Archive for the ‘Mexican’ Category

Chile Relleno Burritos by the Beach

April 1, 2008


Every time I visit my family in Northern California, I get to spent one night out at the beach in Bodega Bay having dinner with my god parents, Tom and Carol. If I’m lucky, Carol makes my favorite, Chile Relleno Burritos. She has a killer recipe that gets me every time! She fills green poblano battered chiles with jack cheese, wraps them in flour tortillas, pours sauce all over them, then adds more cheese and bakes them. There are always a million toppings (my favorite) including fresh guacamole and salsa. It is perhaps the perfect meal!

appetizers: nachos!

lime and radish salad

toppings

Sunset over the ocean

Carol made fresh baked carrot cake from scratch with cream cheese icing for dessert that just blew us all away. Does it get any better than that? I can’t wait ’til my next trip out.

Thank you, Tom and Carol!

***
Just added:
Chile Relleno Burritos Recipe
(I’m not sure of the exact recipe Carol uses, but this is pretty close)

Ingredients:
One dozen flour tortillas
Large can whole green chiles
1 pound monterey jack cheese
2 egg whites
flour
green enchilada sauce or salsa verde
refried beans

Directions:
Stuff the chiles with big chunks of jack cheese cut into long pieces. Whip egg til peaks. Dip each chile in, then roll in flour. Repeat. Fry battered chiles ’til golden brown in veg oil. Drain on paper towels. Lay each chile loosely in a flour tortilla folded in half in a 9×11 inch baking dish. Add a couple TBS of refried beans to the burrito as well.Pour the green sauce of your choice inside each, then put jack cheese inside before rolling each burrito up.

Pour more sauce over the baking dish full of burritos, sprinkle with grated jack cheese and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with refried beans, rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce and chopped black olives.

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Umamiventure #8: Puerto Alegre

March 13, 2008


We met up for our special SF Umamiventure on a sunny Saturday at Puerto Alegre (PA) in the Mission. This place has been around since 1970 (!). I was excited for a lunch of CalMex delights, but everyone else was unphased. To them, this was just another lunch, afterall. These people in Cali take their Mexican food seriously, but also for granted. It’s not fair. They’ll never understand what us New Yorkers have to go through for good Mexican (there’s one place on 101st and Amsterdam, but who wants to trek up all the way up to the Upper West Side??? Or the 7 to Jackson Heights? Forget it).

Started with a pitcher of their margaritas that Yelpers won’t shut up about (PA currently has 3.5 stars out of 329 reviews. Jesus). Petey and Stu had already had a pitcher by the time we got there, and were practically wasted. Point being that they were really good margs. Love me a perfectly salt-rimmed glass.

The Meal: on weekends, PA has a brunch menu, but thank god they also serve the regular menu. Ya’ll know how I feel about brunch- NOT a fan.

I think Alice got the combo plate- beef enchilada and chicken tamale, doused in red sauce. Yum

My enchiladas: this was definitely one highlight of my Cali trip. That mole was off the hook.

Andy and Jenny copied each other and both got the chilaquiles (my new favorite word. Say it: chi-lah-kee-less). I actually never had heard of this before, being the ignorant eater that I am (a deep fried burrito is a chimichanga??). So this dish is deep fried corn tortillas cooked in red salsa or mole. It comes with this cream stuff too that is pretty crucial- it’s simple and genius. Andy says that his friend makes this dish better though. Incidentally, I’m reading on Wiki that this is a common cure in Mexico for a hangover.

Stu got the Super Meat Burrito- no frills, they keep it real.

Petey: Huevos divorciados- an egg with red salsa and another with green salsa. Pete was not impressed- he’s from Santa Barbara so his standards are high. BUT, he did say that the salsa was “awesome”. I do believe that the quality of salsa says a lot about a Mexican joint, and coming from Pete, that’s high praise.

James: steak and eggs. He wasn’t into it- but let this be a lesson: BRUNCH MENUS BLOW.


I was super into the kitchy 70s decor. I’m sure little has changed since they opened in 1970.
Isn’t this picture dope? It’s mounted high up on wall behind the bar, and I can only assume that it’s the people who opened Puerto Alegre in 1970. Were you even born yet?

In the end, this place was totally average for these Bay Area folks. To me, my enchiladas were the best thing ever. Has living in NY for 6 years lowered my eating standards?? Something to think about.

