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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Mexico’s Answer to Parmesan

My friend, Saul, who grew up one of nearly a dozen children without electricity or running water on a farm some 45 minutes from the nearest village in Mexico, once brought me back from a visit with his parents a chunk of cheese his mother had made. Of course it was raw, of course it was artisanal — not in the self-congratulatory way of the contemporary foodie, but in the “what other way is there?” way of the peasant farmer.

"Mr. Chicharron, we're ready for your close up."

“Mr. Chicharron, we’re ready for your close up.”

Not only was it a thoughtful and generous gift — it was delicious, with a grassy freshness pairing with a slightly tart complexity reminiscent of bufala mozzarella, a characteristic more often more evident in raw cheeses. More

The Dead

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” —James Joyce, “The Dead”

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As I’ve confessed to in the past, I like holidays — particularly other people’s holidays. Our neighbors to the south, Mexico, for example.

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Keeping it Local

I was a bit skeptical when I first got the email. Our local community club, which is always having some event or other, had dreamed up a new one: the Fiddle & Griddle family campout.

Albacore & shrimp ceviche

Albacore & shrimp ceviche

It was to take place on the baseball field on a Saturday in August, there would be a Santa Maria-style grill to cook on, games for the kids, campfire singalongs and so forth. It sounded interesting, but probably wasn’t our style of thing — I’m a reluctant camper, I find the packing up, unloading, setting up camp, breaking down, packing back up and unloading again a laborious process, especially for a single night a couple miles from home. 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

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