Archive for the ‘Site News’ Category

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/

Grilled Vegetable Taco’s and the intro to the 2 beer/20 minute cooking school

September 20, 2011

 

Okay, so the 20 minute dinner thing has been done to death and we like to do things differently around here. Obviously we like to eat and drink, sometimes together. So I was thinking of something snappy to call the 20 minute dinner and it dawned on me I usually kill a beer or two while cooking dinner. In fact, I usually like to sip on something while cooking so it was born, the 2 beer/20 minute dinner. These are for those nights when you get home late, have too much to do and need something that tastes great and more importantly, throw together quickly.

This recipe was born almost out of necessity, the ingredients we actually purchased for another dish but I forgot a few essential ingredients so some improvisation was needed. This is a pretty basic dish but that’s why is so damn good. A few simple ingredients, a pan and 2 beers and you’ve got a tasty dinner that’s good enough to serve to guests. There isn’t anything too crazy with it but I added some goat cheese and an aioli with some zip to jazz it up a bit. Check out the recipe below and get cooking!

1 Portabella Cap, small, sliced thick
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1/4 Red Pepper, sliced
1 clove of garlic
5-6 Asparagus Spears
1 tsp Goat Cheese

Corn tortilla’s

With a little olive oil combine all those ingredients up there(except the goat cheese) in a pan and saute until browned, add the goat cheese and mix throughout and nestle everything inside those lovely corn tortilla’s. While doing this, get a small pan and boil some water. Add the asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes. Place the asparagus on the tacos when finished for a bit of crunchy texture and a crisp taste. You should be able to kill one of those beers and be into the second one enough that you have enough left over for dinner. Below is a recipe for a Sriracha Aioli for a little zing.

Sriracha Aioli

1 tbsp mayonaise
1 pinch of cumin, salt and pepper
Quick zap of lime juice
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1/4-1/2 tsp Sriracha aka cocksauce

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir, what comes out should be a fantastic orange sauce that has a great mix of spice, freshness and creaminess that adds another dimension to taco’s, fries and sandwiches. Use it… a lot.

Don’t forget those 2 beers, Salud!

We are finally settled in…

September 10, 2011

So, this week marks the first “normal” week I’ve had since moving up here. The last few weeks have been a hellacious romp of international travel, moving across state lines, starting a new job, running a triathlon (without training), driving back and forth all over the southeast with dogs, 2 hurricanes, and an earthquake. I’m sure there is something else hiding in there but I’ve been too busy to remember. With that said we’re going to be getting back into this blog thing, and quick.

I was thinking this morning about this site and what to do to make things more interesting when I had the idea to include some more information based posts, similar to the few I’ve done over the last week or so. I frequent a lot of tequila boards/sites so I thought some of the things I read there could be relevant here. Thus the mezcal post. Hopefully you guys will like it, if not let me know and we can change things up. There aren’t any rules here. We just want some good food, good drink and good health. Those don’t always go that well together but I’m a big fan of happiness, and happiness is healthier than exercising your ass off only to have a heart attack at 42.

One of the first topics is going to be about Tequila. Since you know how much I love me some tequila. We’re going to cover how to buy, how to read the labels, differences in brands, methods and distilleries and hopefully keep it both informational and fun.

This place is dead…

August 7, 2011

That new job I posted a few weeks back? Well they sent me to Italy for 3 weeks, sucks I know. I was about an hour north of Venice (Venezia if your Italian) and I was hoping to get some material for the page but as a friend told me, there is only “food” in Italy. I soon found out what he meant. I didn’t spot the first thing even closely related to Mexican culture outside of a bar labelled “Mexican Bar Trattoria” which is Mexican in name only. Turns out Italians like to name bars, restaurants, etc after a place with no connection to the place. Its still the same food found everywhere else.

I remained dry of tequila as well, one of the first places we ate at (Porco Loco in Sacile) was amazing. Fritto Misto, grappa, risotto, incredible. They actual had 3 tequila’s on the menu but no bottles were to be found. A few bars had bottles of Cuervo and Sauza but I dont drink mixto’s and the only bottle of 100% agave I saw was a bottle of Patron repo in a liquor store for about 80 euro, roughly $115 U.S. and that definitely ain’t worth it.

 

 

The closest meal I had was at La Contrade in Sacile, easily one of the best restaurants I had eaten at. They had a Tuna dish on top of grilled eggplant and topped with a roasted Anaheim pepper. Simple but out of this world. It was here that I developed a bit of a relationship with the owners. I spoke English (barely) with very little Italian, they Italian with little English but we both tried and laughed exchanging comments and questions. Both I and they were grateful at the attempts to speak the other language. I will definitely be back.

 

 

I did get out of the area and went to Venice on two separate occasions for some shopping and obviously site-seeing. The shopping here is exquisite and vies with the sights and uniqueness of the city. I didn’t do much tourist stops other than Saint Marco’s and I just walked abound the exterior in awe of the architecture not venturing inside. On a separate day I went to the Guggenheim. While small it was a treat and a nice break from walking up and down the canals.

 

 

It was a great trip for business and pleasure but now its back to business…and thats food and drink, Mexican style. This week I’ll be posting my eats at a small Torta’s shop in Greensboro and some tequila reviews as well. We are BACK and back on track so look out.