When you ask any Californian where they go for their burritos, they will start a drawn-out soliloquy about their spot- everyone’s is different. Expect a heated debate. Love it.

PUERTO ALEGRE
546 Valencia St (between 16th & 17th St)
San Francisco, CA
T: 415.255.8201

Past Umamiventures include:
Pacificana – 02/08
Jackson Diner – 01/08
WINTERMARKET – 12/07
Sripraphai Restaurant – 11/07
Taste of Jackson Heights – 10/07
Red Hook Ball Fields – 06/07
Ocean Jewel Restaurant – 06/07

California Soul: Casa Vicky (SJ)

March 6, 2008

Jamie is always taunting me about these deep fried burritos he gets near his place in downtown San Jose- sounds like the best invention ever, right? (Second to a fried calamari sandwich). So of course he took me to his spot, Casa Vicky, when I got into SJ. It’s literally a little house on the corner of the street. Very unassuming- you walk in, and it’s just super casual, with a glass case filled with fresh baked goods, and another with take home tamales and lots of other goodies. You order up at the register- the walls are pink!


It’s sorta hard to tell in this picture, but they have a tortilla machine! Yes, they make their tortillas in-house- Jamie says that he just gets a bag to go so he can make burritos at home. JEALOUS!

Alright so I had a hard time deciding what to get from their expansive, delicious-looking menu, but in the end, obviously I needed to try this infamous Dorado burrito (deep fried burrito). Of course I got it with pork. This came out- super boring looking, right?

WRONG!!! This burrito was SO EFFING GOOD. Like down and dirty good. Like crack good. Like I’m actually-going-to-do-this good: :-o. (You will NEVER see me do that, except on very special occasions.) But seriously, even this lame emoticon with its jaw dropped could never properly describe how good this burrito was.
I’m a real sauce person, so I needed to put lots of salsa on this- I guess my one request next time would be to get some red sauce or something with it. But the shredded pork (carnitas?), SO tender! Like you know it’s been cooking for days, and it just fell off the bone. And it didn’t taste too piggy despite the fact that it wasn’t all spiced out. The pork was just top notch- definitely the highlight.

Jamie got this shredded chicken dish.

But enough about that- back to my burrito. You get super dirty eating this, I loved it. The burrito oozes with grease as soon as you bite in- I know it sounds nasty, but it was so heavenly! If you look really hard, you can see oil dripping off this thing. SO HOT.

The tortilla was delicious- I have a feeling it just tastes better fried like this. Important: the oil didn’t taste all stale and used. If you’re gonna bite into a greasefest, you want it to be fresh grease at least, right?

The aftermath: my hand was lined with grease- I felt so accomplished. Jamie says that he only eats this with a knife and fork. What’s the fun in that?

The best thing about this burrito is that it was so damn SIMPLE! Homemade tortilla and perfectly cooked pork- just using the best ingredients and putting it together. That’s it people! It ain’t rocket science!

Dude seriously, if I were ever to have a wedding, or a quinceñera, Casa Vicky is so catering it. Couldn’t you just imagine me in a tiara and pouffy purple quinceñera dress with greasy burrito oil stains all over it? Um, I’m 12 years expired, but I think we should still do it.

Casa Vicky
792 E. Julian St. at 17th St.
San Jose, CA
T: 408.995.5488

California Soul: Hot Date with Oishii Eats (LA)

March 1, 2008

In LA, I was finally able to meet up with my personal favorite food blogger, Oishii Eats aka Jeni (I hope her name isn’t a secret). I’m embarrassed to say, but in the overcrowded sea of food blogs, OE is the only one that I consistently keep up with- it’s totally unpretentious, easy to navigate, and the pictures are always stellar. She’s been doing it for 2 years now, alongside her job as a 2nd grade teacher. Cute!

Before our big first date, Jeni suggested I walk to Scoops, an ice cream parlor that she had written about a year ago. I remembered this post, so I started my trek from Sara’s in Silverlake to Scoops.


The ice cream here deserves all the hype– it’s all homemade, very unique flavors, and the texture was like nothing I had ever tasted before. It’s gelato style in it’s creaminess but also airy, even lighter than sorbet. Bizarre, right? It’s so hard to explain! Fantastical flavors include blueberry/coconut, pistachio/lemon, vegan strawberry/balsamic, chai and horchata. Scoops definitely pushes the limits of ice cream flavors.


