I don’t think I’ve eaten so much Mexican food in one week, until recently. Let’s see; I have had rolled tacos (Taquitos) with all of the fixin’s, carnitas, a pollo asado burrito (sautéed pepper style) and a totally unique Quesadilla Rio described as a quesadilla stuffed with a chili relleno, shredded beef and beans; topped with enchilada sauce and sour cream. I found this concoction at Anita’s in Oceanside, CA. The flavors, plating and overall texture was fine on this plate, but for some reason the chili used was extremely tough. I don’t think I have ever experienced such a tough chili. I looked to see if it had been roasted with the skin removed, but couldn’t readily identify if it was, without fully deconstructing the assembly and grossing out everyone at the table. I then recognized that the Pasilla (Poblano, depending on the area you are from) chili didn’t even exhibit a consistency even close to being raw . . . or cooked. It was very odd. It was very, very tough. Also this week, I had Choriso con Huevos one morning from the hospital cafeteria. I still maintain the positive reviews of Tri-City Hospital’s cafeteria as being one of the finest hospital cafe’s this side of the 15 freeway and North of the 78. Actually, we passed up the opportunity to try the newest hospital addition to San Diego, when we decided to house both the sick and injured under one roof for this Friday night. You see, this story brings several elements together that surround loved family members injuries and illnesses and the support the family gave during this trying time. So this last week had been consumed with trips to and from the hospital and minimally entertaining family members all doing the same thing . . . making trips to and from everywhere.
During this time we had many meals that seemingly had all been centered around what is fast and convenient, however we also had a chance to sneak in a few decent meals other than the Mexican fast foods. I was able to show off The Flying Pig on Halloween night (I saw it a chance to go without a wait) that was executed perfectly by a fine sever who was really on her game that night. She did a great job (sorry can’ remember her name). Everyone at our table thoroughly enjoyed their meal. There was only minimal controversy over the wines that Roddie carried, but it was also quickly discounted by my traveling wine wholesalers that joined us that evening. We all promised a no wine-repeat-failure for our next adventure. What will probably ensue is the corkage fee “bring-your-own bottle” rendition of the Hooters beer and wing event (inside family joke). I guess I can let the joke out by telling you to visit the nearest Hooters and ask what they charge for corkage. You will probably get the Hooter’s salute . . . that’s when the server says, “what’s a corkage”?
To culminate a week of Mexican culinary treats, my wife and I decide to catch the first half of football this Sunday morning. Unfortunately we like the spread and the Sunday football feature in the bar area (cantina) of our local El Torito. It is always full of our favorite team’s fans and is reasonable in price with multiple televisions everywhere so we don’t miss a play. Problem is it was again Mexican food. No problemo senor, I just focused on the awesome “to-order” omelet prepared by Alfredo to start things off, then I made up a sweet plate of waffle and churro topped with strawberries, pineapple and whip cream topping. Once I had enough breakfast items, I then attacked the Mexican Menudo, Ceviches and other entrées .
To top off the weekend, I needed to cook something after being challenged with everything challenging . . . yeah, I just said that. Challenges like my son’s football injury (suspected torn MCL) and coming home to a leaking water main coming into the house. You see, sometimes you just have to accept things, and Mexican food, for what it’s worth. It seems to have a perfect place in my week’s routine. So after all of these challenges, I decide to use the left-behind Halloween pumpkin by making a Curried Pumpkin and Nutmeg Puree to go underneath a Grilled Lamb Chop, Pork Belly, Salt-Baked Potato and Peas. A totally unique dish that presented a lot of interesting flavors.
So we have been spending numerous hours in the emergency rooms and ICU of our favorite hospital and have come to notice two officer from the California Department of Corrections strategically placed just one room away from my our location in the ICU. We whisper to each other. “what do you think those guys are here for”. So my brother and I quickly devise a story to substantiate the guards existence in such close proximity to our room. My father, the one who is hospitalized, volunteers with the OPD to enter gang member data into their computer files. The person in the room next to my father is a gang member and knows my father volunteers for the force. In order to maintain stability in the hospital and my father’s safety from this hospitalized gang member, the corrections facility officers are strategically placed to keep the two separated and protect my father. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
During all of the visiting with my family, hugging all of the cousins, nieces, nephews and siblings and everyone else; they all made an honest attempt to be around during this complicated week. Through all of the hours we spent together in lounges and waiting areas for information about our sick and broke, they (the distant family members) have just come to realize that I have been attending culinary school for the past 3 years and am about to finally graduate. What’s even more funny is these same individuals could care less about the fact that I write about this shit, and are seemingly more focused on the opportunity of when I was going to cook for them at my graduation party. They all seemed to be concerned and curious, wondering what kind of restaurant I am going to open. That would light a fire under my sister to condemn those suggestions, fearing my life would be over if I was to ever open a restaurant . . . hell, graduation will ensue. Nothing better than family . . . nothing!