Sunday, June 26, 2016

Continental Favorites

Upon hearing that I have a blog devoted to tasting tacos from around the country (and globe), people ask me where to find the best tacos -- what is my favorite?  I tend to give a complicated answer.  

"It depends what you're looking for."

In New York, if you want upscale Mexican with delicious tacos and kick-ass margaritas: Empellon Taqueria in the West Village.

If you're looking for super standard street-style no-frills tacos, Tehuitzingo Deli.

The spot for delicious tacos but where the all-star menu item is not tacos: El Centro.

The list and descriptors goes on.

Well, when venturing to Los Angeles, it seems that everyone agrees upon one favorite: Guisado's

Guisado's on Sunset (original is in Boyle Heights)

Now I understand why.  These tacos are easily in the top 5 of all tacos I've tasted.  They win big with the tortillas.  Stone ground corn masa is turned into delectable, hearty, fresh-made tortillas that hold up to the messiest of taco toppings.  Rumor has it that they deliver the fresh masa to all of their locations first thing in the morning so everyone can enjoy the signature taste that defines a Guisado's taco.



In an effort to experience as much Guisado's as possible, I got the sampler plate -- 6 mini tacos adorably arranged.  2 Pork, 2 Chicken, 2 Steak.  Classic AF.  The Guisado's specialty is that they braise their meats so you will always get a stewy, flavorful, meat-melting-in-your-mouth experience.

I was lucky enough to also get a bite of the grilled fish taco which, as my followers know, is not usually a favorite of mine (booo tilapia).  But whatever fish they put in this taco was supreme.  Fresh. Light.  A crunch of cabbage. I'd eat this fish taco any day.



There is no doubt in my mind: Guisado's knows tacos.

Plus, they have some delicious horchata (maybe a Blocho's Tacos #1 Horchata) and agua frescas.  I recommend blending the melon y limon for a tropical party in your mouth.


Peep that horchata and "Arnold Palmito" with Melon and Limon
Basically, you're denying yourself pure bliss if you're in LA and looking for tacos and do not go to Guisado's.  Don't do that.  Just go.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Life Beyond Tacos?

Recently, I've been thinking about my digital brand and online presence.  I am Blocho's Tacos. And more.

This online log of tacos and other foods and places has become an element of my identity and a go-to place to personally and publicly explore my "musings".  My identity stretches far beyond tacos.  So, is it inauthentic to use this as a forum for non-taco related things?  Do I need multiple digital outlets for my different interests?

I'm still not sure.

All I know is that as challenging as it is to admit, there is life beyond tacos that I've started exploring.


But there will always be tacos.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tacos & Cleanses & Yoga



Tacos. I love them.
Cleanses. I love them. (Yep, I do.)
Yoga. I love it.

After leaving one of the best yoga classes I've taken at Om Factory - Fashion District, I checked my phone and had a message waiting from my sister.  No words.  Just a link.

This link.

http://greatideas.people.com/2016/01/06/taco-cleanse-yoga-poses/

I knew this would be epic.  Taco cleanse yoga poses?  There was nothing in the URL that I didn't like.  A taco cleanse may seem like the opposite of the ever popular juice cleanse, but isn't there something to be said for changing up our routines?

Salivating over the idea of eating tacos post-yoga, I quickly learned about the book The Taco Cleanse (I will be starting my cleanse on Cinco de Mayo, of course) and the hilarious Taco Yoga Poses below.

Taco
From The Taco Cleanse and http://greatideas.people.com/2016/01/06/taco-cleanse-yoga-poses/

The brilliant minds behind this cleanse and detoxifying yogic culinary experience are my heroes.  They put a smile on my face, whet my appetite, and made me feel great about my lunchtime yoga practice.

What a great find on Taco Tuesday.  Namaste.  Namastaco.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

An Oscar Worthy Short Film*

Picture this:
One man.
Three tacos.
Chips and guac.
Coffee.

ACTION!

That is exactly what you'll get in this made-for-virtual-reality short film.  Danny Trejo has a taco shop in LA and you can watch him eat his eponymous tacos for three minutes.  It's fascinating.



My favorite part is his amusement at the lettuce-"shelled" taco.

This video made me really hungry.



*This doesn't deserve an Oscar, but I still love it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Best (new) NYC (delivered) Breakfast

Tired of boring bagels and cream cheese for the office breakfast?