I got the strawberry/jasmine and jackfruit/kiwi sorbet. Flavor explosion!!! I really loved the jasmine flavor- subtle and refreshing. Pretty ingenious to pair that with the strawberry.


Seems that they’re known for their vegan line- there’s a vegan restaurant across the street, so there were lots of people leaving the restaurant who came over for ice cream.


The Super Scoops Spoon pseudo Calder-mobile!
From here, Jeni picked me up- even though this was our first date, it was as though we had known each other forever, so it was weirdly normal and casual. Like “Hey Jeni, what’s up, take me to tacos pronto.”

We drove a little ways (a few blocks) to the best fish taco. Like literally, the place is called “Best Fish Taco in Ensenada”. Kinda weird, but pretty awesome that this dude would name his joint simply “Best Fish Taco”.

This place opened less than a year ago, in a shared lot with an auto mechanic. So my style! The place is super mellow, with seating inside, as well as picnic tables out front. Thank god for the umbrellas- you know, just another scorching day in February. Jeni confessed that she’s addicted and comes here for her fix at least twice a week.

Dude (seriously, the guy sorta reminded me of The Dude) only has 2 items on the menu: fish tacos for $1.50 and shrimp tacos for $2. Sweet deal.

We got one of each, and horchatas. I guess the dude has a rule about only ordering one taco at a time, so they don’t get soggy. Good lookin out. The fish and shrimps are breaded and fried- Jeni asks for the totillas doradas, so the totillas are crispy.

After you get your tacos, served on square styrofoam plates (like when you buy meat at the grocery store), you go to the salsa bar, where there’s mango salsa, pineapple salsa, spicy, mild, a bowl of cabbage, and as Jeni yelled, “Don’t forget the cream stuff”. I didn’t.

These tacos were THA BOMB. No other real way to describe them. It’s so magical that something as simple as fried shrimp and fish wrapped in a flour tortilla could taste so damn good! The crunch of the batter, the moist, tender heat of the fish and shrimps, the crisp from the cabbage… I could go on and on here.


Fresh horchata!
I’m a total pig and I went in for another shrimp taco. I took my plate with me, cause they encourage you to reuse for Round II. You probably don’t care to see my half-eaten taco, but I can’t not share this heavenly bite:

Can’t vouch for Ensenada, but these fish tacos could very well be a major contender in the fish taco race of LA. If I lived in LA, there is no doubt Jeni and I would meet here everyday for a little afternoon delight (sky rockets in flight).

Scoops
712 N Heliotrope Dr.
LA, CA
323.906.2649

Best Fish Taco in Ensenada
1650 N. Hillhurst Ave.
LA, CA

California Soul: Silverlake Edition (LA)

February 29, 2008

It’s all in the air/ You hear it everywhere
No matter what you do/ It’s gonna grab a hold on you

California soul… California soul…

— Ashford & Simpson

It’s in my bones, I can’t shake it off- California is IN me. Took a week off to attend a wedding in San Francisco, and detoured through sunny LA and San Diego on my way up. It’s been a glorious trip meeting up with old friends, and most importantly, voraciously eating through each day.

My bff Sara lives in Silverlake, in LA, which I absolutely adore. It’s hipster central, but not so annoying– lots of shops and restaurants and cafes that is totally walkable (very rare for LA, or California in general).

Every morning, I walked to a Chicago-based coffee joint called Intelligentsia- an authority on fine coffees and hot baristas. Good coffee, lots of locals, minimal interior and again, hottie central.


Right next to Intell is The Cheese Store of Silverlake, which is a fancy little fine foods shop (lots of imported condiments, chesses, olives and wine), that specialize in making awesome paninis.


Look at this wrapped panini- flat and compact, like a notebook!
Turkey, cranberry, cheese, and some mysterious green oozy stuff. Who you gonna call? C’mon, laugh.
A cup of cornichons
We went to El Conquistador for my first supper- gotta get your Mexican fix as soon as you land in Cali. This place was AWESOME. I stupidly forgot my camera, but the food was satisfying (I had the enchiladas, Sara had the ropa vieja), extremely friendly service, and flamboyantly kitchy decor. You have to go to see exactly what I’m talking about, but trust me, you will have a blast.

I was super skeptical about Pho Cafe: without a sign, overrun with hipsters, and with their orange Ikea chairs. Also, my friend, an LA native, had warned me that any restaurant in LA with an “A” rating is bogus (the LA Dept of Health grades all eateries, “A” obviously being the highest).

