Beach bum tacos

The beach was nice, but I was there just as much for the tacos as the fun-in-the-sun.

The beach was nice, but I was there just as much for the tacos as the fun-in-the-sun.

I’ve lived in New York over five years now and have spent six summers in this city, and in all of that time, never once, up until last week, had I gone to the beach here. Crazy, right?

This year though, I finally decided to get my act together, throw on a bathing suit, and head to Rockaway Beach, the official beach of Brooklyn hipsters and cool kids alike.

However, dear reader, I have to tell you I’d be lying if I said I was entirely motivated by any desire to feel the sun baking my already brown skin while damn near naked in public. A stronger motivating factor was tacos. Delicious, summery tacos from Rockaway Taco, the small, whitewashed stand just a few blocks away from the beach that draws crowds just as much as the ocean does.

So, yes, I went to the beach and did the whole sun-and-sand thing but once that was done and crossed off the bucket list, I went and had tacos. After roasting in the sun for a few hours, first on my list was something cold, in the form of a fruity, refreshing pineapple and mint juice.  It took everything in me not to guzzle it in big, greedy gulps.

Pineapple-mint juice and tacos: perfection on a summer day.

Pineapple-mint juice and tacos: perfection on a summer day.

To go with it, I had two tacos, one fish and one chorizo.  The  fish taco had a plump, perfectly-golden-on-the-outside and tender-on-the-inside hunk of fried fish and a delicious spicy mayo type sauce that I licked off my fingers like a gross little animal. The chorizo taco, topped with thinly sliced radish and zesty cilantro like the fish taco, was juicy and flavorful, and consequently gone in just a few bites.

Rockaway Taco was the perfect end to a fun, relaxing summer beach day that I should’ve had dozens of times already and not just once. Guess that means that as the summer quickly starts to wind down, I’ll have to make up for lost time and squeeze in as many trips as I can to Rockaway Taco… and the beach, of course.

California love*

Happy camper, right here. So happy, in fact, I'm doing that face where I look like a cartoon.

California sun and a nice drink make for a happy camper. So happy, in fact, that I’m doing that face where I look like a cartoon.

I’m usually in a bit of a funk after I come back from a good trip somewhere. You know, the ol’ post vacation blues. But since coming back from California last week, where I spent a damn near perfect eight days, I’ve managed to not only not be mopey, but rather hold on to my vacation high!

Gorgeous weather in both Los Angeles and San Francisco (read: sunshine, cool breezes and not a single tiny bit of humidity), amazing friends who showed me the best time, and for the purposes of this blog: SO. MUCH. DELICIOUS. FOOD. Seriously, SO much.

Come think of it, if i’m still buzzing off my vacation, it could be that I’m actually still digesting all of the great things I ate. I know, it’s kind of a gross thought, but it’s true. I ate a lot of stuff.  Tasty stuff that I’m gonna tell you about a little at a time so as to not overwhelm anyone (myself included) with all of my California grubbing memories.

ceviche

Problems I like to have: too much delicious ceviche

To start off, let’s talk ceviche, which I looove.  Fresh, colorful, zesty, delicious ceviche, which is just the kind I had with my darling friend, Arlene at La Cevicheria in LA.  It was a no-frills kind of place, but the ceviche we had, both humongous bowls of it, was great. They were both different, but to be honest, in my hunger induced frenzy to wolf it all down as soon as it came out, I forgot to jot down what they were. What I can tell you though, is that octopus, shrimp and crab were involved, as were limes, avocado, onions, Worcestershire sauce and something I don’t remember ever having in ceviche before but loved, mint. Add a little dash of hot sauce and scoop a big heap on to a crispy tostada and you’re looking at a fantastic meal.

fish taco

Not surprising that a place that makes great ceviche would make fantastic fish tacos.

But because I tend to struggle with moderation at times like these, we also got an order of fish tacos. Each soft tortilla was stuffed with a fat, juicy hunk of crispy fried fish, shredded cabbage, avocado, tomato and cilantro.  Simple and perfect, one of the best fish tacos I’ve had.

It was my first time in LA, and even though I was prepared to not like it (because I imagined it would be the Miami of the west coast, and that’s an off-putting thought for me), I ended up loving the City of Angels.  It was the weather, the beautiful people (i.e. my friends) and yes, the delicious seafood I scarfed down that afternoon.

La Cevicheria on Urbanspoon

 

*Note: Yes, the title of this post is a Tupac reference, cause you know what, I’m a big ol’ Tupac fan.  Boom. Chew on that. 

Island living and eating

Right before catching a plane back to New York we decided to eat one last meal in Florida, and what better place to wrap up a a relaxing beach weekend than at Tommy Bahama.

Didn’t know Tommy Bahama sold food? Yea well, me either. I thought they only sold linen shirts, swim trunks and other I’m-on-vacation clothing but apparently the “Purveyor of Island Lifestyles” also has a chain of restaurants. We made a pit stop in Sarasota and checked it out.

I have to say, I was somewhat skeptical. In my head I was ready to write the whole place off. Beachwear and food shouldn’t necessarily come from the same place, right? I mean, I don’t pick up bikinis at the supermarket. Just because Tommy could make nice casual island getups didn’t mean he come make nice food,  I reasoned. But I’m happy to report, I was wrong.

Fish tacos

Going with the recommendation of someone who’d already been there, I went with the fish tacos. One, because it seemed fitting to eat seafood in a beach town and two, because I’d never actually had fish tacos before. (I’m usually a beef or chicken kind of girl.) The three soft, white corn tortillas full of blackened fish (no, I actually don’t know exactly what fish), pico de gallo and a spicy chipotle aioli sauce were colorful in appearance and taste. The fish was tender and soft with that slightly burnt spiciness I love from the blackened outside. The other ingredients gave it a zesty, peppery savoriness that was refreshingly unlike most tacos I’ve eaten. With the tacos came a kind of weird side: three fried plantains in a crispy tortilla shell filled with a pineapple and coconut  sauce. I love plantains so I of course ate this up quickly, but I didn’t get why they were cold, almost like they’d been pulled out of the fridge. Maybe it was to play off the warmer flavors of the tacos, but this could of been much better if they were heated up.

Key Lime Pie

My last wish while in my ol’ home state was that I get a slice of my favorite Florida dessert: Key lime pie. Tommy’s was good, and as the waiter had put it, was “not too sweet, not too tart.” It had a nice thick, creamy consistency and a subtle citrus after taste. My only suggestion for improvement would’ve been to top it with a little less whip cream.  All that fluffy white cream took the spotlight off the tangy key lime flavor. Aside from that, it was a sweet adieu to Florida. I had another island to get back to and Tommy Bahama wasn’t exactly the purveyor of that one’s lifestyle.