Year of the Taco

In the Chinese zodiac, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey.

In our house, I’m pretty sure it’s shaping up to be the Year of the Taco.

Taco al pastor, The Taco Stand, La Jolla

Taco al pastor, The Taco Stand, La Jolla

I made many a taco in 2015. But I believe that was just a lead-up to what will be the taco year to end all taco years.

Because over the past 12 months, I’ve gotten good at tacos — really good. Beyond the standard gringo tacos, Baja fish tacos, carne asada and pork al pastor, I’ve branched out into dried beef machaca tacos,  birria goat tacos, fried cheese and shrimp tacoschicharrones and tomatillo tacos, crab tacos and dry-aged rib-eye steak tacos. More

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The Greatest Taco of Them All

“There’s something wrong with your blog,” a friend said to me one day.

“Oh yeah,” I replied with a raised eyebrow. “What’s that?”

“There are no fish tacos on there.”

Could it possibly be true? That of all the posts on my blog, and more specifically all the times I’d written about tacos, that I had overlooked the Baja fish taco??

Baja fish tacos

Baja fish tacos

“It’s true!” said friend who alerted me to the fact. “I looked through the entire site, no fish tacos.”

No fish tacos! More

Shortcuts

I’m one of those fancy chefs who serves small portions, treats the plate like a canvas and uses flowers and ingredients you’ve never heard of. But I’m also a fan of shortcuts.

Many of the world’s best chefs will readily admit to resorting to shortcuts when they’re cooking.

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While we were staying at the Casa Tres Coronitas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, last October, I asked the house chef, Marilu, to show me how to make her famous salsa. She was giving me a lesson and it was nothing out of the ordinary — tomatillos, onion, garlic, chiles de arbol, salt. And then she reached into the cupboard to pull out her “secret ingredient” — Knorr powdered chicken bouillon. Sure enough, when I tried it at home (with the bag of Knorr powdered chicken bouillon Marilu picked up for me at the supermercado), it contributed a salty umami depth that was missing before I added it. Couldn’t have been the MSG, could it?? More

Skinny Girls Roadshow LIVE from Mexico — Black Gold

I had successfully taken over the kitchen at Casa Tres Coronitas — at least for a couple of our nights here. And Marilu actually seemed somewhat relieved.

At the PV Farmer's Market

At the PV Farmer’s Market

Out on the boat with our amigo Mario fishing, looking for whales, snorkeling and loitering on beaches, we’d caught a big red snapper and a couple of smaller fish that appeared to be in the tuna family. The little fish I made into a Mexican crudo with lime, chili, cilantro, onions and Jugo — the Mexican equivalent of soy sauce — while the larger fish I left to Marilu to grill, one of her specialties. (I didn’t want to steal her thunder. And her fish was delicioso, I could’ve done no better.) More

Skinny Girls Roadshow LIVE from Mexico — El Mercado de Pescado

We love the food at Casa Tres Coronitas — prepared by the house cook, Marilu — especially the first couple days we are here. But after a few days, we’re ready for a change… if not wanting to necessarily  leave this perfect paradise.

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“I would like it if you cooked a couple nights,” Leslie said last time we were here. But we never had the courage to approach Marilu with this proposition, both out of fear of hurting her feelings, and an inability to communicate the point to her anyway. But when I mentioned it to Monica, who speaks fluent Spanish, she was insistent. “Oh, of course you will cook! I already told Marilu that you were a chef and you wanted to cook.”

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