12.28.2010

The Meaning of Guisados Style Tacos in Mexico City and Your Gold Teeth



I've always wonder what that word means... 'guisado'. Now I know! It means stew, or stewed meats, veggies, etc. But that's not what I had! I had pastor of course. SHEESH. 5 tacos for about $2 on the streets after midnight.

That's right. TWO DOLLARS. The tortillas were small, about the size of my palm, but loaded with grilled meat, pineapple and hot salsa. Both salsas were above average hot. The green one is avocado and serrano chiles. DIOS MIO!

Before the tacos we went to a place called Diente de Oro (gold tooth). It's a whiskey bar and likes to play American music. Of course I had tequila shots and sangrita!

Iztaccihuatl #36-B, Cuauhtémoc, Hipódromo, 06170 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico

Salud!





12.26.2010

Visiting Baja California at Xmas Time. Can you say Roadtrippin'?


Having a ball! Eating up a taco storm.

Made it from Tijuana to Todos Santos in 20 hours over 2 days.

Did some great eating! It really is so beautiful. It never gets old.

12.18.2010

Tinga Taqueria on La Brea Ave. Los Angeles


Newish trendyish taco place on La Brea. I'm still unclear exactly what is going on there... but I get the feeling it's Indian infused which does NOT interest me. OK. Maybe it's not Indian... but... now I see on YELP that people are comparing it to La Super Rica in Santa Barbara! That is just not possibile and seems WRONG.

Based on this short audio review by J. Gold, sounds like the only yummy thing is the corn.

Here is also a longer review from the LA WEEKLY.

My friend went and was at first entranced by the hip slick vibe and variety, but afterwards, she was in some SERIOUS intestinal distress.

I don't know... I'm not feelin' it. I'm just sayin'..... but that's really not fair. I should try it, and I will!

Here's the link.

http://www.tingabuena.com/

UPDATE - I just got around to eating at this place July 2016 and the menu has seriously changed since they began. Adapt and survive. Everything was tasty if not a little large and overkill. Fabulous service and their house salsa is SO ADDICTIVE I'm thinking of driving 20 miles just to buy some to take home and put on my taco.

High marks for really thick delicious tortilla chips and killer Pineapple Lime agua fria.

12.17.2010

The Xmas Tamale Tradition and Where to Get Them in Los Angeles



I had the privilege for many years of sharing Christmas with a family where the Mom was raised in Texas. She had a very Western Xmas sensibility. She always made enchiladas on Xmas Eve and Tamales on Xmas Day.

I have come to think of this as a tradition, one I have since utilized for myself and other families.

Tamales are just plain fun, especially when paired with a simple salad made of jicama, avocado, tangerines and a light dressing. So easy and delicious.

Two great places to order and pick up some gourmet complex tamales are....

WESTSIDE :: http://www.tamarastamales.com/

EASTSIDE :: http://www.cacaodeli.com/

You can also find them at markets and even on street corners this time of year. They aren't the easiest thing to make, so unless you are really ambitious, support your local tamale makers.

BE MERRY!

Top 5 Fish And/Or Shrimp Tacos in Los Angeles


I'm going to include shrimp here too... where applicable! The fish taco is all about the batter, the freshness of the oil, the chewiness and structural soundness of the tortilla and of course the salsa.

Baja style! Is there any other?

Numero Uno ::  MARISCOS JALISCO TRUCK Crispy Shrimp Taco (Olympic near Soto)

Numero Dos :: TACOS BAJA ENSENADA Battered Fish Taco (Whittier and Atlantic)

Numero Tres :: RICKY'S FISH TACO STAND Battered Fish Taco (Virgil and Sunset)

Numero Cuatro :: MEXICALI TACO CO Insane Grilled Shrimp Taco (DTLA)

Numero Cinco :: LA ESCUELA  White Fish Taco (Hollywood)

Top 5 Crispy Tacos in Los Angeles


Top 5 with regards to things like... would I drive 20 miles for this baby? Do I dream about this taco when I am hungry? Would most people I served it to LOVE it?

That's the criteria. According to the poll we have running, most of you don't even really LOVE crispy tacos. What's a Taco Maven to do? Keep on crunchin' I guess!

Numero Uno :: MALO (DTLA & Hollywood) Crispy Ground Beef Pickle Taco w/ Red Salsa

Numero Dos :: VIVA FRESH (Westchester LAX) Crispy Chicken Taco with Jalapeno Salsa

Numero Tres :: LAS ANITAS (Olvera Street) Soy Crispy Taco with Green Salsa

Numero Cuatro :: TACOMIENDO (WLA) Crispy Potato Taco w/ Salsa Casera

Numero Cinco :: HOUSE OF TACOS (Inglewood) Crispy Ground Turkey Taco w/ Salsa Casera

12.13.2010

The Perfect Pomegranate Margarita



Last Saturday, down on Olvera Street I had a delightful Pomegranate Margarita. It was blended and the most beautiful pink color. Normally I prefer my margs on the rocks, but this was so pretty. It had about 15 pomegranate seeds as garnish too.

Below is my darn good marg recipe. To it you could add a splash of POM or use a combo of reg. silver tequila and some of the really fun Pomegranate infused tequila made by LA PINTA.

Festive!

1 shot of silver tequila (Patron or Siete Leguas) or 1/2 and 1/2 La Pinta
1/2 shot of Grand Marnier
1 shot of frozen lime-aid (Minute Made or any other)
1 shot of chilled water

*** if you like it strong you can add 1/4 shot of La Pinta (rather than doing half and half) also in that case you might not need the Grand Marinier. Experiment!

