2013 in review

January 2, 2014

So every year I get this email from wordpress, this year was quite disappointing…4 new posts? Really? I had a really lame showing this year. So raise a glass to a more prosperous 2014! I need to get out and try some more restaurants rather than the same ole standby’s.

 

Cheers!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 28 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Lobster tacos

September 17, 2013

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Back from a trip to Providence, RI where I basically spent a week gorging on fresh seafood and in my off time actually working, I was inspired to FINALLY make a batch of lobster tacos. I used a package of “relatively” fresh clawmeat from Fresh Market and sauteed them in a bit of Chipotle Bourbon Butter I whipped up a few days prior. Topped with carrot, radish, cilantro and a touch of Kimchi Aioli. The result was decadent but my word of warning, go lightly on any sauces you use. Lobster is extremely delicate and can be easily overpowered by any seasoning.

Chipotle Butter

1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 clove of garlic
Splash of Bourbon, okay 2 splashes
1 small chipotle pepper in adobo
Add a small bit of the Adobo sauce as well depending on your desired heat.

Mix ingredients in a food processor and store (for up to 2 weeks) in the fridge.

Kimchi Aioli

1/4 cup Mayo
1/2 cup Kimchi
2 cloves Garlic
1 tbsp Sriracha
2 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
S+P to taste, white pepper is ideal

Add all the above ingredients to a food processor and blend. Add and subtract Mayo/Kimchi to get your desired thickness. Add Sriracha to you desired heat level. I make extra of this and use it on sandwiches for the following week. It’s also amazing on freshly cooked fries and burgers.

Lobster Tacos

1/2 cup lobster meat
1 carrot, julienned
1 radish, julienned
2 Sprigs of Cilantro
1 tbsp Chipotle Butter
Kimchi Aioli
Corn Tortillas

Julienne carrots and radish and saute under medium heat for 3-5 minutes with a scant amount of olive oil. Set aside.

In a separate saute pan, add a few drops of oil and cook until slightly browned, about 1 minute on each side.

Add chipotle butter to saute pan on medium heat. When melted, add lobster and cook until warm. Do Not Overcook!

Combine the ingredients as desired and enjoy. As previously mentioned go easy on all the sauces and spices with the lobster. This pairs perfectly with a blanco tequila with all the fresh bright flavors. A puro margarita could be the cats ass too!

The Return! and…Wild Oats Margarita

September 14, 2013

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Wow…been a while. Welcome back. It’s been busy around these last couple of months. Lots of traveling, recipes, cocktails, ramblings. Now it’s time to start pouring them (along with a couple of brews) back into this site. Here’s (and cheers!) to doing a better job updating this beast.

Our way back includes this fresh out of the kitchen cocktail recipe for a margarita NOT containing Tequila or any other Mexican spirit. This time we’re playing with…High West Distilling’s Silver Western Oat Whiskey. I sub’d this un-aged whiskey for tequila in this classic margarita recipe. In fact, I’ve never done a classic margarita with orange liqueur/simple syrup here before, they almost always use fresh lime and agave nectar.

Why High West Silver Oat Whiskey? Last night we dined at Holeman and Finch and I had a distinct cocktail made with this very unique whiskey (or is it whisky?). Last nights cocktail was called the “Rainier Expedition” which as standard for H+F was laced with a concoction of lemon, bitters, amaro and vermouth. I also happened across a bottle of this Oat Whiskey a few weeks ago and was interested in coming up with a few cocktails for it. Poured into a Glencairn whiskey glass by its lonesome gave way to notes of brine and oysters initially before opening up to a bouquet of blueberry, citrus notes and vanilla. Call H+F my inspiration for getting off my arse and whipping something up. More cocktails will follow but they won’t really have a connection to this page…maybe. For now. we’ll play with this and see where the afternoon goes. Onto the recipes!

Wild Oats Margarita

1oz. High West Silver Wild Oat Whiskey
.75oz Freshly squeezed lime juice
.5oz Grand Marnier
1/2 tsp simple syrup

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake. Garnish with salt and lime wedge (or wheel). Enjoy!

Rainier Expedition -Courtesy of Holeman and Finch

1.5oz High West Silver Wild Oat Whiskey
.5oz Imbue Petal and Thorn
.5oz Punt e mes
Scant .5oz Fernet Amargo Vallet
2 dashes Lemon Bitters

The Paloma by Pablo Moix

May 10, 2013

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This post comes as we were finishing the festivities at the Boot’s household for Cinco De Mayo. My friend Pablo Moix (based out of Los Angeles at the famous Black Market Liquor Bar) came up with this Paloma recipe which is out of this world. Credit to the original blog posting is below but here goes.

