Denveater - Deconstructing Colorado Cuisine, Dish by Dish

Back-to-back meh: Blue Moon & Twin Dragon

***
“One sits and beats an old tin can, lard pail…one beats and beats for that which one believes,” says Wallace Stevens in “The Man on the Dump.” But sometimes one beats too hard, too fast, causing pain for herself & others. I wrote a blogpost the other day that (lest you arrived here in search of it) I have since taken down for that reason.

Enough said, besides I’m truly sorry to those I hurt.
***

What with the new kitty, I’m less inclined to budge from the couch than ever, so the Director & I have been ordering in a lot lately, including once from (make that “in a”) Blue Moon Asian Cuisine & Sushi. In keeping with the space it’s made in—that low-rent chalet on S. Colorado—the food’s pretty utilitarian. By the same token, of course, it’s also a sight cheaper than most (with a majority of items costing less than, for instance, their Sushi Den counterparts by a buck or more).

The Dynamite was Dynamite. Which isn’t the same as being dynamite. ‘Twas what ’twas.

BlueMoondynamite


By & large the maki was quite all right. Keep in mind that, while I know a thing or two about about a fish or 2, I’m no aficionado—not like Chowhound regular cgfan, whose fascinating thread (which links to photos & videos) on a day in the kitchen with his favorite itamae can be found here.


Therefore, I’m all too glad to snarf the stuff the snobs (sympathetically enough, really) sniff at. Hey, we all have our issues, as both the aforelinked & this Chow thread attest; mine just happens to be with bastardized Italian rather than Japanese. Besides, I ordered uni too, but the hostess called back to say the kitchen was out (a claim of which I’m slightly suspicious. Not to be a snob myself, but are Blue Moon habitués really that into echinoderms? Acquired tastes like [at least here in the US] sea urchin tend to develop only with investments of time & money—the very things places like Blue Moon aim to help you save.)


So I was happily stuck with my tricked-out rolls. Ignoring the Director’s basic nigiri from 12 to 2 o’clock (see, time really is of the essence at Blue Moon!), going clockwise from about 3, we got unagi (eel w/ avo) maki; east maki w/ shrimp, egg & avo; salmon skin maki; & spicy scallop maki. At the center top is sunshine maki stuffed with salmon, avo & pickled burdock & covered with tuna & tobiko; below that is Manhattan maki filled with spicy crab (maybe actual crab, since it’s one of the pricier rolls & since the menu specifies kani elsewhere?) & layered with tuna, salmon & avo. Nothing wrong with a one; all was just fine—the scallop being especially fine, bursting with meat & not especially gloppy, while the sunshine roll’s heavy dusting of flying fish roe was nice & messy.


BlueMoonsushi


The takeout menu for Twin Dragon boasted its past Best Ofs; though none were recent, a leaf-through pointed to a curio or two—5-flavor pork loin, honey roast pork, creamy walnut chicken (shrimp being the more usual version). And these

TDwrappedchicken TDwrappedchicken2

paper- {sic] wrapped chicken.<
/span>


They were basically chicken meatballs, boomerang-shaped, scallion-spiked &, I’d swear, lightly egg-dipped, then browned to a turn.


The rest of the order, though, took a turn for the worse. I knew I was taking the name “crispy, tangy pork” too literally, but I couldn’t help but hope against hope that it wasn’t actually just a euphemism for “doughy, sweet & sour pork.” It was. Still, the addition of what I guess was some sort of seaweed, almost mushroomy in flavor, was a nice touch.


TDcrispypork


Similarly, “sesame egg noodle salad” was just overcooked sesame noodles with undercooked veggies & none of the advertised citrus-soy dressing.


TDnoodlesalad


Plan on moving an inch again any moment now, so more reports on the big bad world of eats out there soon.

Blue Moon Asian Cuisine & Sushi on Urbanspoon

Twin Dragon on Urbanspoon

Boston Tea Party Turns Denver Thai Party: Thai Basil & the dearth of dandy Mile High Thai take-out

I’ve roasted the skin (hope it’s thick!) off poor Thai Green Chile; I’ve sprayed phrase-mace in Jason of Jason’s Thai Bistro’s face; I haven’t bothered wasting even an inch of cyberspace—& it’s infinite!—on Swing Thai or Spicy Basil. Yet looking at the menus of the likes of  Chada Thai, with its miang kum & haw moak, and reading the raves for Edgewater’s US Thai, I realize that it’s too soon to conclude from my experiences thus far that there’s no Thai around here to speak of except in snarky tones.