Shake, Stir, Mix. Blend if you like. If you blend, make enough for at least two and used crushed ice so you have enough volume for the blender.

YUM

12.07.2010

Las Glorias de Buen Comer in Silverlake for Great Mexican and Vegetarian Food



Hidden under the freeway in Silverlake, this tiny garden shack serves up delicious homemade Mexican Food. I was driving by, and I really liked their sign. I convinced a local Silverlakian to join me and we fell in love.

Not with each other, but with the food! Then I told a few other locals about it and they still thank me. We all muse how iwe drove by a million times and missed it. Now we're mostly just glad we found it!

I think the name translates into some like... Gloria's place for good eating!

One thing they are known for is their variety of vegetarian menu options. It's quite extensive, down to a vegan meat substitute that really does look like carne asada.

Their only tiny flaw is that it takes a while to get food there. The reason? I'm gonna go with 'fresh takes longer'. Better to call it in and come pick it up which I noticed a lot of people were doing.

If you choose to eat in, leave plenty of time and enjoy all the plants and the fountain on the covered patio.

12.01.2010

A Tribute to La Serenata de Garabaldi, Boyle Heights


Enrique and I ate here over a month ago, at the WLA Location, and reviewed it on our show. Normally I post the videos right away on the blog for E-Z viewing, but because Enrique wasn't a fan, out of respect for this wonderful place, I didn't post.

Last week, the amazing owner of this restaurant passed away. You can read a great article about him in the LA Times HERE.

I loved learning that the name came from a place in Mexico City where all the Mariachi gather to sing. It's called Garabaldi Square, hence the name 'Song of Garabaldi'. I kept wondering how their dove logo fit into the name. Was a 'Garabaldi' a type of bird? Was the owner's name Garabaldi and his 'song' was his incredible food? 15 years later, mystery solved!

There was also a recent review by S. Irene that did acknowledge that although the quality and consistency may be down somewhat, it's still worth going. I feel quite certain, that every foodie in this town (who has been here for 20 years) has a life changing memory about the first time they ate at this place. Read her recent review HERE.

I think it's still good. You just have to order the right thing. You probably have a better chance of getting the best chef at dinner time. I still like the downtown place though I always felt their massive remodel (It took 2 years and involved Roman columns) took away all the cozy colorful charm of the original, smaller, humbler, layout.

I will always remember my first meal there. Only my ex-husband and 2 best friends would come because everyone else thought it was 'too dangerous'. From the parmesan cheese-flecked chips to the empanada style fish quesadilla and garlic salmon. Every bite. Every last bit of sauce scraped off the plate was divine.

Thank you Jose Rodriguez for your passion, dedication and your recipes! I'm still waiting for that recipe book!!!!!!

11.30.2010

An Opiniated List of Taco Places and Burritos in San Francisco

biting into a 'super taco' for $4 from Los Hermanos

A Note about Tacos in SF. On one of my first trips, in search of a crispy taco, I came upon Nick’s Crispy Tacos. That place is beyond awful. In the daylight you can see the barf stains on the carpet by the bar and it smells bad. The tacos were crappy too.

On that same trip I had some pretty decent crispies at La Canasta. Old women silently frowning over a hot grill. Nice people. Good prices.

Of course everyone loves the Mission. La Taqueria and La Cumbre being 2 of the authentico hotspots. I haven’t hit those yet, but  I will.

A visiting Frenchmen told me about Papito, but he pronounced it Pah-pee-teau with the emphasis on the 'teau' and it sounded very French. I took a look at their menu and I’m not sure what I feel or think about it, but people seem to like it. I am just an upscale fusion taco biatch. No way around it.

People also recommended Mamasita on Chesnut, but I didn't have a chance to try. That will probably be my first stop next time.
We tried to find the mysterious weird fish taco bike , but I think they are on hiatus.
I had a GREAT taco experience at Tacolicious on Chestnut Street. Sure, the Filet Mignon taco was $6.50, but it was goooooooooooood. So was my Pomegranate Margarita. 
Across the street from Tacolicious was a cool old neon sign that said Los Hermanos.  I thought it was a dark bar/restaurant that would have good crispy old school tacos, but when we went over there it was actually a bright hole-in-the-wall fast food place next to a cool old divey bar. 

I said to myself, ‘self, if they don’t have a crispy taco we are so outta here’. But they did have one. Their ‘super taco’ with ground beef, guacamole, sour cream, yellow cheese and lettuce in pre-baked shell was a tasty 1970's flashback. I had to take it home to eat it because I was pretty full, but it held up and tasted great in my friend's kitchen. YUM.

PS Just for your reading pleasure... here is a list of the Best Burritos in SF... up for debate apparently!

11.23.2010

A Mexican Thanksgiving Feast with Recipes!




I am a person who sometimes needs a 'theme' to keep things interesting. Take Thanksgiving for instance, Turkey, stuffing, cranberries... yeah yeah... Sometimes a creative cook can get bored. One year, 2005 I believe, inspired by a Bon Appetit issue I had been hoarding since 1994, I convinced my friend to do a Mexican infused Thanksgiving Dinner. This recipe for Achiote Turkey w/ Ancho Chile Gravy was the centerpiece and boy was it crazy crazy good.