What about BREAKFAST TACOS?

In November, I learned about Farm 2 Tacos and am bewildered that it has taken me so long to blog about this brilliant concept.  Delivery breakfast tacos!

The variety of flavors and combinations is quite astonishing -- from fillings to tortilla types -- you can really make this a crowd pleaser. I'm looking forward to:

Maple Bacon
Indian Eggs (what is that?)
Chunky Guacamole
Pure Brisket
Kale
Spicy Potatoes
Corn tortilla. Always. 
(But if you want flour, spelt, whole wheat etc, you can have that too.)

30 tacos for approximately $150 does seem a bit more expensive than the bagel and CC route, but well worth it.  Think of all the protein and veggie goodness!

Hopefully I will order these soon and will review them more promptly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Fortunate

Despite my inability to eat the fortune cookies that come with an order of Chinese food, I love cracking them open and reading the hilarious fortunes bestowed upon me.

Every once in a while I receive a fortune that really seems to fit.  I slip that little slice of paper into my wallet and occasionally stumble upon it and am reminded of its relevance.

In an effort to Marie Kondo my life and throw out all joyless items, I was reaching for my insurance card and decided to clean out my wallet.  Why keep these pieces of paper when I can digitize them?  So, I did.

Executive Ability is prominent in your makeup.
Sweet.  Fortune 500, here I come!

Don't wait for your ship to come in; swim out to it.
Yes. Seize life. Grab onto it. Carpe diem.

Brief philosophical diatribe on fortune cookies.  Have you ever ordered one entree, one appetizer, and one side for yourself knowing that you'll have leftovers and receive 18 fortune cookies?  This is either a generous gift from the person that packaged your meal, or a subtle hint that maybe you have enough food to feed an army.  I prefer the former.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Two Useful Taco Tools

Today is National Margarita Day*.  It's also Tuesday ergo Taco Tuesday.  What a delightful combination.

I feel like I have not been OUT for tacos in ages.  So I started scoping the interwebs for the latest and greatest NYC tacos.  The Infatuation sent me to Zagat's list of 38 delicious NY tacos (helpful tool #1) and after perusing their page, I clicked through to helpful tool #2.

Best NYC Tacos By Type

BY TYPE.  Brilliant.  Sometimes you're really craving that chicken taco and beef or pork won't cut it.  Alas, your problems are solved.  Have a nice life.

I also like this because most taco places offer multiple types of tacos and how can you really compare a veggie taco to a fish taco?  You're right, you cannot. So, keep things consistent and launch an adventure to eat all chorizo tacos next time you plan a taco tour.

Buen provecho.


*Where do people come up with these?  Who makes them "official"?  Why am I so obsessed with them?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Morning Crunch

Granola is not "good for you".  I remember the pangs of disappointment and loss I felt when I learned that my high school go-to-breakfast of bowls filled with granola (a.k.a. Nature Valley Oats 'n Honey bars broken into pieces) was not the breakfast of champions.  Store bought granola is packed with sugar, not to mention all the processed grains, dried fruits etc.

Being gluten-free, I have a burning desire to try everything labeled as such and so have had my fair share of unhealthy granolas -- gluten free is not a euphemism for health -- pass through my kitchen (and into my mouth). The options have increased tremendously -- Udi's, Purely Elizabeth, Bare Naked, KIND -- and if you want to find gluten free granola, there is a spectrum of choices and health qualities you can choose from.

In an effort to minimize my grocery store spending and maximize the health benefits of my food but still enjoy the sweet delicious crunchy goodness of granola, I set out to make my own.

If you think there are a lot of options for store bought granola then beware of searching for recipes online.  Gluten-free, grain-free, paleo x 1,000,000.

Luckily, college BFF Emily has been cooking up homemade granola for ages.  I had tasted hers years ago and loved the crunchy, nutty, fruity, not-to-sweet blend her granola always had.  Her recipe is simple and adaptable depending on the exact flavor profile you are craving.  My favorite combination includes dried cherries & walnuts or figs, prunes & cashews.  Where will your granola take you?

Easy Homemade Granola 
(from "Baked: New Frontiers in Baking" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

[Maddy's Note: One thing I absolutely love about this recipe is that I eyeball all of the measurements and it always yields tasty granola.]