That’s especially true insofar as I’ve been insisting, by a series of associations, on ordering the stuff in. I tend (as I think most humans, with our serotonin levels & various biological drives, do) to associate carbs & fat with comfort. I tend (as the luckier among us humans do) to associate home, with its old sofas & filthy sweatshirts & sweethearts lounging around on & in them, with comfort too. Thus I tend, as I think a lot of lucky-gimme-gimme-yay Americans do, to associate the delivery of carb-heavy, fatty foods to my front door with comfort. And thus in turn, I think, do we tend to order in those dishes immigrant cooks have altered precisely to suit our inborn palates, as opposed to the more “authentic” (whatever that means, as usual) dishes we’re more willing to try when already out of our comfort zones anyway, i.e., seated in the restaurants, away from our couches. To basically quote what I wrote in this Chowhound thread I started to get to the bottom of precisely this here theory (which is already yielding interesting & insightful answers, God bless that site), “Takeout/delivery seems to center on Americanized versions of dishes, be it pizza, Chinese, or whatever.
For instance, when I think of eating Chinese in, I think of Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway in bed digging with their chopsticks into moo choppy gumshoe or whatever in Manhattan…No one’s ordering, say, tripe and jellyfish. As for pizza, if I’m ordering it in, I’m not likely to be getting a pie topped with zucchini blossoms and fresh mozzarella.”

And as for Thai, the ultimate hot-sour-salty-sweet cuisine, if we’re ordering it in, we’re not likely to be calling up the joints that specialize in miang kum & haw moak; we’re going for noodles whose sauces are oozing with brown sugar, tamarind &, for fuck’s sake, ketchup.

Point being twofold: A, as an American I can’t ask to be catered to like everyone else & then complain when I’m catered to like everyone else. I can’t shit on, say, Thai Basil for loading everything I order with sugar & thickeners when sugar & thickeners are where it’s at in most of the stuff I order. And yet B, as an American, just because I can’t doesn’t mean I can’t. I’m an American! As no less a quintessential American poet than Whitman put it, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.” True that.

In short, I still say Denver Thai take-out largely sucks until proven otherwise. As for Thai Basil specifically, about half of my fair sampling of dishes can be taken & shoved, to use another expressly American line:

TBhotandsoursoup
hot & sour soup, actually sweet & starchy viscous liquid

TBdrunkennoodles
drunken noodles, actually oil junkies

TBtofu
golden tofu, actually beige cushion stuffing

TBcrispyfish
& crispy fish with black bean sauce, actually breaded whatever (for a while we thought it might be some funky duck; that’s how unfishlike it was) with

TBblackbeansauce
shiny chunky fructose glop.

But I guess if (duck-fish aside) it walks like junk food & talks like junk food, then it’s probably junk food. By contrast, the green curry with chicken, if neither particularly green nor chickeny, at least had a nice medium texture & a moderate kick;

TBgreenchixcurry

TBscallopredcurry
ditto the more generously laden red curry with scallops.

Potstickers & spring rolls were potstickers & spring rolls, neither here nor there—which is a good thing; both are all about soothing texture, remarkable only (unless you’re in the rare presence of a dumpling master) in the negative, i.e. if the former are doughy or the latter loose. These weren’t, so okay then.

TBpotstickers

TBspringrolls

Both here & there, meanwhile, were the marinated crispy duck—rich & glistening & definitely *not* to be confused with the aforementioned crispy fish—

TBduck

& the Indonesian chicken salad, not to be confused with…anything definitively from Indonesian cuisine or any another so far as I know (do tell if you know otherwise), but yum nonetheless with roast chicken, cashews, raisins, mixed greens & peanut sauce.

TBsalad

These latter appeased me just enough to keep me from throwing Thai iced tea into the harbor—Rocky Mountain spring, whatever—at least until I’ve made it over to Chada.

Thai Basil on Urbanspoon

Neither worshipping nor throwing stones at the ancient mecca of Jerusalem

Okay, ancient’s stretching it, the place is like 20-something. And mecca’s stretching it, its longevity has everything to do with its puking distance from sloshed DU coeds. And, for that matter, from me. In short, Jersualem’s** only as good as it is close & I am lazy. And since that’s usually, it’s pretty good.

Which isn’t to say that it’s all relative. In absolute terms, what Jerusalem actually is is inconsistent. On the one hand, you’d think they’d have it down to a sumac-&-sesame-spiked science by now. On the other, just because it’s family run—which I’m assuming it is, though no cursory Googling confirms it—doesn’t mean every teenage cousin & the friends he hires give a shit about the just-so syrup drizzle on the knafeh.