Mexican Turkey Recipe

I believe we accompanied it with corn pudding, mexican rice, calabasa, salad with jicima, avocado and tangerines etc. You could also serve spanish rice, tortillas and even pumpkin flan for desert. OR you could just try this turkey on a special Sunday between now and Xmas. Or even apply it to a roast chicken. It's an AWESOME recipe.

Another favorite alternative to the usual pie suspects, is this pumpkin layer cake. Cakes are fun. I never bake as I live in a city surrounded by excellent bakers and usually prefer to pick something up rather than suffer through the exacting alchemy of baking.  But once a year.... or maybe twice. :)

Pumpkin Layer Cake

You can spice up your favorite CRANBERRY recipe by adding these ingredients...

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon chipotle hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For a fun starter, try this pumpkin soup with Mexican crema and toasted pumpkin seeds. Add less broth than they say and look to reviewers notes for tweaks. Speaking of  pumpkin seeds, I was thinking that a PIPPIAN sauce would work great on a slab of salmon if you don't eat turkey!

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

I can't really think of a way to sneak a taco in on this day, but you can always run out for one the day before while you are cooking!

11.19.2010

Burritos are not Tacos. Why the Taco Maven Prefers Tacos


http://www.greattacohunt.com/2010/11/top-10-bean-and-cheese-burritos-in-la.html

We taco sluts have to take a break from time to time and eat something else at the local stand. But what? Well... I guess a burrito is the next best thing. El Bandini has been eating tacos and blogging about it for 5 years, so of course he needs to take a break every now and then.

When he told me he was going to do a bean and cheese burrito post, all of a sudden I couldn't stop thinking about bean and cheese burritos. I am not a huge fan of the burrito because in 'America' they are too huge - like some kind of nightmare porn penis - WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT?!?!?! "Eat me. Bitchez."

My very best friend in all the world is still a devotee of BAJA BUD'S veggie burrito. It always looks so tasty when she eats it, but that's because she's a friggin supermodel Shewould look good eating a shoe and make you want to eat that shoe too.

Basically, I need crunch and burritos are soft and soggy. I guess all those mushy beans and melted cheese could constitute comfort food, sort of like savory ice cream or mac and cheese. Can you tell I'm not convinced.

IF, and that is a big IF, I am going to have a been and cheese burrito, I like 'em skinny and firm. I don't want to get too full and I don't want to have to eat it fast before it falls apart and get a stomach ache. In Mexico at the OXO which is like their 7-Eleven, they sell AWESOME bean and cheese cigar style burritos. When you order them for breakfast, you get three skinnies instead of one pregnant gordo roll-up.

If this is your thing and you don't know about El Bandini, check out his very thorough and well-thought-out top ten bean and cheese burrito list. It definitely has me thinking... so much so that at Whole Foods today I bought a 'kid's' bean and cheese burrito to go for like $2. It was all yellow gooey cheese after I baked it for 10 minutes, but at least it was small and firm!

Tacotacotacotacotacotacotacotaco...

11.17.2010

Tacos El Caminero, Mexico City and Taco's Chester Recipe



The sign says 'el' but the menu says 'del' it's all the same really. The food is still great. Caminar is the verb' to walk', so literally, the man who walks... but the idiom is some kind of road worker or laborer. A guy who works hard all day and then needs a really good taco.

My gourmedar did not fail me. I was walking around this great neighborhood where all the streets are named after rivers, right behind the gold angel. I saw a lot of taco stands etc. but this one called to me.

Very simple place. I was drawn to the Tacos Chile Chester. Invented by some guy in the kitchen, not sure how long ago. I ordered 3 tacos and a got a plate full of this wonderful mixture with 8 tortillas on top. It was easily enough for two.

I was so inspired by this tastiness that I decided to recreate the recipe at home as best I could. See recipe below... came out pretty nicely. YUM-EEEEEEEE.

Serves 4.

1 lb of sausage mix. Great if it's chorizo but I used mild italian. (if it comes in casing, squeeze it out)
1 large pasilla chile chopped finely
1 white onion chopped finely
4 slices of bacon, chopped into small bits
1/4 tsp of cumin, corriander, cinnamon, smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste

saute onions and peppers first until they soften and start to caramelize.
add the bacon and let it brown
add the sausage do the same
cook over medium heat
let it all get good and brown and greasy... about 25 min.

Just before serving, sprinkly 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white (jack or manchego) cheese over the top. It will melt. Turn off heat right away but don't stir. You will load this mixture into your warmed tortilla right from the pan cheese side up.

Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado (if you like) and a big spoonful of your favorite salsa.

DELISH

Tacos Gus in La Condesa, Mexico City



The ultimate in Mexico style tacos. Gus is the brother or relative of the people at Tacos Hola. He decided to bust a move and open his own place. He is young and has lots of ideas. His place is very very very HIP. He is so so so nice and all his workers are nice too.

He literally has 20 kinds of tacos which you can see in the video. Lots of veggie options too... zuchinni squash, cauliflower, chile relleno etc.

His salsas are wonderful and he even has a bowl of pineapple to put on the pastor. Now to be fair, I only tried 6 tacos... and the only weak link of the 6 was the pastor, I think because his trompo was very small and they cut it off and fried it on the grill.

For some reason it just didn't have the right texture or flavor. No way can it beat Cueva Leon, because that is basically all they do over there. But really, who needs pastor when you have all these other amazing things all for about $1.25.

I can't say enough how great this is and how you must must must MUST go there!!!!!!

