Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend Eats (Including the Meal of the Year)

The other day, my friend (and new neighbor) Tim brought me back some barbecue from the desert. (You can read about it on the barbecue blog.) I only ate a few of the items that afternoon and shoved the rest in the fridge. Friday, in need of a snack, I took out the barbecue and chopped it up. I placed the brisket, hot link (there was only one piece left, as I had snacked on the links off and on for a day) and pulled pork on a pile of tortilla chips. I added mozzarella cheese and the last few pieces of goat cheese I had in the fridge and heated it, then added some chopped cilantro.

They were some of the best nachos I have had in a long time. 

When Elizabeth got home from work, she offered me half of a patty melt she'd had for lunch from Astro Burger. I heated it in the oven and ate it. It was decent, but obviously it would have been a lot better at the burger joint.

I like the vast majority of things I try from Trader Joe's, so I got a bag of Caesar salad. I strongly disliked it. The dressing was disgustingly oily, one of the worst Caesar dressings I have ever tried. I don't know if I just got a bad batch - I have a hard time believing anyone wants a Caesar dressing to taste like this; it was basically just oil and salt - so I might try it again before I write it off.

I ate a strawberry-frosted donut and homemade vanilla cream pudding. No, I'm not six years old anymore. Yes, this was freaking delicious.

Saturday afternoon, after we'd taken the cat to the vet, I asked Elizabeth what she wanted for lunch. She suggested tacos. There are very few times I would ever say no to tacos for lunch. Pretty much only when I've had tacos for breakfast, I guess. I considered where to go. I was planning to stop by my parents' house for a while to watch a basketball game, so I decided on Rosarito, on the eastern side of town. I'd only eaten there once before, but really liked it.

I got two chicharron tacos and a fish taco; Elizabeth ordered her usual dos tacos de carnitas. Chicharron tacos are traditionally fried pork rinds, but Rosarito's version is basically pork rubbed with red chili. At any rate, it is delicious, one of my favorite tacos in town.

The fish taco is not the heavily-battered and fried piece of fish that one normally associates with fish tacos (which, to be honest, I freaking love). It is a thinner, pan fried (or perhaps plancha-grilled) piece of fresh fish that is no less delicious. It doesn't have the oh-so-satisfying crunch of a battered fish taco, but instead has a flaky, citrus-kissed flavor of fish in every bite.

Originally, Elizabeth had planned to have a girls night out with a couple friends, and I was going to drink some wine and eat steak with Tim. "We'll have a 'He-Man Woman Haters Club,'" he said.
But Elizabeth's plans fell through so we changed the club slightly and she came with me. Tim had purchased one of those amazing flat iron steaks from Taylor's, large enough for the three of us, and it was sitting on the counter doused with olive oil, salt and pepper when we arrived.

A nice cab to drink before dinner.

Tim cooked the steaks in a pan of a butter/olive oil mix for a few minutes then took them out to let them rest.

A simple salad of lettuce, cheese and dried cranberries. "This would not have been on the menu if there wasn't a woman here," Tim explained. "We would have just eaten meat and potatoes." But the salad was fantastic and I was very glad he made it.

After cooking the steaks, Tim added cognac, mustard and cream to the butter/olive oil and meat juices. More on this in a second.

Oven-roasted potato wedges with olive oil and spices.

I know the year is only 1/6 of the way finished, but it will take a pretty amazing meal to top this one. Everything about it was perfect. The cognac-mustard sauce was an amazing complement to the steak. (After my plate was cleaned I torn off some bread and went back into the kitchen and dipped it in the pan.) The potatoes were some of the best I have ever had, beautifully roasted golden wedges of which I had second and then third helpings.

"I don't have anything for dessert," Tim said apologetically. I tore off a piece of bread, dragged it through the sauce and meat juices on my plate, and topped it with a piece of greens. It was the best dessert I have had in years.

For dinner Sunday night - I was so thrilled to be watching my first preseason baseball game that I forgot to eat lunch - I decided to cook a bag of fish & chips that I picked up at Vons the other day. It didn't look like anything special, but it was a big bag and on sale, and I'm always willing to try a new kind of fish & chips.

I'm not going to lie: I did not have high hopes when I saw it all spread out.

After half an hour (the instructed cooking time) I took it out of the oven and plated it with two sauces I made: a tartar sauce with mayo, lemon juice, relish, and chopped fresh pickle, and a spicy cocktail sauce with chili sauce, Atomic horseradish and lemon juice. (Both were great.)

The potatoes were pathetic, flavorless wedges of varying sizes - some burned, others were barely warm in the center.

The fish was surprisingly good, all things considered. There wasn't a lot of flavor but it was a nice texture, better than I was expecting. If the "chips" hadn't been so lousy, I would consider buying this again. But they were so I won't.

I had another donut for dessert.


Cafe Pasadena said...

Rosarito's is on E. Colorado near Rosemead Blvd??

Still love that strawberry donut!! :P

JustinM said...

Yes, that's correct. It used to be up on Walnut right by In-N-Out, but they've been on Colorado for a little bit now.

Anonymous said...

that bag o' fish n chips reminds me of the sorta newly released pizza n cookies combo now in the frozen food section.

Liz said...

The tacos were delicious. How could you not enjoy fried pork? And the steak dinner was phenomal, I might have even though about drinking the sauce had we not been guests in someone else's home.

Banana Wonder said...

I don't blame you - those doughnuts look amazing. Congrats on that steak - it makes me want to eat steak one last time before I start my animal free Greek Orthodox 50 day fast next week. Oooooh and wine.. and those glorious potatoes. Well done!