El Parasol Menudo

November 13th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s favorite New Mexico food is green chile menudo (tripe stew) from the El Parasol restaurant in Pojoaque (quick drive from HG/BSK’s home). Many levels of flavor: A certain barn-yard funk from the innards. Rich broth. Heat from the chiles. Soft and firm tripe textures. Crunch from chopped sweet onions. New Mexicans claim it is a cure for hangovers. HG can’t vouch for this since (despite some vigorous alcoholic intake) HG is never assaulted by hangovers. Cold and raw weather last night so HG brought home a pint container of El Parasol menudo and gave it a generous hit of onions and cilantro, Cost: $6.31. This is usually mixed with posole but HG likes his menudo unadulterated by starch. HG drank red Malbec with the cold weather defeating treat as BSK (no tripe fan) looked on. BSK was content with a healthy salad. Sopaipilla Factory, another local restaurant, serves a more refined (and pricier) menudo, where the slight tang of offal funkiness has been cleaned up. HG prefers El Parasol’s rugged version. Curiously, HG has never eaten tripe in Europe. Once took a bite of a tripe sandwich from a food truck in Rome. Feh!! Threw it away. In Paris, HG has never tasted the Calvados laced tripe at Chez Denise or the Tripe a la mode de Caen at Le Stella. At 89, HG is still optimistic about seeing Paris again.

More Innards: Tripe

May 1st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Tripe. Yes, it’s an unattractive word. Tripe is the stomach lining of a cow. Prepared properly, it is a delicious dish. Here in New Mexico, tripe is thoroughly soaked and cleansed and then slowly braised with pig feet for flavoring. Plus onions, garlic, oregano,etc. The pig feet are removed after cooking (though some very Mexican eateries in southern New Mexico serve the pig feet). This Mexican tripe stew is called Menudo and it is a food passion for HG. For health reasons, HG limits Menudo intake to one bowl a week. That’s because, though low in calories, Menudo contains unhealthy fat. Many Menudo fans add posole to their bowl for a very filling meal. Not for HG, just chopped onions, Hatch green chile and squeezes of lemon. Sometimes, HG crumbles a Saltine cracker in the savory broth. Best Menudo is served at El Parasol in Pojoauque on Highway 285. Close by is Sopaipilla Factory which serves a more sophisticated version of Menudo. The tripe stew is also available at Brazos in Santa Fe and Agelina’s in Espanola. The French, naturally, are big fans of tripe and cook it in a variety of ways. Lyonnais favorites are thin pan fried breaded pieces of tripe with onions and garlic. Usually served with potato puree. Also, tablier de sapeur (fried and breaded honeycomb tripe which is first boiled and marinated in white wine). A Paris favorite is a stew called tripes a la mode de Caen. Originating in Normandy, tripe is baked (between 7 and 14 hours) with a calf’s foot, onions, celery, spices, white wine and a generous shot of Calvados. It is a specialty at the venerable Paris restaurant, Pharamond. The rowdy all night bistro, Chez Denise, offers “Tripes au Calvados” for 23 Euros. It is a very large pot of tripe and it takes a hero with a big stomach to finish it. Tripe used to be on the menus of many old style Italian and French restaurants in New York. Then it disappeared. Now making a modest comeback. Victoria Freeman (HG’s beloved daughter) and husband/chef Marc Meyer introduced Menudo at their ultra-authentic Mexican restaurant, Rosie’s. Their convivial Margarita-sipping clientele would have none it. Took it off the menu before sad HG could savor.

Santa Fe Noshes

January 14th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, Santa Fe has some very high end restaurants (Geronimo is the best). But, HG/BSK are not customers. The problem is wine (and spirits). BSK is a hearty wine drinker (can knock off more than a half-bottle with a meal). HG drinks much wine but also likes vodka before the meal and brandy after. This amounts to big bucks at a good restaurant. Cost of wine and spirits can be more than a hundred bucks (sometimes $150). And, then there are three courses of food plus tax and tip. Excessive expenditure. So, dinner is confined to lusty home cooking plus wine and spirit values from Kokoman and Trader Joe’s. BSK confines lunch to leftovers but HG prefers noshing at casual, inexpensive eateries. El Parasol (in Pojoaque and Santa Fe) for menudo and tacos; Saigon Cafe (Santa Fe) for chow fun and pho; Whole Foods for a container of jambalaya; Tune Up for a breakfast burrito smothered in green chile. Best of all are the numerous food trucks. One of them serves foot long hot dogs covered in super hot green chile sauce. A happy way to achieve the ultimate in heartburns. Pass the Tums.