Tacos Hola and Cueva Leon. Great Tacos in Mexico City!



This first video represents two places. The first place is pretty much a hole in the wall on Amsterdam Ave. where I had two amazing things there I never had before. The ALAMBRE taco is indeed related to the word alambre which means 'wire'. The meat is cooked on a shish-kabob. The metal stick being thought of as a type of wire. More Arabian influence. After it's cooked it's chopped up into a delicious mixture of meat, onions and peppers.

The second amazing taco was just called LONGANIZA. I learned that this is a special kind of sausage, different from chorizo in that it is less spicy and must have anise seeds in it. Popular in Portugal and Puerto Rico and even the Phillipines! VERY interesting. I really liked the sweetness and the mix had lots of caramelized onions in it too.

They really know their shite here. So so so so so FUN being a global jet setting taco reporter.

PS. Here is a great youtube video of Don Gueros. They are very well known and popular. I walked by their cart but this must be their restaurant...

11.12.2010

Eating in and Around Mexico City. Food Heaven in La Condesa


Yes it's true. I am here al centro de tacos en DF, aka Mexico City. I am focusing only on tacos and doing a bit of salsa dancing. I am not going to any museums (gasp). And I am not shopping.

So far I have eaten....

Amazing Pastor Tacos (La Cueva del Leon)
Crazy Good Alhambre Tacos (@ Tacos Hola)
Revelatory Longaniza Taco (sausage, onions, magic @ Tacos Hola)
Falafelito (little mini balls in mini bread. It was GREAT)
Delicious thin crust prosciutto w/ fig pizza (From Pizza Amore)
The Best Tacos in The World (Tacos Gus)
Lip Smacking Celery Salad (Delirio)
Gyro style tacos (Tacos Greco)
Tasty Gourmet (Gulie)
Perfect French Onion Soup (Rojo Bistro)
Innovative Cardammom Roll (Fresh, by Diego)
Decadent Tacos Chester (Tacos El Caminero)

I am only here for 5 days but sweating it all off at one of the most beautiful yoga studios I have ever seen at Bikram Yoga on Campeche in La Condesa.

Life is goooooooooooooooooooood.

Here is my journey through the Reforma area, right behind the big famous statue of the golden angel. The statue commemorates heroes from their fight for independence from Spain and was started in 1902. It really is very cool and worth seeing.

Taqueria El Greco, Mexico City, La Condesa



The sign alone is priceless. The man in the blue shirt to the left is the proud owner. He is not Middle Eastern, but rather Russian. There is definitely some Middle Eastern culture hanging around here, especially Lebanese.

As we know from our history lesson, the Moors influenced Spain and Spain influenced Mexico.

I am told that the Pastor style taco was brought to this city in the 1950's. But this is not traditional Mexican pastor. They do use pork, but you have the option of pita bread and the spices are definitely 'Greco' or estilo Griega. I absolutely ADORED their pita taco with melted cheese. They also make good looking hamburgers and also steak tacos NOT from the spit, at your request.

Very inexpensive. Very popular. The owner really was a delight. The picture of the food is on a plate back where I am staying. It was crazy busy there, so we got it to go. Great salsas too.


 Ave. Michoacán No.54, Cuauhtémoc, Hipódromo, 06100 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico

11.08.2010

Yuca's on Hillhurst. A Popular Classic Taco Shack


Well... I knew I wasn't going to love this place. I love their story and their history, but the food is a taco of a different color.

Thus far, I have not mentioned my  Gourmetdar. I forget exactly which friend coined the phrase, but I have a knack for picking out the gem spot without any prior knowledge. I seem to be drawn to the little foodie locations, only to read about them later, after they have been officially discovered. The most recent example of this was Guisados in Boyle Heights.

I've driven by Yuca's a million times and my Gourmetdar was so quiet I didn't even notice it. I forced myself to go today because I am twiddling my taco thumbs with my week off from Taco Talk. People RAVE about this place,.It makes every 'Best Of' list, every tour guide book, every everything. Why?!?!?!

Here's the cute part... A husband and wife from Mexico took some insurance money and opened a taco shack in the 1970's. Eventually the LA Times 'discovered' them and they became so successful, they put their daughter through Brown University and won the James Beard Award for being an American Classic (serving Mexican food!) in 2005.

They have been slinging their particular brand of 'hash' for over 30 years. That is indeed impressive. And I'm also guessing the food style was rarer and more impressive back in the 70's, when Taco Bell was KING.


Also impressive are the prices. DIRT cheap. $3 for a burrito, $2.25 for a plain hamburger, $2 for tacos. I LOVE the way they write your order and your name on either the paper plate or the paper bag (if you get the food to go.) However, if you DO get the food to go, you will not be getting any salsa with your meal.

RIDICULOUS. These tacos are not good enough to survive without salsa. Just a mediocre slightly tired tasting pico de gallo. Bleck.

Let's talk about the name for a minute. I guess the family is from the Yucatan. Yhey don't serve yuca, which is more Cuban perhaps. Maybe they never conceived the English permutations that would cause people to exclaim 'Yuck-a' after trying some of their menu items. Okay... that was mean... let's try to focus on the positive.

The best thing was the Hamburger. Sort of like if White Castle and In-n-Out had a baby. The White Castle vibe came from the fried smell and the onions. The size was about on par with In-n-Out. A friend of mine goes on a regular basis and he says his daughter LOVES the burger. She won't touch a taco though. Always listen to kids when it comes to cheap food!


