Pork Butt, Bom chicka wow wow

Pork Butt, Bom chicka wow wow

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

foodborne adventure

New Year's Day.So we didn't really drink that much on New Year's Eve. We went to the Ould Sod, then we left around 1 am. We had a long walk, then we caught the bus the last 4 blocks down the street. So anyway, we decided to wake up and go to Tijuana in the morning, for brunch. We drove down and walked across the border. I don't know the areas, so I can't tell you where we were, but we wandered around the touristy areas until we got to unfamiliar territory. Well, it's hard to say where we had been before, because most of the places were closed and nothing looked familiar. Barely anyone bugged us.

Anyway, we were primarily looking for street food. The first cart we saw was a seafood cart. Okay. If we were going to have a gastronomic adventure abroad, why not dive in head first. So there were oysters. They were live. We got 6 of them. We watched him shuck them. They were quite alive. Then he put them on this plastic christmas tree design plate. He gave us limes and a disposable plastic spoon. That's when it got sketchy (sketchier?). I watched him dip the plastic spoon in a well of water on the cart. So was it a used spoon? Oh well, if the oysters don't kill me... So he had some hot sauces on the cart. The FP used habanero, I just used some pussy hot sauce. Hey, if we were going to roam the streets of Tijuana, I didn't wanna be searching for a clean bathroom there. (Funnily enough, I had issues with needing to go to the bathroom the night before. I have TB -tiny bladder. When we were waiting in line to go into the bar I had to go. When we were walking home I had to go. My friend ended up taking me into the kinda scary Redwing Bar and Grill to go.) Getting back to the oysters. They tasted good. Briney. I liked the lime with it. As we sat on the stools and ate though, I watched him prepare a shrimp ceviche for a guy. That was kind of scary. He was using the same wooden cutting board he used open the oysters on. It wasn't really clean, but he chopped up the shrimp on it and scraped them into the plastic cup.

So we ate and then we walked deeper into unknown territory. No more lily white tourists with hangovers, visors and cameras. Just the Mexicans, and us. Not much english script on signs. Cool. Just what we wanted. On one corner was a taco stand. The meat was all covered with a blanket like the coroner was going to haul it off in a meat wagon. So we asked what he had. Beef. Ok. Uno taco, por favor. So he grilled the taco, stir fried the meat a bit, then put it on, then onion, lime and cilantro. Delicious. Fatty. Yum. Uno dollar. I think it'd be cheaper if we had pesos and centavos, but this is part of the price of the experience and being Americanos.

So we kept walking south(?). We would look in the little restaurants, smell the meats roasting, grilling, stewing. If someone barked at us, that was an immediate turnoff. If a place was quiet, smelled or looked good, and they let us look in without harrassing us, that was a possibility. So we saw a place with a whiteboard sign outside. (Now that word whiteboard reminds me of UPS. Damn their smart advertising campaign!) The first two items on the board were mole. We could see pots of stuff in the window. It looked good. The kitchen was right there in the window rather than hidden in the back. I liked that. So we didn't know what to do. So we sat down. There was a red salsa on the table. The FP ordered a coca-cola. I was puzzled. He likes diet. Then he explained. Mexican coke. Better than US coke. It's made with cane sugar syrup rather than corn syrup. Muy bueno. Try it sometime. They sell it at the Linkery. So we got mole verde. It was green. It was nutty. It was thinner than other moles. It came with beans and rice.

Then came the tortillas. This girl was making them right by the door on this little grill. These tortillas didn't look like others. Okay. Have you had fresh tortillas? There are so many levels. Okay. Store brand - big company. No taste. I could never properly reheat them either. Then there are the locally made, shipped to stores. Much better usually, but still could be old depending on how much they sell in the store. Then there are the ones made in house at the store on the big tortilla machine. These sit on the table all warm next to the checkout. These are delicious. On cold days I like to put my hands on top of the packages to warm them. These are great. But we never finish the package. We just can't eat that many tortillas and we don't have a fryer to fry them. Then there are the handmade ones on the tortilla press at restaurants. These are just - comfort food. You can smell the fresh masa. They're just a world of difference. Okay. So we were eating the mole. Then the tortillas came right off the grill and onto our table. They were a little puffy. They smelled so sweetly of corn. OMG. They tasted like the corn had just been ground and the mix had just been made and the tortilla formed in a matter of hours. Okay. I've never experienced that knowingly, but that's what I thought a fresh fresh fresh tortilla would taste like. At that point the chicken was just an incidental part of the whole meal, although it was good. So we finished, and we paid. $6. The place was called "Su Cocina Economica Mi Angelito" I swear. Great little sunny little place.

So we kept walking. We decided to take an eating break. Just take in the sights and sounds. Then we passed one of those roasting adobado spits. It's pork, but it looks like the gyros or shwarma in middle eastern restaurants. It looked, smelled and sounded good. We looked at each other. We said, you want one, why not. So we turned back and sat on the hand carved wooden stools. The kind with the indentation for your butt, that over the years has worn so it's even more comfy. So we got an adobado taco. Just one. It was teeny, but we weren't really hungry anyway. It had the usuals on it. It was the best adobado I've had. I've only had adobado at maybe Aiberto's, Lalo's, and other taco shops in San Diego. I don't know how they do theirs, but it tastes nothing like this. Smoky sweet meaty goodness. Teeny taco. Just the right size.