2 ounces anejo tequila
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime
1 teaspoon of superfine/baker’s sugar
1 ½ ounces tonic water

1) Add first four ingredients to a shaker and dry shake (without ice) for 3 seconds just to mix up the ingredients. The superfine sugar won’t take that long to dissolve.
2) Pour into a Collins glass.
3) Top with tonic water and add ice. Pablo fills the glass with ice cubes so that dilution is slow, but tops off the glass with crushed ice for presentation. At home, ice cubes will work just fine.

I was hesitant to use such a fine tequila as Ocho Anejo in a cocktail as I enjoy it so much by itself, but I have to say that Pablo hit the nail on the head with this one.

http://www.lamag.com/lafood/digestblog/2013/05/01/essential-cocktails-how-to-make-and-where-to-find-the-perfect-paloma

Azucarado Casa Chicago!

April 22, 2013

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Azucarado Casa Chicago, or my weak sauce interpretation of Sweet Home Chicago. I’m sure there are more famous images of Chicago but the could gate above was the only one I took pics of. Here’s to being a crappy tourist!

At this point I’m sure you thought this blog was dead…Nope! Just needed a break, that and an extremely busy work schedule of travelling all over the country has seriously hampered my posting duties. Fortunately I’ve been cataloging, taking photos and making notes of all the recipes and places I’ve eaten in the last 5 months so updates will be fruitous.

Finally a business trip that dropped me in the middle of some serious good Mexican food, or a modern interpretation of it at least. The cocktails flowed, fresh herbs were chopped, and all was enjoyed! I’ll post a series of posts highlighting each place rather than one massive post like my New York trip 2 years ago.

Below was my trip to Mercadito, they also have locations in Miami and New York with similar menus. Just to say this up front, I went for dinner and lunch the following day because I liked the menu so much. There were just too many good things and not enough room in my stomach. Both trips I had tacos and a cocktail but for dinner I had a glass of dessert known as Chinaco Negro. A wonderfully “fuerte” extra anejo which deserves a spot in my liquor cabinet for special occasions. For lunch the following day I skipped the tequila and went for a appetizer of two different guacamoles.

I sampled two cocktails at Mercadito, the Dizzy Oaxacan and the Little Market Margarita. Both were fantastic. The Dizzy was sweeter than I imagined being that it used Mezcal rather than tequila. I came across a recipe online for the Little Market which is listed below. I usually don’t go for the spice in my cocktail but this was so subtle and balanced it was fantastic, and I think my new summer cocktail.

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The Little Market Margarita

2 chunks pineapple, 1.5 “ by 1.5”
1 1/2 ounces house Reposado
1 ounce guajillo syrup
1 ounce lime juice

Guajillo Syrup:
1 quart simple syrup
7-8 guajillo chiles

Muddle the pineapple in a glass. In a shaker add tequila, quajillo syrup and lime juice with ice and shake. Pour into glass. It is optional to rim the glass with Tajin.

To make the Guajillo Syrup bring simple syrup to medium heat (you can also make your own Simple syrup by mixing water and sugar and boiling it). Break up chiles and add to heated syrup. Simmer for 10 minutes, check heat level and let simmer for another 10 minutes if needed. When desired heat level is achieved, strain and refrigerate.

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Above is their 2 guacamoles. They were very similar in taste but the one on the left had some diced pineapple in it. A nice touch which paired very nicely with the Little Market Marg I was restraining from devouring. I quickly got home and tried my hand at making my own version which was nicely balanced and just the right change of pace over a standard guacamole.

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Al Pastor Octopus? Sign me up! As any readers know, I am a bonafide sucker for good al pastor. Up until now I’ve only had chicken and pork…how boring. Octopus on the other hand was downright intriguing. Their version was called Pulpo al Pastor which featured chile ancho rubbed octopus, chile de árbol salsa, grilled pineapple, and crispy red onion. I was sold. The entire meal was flavorful, fresh and succulent. If you are up for a foodie challange, this is the meal you need to have.