The carne asada was tough and chewy... very little flavor, just so uninteresting. It wasn't for lack of grease, because when I tried to wash off the meat 30 min. later to give some to my dog, my hands were thoroughly lubed with pasty whiteness. Yeah. Gross.

The Pibil taco was better, but it still had chunky flavorless pico de gallo on it... just NOT want you want on that kind of taco. The tortillas were fine... Whatev.



The bean and cheese burrito was solid. But alas, aghast, I believe they use Kraft American Cheese slices. I am not kidding!

A gentlemen I know, who goes by the name of Rock Candy, is addicted to the stuff. He would be ecstatic. But for the rest of us, who think that shite taste like rubber, no go. But the beans! The beans were yummy. Why the burrito was put together like a flat package and not rolled I can not divine.  It made it very hard to eat, but I loved the flavor of the beans.A lot.

The whole place is really running with its 'shack & dive' image. The canopy is fraying, they have big Xmas ornaments hanging up already and because they looked a little sad, I assumed that maybe they were never taken down from last year. Or from the 70's even!

Alas, this food would be perfect after midnight, seriously drunk, but they are only open until 6pm....

11.05.2010

Ricky's Fish Tacos. A Genius Taquero in Hollywood, CA



Ricky is a delightful retired florist who is bringing an authentic and delicious Baja style fish taco to the Hollywood area on a daily basis. He is followed on Twitter by 2500 people and he has one of the highest scores on Yelp with nearly a 90%+ approval rating.

My adventure to Ricky's Fish Taco Paradise was on one of the hottest November days of all time. Yet still, by 12:05 PM, there were at least a dozen people crowding around to buy a fish taco. Ricky makes his own special batter and don't misunderstand me when I say it's as complex, rich and flavorful as Kentucky Fried Chicken! Addictive even.

There is a lot going on in there. It has that extra savory burst of flavor that makes you smack your lips and want to order more. The only thing Ricky would tell me was that he uses oregano and no beer. As the batter is yellowish I thought maybe he had some achiote in there, but he said no. So maybe it was cumin or curry and a handful of other secretos.

Once they have been dunked in the thick, secret batter, Ricky fries up fish and shrimp to golden brown perfection. You can purchase a fish taco for $2.50, a shrimp taco for $3.00 or a combo 'Ricky's Special' taco with fish and shrimp.

He dresses the tacos with cabbage and pico de gallo, and you can do the rest with crema, salsa verde, salsa roja and a smokey dark salsa. There is plenty of shade to eat under and he always seems to have an agua fresca available (yesterday it was jamaica).

His parents live in Ensenada but his mother was born in San Jose del Cabo which is a charming place near Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja Peninsula. She visits a few times a year and has been known to tweak his batter recipe with her expertise.

Ricky's father is from Tijuana. He has a sticker on his deep fryer that says Hussong's, Ensenada. I did a little Googling and learned it is the oldest restaurant in Baja, started by Germans and dating back to 1892.  You can at least check it out virtually at http://www.cantinahussongs.com/

Thank you Ricky, for your warm spirit and cooking expertise! Viva el taco de pescado!

More PRESS for Ricky.

And More!

11.04.2010

Tito's Tacos


Oh Tito. How you inspire devotion among some, and dissension among other crispy taco fans everywhere. I should love you, right? All the elements are there... and yet... something is just not right at Tito's. But we do have a long and fond history as I have often lived within  2 miles of your 'since 1959' popular taco establishment.

Taco Memory #1. When I was a young lass, fresh out of UCLA and living in Venice by the Boardwalk, my ex-husband and I used to have weekly games of  'Oh Shit'. An amazing card game requiring 4 players, 1 deck of cards and about 4 hours to play it right.

I believe it was Marc C. who lived down South who would always use our Venice location as an excuse to hit up Tito's on the way to our house. He would show up with that little grease-stained cardboard box filled with neat little rows of crispy madness...

Usually he arrived with about 12 tacos... easily eating 5 himself, but alas, as my hubby and I were non red meat eaters at the time, we never partook. Even Marc used to joke that it was really called Tito's Kitty Tacos because who knew what the hell was in there.


Fast foward 14 years. I am now divorced and working for a Cuban family. The mom, darling Olga Barrios age 75, has a thing for Tito's. I think she tries to keep it a secret because Cubans don't like to admit they like Mexican food.

Whenever she came to visit from Florida, it was my job to go wait in line and score her some Tito's. It was cute how much she loved them. She died a few years ago, but I have no doubt she is chowing down on Tito's in heaven along with some plantains, white rice and black beans.

So how many times have I actually been to or eaten at Tito's? Maybe 5 times I want to say.... MAYBE 6. I really do hate waiting in line. That totally KILLS it for me, but whatever, grow up Taco Maven.

I do get nervous about the meat. It has a weird shreddy quality... definitely not ground... The cheese is cool but they give you WAY too much and it's very coarse and a little rubbery. Lettuce fine. Shell tastes like they bake once a day... actually not greasy enough if that makes any sense. The salsa is too ketchup-like.

Kind of thinking the bean/cheese burrito might be something to get there....

I have no real beef with Tito's. I just don't dig it enough to stand in line and sing its praises, but I always appreciate taco celebrity. Check out their website where they actually have a song about their tacos! WTF?????  http://www.titostacos.com/

11.03.2010

Foamy the Squirrel Likes Tacos and Mexico!



