Nothing To See Here

And so as I was perusing my Facebook timeline this morning, idly reading posts while breakfast was consumed, I came across a post from Chile Monster, a good group of folks that I follow.

Contained in their post was a link to an article about a woman who had moved to New Mexico and her first experience dining at Albuquerque restaurant Little Anita’s. She details how over time she learned to love green chile, and now living in Colorado, she found another location of Little Anita’s where she could get her fix.

In the comment section of that article was the following quote:

I have the greatest disdain for it. Green “chili” is disgusting gruel. Chile verde is supposed to be made from tomatillos.

— Diego Raya

When I read that, I actually jumped a little as though I’d been touched by a live electrical current.

Then I said aloud to my phone in the quiet dark of my living room, “Whaaat the f*****k?”

It was at this point that I laughed. This had to be a joke. The Good Man wearies of me raging against tomatillos. In California, green salsa and green enchilada sauce are made solely with tomatillos and thus I avoid them at all costs. Occasionally there are some jalapenos thrown in. All heat and no flavor.

That is, as the internets would say, weak sauce.

Why anyone would prefer tomatillos over green chile is a mystery to me. There is actually room in the world for them both. I believe true chile verde has both, but I won’t quibble with the adamant commenter.

In the aftermath of reading the quote, I went through many of the stages of grief. I was disbelieving. I was angry. I was sad. Then I accepted that one Mr. Diego Raya is entitled to his opinion. And also his utter lack of taste buds.

Then I realized, let Mr. Raya have his silly green tomatoes. Piles and piles of ’em. Let him have the entire watery crop.

Eat, Mr. Raya, eat! Enjoy every last one.

Just leaves that much more green chile for me and my people.

Move along Mr. Raya. Nothing to see here.

O Fair New Mexico, we love, we love you so…

Image Copyright 2008, Karen Fayeth.

Am I Missing The Point?

So here at the new place of employ, we have a very nice building to work in. It’s an old warehouse in a now gentrified former industrial district that has been updated with all the conveniences of a modern office.

It’s a pretty nice place to work and probably the nicest of all the buildings my employer leases or rents for us minions.

For the 150 or so people located in this building we have a pretty nice break room that includes fancy steel microwaves, up to the minute toaster oven and even a dishwasher.

And then there is the “coffee system.”

Yes, I said system.

In lieu of a good old glass pot of coffee burning on a hotplate all day, we have two Keurig devices. These devices utilize what are called “K cups” for the brewing of single cups of coffee.

My company only provides the machines and the water. Employees have to bring their own K cups.

My coworkers seem very whipped up and excited about K cup coffee and tea. In order to play along, I went to Safeway and invested in two boxes of (highly overpriced) K cups, one box of coffee, one box of chai tea.

This Keurig machine seems all very futuristic. You put in the plastic K cup, clamp the machine down and press “brew”. The machine whirs quietly and makes important beeping noises then it creates your warm mug of beverage.

Only…couldn’t I just dump the contents of the K cup into a mug, add hot water, stir and have the same results?

That’s when I realized these Keurig people are a bunch of really smart and somewhat evil entrepreneurs. They have employed the Hewlett Packard home printer model to coffee.

The Hewlett Packard model is thus…charge $100 for a small personal printer. Then charge $70 for the ink cartridges to use with the printer. They make a couple bucks off the machine, they make a LOT of bucks off of what they call “consumables” (i.e. something that gets used up and needs to be replaced).

Keurig has done this brilliantly. They have made the end user experience feel special with blue lights and soft whirs and beeps. They make you want to run to that machine and slap in a K cup that runs about a dollar to a dollar fifty each. Starbucks and Bed Bath and Beyond are in on the scam, selling their own versions of K cups.

Meanwhile I’m thinking this is just instant coffee all tarted up in a new way. What really boggles me is the people who “loooove” (<- direct quote) the green tea K cups. Because, ahem, dunking a tea bag in a cup of hot water is just too much work? The name Keurig led me to believe this was a european company (the name is the Dutch word for excellence) and I was going to make some comment about the Euros having one over on us Americans. Then I looked up the company and discovered they are from Massachusetts. That there is some Yankee ingenuity. You brilliant b*stards. I know I'm being hornswaggled and yet I play along anyway. Well done Keurig-onians. Well done.

Image from theburr. Click the link to see how to recycle K cups.

When In Rome…or Reading

While on my way out the door and quite ready to make a voyage to England, among the parting thoughts from The Good Man was:

“Enjoy the traditional English breakfast.”

I’m a fan of all things breakfast so I readily agreed, despite not really knowing what a traditional English breakfast was all about.

My first morning in country, I stumbled downstairs to the complimentary buffet and started to understand.

It looks a little something like this.

I say “a little something” because this plate is missing a couple key components, mainly blood pudding (a sausage, also sometimes called black pudding), fried tomatoes and fried mushrooms. But other than that the main items are there. Griddled eggs. Hash browns. Bacon (center cut and YUM).

And the key component: Heinz Baked Beans.

No other will do.

I’m no stranger to eating beans for breakfast. I’ve been eating pintos in many forms alongside eggs for years, so this was zero hesitation to me. That said, I usually hate baked beans because they are just too sweet. Too much brown sugar, I think (as if such a thing as too much brown sugar exists).

I really like the Heinz baked beans because they aren’t especially sweet. They are tomatoey but not sugary sweet. A perfect compliment to eggs, in my humblest of American opinions.

Here’s the thing…I started having the Full Breakfast every day. They even served it at the cafeteria where I reported for work the second week of my stay. This meal formed a good solid start to my days of battling with suppliers and the English rain and pesky coworkers.

I felt like I could climb mountains on that breakfast.

And now that I’m back home, I miss it.

