These were the experimental chicken tacos in mentioned in my last post. They turned out pretty good for what was essentially messing around with several ingredients, but frankly the next time I’m going to turn up the heat on them a bit more. Probably Mexican oregano would add another nuance of flavour too. Nevertheless, they work on their on or a a base for more flavour.
We’ve got gas!
Alright, that was a poor dig at shcok vlue, but really we do have gas. The kind you cook with. Oh the joy of fire! Every time I see those sinuous flickering flames licking at the base of the pan, I do a little jig right there in the kitchen. No fancy pants induction stove is a match for a simple gas flame. Amey, who learned to cook only in this country, which means only on electric ranges, is a bit nonplussed at how quickly all his food cooks. He may never live in a house with an electric range again!
Oil starts to shimmer almost as soon as it hits a hot pan. Two-minute noodles actually take two minutes instead of eight. This is the best part of our move, my fabulous new kitchen with its darling gas range. Untouched by human hands before us. Well, except for the people who installed it. I have big plans for this stove. It is way bigger than my previous one. The last one matched the size of my old kitchen and was really made for people who believed cooking meant boiling water for tea. It was tiny. Our friends often marvelled that we cooked the meals on it that we did. The coils were all too close to each other to ever allow all four to be in use at the same time, thereby involving long stints in the kitchen if inviting company over for a meal. This full size range is a treat. Cooking is more of a joy than it ever was. Even the OCD-like reverential cleaning we put it through every time we use it is easier. Things are looking great in our kitchen.
Once we got here and settled in a bit, one of the first things I pulled from my files was this recipe for tacos. I’d been saving it for summer which is a bit silly considering it doesn’t call for summer ingredients or any such thing. You could just as easily make it at any time of year. To me, however, there is something inexplicably summer about tacos. The hand-held food, the riot of colour, the tongue-tantalizing hit of heat and spice, they evoke beaches and sun. I’d been daydreaming of taco picnics in the park in the cold of April. We haven’t quite gotten to the picnic yet but there have been tacos. Several experiments, like the accompanying chicken taco in the photo above; but mostly there has been a repeat of this chorizo-and-potato kind, because they are quite quick and delicious in an I-want-to-eat-these-for-every-meal-for-the-rest-of-your-life kind of way.
Ladies and gents, we’ve found a new restaurant that we are completely and totally, head-over-heels in love with.
It was touch-and-go for a bit. This restaurant joins several good ones on Chestnut street, which are all plagued with the same problem. On a weekend, they are impossible to get into without a reservation or a long wait. Tacolicious is no different. It’s great for the restaurant but awful for the people who just spent forty-five minutes finding parking only to find that a table is another forty-five minutes away. This was in its second open week. San Franciscans sure know how to welcome restaurants with open arms and wallets.
The next time we got in through the door, but were nearly blasted right back out by the sheer wall of sound and people that greeted us. The music was intensely loud and I found myself screaming at the hostess about tables and the bar. Finally, we grabbed a couple of tacos, guacamole and some fried plantains to-go and blew out of the place. Conversation of any kind was impossible in there. Call me crazy, but I like discussing the food and other world events with my dinner companions as I eat. Not that I would have gotten to rest on even half a bar stool that night. Tacolicious was living the very high life.
It might have been a to-go order, but it was packed with the same care and precision that I was to later realize that they put into all their food. The fresh tortilla chips and salsa that arrive at your table for you to nibble on as you peruse the menu had been thoughtfully included. So were the three different kinds of salsa that arrive with the tacos. You can tell a lot about restaurants serving Mexican food from their salsa and guacamole. Tacolicious scores flashing high numbers in this regard. They have this tangy green tomatillo salsa and smoky brown chipotle salsa, along with a searing yellow habenero one that set the soul of this chilli lover ablaze. The guacamole was easily some of the best I’ve eaten in a restaurant, with a creamy consistency, sour but not too much. We were hooked.
I drink rarely. Let me tell you why.
Fact one: Tastewise, alcohol doesn’t work for me. When it comes to wine, I like two, maybe three wine varieties and they’re all sweet. I have been told that the taste isn’t the point of the alcohol, but it is for me. I have also been told that the fact that someone like me lives so close to Napa and Sonoma is a terrible waste, but that’s what it is. I will never drink most hard liquor for the same reason.
Fact two: Alcohol does not like me either. I will throw up with any beer – am allergic to hops. Yeah, that’s what a doctor with a panel test and clown specs that made it hard to believe him told me. One time I tried this Hungarian drink called Unicum at a friend’s place and by tried, I mean a two tablespoon shot. I broke out in hives the next day and couldn’t shake the reaction for six months. Which is why I was at that doctors’ with the panel test. Bourbon will give me shooting pains in my ears. Clown specs doctor is working on figuring that one out.
To sum it up, there are about three to four liqueurs, two to three wines and a couple of other alcoholic drinks that I can safely consume without my palate or my constitution paying for it. I stick to those and am very wary of branching out, but find it infinitely easier to avoid drinking altogether.
Today is Cinco de Mayo. There is a multitude of parties and everywhere there’s a flurry of chips, salsa and of course, the ubiquitous margarita. Never has there been a holiday that was about something else but has become a reason to try out the food and (especially) the drink of a nation. The tequila flows freely and tons of margaritas are made everywhere. And the kid in me who loves chemistry and pretty colours uses it as a reason to mix up a very adult margarita.
Had you been around downtown San Francisco in the latter half of last week, you would have seen a mighty fine sight; 22,000 plus people had descended upon the city. 21,999 people dressed in black (one was dressed in blue). The AIA convention was in town and there were architects pouring out of the woodwork. Building administrators huddled nervously in dark corners when they saw the dark hordes descend, wondering how much of their buildings would be critically poked and pried and verbally taken apart and if it would ever get put back together again. But then building administrators are such a nervous lot as a rule. I think it must have something to do with having people yell at you about recalcitrant plumbing all day long.
The convention was at the Moscone Center and if you don’t know where that is, let me tell you that its a great place to have a convention. It is a stone’s throw from lots of (fun) places and best of all, since this is San Francisco, you can walk to all of them. And talking of throwing stones, there’s a good chance that within a 5 mile radius of throwing that stone, you would have bopped the head of an architect staring up a building. Or you could have hit a tourist. The swine flu means Mexico has closed ports and even more cruise lines have forcibly added San Francisco to their itinerary, which has created a huge influx of tourists in the city. Gavin Newsom must be sitting at City Hall mighty happy about the shot in the arm the city’s economy got this week-end. Anyway to add it all up, there were architects plus tourists plus local architects plus locals all over the place. A good dose of rain jumped into the sum, rounding everything off nicely. I spent a couple of educational yet fun days throwing around ideas and discussing issues with a few old friends and new acquaintances alike.
If you wonder, why indeed do architects wear black, don’t ask me. I don’t know, though I do know that I have favoured it in my clothing since I was a child, way before I even thought of becoming an architect. Cannot understand it …..even though I love colour, I chose to wear a lot of black. I am consiously trying to change that now. But it puts up a tremendous fight and I’m not succeeding too well.