Boy, did they prove me wrong though- the food was excellent, the real deal (dare I use the word “authentic”). Worth the 15 minutes we waited for a seat (it seems this place is packed all the time).

Banh xeo: Crepe with shrimp, steak, shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts

Bun cha gio tom thit nuong: cold rice noodles with egg rolls and beef

Pho tai gan: rice noodle soup with rare steak and tendon. The soup was very flavorful- a little sweet, lots of depth. I didn’t want it to end.

Possibly my absolute favorite part of Silverlake- the 99cent store. The window proudly displayed their offerings ranging from food, toilet paper, foil, to toothpaste. 99cents people!! There were 2 long aisles devoted to food– refrigerators packed with eggs and milk, condiments, dried foods and canned goods. I got Sara an awesome welcome mat here. A welcome mat for 99cents!!! GO NOW!

All the above spots are all within a 5 block radius from one another on Sunset Blvd. Can you imagine not needing a car in LA? All have a pristine view of the iconic Hollywood sign.
Intelligentsia
3922 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90029
323.663.6173

The Cheese Store of Silverlake
3926-28 West Sunset Blvd.
LA, CA
323.644.7511

El Conquistador
3701 West Sunset Blvd.LA, CA
323.666.5136

Pho Cafe
2841 West Sunset Blvd.
LA, CA
213.413.0888

99cent Store

3600 West Sunset. Blvd.
LA, CA
323.624.9901

Mexican At Home: Tamales

January 21, 2008

One of my favorite Mexican dishes has always been tamales even though they are so often poorly done when dining out. I fell in love with them in Phoenix about 15 years ago. At that time there were these fast food joints that specialized in tamales (I suppose they’re still there) — they were fantastic and cheap. When I was a kid, my Mom bought tamales in a glass jar, seems awful now but they were quite a treat then.

Of course, making them at home has always seemed a tad intimidating. Corn goodness surrounding a yummy filling; all wrapped up in a corn husk. Not exactly stuff you can get at your local supermarket. Unless, of course, if you live in a Mexican neighborhood.

Which, as luck would have it, I do (along with Jamaicans, Pakistanis, and lots of other ethnicities). When I arrive home in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn each night, I pass a Mexican grocery and I always think that I must take advantage of this place and make something more than guacamole or tacos.

A long holiday weekend seems made for some cooking exploration, so I decided to try my hand at tamales. I have a tamale cookbook that Molly and I received as a gift and I also have a Rick Bayless cookbook. Between the two I figured I could find a simple chicken tamale recipe. Wrong. The tamale cookbook, cleverly name Tamales by Mark Miller and friends, is great but a bit fancy. And the Rick Bayless book, Mexican Kitchen, is a Mexican cooking tome inspired by his upscale Chicago restaurants. My simple chicken tamale recipe was not to be found in either. But I was able to get enough insight and a recipe for the masa dough and a sauce that I could wing the rest.

First step was the shopping trip. From my local Mexican market I picked up masa harina (corn meal made for tamales), chilpolte peppers in adobo sauce (this is common and can be found most anywhere), corn husks, and dried guajillo chiles. The masa harina was not labeled as such, but the clerk at the store assured me that I had the right stuff. I says “instant” on the package which usually means “crappy” but there didn’t seem to be any choice.

Next was to get the corn husks to soaking in hot water. This makes them pliable so that they can be wrapped around the masa dough and filling. Fill a bowl with hot water and the corn husks and put a plate over the corn husks to keep them submerged. They stayed that way until I was ready to make the tamales (some 3 hours later).

The books call for the masa dough to rest for an hour or two before filling, so it seemed logical to make that next. I used a recipe from the Tamales cookbook which sounded flavorful and seemed like it would go well with a chicken filling and a red chile sauce.

Chipolte Tamale Masa Dough

1 1/2 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons chipolte chile puree

Combine the masa harina, salt and baking powder in a mixer bowl. Add butter and vegetable shortening and beat for 3 minutes. Put the can of chipoltes in blender and puree. Add the water and 2 tablespoons of the pureed chipoltes to the masa harina mixture and mix for another 2 minutes. When well mixed, place the masa dough in a bowl, cover and set aside.