El Paragua

April 7th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK chose El Paragua, in nearby Espanola, as the farewell dinner site for visiting daughter Lesley R.. HG dines at least once a week at El Parasol Restaurant, the wondrous casual restaurant in Pojoaque. Down home cooking. Delicious. It is run by Jose and Alicia Atencio, warm and gracious hosts. Jose Atencio also owns and runs El Paragua. Another El Parasol is adjacent to the restaurant and there are other El Parasols throughout New Mexico and franchised to the Atencio family members. El Paragua is a bit upscale (but very affordable). Excellent steaks and seafood in addition to the staples of New Mexico cuisine: Enchiladas, tacos, tamales chimichangas, menudo, etc.. There are also wonderful cocktails and an extensive and modestly priced wine list. El Paragua is housed in a cluster of old buildings that once housed the Atencio family and their plumbing business. It is very evocative of New Mexico’s rich past. Gentle lighting and friendly and efficient service add to the dining experience. HG/BSK drank a pleasant Dubeouf Beaujolais-Villages (2014) priced at $21. Lesley R. opted for Tecate Beer served with a slice of lime in an icy glass. Big, robust, yummy meal. Carne adovado burrito smothered in green chile and cheese, menudo for HG, guacamole. Big sirloin steak for HG/BSK (smothered in cheese and green chile plus roasted green onions and chimichurri). Sides of charro beans, warm tortillas and sopapillas. Flan and natillas for dessert. A WOW of an experience!

Pork Rinds

March 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Pork rinds are crisp, crunchy chips of pork skin that have been fried in lard. Sound unhealthy? HG (like George H.W. Bush) loves them, but eats them in moderation. There is a growing trend of dieters hoping to lose weight on high protein, low carb diets and they are eating pork rinds in abundance. That’s because pork rinds have no carbohydrates (but lots of cholesterol, sodium and fat!). Doctors are beginning to issue warnings as pork rind sales have soared over the past few years. The porky tidbits are called “chicharrones” or “cuchifritos” in Spanish. They are an omnipresent accompaniment to many Cuban, Puerto Rican, Brazilian and Mexican dishes. HG’s favorite meal, when activist BSK is not cooking but busy saving the blessed New Mexico environment: HG gets a package of Bueno pork green chile stew out of the freezer. Adds an eight ounce take out container of green chile menudo from nearby El Parasol Restaurant. When piping hot, HG tops a big bowl with chopped onion, slices of avocado and squeezes of lemon juice. Eats this with chicharrones made by local women and sold at Pojoaque Super Market. Drinks shots of 100% Agave Tequila chased with icy Samuel Adams Ale. Jolly solitary feast.



October 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Guacamole is omnipresent in New Mexico. Every supermarket sells a version of the avocado dip. Best of the bunch is the fresh packaged guacamole at Whole Foods. This is good guacamole, not great guacamole. The same could be said about the guacamole served in HG’s favorite restaurants dispensing authentic Northern New Mexican cooking: El Parasol, Sopaipilla Factory and Tia Sophia’s. Great guacamole is served at Gabriel’s, a large restaurant with a spectacular terrace, located 15 miles north of Santa Fe on highway 285. The guacamole is prepared table-side. A cart is pulled up to the table and a server scoops guacamole into a Molcajete (a round, volcanic stone bowl with three short legs). The server adds garlic, chopped onion and tomato, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Pounds the mix with a Tejolote (stone pestle) into a proper consistency. Splendid. Even greater guacamole is prepared Chez HG/BSK. A swift and simple preparation. The Pojoaquë Super Market, a few minutes drive from HG/BSK’s, prepares fresh tomato based salsa, tomatillo salsa and pico de gallo daily (as well as ceviche). All are made by local women and have a down home taste. For a spicy (not fiery) guacamole, HG mixes (to taste) spoonfuls of the two salsas and adds an exuberant amount of freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice. Salt and pepper. Using a wooden fork and spoon, HG chops the mix into a smooth but chunky texture. HG serves pico de gallo (heavy on jalapeños) on the side for those who like fire in their mouth.


