Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fish and Tripps

As far as I'm concerned, the best fish and chips (and surprisingly, fried chicken) reside at McDonagh's in Galway, but this sounds like a close second, newspaper and all. Buen provecho:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pork Tacos, Bike Shorts

Behold the first (and probably last) installment of "Cooking in Bike Shorts." This episode features a very well filmed (thanks, Mrs. Gastro) but horribly produced (way to drop the ball, self) segment of me making the Homesick Texan's carnitas recipe. Since I do a shit job of explaining what it is that I'm making, I've included the recipe below.

Carnitas is one of my favorite ways to prepare pork, and I love the simplicity of these tacos: a warm corn tortilla is the vehicle for a handful of carnitas, onions, a squeeze of lime, cilantro, and salsa (if you like). I could eat fifty in one sitting. I used to get them at a place called Panaderia La Diana in Salt Lake City for a buck each. It was a tortilla bakery with a small kitchen tucked into a corner of the building, the stuff of legend. I couldn't exactly replicate the flavors, but I think I came pretty damn close. Buen provecho.

Carnitas (adapted from Diana Kennedy)
3 pounds of pork butt
1 cup of orange juice
3 cups of water
2 teaspoons of salt

1. Cut pork into strips (three inches by one inch), add to a large pot with the liquids and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered on low for 2 hours. Do not touch the meat.
2. After two hours, turn heat up to medium high, and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat has rendered (about 45 minutes). Stir a few times, to keep pork from sticking to bottom of pan.
3. When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready (there will be liquid fat in the pan). Serve either cubed or shredded (pork will be tender enough that just touching it will cause it to fall apart).Goes very well with a green salsas such as Ninfa's green sauce or this tomatillo salsa or this salsa verde with avocados and tomatillos.

Serves 4-6

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Craving

I meant to write this back on 8/2, but time has certainly taken on a new meaning now that we have a new roommate.

I have to commend dear Mrs. Gastro for shattering each and every pregnancy stereotype out there, but I would be a filthy liar if I didn't say I was a little disappointed at the lack of cravings. If nothing else, it would have given me carte blanche to eat Taco Bell completely guilt free at her whimsy. But craving or not, every once in a while hunger would give way to something exotic and/or greasy. This time around, it was soup dumplings, something I haven't had since moving from NYC, and something that I sometimes miss even more than my SLC-based parents.

Baby Gastro's refusal to arrive on time left us with little do to but be angry about it. After the due date came and went, we almost felt like it wasn't going to happen, and my darling wife would be pregnant for the rest of her days (which would be kind of sweet because I'd have a permanent designated driver). This anger quickly became hunger, and before we knew it, we were avoiding eye contact with junkies and huffing gas fumes as we made our way into Dim Sum Garden, a well documented diamond in the rough and supposedly the only place in Philadelphia that serves up these gastronomic gobs of goodness.

I always find myself at Chinese restaurants during the staff lunch break, and this time was no exception. If I was in the middle of eating a three foot pile of lo mein, I wouldn't want to be disturbed either, so I had no expectations for prompt service. Besides, Mrs. Gastro wasn't going into labor anytime soon. When the waitress finally ambled over, we managed to spoil our dinner with soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, and a deep fried pork chop nestled among noodles that were more fettucine than lo mein. The dumplings were perfection, dredging up memories of the first time I ate them, anticipating a burnt mouth but caring very little as I bit into one resting on a spoon used to catch the broth, which was so rich and full of fat that it would become chewable at lower temperatures (that's a good thing). The scallion pancake was another success, a flaky crust surrounding a pastry dough interior, studded with green onions, and deceptively light. The deep fried pork chop was an afterthought, but by no means regretful. It was another rich dish, so meaty that if you told me the noodles were made of meat, I would have believed you.

What's odd about the whole experience, apart from that whole dining under an elevated parking garage next to a makeshift bus depot, is that we still can't figure out how soup dumplings even came up. Regardless, we'd go back every day if we could. Some things are just that delicious. Buen provecho.

Dim Sum Garden is located at 59 N 11th Street in Philadelphia, where the convention center meets Chinatown. It's not the best location, but your mom told you not to judge a book by its cover, and I suggest you do what your mom tells you. We got three menu items and two Cokes for $25 including tip. Cash or credit card, no booze.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

My Future Food Lover

Introducing Camila Sarah Espinoza, born August 4, 2009 at 3:23pm, weighing in at 6lbs, 6oz. May she love food as much as I already love her. Buen provecho.