The tamales are going to be filled with chicken. Simply stewed and mixed with a bit of the chile sauce seemed like a good bet. To cook the chicken, place two breasts (seasoned with salt and pepper) in a small pot with chicken stock. Boil for about 20 minutes and then remove from heat and let cool, in the broth. This will keep the chicken tender. This can be happening while the next step is undertaken.

So far, pretty simple. But that’s about to change. The sauce I chose was from the Rick Bayless cookbook.

Essential Simmered Guajillo Sauce
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
16 medium-large (about 4 oz.) dried guajillo chiles
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
3 2/3 chicken broth
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt, about 1 teaspoon
sugar, about 1 1/2 teaspoons

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Toss in the unpeeled garlic and let roast for 15 minutes. Turn occasionally to keep from burning. When soft, remove from skins and chop roughly.

While the garlic is roasting, remove the stems, seeds and interior veins from the chiles. Toast the chiles in the same skillet you used for the garlic by placing the chiles interior side down and press with a spatula. They will crackle and may smoke, but that is ok. Do not let them burn, toast for maybe 15 seconds and then flip over and repeat on the other side. They will change color but don’t let them get too dark. Set aside in a bowl.


When all chiles have been toasted, fill bowl with hot water and let hydrate for 30 minutes. Stir regularly to ensure even soaking. Discard water when they are fully hydrated.

You are probably starting to get the idea that this is not something that you’ll want to whip up after a long day at the office. I can see why I avoided making this up until now. At least I get to use lots of small appliances.

Add the garlic, hydrated chiles, spices, and 2/3 cup of the chicken stock to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. After tasting it at this point, I felt it could use a little more kick so I added the remaining chipolte peppers left from the masa dough recipe.

Once it as smooth as you can get it in the food process, run the puree through a food mill or strainer so that your are left with a very smooth puree.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy 4 quart pot over medium-high heat.

When the the oil is hot enough to cause a drop of the puree to sizzle, add the puree all at once. Cook, stirring constantly, as the puree sears, reduces, and darkens. This process will cause the taste to smooth out and loose its raw chile edge. See the before and after photos.

Add the remaining 3 cups of broth and simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes.

Time to prepare the filling and make the tamales. Remove the chicken from the broth and shred with a fork. Place shredded chicken in a bowl and add a couple of spoonfuls of the guajillo sauce. Set aside.

Remove the corn husks from the water. Cut off the bottom of each husk with scissors to square it off. One end should be square and the other should come to a point. Take a couple of husk and shred into long strips.

Take one corn husk and wipe it dry with a paper towel. Take about 1/4 cup of the masa dough and place it about 3/4 inch from the square end. Spread it inside so that it is roughly rectangular running along the length of the husk. It should be about 3 x 5 inches or so. Take a bit of the chicken and place it down the center, lengthwise.

When folding, you do not want to get the husk inside the tamale, so carefully take both sides and bring them together so that the two sides of the masa dough touch, enclosing the chicken. Fold the two sides of the husk down against the tamale and fold the pointed end up toward the center. Take a strip and tie together. One end of the tamales will be open. Hopefully the photos below make more sense than this description.

The masa dough recipe above and the two chicken breasts made ten tamales. All that remains is to steam them. Rick Bayless recommends placing them in the steamer on their ends, with the open end pointing up, but my steamer is too large for the quantity I made so I just put half in one basket and half in the other.

I steamed them for about an hour, but they were probably done after 45 minutes. They are done when the masa dough is firm and separates easily from the corn husk. The dough will expand as it cooks and may come out the end. That is why it is a good idea to keep a little room from the edge when filling the husk.

After all this effort, how did they taste? The photo doesn’t do it justice, but the tamales themselves were wonderful. The corn meal was light and fluffy, not heavy and dense like most that you get when eating in Mexican restaurants. The chipoltes in the masa dough added a lot of flavor, so that recipe is definitely a keeper. Not so sure about the guajillo chile sauce. It was good, but seems like a lot of effort for the payout. There is another chile sauce recipe from Saveur magazine that I have made in the past that is great and easier — I’ll have to dig that out.

The good news is that once the tamales are steamed, they can be refrigerated or frozen and then resteamed. Supposedly they are just as good reheated. We will see. I hope so, because this is a lot of effort for one meal unless you are having a dinner party or making enough for several meals.