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey [Maddy's Note: Sometime I do a blend of honey/maple syrup]

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar [Maddy's Note: For my health-conscious granola, I typically leave this out.  Still plenty sweet.]

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup whole almonds [Emily's Note: I used slivered almonds, and they worked fine.]

1/3 cup whole hazelnuts

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until 

completely combined.

Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: 

Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats 

are coated with the honey mixture.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few 

clumps here and there for texture.


Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip 

the granola. Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the 

oven.

Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the 

granola. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the 

raisins and cherries over the granola...

and use your hands to transfer it to an airtight container.

The granola will keep for 1 week.

[Maddy's Note: If I'm feeling lazy, I don't separate the baking into 3 sections (10 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes).  Flavor is still delicious and you can eyeball the baking/dryness to get the optimal crunch.]


Enjoy over thick greek yogurt or in a bowl with probiotic-filled kefir!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuna Sandwich al Taco



As a kid I never ate seafood.  The smell and look of salmon, lobster, swordfish, or whatever ocean / river / fish tank dweller my mom brought home disgusted me.  I used to get bribes to taste the fish -- $1 for a bite of salmon, $5 for a lobster claw -- but nothing seemed to work.  Except mayonnaise, carrots, and celery.  I loved Bumble Bee Tuna out of a can and mixed up into the most delicious tuna salad in the world -- my mom's.

With years came maturity and adventurousness and I started eating seafood.  I took the $5 bribe and realized I liked lobster claws, but not the tails.  A tuna avocado roll doused in soy sauce (now gluten-free tamari) and loaded up with pickled ginger was quite delicious.

Two sticky situations led me to try shrimp and salmon* and my expected reactions -- immediate hurling -- was dwarfed by the pure enjoyment.

Tuna salad will always hold a dear place in my heart at my fish-eating gateway drug.  Combining tuna salad into a taco?  Now that's pure genius.

Saveur's Taco Truck Tuna Sandwich
Taco Truck Tuna Sandwich

The olive oil, avocado, and cilantro will certainly make this tuna sandwich uniquely delicious.  It reminds me a bit of my Tunacado on gluten free bread from Joe & The Juice (@ 67 Spring Street) that had some aioli or sauce that made my snowy day pure bliss.

Although I have not yet vetted this brilliant creation, I doubt it will lead me to turn away from seafood. Or tacos.



*The stories of trying these two seafoods are quite hilarious in my opinion, so I wanted to include them.
Shrimp: While in San Francisco visiting my best friend from freshman year of college we went out for Chinese food with his entire family.  Given the plethora of wheat-based soy sauce based dishes on the menu, I was already causing quite a headache so when they ordered "shrimp in the gluten free white sauce", I couldn't interject with my hatred of seafood.  I mainly ate rice and tried to fish (pun intended) my way around the baby crustaceans until I realized one had slipped past my dexterous fork skills and landed in my mouth.  Well, rather than spit into my napkin I chewed and swallowed.  It was delightful.  A bit lobstery, a bit new and different.  Later I found out that those were pretty terrible shrimp so I knew that I was on the up and up.

Salmon: My best friend from college, Emily, bought me a cooking demo class as my 22nd birthday present.  One Spring night we ventured into a new neighborhood of Chicago to watch, drink and eat.  As we sat down in the open kitchen ready to see chefs at work, I saw some serious issues with the menu.  The two main dishes were pasta salad and salmon.  Knowing they likely did not have a gluten free pasta option, I started sweating trying to figure out an escape plan.  When the salmon was served I figured I could power through one bite and push the food around so it looked like I ate more than I did or pass it off to Emily.  Once again, my expectations were shattered and I devoured the salmon in minutes.

Conclusion:  Had it not been for my gluten freedom, I could very well still be a fish hating idiot.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Snapchat

In a world of digital, the newest / latest / greatest app is always of interest to me.  When Snapchat came out a few years ago, I had a lot of questions.  Was it just for sending illicit photos? I used it primarily for sending my sister and close friends the ugliest selfies I could come up with.  I found it hilarious.

I got bored and deleted the app (although my account remained active).

In December, over lunch at Bluestone Lane Cafe (GO THERE IF YOU HAVE YET TO!) I whipped out my phone for the #basic #brunch #avotoast #foodporn Instagram.  I commented to my friend, Lisa, that she had not posted to Instagram in many months.  "I know...now I do everything on Snapchat."



