Saturday, April 25, 2009

Top Chef Season 6 in Sin City

According to several internet sources, Top Chef Season 6 will be filming in Las Vegas.

image courtesy of

Kate Aurther, television editor of the LATimes twittered this information yesterday. YumSugar reported the news last week. Apparently they start filming next week.

EaterLA reports that it will be filmed at the M Resort in Henderson. M Resort was intended to be a property friendly and appealing to Las Vegas locals. WHY? I have no idea. The locals I have met are either happy enough to stay away from the strip altogether, or venture into the strip when they want a night on the town, an amazing meal or a little gambling, and then get the hell out. Maybe all of the above activities will be more appealing in Henderson. Nevertheless, the Marnell company must see a need, no matter how poorly timed. Marnell properties is also responsible for Silverado Canyon, a planned estate community in Orange County.

image courtesy of Vegas Today and Tomorrow

LATimes officially reported it, along with the news that our beloved and sexy Tom Colicchio has grown a full beard, emulating the now questionably insane/comic genius/master thespian Joacquin Phoenix.

image courtesy of e-clips

In other Top Chef news, LATimes reports a spin off called Top Chef Masters. While I had previously heard rumors of this fun project, I had not heard that during a press conference one reporter complained about Top Chef's unwillingness to hire a host (hostess) who "looks like someone who enjoys food." The Top Chef Masters' hostess in question, Kelly Choi, is certainly as delicate as they come.

image courtesy of YumSugar

While not a thin person per se, I certainly know lots of thin food bloggers who could out-eat me given any kind of cuisine, on any kind of occasion. Additionally, one of the now infamous stories told about my petite mother has to do with someone mentioning that she must, "eat like a bird". To which someone nearby who knew her well replied, "Yes, a vulture." Go, Mom!

image courtesy of feifeifeifei's flickr photostream

Friday, April 24, 2009

Jitlada Junket; Around Southern Thailand in 15 Dishes

5233 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 663-3104

My new friend Tony of Sinosoul is a social genius with a love for food and a quirky acerbic sense of humor. Last Wednesday, he invited a group of like minded food obsessed blog loving people to meet at Jitlada to take over the east room and feast for hours. This was fun.

I didn't start blogging as any kind of social activity or money making venture. I just started to have an opportunity to write more, something sorely lacking in my professional life. And to add a framework around which to enjoy my food. Some focus, a raison d'etre. bloggers are fun and friendly and I have really been enjoying getting to know many of my peers this spring. I was seated next to FoodWolf, whose blog I have followed since I started blogging myself, and Infinite Fress whose blog is a completely different animal than mine but wholly enjoyable and a great read. I read Infinite Fress's latest post on my iPhone at Jumbo's Clown Room. Just mentioning. Also in attendance were Delicious Coma sitting back to back with me and behaving very thirstily, BSide Blog, Gastronomy Blog (whom I think I have met before), Eat, Drink & Be Merry with Oishii Eats (I have been following them both prior to the engagement post), Starchy Marie (who is a new one to me), Rants & Craves (who I met at a recent event), Life With a Whisk (fun cooking blog), WeezerMonkey, Sassy Flashy Classy (non-food girlie blog that I am now intrigued by, my dark secret is my addiction to girlie blogs), Wandering Chopsticks, and last but naturally not least Sinosoul's sweet gf/f sitting right next to me and taking care of D & me like an auntie (a beautiful, sexy auntie, but somehow auntie like nonetheless in making sure we got enough of everything to eat).