Take the hummus.

Jhummus

The texture’s always dreamy, thick & smooth, but at its best it’s got that tang only enough, i.e., a lotta lotta, lemon juice can offer. Otherwise, as was the case with the take-out order above, it’s merely chickpea-&-tahini creamy, without much oomph.

That said, the tahini sauce per se has that slightly bitter kick I really dig, especially for countering the hit of oily juices squirting from the veggie-stuffed grape leaves (which are solid in their simple way; personally, a little ground lamb or some chopped nuts & dried fruit make for my favorite versions—if it’s not obvious I’m all about the bold flavor & texture contrasts by now, I don’t know what it’s obvious I’m all about—but something done right’s something done right any way you chomp it).

Jgrapeleaves

It’s also good for getting the thick crust on the fried kibbeh to kick back, loosen up a little, & show its cumin-scented soft side, all moist ground beef & cracked wheat. (The online menu says something about the inclusion of beef tips—without exactly knowing what it is I’m begging to differ about, I beg to.)

Jkibbeh

It had a harder time getting through to this particular order of falafel,

Jfalafel

which can be dandy but was way too dry & tough this time.

This time, actually—an all-app affair—the dandiest thing was the tabbouleh.

Jtabbouleh

You’d think by now every gun-totin’, money-grubbin’ infidel in the wild West would know that tabbouleh is a parsley salad with bulgur, not a bulgur salad with parsley. But since not everyone seems to—for the record, it is. The proportions here, as well as those of the onions, tomatoes & simple dressing of olive oil & lemon, were just right, making for a refresher course in refreshing courses—a little bitter, a little tart, a little crunchy, a little juicy, etc.

Ultimately my biggest beef was with the pita—room temp, straight from the package. Straight in the package, in fact—they gave us a bag & a half, or something like 10 store-bought pitas for 5 apps. That’s generous, I guess, in a cheap way, but I’d rather have had the opportunity to at least pretend it had left the premises warm (which it occasionally is if you eat in), never mind fluffy & hot from some sort of clay oven.

Whatever. Next time I’m feeling lazy—about an hour from now—I’ll undoubtedly make the 3-minute pilgrimmage once again. By car, of course.

**Unless you love you the rotting silver tones of some incessant ululation, I really urge you to turn the volume down before clicking through to this site.

Jerusalem on Urbanspoon

The Coupon Clippings: Oh, Little India, just wait til you grow big & strong!

Actually, it’s the size of Denver, not the subcontinent, that warrants consideration here—at least in light of the fact that, by default, this enduring metro mini-chain constitutes the biggest fish in our quiet little Indian-restaurant pond. From the standpoint of quality, however, it hardly rises like a beautiful breaching dolphin from the vast & murky stateside sea of batch-cooked curries.

In other words (to keep those metaphors flowing), the banks of this little mile-high fishing hole need broadening. And maybe they’ll get it; now that the far more sophisticated India’s Pearl is circling, smelling blood, maybe joints like Little India will gradually sink (or get swallowed) or swim. But judging by the meal we recently had delivered from the S. Downing branch (using a coupon for 10% off), at present it’s just treading.

Mind you, in so doing it produces a solid example of Indian cuisine as most Americans understand & want it—Punjabi comfort food on a spectrum ranging from moderately authentic to mostly pseudo. Take our pals’ chicken tikka masala, whose origins, while uncertain, are most likely British.

LIchickenmasala

Basically what we’re talking here is chicken in tomato cream sauce. Minus the standard Indian spicing, it could be Italian pollo con sugo di pomodoro alla crema, or French poulet sauce aurore, or 100 other dishes from around the world. For that matter, it could be lamb masala (for which said apparently masalamaniac pals also opted).

LIlambmasala

Because under a foot of sauce, even when we’re talking lamb, we might as well be talking chicken, for all the impact the meat has on flavor.

Ditto the Director’s lamb vindaloo, which, sadly, doesn’t really come tilted at a 45-degree angle.

LIlambvindaloo

But it does come oversauced—or, rather, undermeated. It isn’t a question of ethnic authenticity so much as kitchen generosity; next to this,

P13

for instance, it looks less like lamb vindaloo than just, you know, vindaloo. Tastewise, meanwhile, it was more like vindal, hold the ooh. I mean, it was hot, but not so hot I couldn’t eat it, which is pretty much the defining characteristic of a proper vindaloo as I understand it: something I don’t have the guts in any sense to go through with.