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Day two brought about the super secret Tacos for Strength, a limited time monthly featurette on their menu. In this case it was sake braised pork belly with daikon radish slaw. This was the taco I wanted from Mercadito. Just enough new battling with the old for an outstanding “designer” take on the taco. You can almost never go wrong with Asian BBQ and tacos.

So when you’re in the chicago area, go to mercadito, twice if you need to and be your own El Cazador de Taco!

108 W Kinzie Street
Chicago, IL 60654
Tel: 312.329.9555

http://www.mercaditorestaurants.com/chicago/

Greensboro food trucks

December 10, 2012

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Friday for lunch, I had some seriously kick ass tacos, in Greensboro no less. At the corners of High Point rd and Hilltop in a small convenience store lot lies THIS taco truck. They craft a variety of authentic Mexican items but this particular day I was jonesing for tender meats from the Motherland (well someone else’s mother). I ordered 10 tacos (co-workers were eating them too, I’m not a pig…most days) Al Pastor, Lengua and Barbacoa. Every single one of them was delicious but the Lengua was the stand-out. By the way, there were no store bought tortillas here. The order took about 15 minutes to come out…they weren’t particularly busy but they handmade all the tortillas as they prepared everything. It doesn’t get much more fresh than that. Topped with cilantro and chopped white onion, it was exactly as the doctor ordered.

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The Lengua. Easily the best of the bunch, so tender yet full of flavor. It’s what other cuts of meat dream of being. In this case it was chopped and lightly sauteed to near perfect blend of tenderness and slight “crunch” and with the fresh tortilla, it could be the best lengua I’ve ever had.

The Al Pastor was good, very good but it was a tad dry and slightly overcooked. This happens in the states because the health department mandates the meat be cooked twice when it’s carved from a spit (think of gyro meat). I didn’t see the spit but it’s highly possible they had one. The flavor was great if a little too crunchy for my liking.

The barbacoa while fantastically slow cooked and tender was bland in comparison. Many places really amp up the spices in barbacoa and this was pretty plain.

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Bottomline…if you’re in the greensboro area you’ve got to try these tacos. Next trip (likely this week) I’ll cover tortas. A few of the guys in front of me ordered them and they looked fantastic. I’ve driven by the area a few times and they are usually out there around lunch and dinner most days. They don’t take credit cards so bring cash and if you can work a little Spanish into placing your order it would be greatly appreciated. English isn’t their first language and most of their patrons seem to be Mexican workers. Which is a sure fire way to know. This place serves up some killer food.

1+1+1=Mezcal Negroni

December 6, 2012

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If you like your cocktails on the bitter side AND stupid easy to make, you’re going to love this one. We’ve taken the classic Negroni recipe (1 part Gin, 1 part Campari, 1 part Sweet Vermouth) thrown out the Gin and replaced it with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal. It really awakens the recipe. The only other change was a small squeeze of lime juice. The mezcal brings a smokey change that’s really nice in the drink and unlike tequila doesn’t get overpowered by the Campari. Give it a shot!

Korean Braised Short Rib Tacos with Caramelized Leek and Shallot Slaw

December 3, 2012

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Who said you have to drive all the way to California to get great fusion tacos? We’ve broken the “code” and you’ll never want to leave the house again.

I’ve been experimenting with cooking short ribs lately, although I haven’t made the jump to inserting them into tortillas yet. Last night…I did and I can say that they might have been the most interesting (best?) taco combos I’ve ever had. The whole evening was fantastic, from the whole house being bathed in a perfume of sweet yet savory pear soy wonderfulness to the puro margarita I had while preparing it and the meandering path of rare tequilas I enjoyed afterwards. This is a highly recommended recipe and could be easily done with seitan for a much healthier take with all the flavor. Check it out!

Ingredients

2 lbs Short Ribs
1 c Soy Sauce
1/2 c Sesame Oil
1/2 c Mirin, Rice Wine
1 Asian Pear, sliced
6-7 cloves of Garlic, minced
3/4 c Sugar in the Raw
1 c Water

1 Shallot, thinly sliced
1 Leek, julienned
1 Cucumber, julienned

Tortillas

Directions

Soak the short ribs for roughly 30 minutes in your cooking sauce pan, drain, refill with water and simmer for another 30 minutes. Drain again and remove the short ribs. In the sauce pan combine Soy, Sesame Oil. Rice Wine, Garlic, Pear, Sugar and Water in the pot and bring to a simmer, add short ribs and let simmer covered for 45 minutes. Remove the short ribs, trim the fat and remove the bones. Chop according to your liking and set aside while the sauce reduces, about 20 minutes.