Tony's qualification of this meal follows:

That said, this wasn't meant to be a "deep end" meal. There is never intention to funk the hell out of people. Yes, the fermented bamboo in the "Thalaa" stank, yes the sator beans are a bit foul but... Exoticism was NOT the crux of the meal. We sampled light soups, thick curries, watery curries, salty stir fries, sickeningly sweet fried dishes, etc. The content of the evening is s'pose to portray a typical Southern meal, as inspired by Erik M:

The only Thai I have ever had are several versions of rather Americanized Thai. I have frequented Manora's Thai and Phuket in San Francisco, Lemongrass in Sacramento, and Rambutan, Toi, Chan Dara, TG Express (obsessively for cheap delivery of spicy mint noodles back in my K-Town days) and the now defunkt Suriyo Thai Bistro all in Los Angeles. I have never had Thai this authentic, and I am sure after this posting someone will be telling me somewhere even more authentic to go to, and I will happily do so.

Part of the motivation to go here is the knowledge via Chowhound that this is the best Thai in the city. The fact that Ms. Virbila gave it a great review didn't hurt. And the fact that Tony thinks all the Johnny-come-latelies post-review are going to ruin the restaurant sealed the deal.

W arrived a little late (due in part to a flat bicycle tire) and missed maybe a dish or two. So we started with the Black Pepper Drumsticks, a fried turmeric marinated chicken drumstick with green mango salad. This was offered with a little red pepper sauce, pretty mild. The chicken was also sprinkled with roasted sticky garlic. I would definitely eat this again. Crunchy, fried chicken goodness Thai style.

I don't see this one anywhere on the menu. It was a fresh tasting slaw style salad with cashews. It was sweet and sour and nutty with cabbage and bean sprouts.

This course was the delectable mild & sour ox-tail soup,
Sup Hang Wua. The flavor of lemongrass and lime in this were extremely bright, while the meat was a little sultry as ox-tail can be. I want a whole pot of this to myself.

The ox-tail. There were many dishes that passed from the kitchen to our tables. Because there were 33 of us, we all had to share. This was more like a Jitlada tasting evening than a regular meal. Which leaves us with a couple problems. Foremost, my pics are not great. I never saw a dish in its entirety and I was too busy flapping my maw and listening to articulate and wonderful foodies to care. (Does anyone else detest the term "foodie"? I have a personal bias against it that I won't share here. Suffice to say I find the term annoying. My apologies for using it.) Secondly, D left hungry. Even though his belly was full, he says that at a tasting meal, when the aesthetic of a full plate is never filled, he leaves feeling hungry.

Above is
Phangga jungle curry (pork spare ribs with Thai eggplant in spicy jungle curry), or in something slightly more profane, "OMFGMYMOUTHISONFIRE", and the fire in your mouth and on your lips lasts about 15 minutes. There were various reactions to this dish. D is an ass-kicker and ate everything on his plate and then kvetched for about 30 minutes. Infinite Fress is an ass-kicker, ate his share and wanted more, while wiping the sweat beads from his face with a napkin. Tony's gf/f ate hers, then gulped down her entire Thai iced tea in about 5 minutes, literally shoveling the ice into her mouth with a spoon. I suffered as much as anyone else, but kept a little pile of juice soaked rice on the side of my plate, eating tiny bites and suffering in small doses as the meal continued. I have to admit that I asked Infinite Fress to assess the spiciness of every other dish that crossed our paths that night.

Peppercorn on the vine from the OMFGMYMOUTHISONFIRE. I don't remember ever seeing peppercorns not removed, the shape and texture is really pretty. This dish really raised my threshold for spiciness. Everything else that crossed my path that evening was categorized into "not spicy at all", or "really spicy but nowhere near as spicy as OMFGMYMOUTHISONFIRE".

The dish above was one of my favorites.
Phat Luuk Taw “Meung Khong, Nakhon Sri Tammart style stir-fried sator beans with shrimp/ground pork/squid. When it reached the table, people started commenting on the fragrance. Not an altogether pleasurable fragrance.

Turns out the sator bean is also called a stink bean. A small green bean, sliced in half. At first I avoided eating these because in my mind they were the tips of jalapeno peppers. However, after undergoing some education I decided to give the stink bean a whirl.

The sator is a delicious little bean. Tastes like mushroom.