As for my lamb saag,

LIlambsaag

its mildly cumin-smoky creaminess was lovely enough, but again, I simply prefer more lamb & spinach in my lamb & spinach, as opposed to more yogurt (cf.

Saag ).

Finally, the mixed grill turned out to be a mixed bag: the chicken too tough, the fish too dry, the shrimp—while surprising juicy next to the fish—too few, numbering 2. The more abundant seekh kebab, however, was also moist & spiced right.

LImixedgrill

In sum, Little India strikes me as a euphemism for Stunted India. Unless management grows the balls to expand the kitchen’s horizons—&, since they’re doing just fine ball-less, I doubt they will at my lone behest—I’ll stick with India’s Pearl, mature beyond its years (months, rather) in its willingness to offer something (pages of somethings, in fact) different.

Little India on Urbanspoon

The Coupon Clippings: Gee, I hate to be the one to quell The Rebellion, but…

When this new South Broadway pizzeria spread the word that it was leading a fast food revolution, I all but grabbed my musket & set out that instant to join the troops behind their barrier of extra-large pies made with organic ingredients from scratch & piled high. Now that I’ve tried a slice, though, it occurs to me that any eatery that claims it’s “revolting” really is asking for trouble.

Oh, far be it from me to crack down on the people’s uprising; on the contrary, as I’ve said, we out here in the Platt Park area could use a little upending of the status quo. And I’m not saying the pizza actually turned my stomach—just that it ain’t about to break any chains (corporate on the one hand or oppression-forged on the other) or even make Pasquini shake in his glossy black boots.

Take this 3-cheese (mozz, parm, feta) thick-cruster, which I ordered with buffalo, sundried tomato & garlic oil instead of marinara.

Rebellionpizza2

You can tell by looking that what I got instead was fresh tomato; what you can’t tell by looking is that I couldn’t tell by tasting if there was the least drop of garlic oil on there or not. (For a girl who didn’t live down the block from

Reginas_1

the original Pizzeria Regina

in Boston’s North End so long ago that she can’t still see the rivulets of garlic oil running through the crevices of mozz, that’s a bit of a heart-slash-deal breaker.) Meanwhile, even partially melted, the feta was dry; and as for the crust, “big” is not the same as “thick,” nor is “soft” the same as “chewy.” Lacking all finesse, it was pretty much a puff of stale white air.

The thin crust was a little better, but only because it was less noticeable. Then again, even what was noticeable wasn’t really noticeable—not only was the cheese virtually flavorless but the sauce was flat-out bland. Apparently, its blend of herbs & spices is so secret it doesn’t even know it’s there (shhh!).

Rebellionpizza3

OK, look—backing their antiestablishment, up-with-children-&-other-living-things manifesto 100% as I do, & unable to even fathom the sort of yeehaw gumption it must require to open any business, much less a restaurant, right now, I feel like a schmo giving these guys guff. Then again, precisely because they’re talking the galvanizing talk, they’ve got to walk the walk. I’ll give ’em another try in a couple of months, when perhaps they’ll have gotten the hang of putting the “coup” in “coupon.”

Dinner & a Movie 6: generic Thai takeout & The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T

The Thai joint we ordered takeout from the other night lacks so thoroughly in character that it’s almost anti-fascinating: the only way it could ever possibly distinguish itself is by making an honest mockery of its own mediocrity, say by changing its moniker to Generic Thai Takeout Joint, which is what its former and current names, Wild Basil & Thai Green Chile respectively, translate as anyway—as, surely, will its future name, Sweet Hot Ginger Pepper Brasserie & Curry Hut or some such.

It’s a damn shame, because I could use me some fine drunken noodles from time to time, never mind the hard-to-find-in-the-heartland likes of haw moak, a curried fish (or chicken) mousse steamed in banana leaf I used to order back in Brookline at Khao Sarn:

2Steamed Curried Fish

Instead we were stuck with Thai eggplant without a hint of mint or basil or a trace of funky fish sauce but way more than its share of sugar. (Don’t let the green leaf  in the bottom left corner fool you, that’s probably just pastillage. In fact, the whole thing, in all its bland sweetness, could very well have been decorative confectionery.)

TGCeggplant

The pork with garlic sauce was initially more redolent with basil (as opposed, inexplicably, to garlic)—but ultimately no less coarse & sticky.