While sauce is reducing combine the shallot and leek in a saute pan with a small amount of olive oil and cook until slightly browned, set aside.

In the same saute pan add the chopped short ribs and drizzle a small amount of the reduced sauce over the meat and saute for a few minutes. This step basically warms the meat back up.

Place the meat inside the tacos, top with slaw and enjoy! I had some Mexican Street Corn as my side but black beans would do just as nice. These are god enough you also might want to just forego the sides and have an extra taco. They’re that good!

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Cocktails: Puro Margarita
Tequilas: Siete Leguas Blanco, Chinaco Reposado (red label, treasure), Fortaleza Reposado, El Tesoro Anejo (White Label, treasure). The pic shows a Centinela 3 Year Extra Anejo but I never poured it after the ETWLA. It’s a very delicate spirit and I thought it would have been overpowered by the ET.

Welcome to beantown

November 5, 2012

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A few weeks ago business brought me to Boston and the surrounding area. It was quick, in’n’out, but I managed to get a lil pseudo-Mexican cooking in at JM Curley. I was in the mood for something a little eccentric paired with a really good cocktail. Needless to say, I received 7-7-7’s.

Now I’d never been to Beantown before. So a visit to Fenway was a must. At the time the stadium was closed down while the remainder of the playoffs were still happening. The Tigers were putting the finishing touches on the Yankees and ending my postseason excitement. I took a stroll around the stadium walking past the locked up gates while the wind whipped down the streets. Many of the areas bars were open with the warm glow spilling out onto the streets. I wasn’t hungry yet so a few pints  warmed the soul.
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I decided to hit the nearby (few miles) JM Curley. The reviews online looked very promising and the menu itself was filled with eclectic items and a killer cocktail menu. This was going to be right up my alley. I started with a Manhattan and ordered a few small plates instead of a dinner. The steak frites were calling my name but a menu filled with delectable goodies such as salmon sliders, baby octopus and beef cheek gorditas, I was quickly led astray. From the pictures you cna guess I ended up with the Baby Octopus and Beef Cheek Gordita’s. They were the right perscription to cure my ails.

The baby octopus was flash fried and braised to be both tender and crispy. I believe it was dusted with onion, red pepper and celery powder and topped with a lemon crema. It was fantastic, I’d highly recommend trying it out especially if you had someone to share it with. Although it was a starter/tapas style place. There was a lot of octopus on there, almost too much.

 

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My last dish was the Beef Cheek gorditas. If the octopus was excellent, the gorditas were the cats ass. The cheek was braised in a slightly sweet, slightly savory sauce very similar to a dark beer style bbq sauce. Topped with thinly slice tomatillo and a spicy Mexican crema made from sweet potatoes. Each one also had a few toasted squash or pumpkin seeds that really melded the whole dish together. It was perfect for a cold autumn day.

I had a glass of Fidencio Classico Joven Mezcal for dessert. While not a dessert drink, I had never had this brand of mezcal before. The good things I’ve read and heard about it rang true. For $30 or so per 750ml bottle, it’s a great entry into the smokey realm of quality mezcals. I could definitely see picking a bottle up for sipping and mixing.

The verdict? Check out JM Curley, the place had a steady crowd of young professionals sipping craft cocktails and eating a wide range of eclectic quality eats. I know I’ll be back.

JM Curley

21 Temple Place
Boston, MA 02111

(617)338-5333

http://jmcurleyboston.com/

Want to make your tacos go from great to orgasmic?

November 1, 2012

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Did I mention it’s easy? Not all of us have the time to make fresh tortillas every time we want to indulge in some authentic Mexican food. That works on the weekends, but during a work night, it’s just too much work and we settle for store bought tortillas. While some are better than others, this quick step will seriously turn a great meal into one where your spouse(or whoever you have over) tear your clothes off. Whether they are ravaging you or trying to kill you ala Once upon a time in Mexico is to be determined.

Take an extra pan while you’re preparing your meal (tacos I hope) set to medium heat and add a touch of oil or butter to the pan. Brown the tortillas(corn please, it doesn’t work so well with flour) for a minute or so on each side. They will become slightly firm but the flavor increases to 11(insert spinal tap joke here_____). You’ll never go back to regular tortillas again.


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