Above is the basil frog leg. Frog legs have a really silky texture. Not like chicken, not like fish, maybe something in between. Really delicious little mounds of meat, these were served with crispy fried basil which is a big love of mine.

We also had a dish with a fish cake stuffed with duck egg. Delicious and exotic.
Kaeng tai khai “Mang Kon” – Southern style curry with jicama & house made fish balls stuffed with duck eggs. I love the slightly rubbery fish cake, and I love eggs. This was fun.

Above is soft-shell crab on a mango salad. While this dish was nice, and my palate was ready for the fresh fruitiness of the mango, I really could not discern the flavors of soft-shell crab through the cooking and saucing method. I have eaten a lot of soft shell crab in my life, and it is really a delicate flavor. Having said that, I really enjoyed the dish.

Out comes a palate cleansing soup,
Kaeng Jeut plaa meuk yat sai - light flavored soup with minced-chicken-stuffed squid. I don't think I got any meat in my portion, but that was fine. I was really full at this point. I slurped at the delicious broth and enjoyed the al dente cabbage, carrots and green onions.

Next was a dish that really captured my imagination. Not everyone was willing to taste this, and I am here to share that if you passed, you missed out.
Kaeng leung “Thalaa” . This is a signature curry dish, with no coconut milk. The key ingredient is fermented bamboo, and boy did this stink. It smelled like sweaty feet in dirty socks. But the flavor was brilliant. Smoky, bitter and juicy with very little heat and some nice catfish chunks. I like.

The last dish I sampled were a few bites of the
Narathiwat green curry – steamed rice noodle topped with coconut milk green curry & chicken. This was delicious, the coconut milk gave it a nice creamy sweetness. I just had a couple bites to taste. If Jitlada does food to go, this could be an HG soup for the 3 cold weeks during the cruel LA winter.

Thanks Tony, for the wonderful event, the fascinating food and the chance to be in the company of such brilliantly food loving humans.

Please see B-Side blog for much superior pics and an even better rundown of the heat at Jitlada.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

99 Centavo Pupusa Viernes a Maya's Taco Market en Echo Parque, Man.

Maya's Taco Market
1600 N Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90026
99 cent pupusas cada Lunes & Viernes.

Hanging out with, talking to and eating with lots of different LA bloggers recently has really piqued my interest in trying some food things around town that I haven't really ventured into. Two female bloggers recently chastised me for not trying the amazing pupusas made right on my corner at the little cart. A recent email from StreetGourmet LA reminded me of all the different meats/dishes/etc in Latin American food I have yet to try. I have an adventurous palate, so it is certainly not for lack of willingness. So today, on my own and with some time on my hands for lunch, I yelp'd pupusas in my hood and found raves about Maya's Taco Market at 1600 Alvarado.

One blogger said it is just like being in a cafe in Mexico, and s/he was right. This reminded me very much of a cafe I ate at near the airport in Mexico City in 1995. Small, no English spoken by the owner/wife/staff, plastic tablecloths wiped spic and span, and a few grocery items in the cold box. They were pretty busy, a line four people long and most of the dozen or so tables occupied by people eating or waiting for food. The cafe had a nice, bright friendly feel and a mix of ethnicities there to enjoy the food. I ordered two pupusas and two tacos to go, with the "hot" habanera salsa and some regular heat salsa as well. My order took about 10 minutes, and I was on my way back up the hill to take pics and sample my booty.

Mi plata. Yeah, I know this is a seriously huge lunch. I didn't eat it all. I really wanted to taste a bunch of different things. My friend K's recent words have inspired me, especially around inexpensive food. "Taste everything, finish nothing." It may be a little wasteful, but I love tasting food. So sue me. All four dishes weighed in at $5.06 including tax.

First item up for description is the taco de tripa. I have never had tripe. Tripe is made from the first three chambers of the cow's stomach. To me, it tastes remarkably like liver, which I love. The texture is fairly rubbery though. I liked the flavors of this with all the white onion, cilantro and some of the habanero salsa.