Off to the big apple

May 13, 2011

This weekend I’m heading to NYC to hook up with some family, friends and cruise the streets with a hunger for street food. We’ll also be checking out ICFF International Contemporary Furniture Fair. Its a killer show if your into all the newest and trendy furniture, lighting and home accessories. I’d also like to swing by Park Avenue liquors since they provided me with the much loved Casa Noble 7 year XA and I’m sure there will be a Yankee game thrown in there too. The Yanks are playing the Bosox this weekend so you couldn’t ask for a better match up. We also are planning to hit MOMA to get an overdose of art/design but in between is where all the special things happen. Thats right, street food. The pizza, monster sandwiches, satay, falafel, shawarma and not to mention the infamous hot dogs in urinal water.

Hopefully we’ll get some Mexican while we’re here. I’ve scoped a few restaurants and tequila bars out but were jamming a lot in very little time as is life in a big city. I cant help but think how small Atlanta is in comparison to New York but at least I know where to get some great taco’s in hot-town. Posts will resume the middle of next week as if I didn’t give you enough over the last 2 weeks to keep you busy drinking and eating. We both should be in food coma’s by now.

Salud!

Happy Birthday to us!!!

April 30, 2011

This last week we celebrated our 1 year birthday! Tequila and Negra Modelo’s all around. Apparently we were to busy celebrating to mark the actual date (April 22nd) so it comes a week late. I guess it needed to sink in for a bit to believe we’ve actually made it this far. It’s been an interesting journey that honestly I had no idea of what this page would become or what we would be doing. The page made an evolution from being strictly restaurant and hole-in-the-wall reviews to covering recipes and product reviews like the mass of Tequila bottles that now grace this page. We’ve even had some out of town reviews including our infamous COS Gary Owen Dining facility post from Iraq.

A lot has happened in this last year outside of tsunami’s, oil spills and uprising in the middle east. While everything “outside” is frightening and unknown its nice to have a place to find something good…and Mexican. This year brought changes to our community. Our first post about Mama’s taqueria became irrelevant when they closed their doors a few months ago. We’ve gained some new restaurants, Rio Nuevo at Northpoint mall, Cheeky at the Avenue’s in Cumming, and saw a barrage of new south-of-the-border alcohol offerings cross the border.

So, moving forward into the future what can we expect? Way more reviews! We’re at 43 posts and this coming year I’d like to have a consistent 2 posts per week equaling 100+ posts with more recipes, food reviews and of coarse Beer and Tequila. To celebrate this week were going to make posts until my fingers bleed on the keyboard. So stay tuned for some bigger and better postings, tequila and dinner tastings, recipes to an essential party, and of coarse the usual reviews.  So thanks for the last year, I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have and I’d love to hear some more feedback.

Our blowout, epic post is coming…hint, hint. Two words, Casa Noble.

Don Julio 1942

January 9, 2011

Totally stole that pic but I wasn’t able to get anywhere as nice of a shot when we tried the Don Julio 1942. I’m just gonna say this now but 2011 is the year of tequila. So Happy New Year and I’m congratulating myself on the first post of the year that is a really special tequila. I’ve promised some tequila reviews in previous posts and really need to get cracking on some reviews of some recent bottles we’ve snatched recently. I now have more tequila in the cabinet than any other single type alcohol and that will keep getting worse as the year moves along. So here goes Don Julio 1942

This is probably one of the nicest tequila’s I’ve ever had the chance to wet my lips with. We sampled this (not dropping $100 on a tequila without tasting it first) at Cans in Crabapple along with a Corozon Anejo. Not that you can compare the two as theres easily a $60 price difference but the Corozon was a really nice Anejo for the coin but we’re not here to talk Corozon we want to dive into a real treasure of Don Julio.

Upon smelling the nose on this bad boy you would swear your drinking a liquor or cognac. Bam big hits of vanilla and caramel, very sweet. In fact its so good, if I could shrink down and fit in the glass I’d swim around in there for days. Swirling it in the glass produced a nice coating with legs and pearls. Wow this is almost sounding like a ZZ Top jam. Everything you pick up in the nose translates directly to your palette, the honey, vanilla, butter and slight oakiness. Even though its aged for over 2 years DJ still managed to keep that crisp agave flavor and get this ZERO burn. This is some extremely refined juice and so smooth. Smooooooth….. (thats all you brother).

If your familiar with DJ’s Anejo, just  imagine that aged and refined another couple of steps with all the flavors that pop out of the Anejo being amplified and you have Don Julio 1942. Its totally big brother/little brother and is completely worthy of the 5/5 rating. Now to go out and a pick up a bottle for our collection.

HOLY CRAP!!! Wheres the time gone

August 20, 2010

Apparently I’ve completely forgotten about this page for the last 2 months but I haven’t forgotten to take pics of the joints I’ve been eating at or meals I’ve made so we’ll be uploading them shortly. Earlier this week I took another stab at my Fish Taco recipe and tried a new sauce. I think they keep getting better and better. I did a new batch of Mango Salsa that I’m going to try jarring and sending all the way to Iraq. So we’ll find out whether I did a good job or not. I made a marinade on some Kebab’s off one of Rick Bayless’ recipes that was phenomenal. Two weeks ago I picked up a bottle of Cazadores Anejo that I’ll review and were planning a salsa party so expect a barrage of fresh salsa recipes. Keep posted, I promise this time.