When carbs collide

I’m the worst sometimes. I really am.

I talk all this big talk about changing my neglectful blogger ways, I put up a couple of posts, and then… I go off the grid.

So, uhm, sorry about that, if you care. It’s just that I’ve been kinda busy recently, not with any one thing in particular,  but just the usual business of living: working, running, forgetting, laughing, coping, traveling, turning 30 (!!!), rinsing and repeating.

But rest assured, mixed throughout I’ve had some great food. Some healthy, some not, some bizarre, some more normal, and then hybrids like this guy: the ramenritto from the somewhat random West Village cafe, Press Tea.

The ramenritto: a burrito stuffed with ramen.

The ramenritto: a burrito stuffed with ramen.

Ramen burgers (a burger sandwiched between ramen instead of buns) have been have been having a moment in New York recently, but the ramenritto is, as the name might suggest, a burrito stuffed with ramen. Along with a ton of noodles, each ramenritto is stuffed with saucy, flavorful veggies including corn, onions and greens, and a meat, in my case pork.

I’ve been trying to watch my carb intake recently (you know, now that I am a woman of a certain age) so this is definitely not something I can say I’ll be eating frequently but for the novelty that it is, I rather enjoyed it. The whole thing had a sort of mushy consistency to it, but if that’s not a problem for you, the ramenritto could be a good time.

If nothing else, I could see myself getting stoned and absolutely loving the ramenritto. Now, what was that I was saying about turning 30?

 

Mission: perfect burrito

I’m not sure how I’m ever supposed to eat burritos again, not after the absolute-perfection-in-burrito-form I had for lunch today.

All other burritos will live in the shadow of the delicious one I had at Danny Bowien’s California style taqueria, Mission Cantina, in the Lower East Side, not far from his short-lived (but hopefully soon to be resurrected) Mission Chinese Food.

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Mission Cantina’s carne asada burrito

Before bringing his restaurants to New York, Danny Bowien was a big deal in San Francisco, where phenomenal tacos and burritos are easy to find, and clearly he picked up a thing or two and brought it to the east coast, cause the burrito I had today was a 10 clear across the board.

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So much awesome in just one handful

For starters, instead of being filled with tons of gut-filling rice, sad wilted lettuce and mushy tomatoes, this bad boy (easily shareable between two people if you don’t have a the bottomless pit of a stomach that I do) was stuffed, generously and evenly throughout, with  carne asada, beans, guacamole, crema, queso blanco and salsa fresca. The carne asada, which I went with on the server’s recommendation (other choices were lamb, carnitas, fried skate, veggie, chicken and al pastor) was oh-so-soft and juicy, tender and full of flavor. The guacamole lent a creamy freshness to balance the hearty, rich beans, and the cheese did what it always does, made everything better. It was a wonderfully messy, saucy affair with juices running down my hands and my cloth napkin working overtime, and I loved every minute of it.

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Even the chips are delicious!

The tortilla which let’s be honest, no one ever cares about was more than just a vessel for burrito goodness. Tortillas are made in house, and it shows, because instead of being bland and rubbery, this one actually tasted like something you’d want to finish, or to use as a sponge for all of the burrito juice run off. And to really push itself into the realm of greatness, the tortilla had a slight golden crisp to it, from where the burrito had been lightly seared for a perfect finish.The burrito alone was enough to make me an instant fan but Mission Cantina really sealed the deal with its accompanying tortilla chips. Usually an afterthought or distraction, these were anything but. Each one was thick and crunchy, fried in house and dusted in a punchy, colorful blend of spices that made it impossible not to each every last crumb of them. Two salsas, a tangy, avocado filled green sauce and a thicker, smoky red one were served with them, but almost not necessary because of how good they were on their own.

Burritos of New York, I’m not sure things will ever be the between us. Mission Cantina, I’m all yours.

Mission Cantina on Urbanspoon

An old favorite in a new way

Even though I was born in Costa Rica and raised in Miami, mine wasn’t the typical Hispanic household. (My dad, a crotchety old Italian-American, is to blame for this.) We never salsa danced,  celebrated Noche Buena, or had abuelitos and dozens of assorted family members.

But if there’s one stereotype we absolutely perpetuated, it’s eating sweet plantains, or platanos maduros as my mom calls them.

They’re usually a side dish, served alongside rice and beans as I most frequently had them growing up, but really I could eat a whole mountain of plantains just on their own, I love them so much. So recently, during my visit to San Francisco, when I saw a burrito at The Little Chihuahua that was stuffed with plantains instead of meat, I HAD to have it.

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A not-so-great photo of a fantastic burrito stuffed full of sweet plantains

The Little Chihuahua’s plantain burrito is first of all, anything but little. It’s a hold-it-with-two-hands heavy affair of sweet fried plantains, black beans and rice, pico de gallo, roasted red peppers, sour cream, cheese, salsa, cilantro and onion.  And as I thought it might be, this burrito was freakin’ delicious. The plantains added a nice sweet flavor to the otherwise savory, zesty, spicier flavors and a soft, almost creamy consistency.

As a lifelong plantains lover, I would order this kind of burrito every time if places other than The Little Chihuahua had it. Add a plantain burrito to my long list of reasons for loving San Francisco.

The Little Chihuahua on Urbanspoon

And finally, a burrito

Starting off the weekend with a burrito and a beer

In California, or more specifically as it relates to my story, in San Francisco, there’s a lot of talk of amazing Mexican food.  The word best gets used pretty frequently. The best burrito, the best taqueria, the best this, the best that.

So naturally, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. After consulting a few food blogs and other websites, some SF locals, and my handy dandy Lonely Planet guidebook, the name I kept getting was La Taqueria. Other places popped up here and there but none with the same frequency or hardcore following as La Taqueria.

“Best Mexican in the Mission!”

“Their burritos are incredible!”

“Ohmygod my favorite!”

When a friend from New York came into town for the weekend and suggested burritos, La Taqueria was an obvious choice since she’d also heard it was a must on the San Francisco food circuit. Continue reading