The second taco I ordered was cochinita pibil. Cochinita pibil is a slow roasted pork, traditional to the Yucatan (one of my favorite parts of Mexico). To make this, the pork is typically marinated in acidic citrus juices and then colored/flavored with annatto seeds. I tasted the nutmeg flavor of the annatto seeds, initially thinking I was tasting cinnamon, but knowing I was a little off in my analysis. This was melt-in-your-mouth, uber flavorful puerco heaven in a taco. The pickled cabbage on top was the perfect foil for the nutty richness of the pork.

Here are my pupusas. I asked for the two different kinds of pupusas offered today, cheese & pork, and cheese & chicharrones. There were some issues with translation, and for some reason I felt shy about using my Spanish. The exchange was brief, and I am always careful about assuming people do not speak English in LA. I don't want to insult anyone by immediately speaking Spanish to them just because of what they look like. I will know better next time because I got the same pupusa twice.

Both were delicious. Cheesey, but not overly so, and with just a little meat. I like the fact that it wasn't overstuffed with filling. It tasted really authentic to me, much like I remember the pupusas I ate nightly from the cart while walking home from the expat bar in the city center of Quetzaltenango.

The salsa habanero. I was warned this was very hot. However, my resistance to heat is currently high as a result of last night's spicy extravaganza at Jitlada. I have never had heat like that before, that I can remember, and this paled in comparison to Jitlada's jungle curry. This salsa is great. Light and lovely, with plenty of heat, don't let me fool you with my baddassness.

And the mild salsa. Also lovely. So nice to find a new discovery 2 minutes from my home. Next time I plan to try the empanadas, a chile relleno and a tamale. Just you wait.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Green Things, Chez Food She Thought

How much worrying, hand wringing and sobbing can one do before giving it a rest? Turns out, only so much before one has to have drinks. T, C, R & R came over Saturday for food, drinks and merriment fueled by C's cooking and my cocktail shaking.

I will start with my inspiration. Last week I attended a blogger dinner at STK, where mixologist/genius/devil Pablo Moix mixed some of the best drinks I have ever tasted. I was very taken by the uniqueness of the Green Intensity. Made originally from Aviation gin, with lime, serrano peppers and basil, it stunned me into silence. My mouth was full, naturally.

I tweaked the recipe at the behest of my company. They wanted a vodka evening. Also, not having his recipe, I had to use some of my own magic tricks. Instead of fresh squeezed lime, I used limeade. I only partially dilute the limeade, maybe 75% of the dilution called for. This does away with the need for simple syrup, but I always have agave nectar on hand if need be. The first round I simply added some sliced strands of basil and one slice of serrrano to the shaker. They turned out great, but not quite enough heat and definitely not enough basil. I had perfected them by the third round. I put four slices of a smaller, slightly darker serrano and more hand torn basil. Hand tearing the basil released far more of the herbaceous oils. Fantastic. Next time they will be this good the first time around. With regard to vodka and limeade, I used 125% of an unfully diluted limeade to 100% vodka. If you want me to come up with more exact measurements, use the email button up above to your right. I would love to share my interpretation of the Green Intensity with you. If you are ever near STK, stop in for one of Pablo's drinks. If we are ever there together, it will be my treat.

I also constructed an amuse-bouche for the evening before my cooking skills/competance/patience went south. I cooked from a cookbook, Amuse-Bouche: Little Bites that Delight Before the Meal Begins by Rick Tramonto. This recipe was so simple and really delightful. Asparagus terrine in aspic with goat cheese sauce.

I started with gelatin sheets from Surfas, the most orgasmic cooking store in our solar system. You plunge the weird dry sheets into a bowl of cold water an wait for them to soften.