Breakfast now just seems sort of…blah. Sad. Lacking. And without verve.

So I looked at a couple local grocery stores. Lo and behold, I found the key ingredient here locally.

The real stuff! The good stuff. Ok, it’s a little more work to make all the fixins myself rather than ladling from a hotel buffet bar.

But it’s worth it.

Oh so worth it.

Now that breakfast is sorted, let’s chat about British dinners too, eh? Here is a beauty shot from one night at the local pub. Big yum.

Though all of that on the table (except for the Pedigree, a proper English Ale) is quite readily available here in the US. Thank goodness!

So now I have quite a menu for my post travel life as there is plenty of can’t-live-without-it food from Singapore (laksa, chili crab and kaya toast) and Costa Rica (tostones, Olla de Carne and Cas) and now the charms of Britain.

Tonight, however, I head back to my roots. We’re cooking New Mexico style in my house. All that British culture made my green chile blood level get a little low.

Must fix that problem right away!

All photos Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons in the far right corner of this page. Photos taken with an iPhone 4s and the Camera+ app.

Well Bless My Little Peapickin’ Heart

I do love food. A nice meal can make the whole wide world seem right.

And because I like to sample food and try restaurants, I’ve been aware for a while of this trend toward “comfort food.” Or, to put it more bluntly, what once was low class food has become high class.

Examples? Ratatouille, organ meats, meatloaf on a four star menu, gourmet mac and cheese.

This weekend The Good Man and I had some celebrating to do, and so we went to a pretty nice hotel for a very nice Sunday champagne brunch. The place isn’t four star, but it’s the sort of place where you put on your Sunday go to meetin’ clothes for a meal.

This was my third visit to the establishment which means it must be good. They lay out a stunning room full of well made and delicious food and invite guests to dig in.

I generally start light. Maybe a salad, a selection of fancy cheeses, a stuffed blintz.

Second round I head right to the carvery station because there is always a big hunk of fantastic protein waiting for me.

On this day, there was a tri tip sitting there begging for my attention, which I gladly provided.

Then I noticed there was a second hunk of meat off to the side. I strolled over. The sign said “Coca-Cola braised ham.”

Why, I do declare!

Right here in Northern California, a little ol’ Coca-Cola ham. And suddenly I got my southern on.

“Sir, is that really Co-Cola ham?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“I haven’t had that since I was a kid. You know, they used to make that all the time back in the day.”

*laugh* “They sure did. Here you go, enjoy a nice big slice.”

I giggled behind my imaginary fan and went back to my seat and devoured that tender, juicy bit of pork like a famished linebacker.

So delicious.

But let’s be honest with each other here…Coca Cola ham was something folks made back in the day because it was cheap. An inexpensive cut of meat, pour a bottle of Coke over the top, let the oven boil out the water leaving a sticky, sugary sauce. Baste liberally.

And now here it sits like a crown jewel in a fairly high end restaurant. My, the times do change.

Of course, Co-Cola ham has a special place in my heart because it’s part of one of my favorite scenes in one of my all time favorite books Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford.


“Josh,” said my father, “have some more ham-with-Coca-Cola-sauce. Probably the last time you’ll have it for the duration.” He picked up a thick slice of the nasty stuff with the serving knife and fork, and I passed my plate. Glup. Good salt-cured Tennessee smoked ham. Perfectly good Coca-Cola from Atlanta. Put them all together, you’ve got Secrets from a Southern Kitchen.”


In other news, this morning I got up extra early so I could get a batch of chicken thighs soaking in my special marinade. Tonight they will be cooked up, shredded and made into enchiladas.

Apparently it’s old home week at my place. Does my little ol’ heart some good.

Image found over at The Greasy Spoon. Link includes a recipe for Coca-Cola ham, if you are interested.

Right Idea, So-So Execution

Imagine my joyful surprise when I heard about a new restaurant that opened recently in San Francisco.

Called the Green Chile Kitchen, it proclaims to “…serve New Mexican inspired food focusing on the distinctive flavors and traditions of this unique region.”

Wait. What?

“We use Bueno chile in all our dishes, which has been owned and operated by the Baca family since 1951.”

Hold on. I know (and have eaten of the) Bueno chile.

Can it be? Is it so?

Is there actually true New Mexican cooking near enough to me to make it matter?

So you know what happened next. I made The Good Man take me there (he’s better at navigating San Francisco and the part of town where this is located is really unfamiliar to me).

The verdict?

Well. It’s ok, I guess. So-so on the “I’m from there and know better” scale.

I chose the usual first dish I try at a restaurant to see if it passes muster: a plate of green chile chicken enchiladas.

Here’s how the plate looked.

Not bad, right? Pretty enough.

First thing I noticed was they used green chile pieces but not any sauce on the enchiladas. Hmm. I’m used to a plate dowsed in sauce and melted cheese. But the cook does say this is more Santa Fe style, so ok. I went along with it.

The enchiladas are made how I like, sort of stacked style, but even though I ordered the hot chile, I have to say the whole plate lacked that zing I like (and crave).

They could use a lot more cumino along with a heavy dose of both garlic and onions.

And this is just me, but I like refrieds more than whole beans with enchiladas. Also, I’m pretty sure they didn’t cook the beans with fatback which is a sin against nature my home state, if you ask me.

So I’d give this whole meal about a B, maybe a B+. Far better than anything else I can get around here. No where near as good as Nopalitos.
Oh, and you can see in the top corner of the photo, I tried the Green Chile Cafe’s horchata. I consider myself an aficionado. This version was pretty bland, I thought. They seriously need to cut loose with the cinnamon shaker. If we go back I wouldn’t order it again. Four bucks it too much to pay for GOOD horchata, much less disappointment in a glass.