after graduation.   She manages the office, takes care of payroll and accounts receivable and looks after all the guys in the family!

Elena and Francisco were married in May of 1977.  They have one son, Alejandro, who lives in California, studying engineering.

Peter Rodsan:

Peter is a native of New Jersey, of Cuban descent.  Born on August 24, 1960, he grew up in Bergen County, New Jersey.  Peter attended Paramus Catholic Boy's High School and studied at NJIT in Newark, NJ.  Although he majored in Nuclear Engineering, flour has always run in his veins since his grandfather, Brigido and Herbie's uncle, Jose owned Popular Bakery when he was a boy!

Peter married his high school sweetheart, Gena, in February of 1983.  Gena is Herbie's youngest daughter and Peter fit right into family at La Esperanza.  He started out as a route-man in 1981 and delivered bread in the Bronx and Harlem.  Eventually, he switched to days and now handles not only the drivers, routes and production, but is the buyer as well.  Peter and Gena have three grown sons - Matthew, Jacob and Joshua and a lovely daughter-in-law, Alexa.

  But, their story, the story of the bottom layer of the La Esperanza sandwich, is for another day!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Friday Night Special....

Need a great idea for a meatless dinner for this first Friday of Lent ?
Well, look no further, because a loaf of  
La Esperanza 
bread makes any meal filling, nutritious and down right delicious!

Either a bar of 


Or an Italian Bread loaf:  

can be turned into an AMAZING GARLIC CHEESE BREAD.  

Add a bowl of vegetable soup or a plate of pasta and you have the makings of a perfect dinner for a blustery February Friday night supper.


Loaf of La Esperanza Bread
Butter or Margarine
Mozzarella Cheese - Shredded
Ricotta Cheese
Garlic - finely minced  or garlic power


Slice loaf lengthwise.

Liberally slather butter or margarine on both halves.
Sprinkle minced garlic or garlic powder over butter - amount is a personal preference!
Spread a generous amount of Ricotta cheese on both halves.
Cover completely with shredded mozzarella.
Sprinkle oregano and parsley on top of cheese.

Bake at 400* until cheese is melted and toasty!

For a soft cheese bread style:  Put the split loaf together, wrap in tinfoil and bake.  Bread will be moist and cheese will be gooey!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Who's (STILL) At the Helm:

President and Founder of La Esperanza Baking, Co. Inc.
Heriberto Santos:

Heriberto, also known as El Jefe, Herbie  or Papa, is the second generation of bakers in the Santos family.   A second generation Cuban, of Northern Spaniard decent., Herbie was born on June 4, 1924, in La Esperanza, Cuba, to Rosa and Nicholas Santos.  The oldest of two children, he has a younger brother, Genaro.  Heriberto came to the United States, via Ellis Island at the tender age of twelve.  He lived in the Bronx with this Aunt and Uncle, Rosa and Jose, and worked in the family bakery.  

In 1942, at the age of 18, he became a US citizen and joined the Army to fight in the European campaign of World War II.  The young soldier saw action in Germany, Poland, France, Austria and Russia and was involved in the Liberation of Auschwitz. 

 Returning to the Bronx at the end of the war, found Heriberto right back were he started - at the family bakery - where he remained until 1949 when he branched out and opened his own business. From Wilkins Avenue in the Bronx, to its present location on West Forest Avenue in Englewood, New Jersey, one thing remains constant about this family bakery - Herbie is on duty everyday!

At the age of 87, and still in good health, El Jefe still comes to work daily, rain, sleet or snow.  Unless he's traveling to his second bakery, Palmer Bakery in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, where he enjoys not only dabbling in the bread and good food of the Caribbean, but gets to do it on the beautiful island that is so reminiscent of his native Cuba.

Behind every great man is a great woman. 

 The saying definitely holds true at La Esperanza!  On October 6, 1951, Heriberto married Margarita Granja, a Gallega, also from Hunt's Point in the Bronx.

Born on March 8, 1930, in Staten Island, New York, to Genoveva and Enrique Granja from Galicia, Spain, Margarita was the 7th of 8 children.  She spent her early childhood in West Virginia and returned to New York as a young girl.  She graduated from James Monroe High School in the Bronx and later attended college to pursue a degree in education.  At nearly 82, Margarita is still a whirl-wind of energy and high spirit!

Whether called Margarita, Margie, Rita or Mama, this is the woman behind El Jefe and second in command at La Esperanza.  Although she worked as a Special Education teacher before retiring in 1989, she always has kept her finger on the pulse of La Esperanza.  Together, the couple has built a small family "empire", complete with two daughters, [Elena, 1956 and Gena, 1962], sons in law (Frank and Peter) and four grandsons (Matthew, Joshua and Jacob and Alejandro).   Those branches of the family tree are the ones carrying on the business today.

But at the helm are:                                   Heriberto and Margarita


The driving forces at La Esperanza.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Perfect Friday Night Special....

What could be more delicious on Friday night, then a hot, pressed CUBAN SANDWICH?

One made on La Esperanza's famous
Pan de Manteca:

That's what!

Our traditional Pan de Manteca is  Cuban Comfort food at its best.
The loaf is buttery rich with a light crunchy crust and 
has been a staple in the Cuban home for generations.
You can find it at your local grocer or bodega in our signature brown wrapper.

Palm trees and our logo on the front

And Ingredients and Nutrition information on the back:

This guy makes the BEST Cuban Sandwiches:

Yup, that's Peter
[AKA Dad]
The THIRD generation at 
La Esperanza!

Peter's Cuban Sandwich:

3 thin slices of ham
3 thin slices roast pork hot or cold (he uses hot, slow roasted pork)
3 or 4 slices of Swiss cheese
3 or 4 slices of pickles
Pan de Manteca - sliced down the middle
mustard (yellow or brown depending on preference)


Butter the outside crust of the bread, then spread it open for layering.
Dribble some pickle juice on both sides of the bread for extra moisture and flavor.
Spread mustard liberally.
Alternately layer:  ham, cheese, pork and pickles.

Wrap the delicious sandwich in tin foil. 
Heat in a Cuban Sandwich Press.
If one is not available, you can do it the old fashioned way:
In the oven on a cookie sheet with a brick on top!

It's done when the cheese is all melty and gooey [20-30 minutes in a 400* oven].

If you worried about calories, leaving out the ham is an option.  It still makes a delicious sandwich.  Personally I prefer it with just the pork.  You can also use margarine instead of butter and low fat cheese.

If you're in a party mood
are the perfect finger food for a crowd!

Just slice up the long Manteca loaf into manageable slabs:

So go pick up a loaf of 
La Esperanza's Pan de Manteca

And enjoy the perfect
Cuban Sandwich 
with your family tonight!