Next, you squeeze the water out of them, add to broth and dissolve. I used an organic veggie broth from a shelf bought at Whole Foods (not boullion this time). Did you hear that, commentator? I am all that is wrong with culinary arts in this country. Broth from a shelf! I degraded amazing ingredients by using something non-homemade! (Psst: it tasted good!)

I blanched the asparagus. For once I did not overcook. I actually tried to undercook and they came out perfect. Strive for mediocrity and achieve perfection. Ta effing da.

Layer the stalks in the plastic wrapped terrine, and spoon liquid aspic over each layer. When placing the terrine in the fridge to set, I put a can of corn over the covered asparagus, to mold the stalks closely together.

Right before serving, I simply mixed 5 oz of goat cheese with a couple tablespoons of water. I lay this simple sauce across the bottom of the plate, placed the asparagus gently in the sauce, and sprinkled a few micro greens on top.

It was incredibly springy. Hope springs eternal in my house. Each day.

The Macaron Diaries: April 18th, 2009

I fup duck my macarons this time, bad. I had just enough ingredients for all three batches, with really nothing extra leftover. Unfortunately, due partially to the emotional chaos that is my life and partially to David Liebovotz tendency to mix measuring units in his recipes between volume versus weight (shoulder some of that weight, David, damn you), I undermeasured the egg whites for the chocolate batch. During prep I used "two large egg whites". They sat around on my counter for two days. Saturday late morning I beat them, added sugar and continued to beat until I got that gorgeous whippy glossy consistency. I then attempted to fold in the dry ingredients and it was like folding all the the sand in the Gobi Desert into a a tiny koi pond. Fuggetabowtit. Le heavy sigh.

Very quickly I realized that another trip to the store would yield me more eggs, but not "aged" eggs. This could all go south after hours of work. So I scrapped the project and we piled into the car. It took us 3 hours to visit 3 LA bakery/pastry stores & 1 ice cream shop, whereas making three flavors of macarons takes more like six, including all the wait time. The first macaron tasting extravaganza underway.

First stop, Bottega Louie.

We had sampled the macs at Bottega Louie a couple weeks ago with C. So we stopped here, close to home, at the beginning of the journey. Because I only bought 6 macarons here, the woman working the counter threw them haphazardly in a bag, immediately crushing the side of one of them. These are delicate. I asked for a box and was informed a box hold thirteen. I requested one anyway, because I am fancy like that. It is a beautiful box. The manager type person gave it a nice bow.

Next stop, La Provence in Beverly Hills on Olympic.

La Provence was both annoyingly busy partnered with annoyingly slow. The guy behind the counter had a 10 minute conversation with a customer about how they refuse to let the men working there handle the cash register, therefore he is not allowed to ring customers up. So he stood there doing nothing while we all waited for the female workers to finish helping people. Seems like a good system. The customer commented that no wonder the male staff always seem to quit quickly. Fascinating. To avoid any box issues I ordered 8, exactly the number to go in their pretty little box.

The last place we hit was Lemonade in WeHo. I am immature, and the entire time sang the schoolyard rhyme, "Milk, milk, lemonade. Around the corner, fudge is made.", over and over. They only served two flavors of the cookies. Tossed in a bag. To hades with presentation.

Les macarons.

So, starting at the pink ones at the top at around 10 o'clock and heading clockwise, I will describe. The medium size pink, green and two shades of brown are from La Provence and my least favorite. The pink are rose, and T says they taste like an old lady's panties. Or something in that region. Not good. The green are pistachio. Yuck. The darker brown is chocolate, good. The lighter brown is caramel fleur de sel. That one was pretty damn good. The caramel was leaky though, which makes me feel better about my own leaky caramel de sel. The smallest orange, yellow and brown are from Bottega Louie. The orange are the brilliant passionfruit and far an away the best I have ever had. Brown, chocolate. Good. Yellow were lemon and they were just fine. Nothing to write home about. The huge macs are from milk, milk, Lemonade. Yellow is lemon and brown is chocolate. We cut them into manageable pieces. These.were.delicious.

