Archive for the 'Mexican' Category

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{swoon} Weekend Carnitas at Central & Slauson

Weekend Carnitas at Central & Slauson - Los Angeles

Even though I downed a dozen plus tacos this past Sunday at Tacolandia, most of which can be traced back to La Guerrerense‘s booth, I’m still swooning over the carnitas that Bill Esparza introduced me to a few weekends back.

Unlike the gal who I overheard saying towards the tail end of the event, “I’ll never eat another taco again!” I could most definitely go for a few more tacos this minute, preferably ones from the weekends-only carnitas stand on a dusty stretch of Florence-Firestone.

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Tacos Leo Truck – Los Angeles

Leo's Taco Truck - Mid-City - Los Angeles

When the sun sets over Los Angeles, the taqueros come out in full force from all corners of the city. The 76 gas station on the corner of Venice and La Brea in Mid-City plays host to the city’s finest al pastor operation, literally “shepherd-style” tacos prepared on a trompo (rotating spit), which was influenced by Lebanese immigrants in Mexico.

Leo's Taco Truck - Mid-City - Los Angeles

There’s almost always a line snaking through the parking lot, but Leo’s crew never breaks a sweat. Service is prompt and efficient, so you’ll get your taco in a timely fashion.

Leo's Taco Truck - Mid-City - Los Angeles

The pork, colored a fetching shade of red from dried red chilies and achiote paste (a blend of annatto, oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, garlic, and salt), is loaded onto the trompo with precision and left to roast until perfectly tender and glossy.

As orders roll in, the cashier scribbles tickets for the taquero, who lops off the perfect porky portion straight into a griddled corn tortilla with a few swift flicks of his wrist.

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Steel City Pops – Birmingham

Steel City Pops - Birmingham

While visiting Birmingham this past winter, The Astronomer and I were tipped off to a sweets shop specializing in gourmet Mexican paletas (popsicles). I’ve come to expect really terrific soul food, fine dining, and of course, barbecue in this town, but never considered anything like Steel City Pops.

Steel City Pops - Birmingham

Inspired by Nashville’s Las Paletas, Jim Watkins opened Steel City Pops last May in a Homewood strip mall that fittingly includes a gourmet taqueria. Steel City Pops recently opened a second location at The Summit (a magnificent and enormous suburban shopping complex) and have a third location planned in Tuscaloosa. I love that paletas are taking over ‘Bama.

Steel City Pops - Birmingham

Since we visited the shop during the Christmas holiday, many of the flavors were inspired by the season. Steel City Pops makes paletas de aguas (water-and-juice-based pops), as well as paletas de crema (milk- or cream-based pops). We selected one of each on our first visit.

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The Residency at UMAMIcatessen: Chef Micah Wexler’s “To Live and Dine in L.A.”

The Residency at UMAMIcatessen: "To Live and Dine in L.A." with Chef Micah Wexler

Meet: The Residency.

Housed in Downtown’s UMAMIcatessen, this culinary series features a changing roster of chefs from around the country every Thursday night, with each stint lasting 10 weeks. Think of The Residency as Grant Achatz’s Next with a dash of Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner and a pinch of LudoBites’ showmanship. Does that make any sense? You’ll see…

The Residency at UMAMIcatessen: "To Live and Dine in L.A." with Chef Micah Wexler

Kicking off the series is Chef Micah Wexler (left), formerly of Mezze. Joining him behind the 12-seat counter is Mezze’s former pastry chef Morgan Bordenave (center) and general manager Mike Kassar (right).

One of the coolest aspects of this experience is the intimacy of the space. With diners seated around a small U-shaped counter and chefs preparing and plating each course just a few feet away, interaction and conversation is encouraged like at no other venue in town.

The Residency at UMAMIcatessen: "To Live and Dine in L.A." with Chef Micah Wexler

Chef Wexler is as personable as they come, so it was a real treat bantering back and forth with him throughout dinner and probing him about important matters like how to best prepare the flageolet beans I received in my Christmas stocking last year.

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