Excuse me?! Tell me more.

Lisa explained to me the ins and outs of Snapchat.  I learned about stories and things disappearing in 24 hours and the chat function and filters.  This could be fun.

So, I re-downloaded Snapchat and began.

I'm hooked.



Why do I like Snapchat?  It's instant and "live". Your story is a compilation of brief vignettes from the past 24 hours.  Nothing lasts forever (unless you download it) and so there is an ease about it.  Rather than spend 45 minutes agonizing over which Instagram filter (X-Pro II or Lo-Fi?!?). Snapchat can bring levity to life.

For those that really don't get it, this is what I say: You know when you're on the subway and some random man has his headphones in and is belting out the words to whatever he's listening to? It's hilarious. You want to share this with someone but you don't want the video on your phone forever and it's really no big deal if no one ever sees it. Use Snapchat.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Most Important Meal of the Day

BREAKFAST.....tacos.

You don't have to tell me twice.  I believe the breakfast taco originated in Austin, Texas, and has been making moves across the U.S. for year.  The beauty of the breakfast taco is you can make it your own -- a blank corn-tortilla palette.  Like bacon? Prefer chorizo?  Pick your poison. Add it to your taco.  ENJOY.

Saveur offered a recipe for a pretty standard "bacon, egg, and cheese" + avocado + potatoes.  What more do you want in a warm breakfast "sandwich"?

Simple Weeknight Meal, Breakfast Taco

http://www.saveur.com/breakfast-taco-recipe

Go forth and breakfast taco!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Why My Grandma is The Coolest

"Hey Gram -- want to have dinner tomorrow night?"

"Sure.  There's also a lecture on Frank Gehry's architecture at 6:30pm.  Can we go to that too?"

http://www.ateliercourbet.com/frank-gehry/
Because why only have dinner when you can take each moment to learn something cool!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cozy Tacos


Bar Menu
Today is Snowmaggedon / Snowpocalypse / Blizzard Jonas.  The wind is whipping, the snow is falling, and if you're not running through the drifts acting like a maniac, you're probably home cozied up with the latest Netflix series or a big bottle of red wine....probably both.

I love going out at times likes these to see what others are doing.  Who is braving the storm? Who is riding the subway? How many cartons of eggs are left in the bodega?

If I had to venture out for food today, choosing a place for delicious tacos would be a no-brainer.  And a cozy atmosphere? I'm surprised I'm not there already.

Looking into the kitchen
La Superior in Williamsburg is just that.  Open late, their mini tacos are the perfect snack and can easily be compiled into a delicious meal.  I ventured to La Superior minutes before the 2 a.m. kitchen closing and was delighted by their taco and guacamole offering.  The tinga de pollo tacos packed a punch and the spice was more on the smoky than mouth-on-fire-spicy spectrum.  I was a big fan.  And their 9-hour slow cooked pork carnitas taco was phenomenal.  If only I had savored it for 9 more hours! 

I don't often find myself in Williamsburg on the search for tacos, but now I'll stop searching.  La Superior has what I need.




Keep in mind, La Superior is cash only! 


Monday, January 4, 2016

When in SF, go to The Mission.

For West Coast/Bay Area aficionados, the place to get delicious (and inexpensive) Mexican food is The Mission.


When I said I wanted tacos (and a burrito for my non-gluten free companions), everyone suggested El Farolito.  Arriving to a line that snaked out of the small NY pizza-joint styled eatery confirmed that this was the place to eat.

Standing outside in the unseasonably cold San Francisco winter weather (low 40s!), we deliberated the offerings and drooled over the menu.  Watching the guys expertly craft the steak quesadillas on the griddle was almost enough to sway my from my true calling.


I opted for an al pastor and carne asada tacos.  Expertly places on double corn tortillas with onions and cilantro, these tacos were good.  Really good.  The meat was juicy and plentiful and although I went a bit overboard on the super spicy salsa (red pico de gallo looking salsa), I balance the intensity with the cooling green tomatillo/avocado (??) option.

Two tacos were plenty of food and by the looks of the delicious horchata that was being dispensed by the minute, I should have added that to my order for a spectacular Farolito meal.

The super burritos were super...in size.  Don't be fooled by the addition of avocado etc as the factors that make this bad boy so super.  Size matters.



Thank you, El Farolito.  You made me smile a taco smile.