We also accompanied the macs with ice cream from Scoops. Vanilla Oreo (yawn as a concept but delicious as a flavor), Currant Black Cherry Brandy (juicy, dirty, boozey yumminess), and Guinness Tiramisu (orgasmic ice creaminess). I couldn't pry the containers from peoples' hands long enough to get a pic.

Bottega Louie
700 S Grand Avenue (In the Brockman Building)
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 802-1470

La Provence
11677 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 442-1144

9001 Beverly Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
(310) 247-2500

712 N Heliotrope Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 906-2649

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Brujeria Deliciosa at Loteria Grill on Hollywood

Loteria Grill
6627 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 465-2500

Last weekend found us at odd ends and hungry in Hollywood. I had never been to Loteria in the Farmer's Market. I usually hit Mr. Marcel or Tusquellas when I am sashaying through while shopping, or stopping for a beverage at E.B.'s. I was instantly very taken by Loteria's open floor and kitchen architecture. I love watching the kitchen work when I am eating, and I equally love an impressive and beautifully merchandised bar.

Loteria cards. Loves. I actually own very few Christmas tree decorations because I rarely have a tree. However, my favorites are a set of small jazzed up glass balls with loteria cards on them surrounded by glitter. I love their rustic drawings and the magic they suggest. Using them as decor is very folk art to me.

The entire space is well lit by several huge skylights. Discussing the space and poring over these photos the other night with Matt of, we agreed that this is one of the best spaces in LA for taking food pics. Matt was on an assignment for some food styling and photographing here, and when he walked in the room he says he nearly jumped for joy at the amazing light and space. I love the space so much I am planning Mother's Day brunch 2009 here for 15 people. We shall see if that comes to pass. More on that in a month.

Loteria also boasts a medium size patio. It's a kind of indoor-outdoor arrangement. Only a small part of it is entirely outdoors, but sitting on any part of it you get the, a'hem, fresh spring breeze from Hollywood Blvd and some fairly entertaining people watching. If you consider any breeze off Hollywood to be fresh and if you consider tourists to be people. I kid, I kid. Kinda.

Our service was incredibly friendly, however a little (a lot) on the slow side. I am not sure if this was the fault of the server for not firing entrees fast enough, or the fault of the kitchen. D was a little grumpy about it, probably because he wasn't drinking one of their fantastic margaritas. It was a good one! We did have the chipotle salsa to tide us over, and it was fantastic. I was eating it with a spoon. If they would bottle it and sell it, I would put it on everything. Salads, meats, cereal.

D started with the tortilla soup. Eater beware. This is the most filling tortilla soup ever created, served in a gigantic bowl. It tastes to me like the tortillas are pureed into the broth, making it very thick and hearty. With queso fresco, tortilla strips, generous avocado and sun dried tomato bits all floating on top, this is an incredibly flavorful soup. But it is a meal. D, the bottomless pit, could barely touch anything else we ordered and we took a long walk down Hollywood to settle his overly full tummy.

I ordered for both of us because, behaving somewhat princesslike that day, there were things I had to try. Had to. First, I wanted the taco sampler. All 12 of their tacos served on silver dollar sized tortillas. One bite for most people, two for me. How fun is this?

I will start with the vegetable tacos.


Fresh cactus salad with salsa verde and queso fresco. This was nice, but I would like to try a regular size one. I felt there was not enough nopale in to really get that slightly bitter flavor to pop.

The calabacitas taco, with zucchini, roasted corn, salsa verde and queso fresco. This was a nice fresh bite or two. Nice flavor with the corn succotash. I love roasted corn.