TGCpork

Ditto the Singapore rice noodles, although nice fat shrimp & goodly chunks of chicken bespoke a generosity that went a short way toward compensating for the dumbed-down sensibility,

TGCnoodles

as did a complimentary if weird order of wontons that smacked of nothing if not recycled sopaipillas, with the honey drained out & cream cheese poured in.

TGCwontons

I confess I feel a touch guilty harshing on one of my stretch of South Broadway’s few ethnic eateries insofar as it appears, between the name change & the consistent lack of traffic foot or otherwise, to be struggling; I can’t help but picture some graying mom & pop alone behind the counter, chins propped on elbows, no longer focusing on the American dream as they dreamed it as youths by the palm-fringed Andaman seaside but staring silently out the window across the street onto the shambles of the construction site where the Gates factory used to stand.

Then again, if they’d just cook like Thais instead of like Thais cooking like Americans, they might find their little nothing-to-lose risk paying off big as business picked up.

Then again again, what do I know, especially about my fellow Americans’ tastes? I drink pickle juice, which, per none other than Dr. Seuss—secret Jekyll to McCarthy’s Hyde as the mind behind the para-Technicolor, loop-the-loop descent into fascist paranoia that we happened to be taking vicariously over dinner, the cult ’50s flick The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T*—is but the Lethean liquor of commie homos bent on world destruction in the form of musical education as they prance about trilling, “Dress me up in silk & spinach!”

5000fingers

Oh, Dr. Terwilliker the main piano-teaching commie homo villain,

Shadow

if only you were real, & we could dine à deux on haw moak with pickle juice, seduced by the strains of Chopsticks as pounded out by 500 nubile boys-next-door-turned-pitch-perfect-slaves. Now that’s my American dream.

*Available at Netflix.

Dinner & a Movie 5: Nerdcore Rising & India’s Pearl takeout

If you missed it last night, & if you miss it tonight due to the lateness of the hour at which this post will be published, & if your taste in music has always run the knowingly goofy gamut of hyperarticulate misfits from, say, Camper van Beethoven & They Might Be GiantsfIREHOSE to Mates of State & The Decemberists & Flight of the Conchords, like mine has, then you simply mustn’t miss the final screenings of Nerdcore Rising at the Starz FilmCenter tomorrow, Sunday 11/9.

The cinematic equivalent of a fluffernutter—freaky, irresistible, nowhere-but-American—this doc follows MC Frontalot, pioneer of a hip hop subgenre known as nerdcore, on tour with a repertoire of fledgling cult classics like “Crime Spree”—

MC Frontalot: the arch criminal for some reason not

sought by authorities, though I been running wild for days.

They’s surely going to track me down,

I’m the number-1 menace for miles around,

with the littering, the loitering, the mattress tags,

all the pirated Mp3s I grabs

—& “Indier Than Thou”:

I’m so indie that my shirt don’t fit.

You wonder out loud, “Yo, Frontalot, why you come so ill-equipped?”…

I look confused, like I just got out of bed.

My rhyme style reflects this.

Use my overdeveloped sense of irony to deflect dis-

missiles, exploding all around me.

Unpromoted, don’t know how you found me,

soundly situated in obscurityland,

famous in inverse proportion to how cool I am…

You get the idea. They’re Star Wars–worshipping, RPG-mastering, lonely white egghead rappers. The kind who eat Indian takeout every night facing their laptops in pajama bottoms & tees that read “I’m outdoorsy in that I like to get drunk on patios.” Takeout a lot like ours the other night from India’s Pearl.

Granting that basing an assessment of a restaurant on food that has been sitting in plastic in the front seat for awhile is somewhat like assessing a potential love interest when he or she has a ripping hangover & a neck rash, my 2nd experience with this place was satisfactory indeed, only slightly less so than the 1st.

Granting, too, that looking back at the photos I can now only make a half-educated guess as to which dish was which,

IPchicken?

chicken tikka masala?

IPpaneer?

paneer makhani?

IPvindaloo

lamb vindaloo, I’m pretty sure

I can assure they were all rich & tasty; while I’ve delved into the vindaloo previously, I’ll add that the paneer balanced well its slightly salty cheese cubes with its slightly sweet (indeed sweetened, traditionally with honey I believe) tomato sauce, & that the tikka masala wasn’t rote, what with generous chunks of chicken & the gentlest kick.

The vegetarian biryani, meanwhile, was the guilty greasy pleasure that any dish whose name apparently derives from the Persian word for “fried” should be—& more than just scattered with onions, peppers, peas, nuts & raisins, contrary to the blurry image.