Umamiventure: Red Hook Ball Fields or Campo del Futbol de Gancho Rojo

June 27, 2007

(from left to right: that’s me with aldonymous and friend jenna)

The kids of Umami Mart can only be described as a fierce dynamic, set into motion by the powerful force of deliciousness, I met this awesome voltron-like force on a so-called ‘Umamiventure’. There were these Asian girls there, and some dudes too, they cackled like crazy in between mouths full of scrumptious central American culinaria…I knew then– I was among kindred spirits.

Aldonymous was my in, and we shared our Mexican corn and El Salvadorean revueltas…HOLA! Donde esta? Tasty TOWN! And I have to thank the ladies and gents of Umami Mart for leading me there. I beg…induct me into this dreamy coterie!ok so now for the topic at hand…actually no, let met get you into the mood with a little musical interlude

(sung to the tune of strawberry fields)… “let me take you down, ‘cause I’m goin’ to hook soccer field…tasty revealed…and there’s little to complain about… soccerfield grub for-eveeeeeeer…

so if you haven’t heard of it yet (I hadn’t until I arrived)…but the NY Times is well aware of it, despite this, if you go I promise you’ll still feel like you’re a member of a band of lucky insiders.

(The Breakdown)

Food vendors from many Latin countries descend upon a ball field where uniformed Latinos represent their native countries in a summer soccer league and something delicious happens.
I can’t claim to have sampled even a fraction of what this little tent city had to offer…I consider this a festive, yet pithy reconnaissance mission…thus I will return…I found out that this place is apparently the center of the universe…its gravity attracting countless young bodies to its well seasoned bosom, and for good reasons (here are a few)…

Ceviche mixto!

Sadly, I had only two bites…but those tiny bites impossibly included a sliver of red onion, a micro cilantro sprig, citrus bam, a succulent squid tendril, the sound of sirens, the saucy beep beep of mexico city traffic, 5 hail marys, 10 our fathers, liberation theology, can I have a hallejlujah?

Mexican corn!

Ok…so corn seems SO midwestern…and the Italians claim that polenta has been on the old continent since the beginning of time, but we, the educated know that those golden ears are a New World crop. Fittingly, the Mexicans know what’s best for the vegetable. They cut a compromise, figured the French had something to contribute, (given their rich history of condiments), and so slathered the kernels in rich velvety mayo. This class act is followed by some crumbly Cotija, lime and something spicy, in this case chili powder. These ears are in this city by now totally ubiquitous, but no, I’m not sick of it, especially when it’s served up with a side of lovin’ futbol. I friggin’ love it…foods with real history are NEVER formulaic.

Huarache (a deep fried vessel for the venerated chorizo)!

Is it any wonder these people came up with the intricate wonder of the plataresque? In the mighty Chorizo, no ingredient is a stranger, every friend in this casing is so tight you’d think chorizo was actually the sixth basic taste (i.e. sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami, chorizo), and there is a generous heap of it in a large fluffy fresh fried tortilla like thing…let me repeat…chorizo in a fluffy fresh fried tortilla thing…uh, yeah.

Watermelon, Mango, Cucumber!

Don’t you get annoyed when people remind you that cucumbers, like tomatoes are fruits NOT vegetables? Well, Mexico never lost sight of this fact and to prove it they serve it up alongside 2 fruit kingpins…the mango and the watermelon…the kicker is, is that they serve all three with lime, chili powder and salt. This is the pause that refreshes. These lovely fruits are served at the agua fresca stand where there are at least 5 varieties of said beverage in addition to Horchata! The version here is so rice milky and cinnamony it’ll blow your mind! And then it’ll bust your gut!

A special love: The pupusa and its sidekick the Salvadorean corn tamale!

The corn tamale has no filling, it is solid fresh corn goodness that transcends its seeming straightforwardness… the process of transformation begins when this precious morsel is swaddled in corn husks, it is then mated with a cumulus cloud, it rains down from the sky above, where it is baptised with a plump and shiny dollop of cremalicious crema.

In El Salvador November 13th is Día Nacional de la Pupusa “National Pupusa Day”, instead of describing this dish, I’m hoping that it suffices to say that this tender pocket of masa has a friggin’ day dedicated to it! and you shouldn’t die without having one…and there’s no better place than plopped on the verdant soccer lawns of sunny Red Hook.I love this place…from now on whenever I think of Red Hook, I’ll think “yummmmmmmm Red Hook”.

Diana