The champinones taco, with mushrooms and epazote, onions, cilantro and queso fesco. This was one of my favorites because I am a fungus whore. WHAT is epazote, I wondered. (a website whose format I detest, therefore I rarely use it or any research, but I am kinda lazy this morning) says epazote is:

A Mexican herb that has a very strong taste and sometimes has a gasoline or perfumey type odor. It has been used in Mexican cuisine for thousands of years dating back to the Aztecs who used it for cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. Although epazote is poisonous in large quantities, it has been used in moderation to help relieve abdominal discomfort (gassiness) that can come from eating beans. It has become a distinct flavor in Mexican cuisine and is now used to season a variety of dishes including beans, soups, salads and quesadillas. The older leaves have a stronger flavor and should be used sparingly. Younger leaves have a milder, yet richer flavor.

I didn't taste anything except mushroom, onion and cheese in this taco. I imagine with epazote I just don't know what flavor my mouth is looking for. This issue certainly deserves further first person research.

This one I loved. Papa con rajas, supposedly potato with roasted poblano pepper, the queso and salsa. There was no potato on this. However, the wet velvety texture of the pepper was delicioso. I got two simple flavors here, the pepper and the cheese and it was good.

Going in order of the menu, I will address the chicken tacos next.

Three choices here, the first being chicken in mole poblano.

D ate this one and I am still pissed about it. I love mole. He doesn't. But since it is only one bite, there is no looking back or swapping plates. El sigh.

I got to eat this one. The tinga de pollo. Chicken stewed with chipotle peppers, a little chorizo and salsa roja de chipotle. The flavors of this one were immense. Definitely worth revisiting.

I am missing a taco in my pictures. I get distracted by chile rellenos, margaritas and shiny objects. I am missing the pollo en pipian, chicken with a spicy pumpkin seed sauce and finely chopped onions. If you look at the pic with all these tacos, I believe it is the taco at 2 o'clock. I didn't get to eat it either. I am also a little confused because it looks like there is something green on that taco, so maybe the kitchen mixed things up while constructing the plata.

Beef tacos.

Beef, good. Guacamole, good. Onion and cilantro, both good. In miniature taco, good.

Albondigas taco. D scooped this up before I could say "Boo!" to a ghost.

Tacos de puerco.

This had a really nice flavor as well. Cochinita pibil. It was really the pickled red onion that stood out and the habanero spiciness, all stood up nicely to the rich stewed porkiness.

I am also having issues with my chicharone taco in salsa verde. Maybe that is the taco at 2 o'clock. Looking back at my photos and comparing them to the menu, a couple of these tacos don't add up and there is definitely something missing from my photo collection. I don't think I ate that one either, anyway.

This one was really good, though. Carnitas in sauce morita, clearly with a huge slice of avocado. The silkiness of the avo with the spiciness of the smoked red jalapeno, a great combo.

Ever since we ate at Yxta when I did not order the chile rellenos in favor of ordering the cheese stuffed squash blossoms, I have been craving chile rellenos. These came in a dissimilar pairing. To the right of the photo is picadillo, with beef, raisins, tomatoes, peppers and whatever else they threw in. This could be its own dish. It was that tasty. I can see it with some rice, tortillas, crema can dream.

First chile. An ancho chile filled with black beans, goat cheese and chorizo. The filling was amazing spicy starchiness. Not a lot of chorizo, which is fine by me because sometimes chorizo is a little intense, overpowering other flavors. This was nicely balanced. I took pics of the filling, but it just didn't look that nice. You will have to trust me that this tasted good. It was the better of the two, in my opinion, largely due to the smokiness of the ancho chile.

And the second was the chile poblano. This was ingeniously filled with something surprising, plantains and queso fresco. I might have paired the plantains with asadero, traditionally used for chile rellenos, which mimics slightly a simple jack cheese. It was good though, and I enjoyed the surprising flavors.

All in all, there were a lot of hits at Loteria, simply from this small sampling of their menu. There were not true misfires, aside from the pokeyness of the service. I cannot wait to go again and try some different things from the inspired menu. Hopefully the Mother's Day reservation will stand. We have a lot of palates to please and some of them are less adventurous. Coming right up!