Foamy the Squirrel is a hilarious little fellow who knows alot about alot of things.

He is a fan of the taco. That's what's really important!!!!

10.29.2010

How to Make and Press Your Own Taco T-Shirt with a Little Help




Everybody loves t-shirts. Everybody loves tacos! There are a lot of great taco t-shirts out there.

Here's another fun one!


With the new digital printing technology you can print almost anything for about $3 a decal.

Horizon Products have been around forever and they do a great job. We love the Taco Talk T-Shirts we made that day - They are still holding up 5 years later.

:)

10.22.2010

El Tauro Taco Truck, Los Angeles

3108 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90005

I love this truck. I think their pastor tacos are better than Leo's. Sacrilage!!!!! I know but I've just had better experiences there, so maybe it's a quality control issue.

Really fun crowd. Really nice people. Getting kinda hungry just thinking about that roasted pork with pineapple on top!

10.21.2010

Pumpkin Pinto Bean Pan Fried Tacos Savory and Sweet Variations

Happy Fall! Happy Halloween! Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin pie is awesome, but so are pumpkin tacos! And excellent, soothing, vegetarian, carb on carb meal.

Please see the recipe below, and if you try it, let us know how they came out!



Per taco...

1 white corn Mission Brand tortilla (Any tortilla will do)
2 large tablespoons of canned Rosaritos refried beans
4 sprigs of pan browned chives (just toss for 5 min. in a few drops of olive oil)
1 tbl Herdez medium Salsa Casera (inside taco) salsa as needed outside taco while eating
1 tsp of cilantro paste (from produce section of supermarket) comes in a tube
2 tbl shredded cheese (cheddar/jack mix)
1 tbl of pumpkin pie filling (Libby's) sweeter than the plain stuff pictured...

I used olive oil spray in the pan but feel free to use 1 tbl oil to get a nice crunch feel.

Spread beans, pumpkin, cilantro paste and salsa on one half of the tortilla. Sprinkle on cheese and salsa. Add browned chives - don't chop... use them long - can be bought pre-cut in herb section.

Gently fold in half and brown on each side... about 5 minutes each side... put in oven to keep warm before serving with more salsa and chive garnish...

Of course you could always add fresh jalapeno or onion to this but I would saute first until caramelized. I intended to buy unsweetened pumpkin but couldn't find it. This worked to create a savory taco with a slight hint of sweetness.

I think an all sweet DESSERT taco would be great. I would use Italian cheese, MASCARPONE. 2 TBL of the sweet pumpkin filling. I would add cinnamon and cook it the same way. I would drizzle after cooking with a little caramel and top with fresh whipped cream. Ummmm.... YUM!!!!!

Also as I said on the show, you could be ambitious and make your own fresh pumpkin or butternut squash filling. You could also use whole beans or refried black beans, but the point is for this to be fun and easy and involve almost no cooking!!!!!

If you don't want ANY sweetness at all use the completely unsweetened plain pumpkin filling.

10.13.2010

House of Tacos! Ingledwood Again, for Great Tacos



Yes that is really their name! AND they have a sign just under it that says "Experts in Taconology".

It's a bold claim, but I believe they have earned the right. The sign also indicates that they have Papusas and other Salvadorian food as well. Are the owner Salvadorian? No. Go figure. But I do feel like some of their signature touches.... saffron on the shrimp and in the rice for one... are definitely NOT Mexican.

My favorite thing here is the ground turkey taco. You can get it hard or soft. NO ONE IN THIS TOWN makes a ground turkey taco. It's beyond awesome just that it exists. They have a ground beef one too, incredible shrimp and all the other usual suspects.

One of the most charming aspects of this place, (hidden on Market St. in Inglewood, behind  O'REILLY AUTO) is the fact that the guy who takes your order is John from Chicago.

He seems to remember every face and exactly how many times you have been there and he couldn't be nicer or more efficient. Yay John! Or is it Juan?

Anyhoo, please watch our humble video and get yourself over there for some tasty taco treats.


10.06.2010

The KO Taco Truck!





Delightful! I can't remember now where exactly I read about them... maybe on the Roadstoves website? They have only been around since June so I don't feel too bad... and they frequent the beachside of things which is far away from Taco Maven Headquarters in Pasadena.

We decided to bust a move on a Monday night. It was actually cold and rainy after having set a record for heat at 113 degrees just one week before.

The head of the whole enterprise, Chris Goossen, is the real thing. He has a star-studded background which includes working for Marky Mark AND having been the opening chef for Bottega Louie. LOTS of success. He was also a street boxer at one point and comes from a family of boxers, hence the KO (knock out) name and the boxing gloves logo.

What Chris tells us in the video remote review, is that the 10 tacos he serves on the truck were painstakingly culled down from a list of 42 that he was asked to create for another restaurant. It was all done with taste tests amongst brilliant palates and I have to say the result is stunning and absolutely the kind of thing I would drive 40 minutes in the rain to eat!

I'm pretty sure they have the only crispy potato taco available on a truck. It was expertly done, soothing even and most likely meant to accompany the spicier options. Most innovative perhaps was the Albacore Tuna taco which had slices of apples, jicama and habanero salsa. Crispy, chilled, fresh... really delicious. We didn't get a chance to try the Cajun Shrimp taco cuz the grits have bacon and Side 'o Rice is all pescatarian and shite.

Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, Chris busted out some complimentary Poke tacos which featured homemade teriyaki sauce. Again with the teriyaki??? Apparently the guys at The Shore are onto something! You could barely taste it, but it added something special.

Of course KO Taco Truck only uses the freshes ingredients, including homemade elusive tortillas made of yellow maize from a semi-secret source! You can follow them on twitter to get up-to-the-minute locations or check out their website... http://www.kotacotruck.com/

You MUST go.... like... NOW.

10.05.2010

My Taco! Highland Park, CA on York



Yes. It's really called that.

VERY cute little place in Highland Park on York Blvd. near Figueroa. I can't believe my good fortune that I live SO close to it!

J. Gold put them on the map by singing the well-deserved praises of their Borrego. Roasted Lamb that they serve with tortillas and consume even!

I love their potato taco and since that has been our 'theme of the week', I made a little movie of myself eating one. I really like how their filling is reddish... nicely seasoned. Good crunchy shell that is somehow not greasy, nice white shredded cheese. I wish they had a few more salsas, but the ones that they have are fine.

Yum yum crunch crunch!

My Potato Taco - at My Taco in Highland Park from Taco Maven on Vimeo.

P.S. They are also famous so their crazy fries. The equivalent of chili fries except it's carne asada on top. I have no interest, but people 'sigh' over them big time.

:)

10.01.2010

Pico de Gallo (Beak of the Rooster) Salsa Recipe



This classic staple to almost anything you could possibly eat made in Mexico, is one of our favorites here at Taco Talk. Lots of opinions. Lots of predilections.

Here is a very easy recipe for you to try at home because the most important thing about this salsa is that it be FRESH as both tomatoes and onions oxidize and spoil VERY quickly.

It has so many meanings.... Could be something you peck at little by little. Something that bites you with it's beak, flavor/heat-wise. Something hot that shows you are macho like a rooster etc.

Use your imagination and make up your own story involving Roosters!

Makes enough for two - on tacos or as garnish or for a small serving of chips - Double accordingly

1 small jalapeno (use a serrano if you are feeling bold - skinnier but hotter)
1 large clove of garlic (if you don't like raw garlic you can leave this out)
1 large shallot (or use 1/3 of a white onion or a maui onion or a red onion)
generous handful of cilantro - chopped
8 cherry tomatoes or 2 large roma tomatoes or 2 med heirlooms
1 lime (juiced) get a nice ripe soft one... (sometimes I like to use white vinegar instead - 2 tbl.)
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
1 tsp. of olive oil (good green stuff - helps salsa last longer and makes it glisten)

Chop all your ingredients finely. Yes, you can 'seed' your tomatoes by cutting in half and scrapping out the runny middle. I like the runny middle but it lasts longer without.

Cut your chile in half and then chop open side down. Scrape away seeds.

Afterwards you have to wash EVERYTHING really well or you could get chile burn. Cold water and rubbing your fingers along DULL side of stainless steel knife should take care of chile burn, onion/garlic smell etc.

Add the lime juice, oil, salt and pepper etc. Toss together with a spoon and ENJOY.

Salt to taste. I find it needs a lot of salt to bring out flavor but you could always start with less and add as you go. Use sea salt!

Please try it and email us the results!

9.29.2010

Lawry's Taco Seasoning Packets














Here is the skinny.... or not so skinny!

The mother of all taco seasoning packets is Lawry's. They have been around forever and really make a decent product. They even removed the MSG which was definitely there for a while. 

Yes, Trader Joe's has a taco seasoning pack too. They put more cocoa in their's which is a nice touch, but it's always a little too spicy. Not great for kids. I want up using 1/2 a packet for a pound of ground beef or turkey.

See the Lawry ingredients listed below. Also they now have a "HOT" version as well for those who like to bring the heat.  Here is what I learned about them...

In the early 1900s, Lawrence Frank and Theodore Van de Kamp turned a tiny Los Angeles potato chip shop into a multi-million dollar bakery empire. In the early 1920s, Lawrence and his brother-in-law Walter Van de Kamp went into the restaurant business together and opened a succession of acclaimed restaurants, including, The Great Scot and the Tam O'Shanter.

In 1938, the brothers founded 'Lawry's The Prime Rib' restaurant in Beverly Hills. The restaurant was the birthplace of Lawry's Seasoned Salt, which was soon introduced to the marketplace in response to overwhelming demand. 

Innovators in the industry, Lawry's continued to introduce dehydrated sauce mixes, seasonings, marinades, and spice blends to households everywhere and have basically been kicking booty ever since.

I did not know the same people were Van de Kamp's. That is CRAZY level success. SHEESH.
Anywhoo... their spice packet is solid. But some people don't like the taste of it and would rather make theirs from scratch. So here is an option to 'do-it-yourself'. You can always tweak to your taste... 

My favorite trick is pretty much toasting your seasonings by stirring them around in some hot oil before you add your beef (or ground turkey) and onions.
For 1lb of Meat (turkey, beef or ground pork even)
1 tsp. of salt (plus to taste)
2 Tbl. chili powder
1 Tsp. cumin
1/2 Tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch o Paprika
Cocoa powder (unsweetened) no more than 1 tsp
I don't like garlic powder or garlic salt but if you do.... add it! (1 tsp.)
1 onion diced super super finely
1 generous handful of cilantro, chopped finely
1 Tbl. of flour
a few shakes of tabasco
***1 diced jalapeno... but if you don't want to deal with a raw pepper I like to add 1 small can of Herdez brand Salsa Casera. You can get in in a 'mild' or 'hot' heat. You could drain out a little bit of the extra water/juice and then throw it in.
Stir your spices into oil... then add flour... then onions (until brown) then cilantro - crisp it up a bit... then beef... then can of salsa once beef is brown. Add a tiny bit of water... maybe 1/4 cup just to help it all swirl around etc. and then simmer for 30+ minutes. It may be a little juicy. 