IPbiryani

Finally, though the shrimp-&-potato tikki were a bit worse for the lukewarm wear by the time I got hold of them, they had too much integrity to morph into flavorless lumps before my teeth. It’s as though they were leftovers to start with. & that’s no bad thing.

IPpatties

Dining in, dreaming out: Pasquini’s, Go Fish, Buenos Aires Grill, El Taco de Mexico, Los Carboncitos, Domo

As the final deadline of the massive freelance work project I’ve mentioned nears, leaving the house is not an option. Neither is cooking. (Hell, neither is showering, much to the dismay of the Director but to my own secret funky delight.)

So we’ve been ordering in a lot. I didn’t even bother taking pictures of either the chef’s salad or the calzone we recently got from Pasquini’s, knowing at a glance that neither would amount to much except from a calorie-counting standpoint. The menu describes a calzone as being “like a pizza folded over.” No “like” about it. This one spanned the width of the pizza box it came in. Actually, given the toughness of the dough & the blandness of the ingredients—sauce, sausage, & cheese all barely registering as such—”like a pizza box folded over” would be more to the point.

That said, Pasquini’s delivers wine by the bottle—cheaply, & I mean cheaply (most are $12-$14). Antiquated as my old hometown of Boston’s liquor laws are, I’ve never heard of such a thing. Oh, West, how wild you are. Oh, little not-so-now-that’s-Italian pizza franchise, how awesome you are in all your mediocrity.

Speaking of mediocrity, I’m fully aware Go Fish fits the definition. The Director and I dined there a couple of times shortly after it opened and couldn’t fathom returning, what with Sushi Den around the corner & Sushi Sasa around, period. Nor have we. But we have ordered take-out a few times in the past few weeks, & I can’t bring myself to knock it. A, the folks behind the bar have been nothing but kind to the Director, plying him with complimentary shots of ginger sake while he waited. B, they offer a few riceless rolls; since rice is one of those things that tends to launch me on a roll—a taste triggers a craving that isn’t fulfilled until I’ve eaten a whole pot’s worth, straight therefrom, with salt & butter—I try to avoid it when under the sort of stress & duress I’m under now, lacking the strength to resist its ricey wiles.

GoFishsushi2

Wrapped in cucumber, the filling is sort of like spicy tuna, only mild, mixed with salmon & poked with avocado. It’s basically a chunky fish cream. Cucumber-encircled chunky fish cream. I’ll take it.

The temptation to rely on the laziness of strangers & skimp on take-out portions is 1 the majority of restaurateurs seem to yield to; not so Go Fish. An appetizer of grilled jumbo calamari rings reminds me of Madonna’s arms circa 1983.

GoFishsquid

=

Frontxn3

That could be because it has the same basic texture as a stack of those old rubber bangles. But the squid flavor’s all there—that flavor I love, the slipperiness of pink turning white—with a drizzle rather than a drenching of teriyakiesque sauce.

Still, I can hardly write the word “grill” without yearning for the moment when I can once again step over the threshold of the door before me & into the light of, say, Buenos Aires Grill, where the provoleta a la cazadora—provolone with mushrooms, scallions & tomato—is like a giant grilled cheese sandwich you dropped on the floor, so you just eat it right off the linoleum there in the kitchen, scooping up the filling with the bread, because it’s too good to toss…in fact better this way, the exception that proves—or maybe the refutation of—the 5-second rule.

BAGprovolone

Or behind the bars of, oh, El Taco de Mexico, where that tugboat of a twice-stuffed burrito—its hull laden with a chile relleno as well as beans & rice—steams on through the purest of green chiles, porkless & just this side of brothy.

ETDMburrito

Or in the colorful if liquorless confines of Los Carboncitos, amid posters advertising the sort of local boxing tourney you just know devolves into a parking-lot free-for-all, where the foot-long huaraches evoke oval sopes or even Turkish pides—unless you get
the Cubano: festooned out the wazoo with beef, ham, cotija, tomato, red onion,
jalapeno, avocado, and “Mexican sausage” I’ll swear up & down is chopped hot dog,
it’s comparable to nada.

LChuarache

Or even, as it cools & darkens through the fall, in the rock garden of Domo—a place I consider largely overrated but for the jars of pit viper wine lining the kitchen window

Domowine

& the battara yaki, a sort of shrimp frittata smothered in Domo’s sweet-sour “original sauce” & mayo & bonito flakes & I don’t know what all.

Domoomelette1

Help me…