So we kept walking. We saw a little family on a corner. They were cleaning cactus paddles by hand with these big old sharp looking knives and bagging them for sale. Neat.

We turned a corner and there was a big church with - a marketplace right next to it! What luck! I had been wanting grilled corn. All of the first stalls were grilled corn! So we went up to one and ordered. He wanted me to choose one. They all looked the same. He asked, salt. Yes, salt. Lime? Yes Lime. Chili? Of Course chili. He put it on a skewer and handed it over. $1. So that first bite. Lime, salt, chili, dried corn. So the corn was overgrilled. I should have known. But the flavor was so good. I can taste it now. So right next to the corn was a churro booth. I said that I wanted those before we headed across the border. These were better looking than the carts by the border. They fried these to order in a big spiral, nice and brown. Then they cut them into the little sticks and rolled them around in the cinnamon sugar. I couldn't wait, but I could. So we kept walking. It was sensory overload. Tons of vendors with fried tortillas, sopes, meats on the grill, too much. We were stunned. We must have looked ridiculous. One vendor was grilling elongated tortillas, and the filling was mushrooms and squarsh blossoms. There were red chorizos sizzling on a grill, perfuming the air with the most delicious rich fatty meat smell. One had brains. So we did a loop of the stalls, but then the FP had to poo. So we had to find facilities that were acceptable. We headed back to the one restaurant that we had eaten at twice before (he'd been 3 times) that we knew had pretty decent banos. So we figured we'd sit and have a beer. I sat on the patio. He did his biz. He came out, no one had come out to help us. We waited 5 more minutes, no one came, so we said fuck it. Thanks for the free restroom. So now the FP was light in his step, we were ready to tackle a little more market food before leaving.

So we ended up a stand with cabeza. There was this big heating element with a moat and a big hump in the middle that I guess is where the flame was. Neat. There were all kinds of brains swimming in it. Dip in the hot tub. So we got a cabeza taco. All the fixins. Rich, meaty. Very rich. We asked for a water. The guy handed us a cup of water. Okay, I'm sure it was filtered water. But it looked ominous in that styrofoam cup. Even though it was clear. And it tasted fine. I took two little sips because I was so thirsty. But the taco was good, a little strong, but still good.

So it was time for the churros! Yea! We headed over. I panicked for a second because I was looking for the lady that I saw frying them earlier. There was a man there. So we ordered. Churro. That's all he had. How much? One? Two? Three? Two. So they finished frying. Then he put it on the cutting board and cut it. Two. Perfect portion. Then into the yummy bowl of cinnamon sugar. Then into the paper bag. $2. (I think the lousy stale one the FP got at the zoo was $4.75) We held the bag and ran away, in case they wanted to confiscated them from the americanos. We waited half a minute so we didn't burn our mouths. Then we took a piece. Do I need to explain it to you? Nah. I don't think so.

So we went home. It took about 30-40 minutes to get through customs, then it took 30 minutes to figure out where the parking lot was that we parked our car at.

Halibut collar. So a few hours later. We made dinner. We had rented the entire season 6 of the Sopranos. We hadn' seen it yet, so we were happy. We had bought halibut collar at 99 Ranch Market the day before. We put on rice. The FP made cabbage with soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. We cooked rice. We broiled the halibut collar with salt. I made a dipping sauce with soy sauce, coconut vinegar, lime juice, chili paste, ginger and sesame oil. I was worried that the broiler wouldn't get hot enough to crisp the skin. It didn't. The flesh was already flaking and the skin was soft. So the fish was gross. Well, the first piece I had was okay. But all the rest was fishy as hell. But we didn't really eat it. But the rest of the dinner was good. Did we survive TJ only to be poisoned by our own hands? We went to sleep wondering. Nothing happened though. Amazingly.

January 2nd. Wednesday. Back to work for me. I brought a salad home from work. Mixed greens, 4 bean salad, sundried tomatoes, cornichons, olives, heart of palm, turkey and balsamic and lemon dijon vinaigrettes mixed together. I wanted some greens to maybe clean out the system.

So then we watched season 6 of the Sopranos. We had 2 episodes left. We went to the store before we watched so we could eat while watching. All that food they eat makes us hungry. So the FP wanted american chop suey. Well, we made it with meatballs instead of ground beef. Storebought everything. We didn't want to mess with cooking. The FP was in a hurry to eat it. I asked if the meatballs were hot. (It had only been a few minutes). He said they were, then he ate one, then he said they weren't. We waited a few more minutes, then we ate. They still could have been hotter. So he had maybe 6 meatballs. I think I had 4.

I had a little chill in the night, and woke up in a sweat. I guess I was flatulent as well. I felt fine when I woke up though.

I was at work. I got a text from the FP. He'd been diarrheaing all morning, and then he felt like he was going to throw up too. He did start throwing up. He never gets sick. So my question to you is, what do you think got him sick?


Arclight said...

My guess...it was the oysters...or some bad water!
Although for the last three weeks I know many people who came down with a stomach virus resulting in the same symptoms you described...myself included!
But most importantly...if you go back, visit a restaurant on Revolution st called Caesars. It is in the famous Caesars Hotel. Famous because they invented the Caesars salad back in the 1920's. And they still do a bang up job. However nothing matches the Pork adobada off the spit you described or the local danger dogs ( bacon wrapped hot dogs).

the food ho said...

Thanks! We're always looking for suggestions!