If you let if sit for 15 min. before serving the juicy usually goes away but if it bugs you, use a spoon with holes for drainage as you serve it into your taco shell.
Enjoy!!

Ingredients of Lawry's Spice Packet  Spices (Paprika, Cumin, Oregano, Chili Peppers), Onion, Salt, Lactose (Milk), Sugar, Garlic Powder, Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Cocoa Powder, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor.

9.25.2010

Taco Memories: Who Invented the Taco Shell Deep Fryer?



When I was a kid living in Greenwich Village, I used to go to a Day Care Center every day after Elementary School from 3pm - 6pm, until my mom could pick me up after work.

One time, we had a field trip to one of the counselor's apartment. She had the taco filling mix ready. We helped her cut up the tomatoes, grate the cheese, shred the lettuce etc. She pulled out a box of shells and we made and ate tacos.

I remember being fascinated by the box of shells. 'How do they DO that? Make them all u-shaped and everything... YUM!!!!!
Well... apparently we have this man to thank....Juvenico Maldonado, who in 1950 invented the contraption that would make the Taco Bell people and himself really really RICH.

It's been a long time since I've bought a box of shells. I can make crispy ones at home myself, but I think it's cute that people still buy them and serve up tacos that way.

 I will never ever forget that trip to Rosalie's house back in '76. And apparently I will never stop loving or eating crispy tacos.

9.15.2010

Pacos Tacos, Westchester. The Best Crispy Chicken Taco and Flour Tortillas

I have loved Pacos for a very long time.

Since 1988 or something like that. Their crispy chicken taco defined all others for me, and their translucent (yes, fat laden) flour tortillas draw chefs in ecstasy from miles around.

Here is our first little remote. Editing is a challenge with the wimpy softwear I am currently using.

I will upgrade and it will be better next time. We promise!!!!!


Taco Talk Art


My friend Chelsea Hadley is an incredible artist. I asked her for a little sketch/drawing. Nothing fancy because I know how busy she is with a full-time job and raising two fairy children. Really... a black and white doodle I could play with.

This is what she gave me in 2 days. Holy Guacamole!!!!!

I am going to make t-shirts I think. Let me know if you would like one!

9.11.2010

Taco Talk! A Podcast About Tacos


Taco Talk Intro from Rima Lyn on Vimeo.

Taco Talk was a fun, internet streaming show that we did once a week for about a year.

We completed 32 episodes and you can hear shortened audio versions of the show HERE.

I could talk about tacos FOREVER and hopefully in the future, Side of Rice and Taco Maven will get a chance to continue the conversation.

For now, we will continue to eat.

9.07.2010

Malo Ground Beef Pickle Taco, Silverlake CA


The amazing artist Brian Wills  hipped me to this taco.

When he told me about it, I was like GROSS. You're kidding me. A taco with a sliced hamburger pickle inside it? EEEEIIIIWWWWW.

But then I tried it. And I wasn't drunk yet either. Why it's so good I don't know. Is it authentically Mexican? Heck no, but it's tasty, and in the end, I am an American enjoying a hybrid mix of culture clash in a Latino infused city.

Very simple ingredients... nice seasoned ground beef mixture, a few pickles, a pinch of cheddar cheese and a mild-ish, smooth, lightly cooked tomato salsa. No lettuce, no raw tomatoes. They are not missed.

Sure, their awesome Angelina Margarita with hibiscus and a chili spice rim makes them taste about 10x better, but they're pretty good on their own.

You can get them at a daily 5pm happy hour or the crazy Monday night taco special all night or at Sunday brunch one at a time. Otherwise you have to get them 2 at a time for more money, and I always want 3!

Thank you Brian, you changed my taco life!

:)

9.05.2010

Taco Memories: Tacos on Bleecker Street c. 1975

The first taco I ever ate was at a tiny restaurant on the corner of Bleecker and Christopher in 1975. 

Yes, it was indeed a crispy taco with ground beef. The lighting was very dark but I remember loving the salsa and the hard thick crunch of both the chips and the taco shell. 

Up until that point, it was all Ray's pizza and NY style Chinese food.

I begged to go to that place at least once a week but my mom has never been a lover of Mexican cuisine. I think we ate there only a handful of times before it either went out of business or we moved West.

I can almost remember the name... it tickles my brain and then vanishes, but the memory of the taco is very very CLEAR.

9.02.2010

Hello Taco. Welcome to my Crunchy Taco World


I am a lover of tacos.

I know I am not alone.

I am very specifically a lover of the crispy taco.

I love a good crunch that is freshly fried and not too oily. NEVER a boxed shell. Never.

I love a delicious filling, the perfect salsa, lots of fresh lettuce and orange or white shredded cheese.

When done poorly, this is as trashy as it gets. When done right, it's heaven.

I will not descriminate against the soft taco. My goal is to provide taco insight, recipes, advice, whatever I can do to further the cause of the crispy and other more common forms of the taco.

The taco is one of the most perfect food items every created. The taco is perhaps proof that God is Mexican.

A taco a day keeps the blues away!