Friday, July 27, 2007

Aye Chilorio!

This canned Mexican pork product was once reserved for the most reverent of occasion… for Chilorio was a food that had to traverse a great and treacherous journey to get to the tables of select homes in California (I know a guy who is a produce broker who used to mule it across the border for me from Sinoloa).

But today is a new day and we are free to eat Chilorio whenever our hearts desire! It’s stocked on the shelves of our local Fiesta Foods (Tulare and First). Chata is the brand and it is amazing. Open the can and let it fry for about 10 minutes in its own fat to get lots of crispy bits. Then eat. I recommend for breakfast with a fried egg on top (something about when more than one animal fat comes together is like heaven) or simple street tacos with steamed corn tortillas, cilantro, onion, chile, and lime (I did this for a potluck today… I looked like a Goddess).

Make friends. Let people think you slow cooked all day. Support Chata. Eat Chilorio.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Spicy Goodness

Sticky, sweet, cheesy, hot… sauce? Dip? Who cares. This is delicious. I had it for lunch today with day old bread chucks and sliced tomatoes on the side. I hear it’s like sex over tamales. Go for it. Make it your own.

1 lb poblano peppers (jalapenos okay too)
14 oz can sweet condensed milk
1lb jack cheese
salt to taste

Fire roast peppers. Discard skins, stems, and seeds. Blend with condensed milk. Put mixture in a sauce pan over low heat. Add in cheese and until fully melted. Salt to taste.

*Note: if you can cook, I suggest finding the correct quantities of each ingredient instinctually based on how hot your peppers are and how sweet you need it to be.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Besos y Balas

There is a great exhibit at Arte Americas in downtown Fresno… Detailed photos of farm workers (and let’s face it, this is an intimate part of the food we eat) and some brilliant man who paints on big, beautiful resin tortillas. The artist, Bravo, incorporates the blackened bits, jagged edges, and smooth white planes of this surface to create bright and beautiful works of art. Go see it. It’s ironic, moving, and might make you want to get a bite to eat afterwards.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ry Krisp

Let’s face it. There’s not really a popular food movement towards northern European cuisine. You don’t often see a fusion restaurant working in spatzle or a garnish of pickled herring. Unfortunate in my book, but I’ll get my NorEuro where I can.

Try these. They are delicious, nutritious, and the new flavor (California Onion Dill) is packed with punch! My man-friend likes to smear these with a soft cheese like ricotta, topped with two or three arugula leaves and a little black pepper. Wow! Where do I find these guys?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Cochinito Contento

Vallarta ( Butler and Chestnut) is new arch nemesis to Fiesta Foods (Tulare and First). I highly recommend checking them both out, as they are immaculate, inspiring, and stocked with all sorts of wild things from south of the border. Of note yesterday morning was this gingerbread pig. I grew up eating these delicious little things, but they are surprisingly hard to find and the quality varies quite a bit.

This one was good. Just as they should be: crumbly, but not dry, with big flecks of Mexican cinnamon (these leave you with little chewy shards to gnaw on after your first swallow… quite nice really). They’re made with baking soda, so they’ve got a nice salty bite at the end. Delicious!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Indian Obsession

I came across this article in SF Chron a couple of weeks ago all about pairing wine with Indian food and some accompanying recipes. I’ve been a little obsessed with Indian food lately, and this was no help (I think it was reading too many stores by Jhumpa Lahiri?). Nonetheless, I made these this morning and they are delicious. For those of you who have never had cardamom (shame, such a shame) this spice is the jam. And don’t think rice flour is all fancy… you can get this crap at the Fiesta Foods if you need to.

Cardamom Nankaties

Makes approximately 30 cookies. This buttery, shortbread cookie from Ruta Kahate relies on a single spice: cardamom. Depending on how you measure the dry ingredients, you may need a few additional tablespoons of softened butter to make the dough come together. Pairs with: Cascinetta Vietti Moscato d'Asti (whatever that is).

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350°. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir the flours, almonds, cardamom and salt together, and add to the creamed butter. Mix just until the dough starts to clump together. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Pinch off a tablespoon-size portion of the dough and roll in your palms to form a round ball. Flatten slightly and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough, placing the cookies on the sheet 2 inches apart. Bake in the middle of the oven until the edges of the cookies turn a very pale brown, 15 to 18 minutes.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Dry Sac

Sometimes when I am at Whole Foods, and the general milling around of aisles in disbelief is not enough for me, I like to play a little game. All you need is a friend and a basic understanding of the Price is Right. Walk in and pick a category, such as bar soap* or bagged lettuce. Then you each pick a price point of what the most expensive item in this category will be... a $7 bar of soap? $10 say you?! All bets are off.

To further the fun of this, take advantage of a little policy they have at Whole Foods where any customer at any time can demand that you break open some outrageously expensive item for a "taste test". No need to purchase... and in fact, usually the sap that opened it for you will partake in the inevitable shit-talking that follows.

Yesterday I tried a soda from a company called "DRY". They sell 4 of these little guys for $7. Nice... I tried lavender (oooh, aaahh), though I could have gone for rhubarb, lemongrass, or kumquat. Nonetheless, it tasted like shit and was indeed as promised, dry. Kinda soapy. Not worth it, but a noble experience.

So now, armed with this info, get out there and try a $5 chocolate bar, $7 ice cream, or a bottle of Kombucha!

*When I played this game with recently, the most expensive bar of soap was $16. Fucking soap. Seriously...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Why did I finish it?

Of note yesterday was a major faux pas on my part… I ate a Starbuck’s pastry. I was desperate for something to go with a cup of coffee, and it was the 4th of July and not much was open… so I did the deed and bought a bear claw from behind the glass case. I’m a sucker for a good pastry, and I love gooey fillings and almond topping, so I thought, how bad can it be? Well…

It was chewy. This is not the best descriptor for a pastry in my book. The middle was fairly soft with muddled brown filling (what is in a bear claw anyways?) but the edges were downright rubbery, like the edges of a pizza crust that have been in the microwave and then allowed to cool. Not good. There was little semblance of flake in the thing, instead layers were able to peel off the top like a string cheese. Not good. And, of most importance, it had a hint of banana... which in the world of sweet foods is as bad as detecting a "hint of fishiness" in savory foods. Not good.

Nonetheless, I ate the whole damn thing… I really wanted something sweet with my coffee (insert picture of hammering square peg in round hole). Good Lord why do I do these things?

* Sources tell me that Starbuck's pastries are able to keep for weeks at a time. So slap that image of some idiot in a green apron and an e-z bake oven in the back of the place (ala Subway sandwich bread) whipping you up something fresh from the oven.