Return To El Parasol

October 4th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s Monday and HG is enjoying lunch at El Parasol, HG”s favorite dining place for earthy, down home New Mexican food. (Located on Highway 285/84. Pojoaque, N.M., minutes from HG/BSK’s home and 15 minutes driving time north of Santa Fe). El Parasol is presided over by Jose and Alicia Atencio, gracious and welcoming hosts. Customers step up to the counter, order and pay for their food. (Big takeout business). If you are seated at an indoor or outdoor terrace table, a smiling staffer brings the food to your table. All the standards (tacos, burritos, tostadas, enchiladas,etc.) are delicious (even addictive). However, HG’s favorite is the robust green chile menudo (tripe stew). Hot, hearty, spicy bowl of goodness. That was HG”s Saturday lunch (plus a shredded beef taco) when lovely Alicia stopped by HG’s table to welcome HG back after HG’s four month absence enjoying sea and sun on Prince Edward Island. The welcome was typical of Alicia (and Jose). They treat each customer like a valued guest. The customers are diverse–Latino families, Native Americans from the nearby pueblos, farmers, ranchers, artists, bikers, travelers, etc. Everyone is treated with smiles and efficient service. El Parasol is immaculate (including the restrooms). What the restaurant business needs is more Atencios, people who combine human warmth, culinary skills and professional management discipline. Upon leaving El Parasol this Saturday, Alicia presented HG with a bag of fresh produce from her garden as a welcome home gift. Hungry Gerald is also Lucky Gerald.


Breakfast Burrito

October 3rd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The breakfast burrito is a hearty culinary staple of western USA. Favored by physical laborers and desk bound executives (and everyone in between). A big BB devoured in the morning makes lunch superfluous. Effete east coasters may never have tasted one so let HG explain: A BB is a big rolled flour tortilla enclosing potatoes, eggs, onions, peppers, bacon (or ham, sausage or chorizo). The BB, looking like a small football, is smothered in green or red chile. Heat factor is mild to blazing. HG was introduced to the BB at Pete’s Kitchen on Colfax and Race in Denver. HG’s office was two blocks away from Pete’s so breakfast (or lunch) was, inevitably, the mild green chile smothered BB. HG loved it (as did SJ when SJ resided in the Mile High City). Since moving to the Santa Fe area, HG has learned that New Mexico is the true home of the BB. There are exemplary BB’s served in more than a score of restaurants and from some dozen roadside trucks. The best BB can be found at Tune-Up Cafe in Santa Fe (El Parasol in Pojoaque is a close second). Inventive BSK serves up BSK’s own version of the BB. Not monstrously large but very satisfying. Here’s how BSK does it: Warms a modest sized tortilla. Tops it with a browned layer of left over smashed potatoes and fried onions. Adds crisp bacon. Tops it with a sunny side fried egg. Then smothers the tasty work of art with plentiful warmed 505 Green Chile Sauce (Medium). Medium is mouth tingling. Hot is numbing. Where did the name “505” come from ? That’s Santa Fe’s telephone area code. If you want to attempt a New Mexico BB at home, order 505 from Amazon.


Nay Say Americans. Hooray Says HG.

May 21st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is referring to the interior of animals (aka offal). Brains, kidneys, livers, sweetbreads, tongue, hearts, intestines, tripe (stomach lining). These wonderful tastes seem to have disappeared from mainstream restaurant menus (as a corollary the interest in “head-to-tail” eating has been growing within the ranks of sophisticated and adventurous eaters). Is it the work of the health police on the alert for elevated cholesterol levels? Or have Americans become so spoiled that offal is seen as a remnant of poverty cuisine? The Europeans (especially the French) continue to devour these good things. When in Paris, HG eats lots of rognons (kidneys) in mustard sauce or grilled until the interiors are pink. A very good Left Bank bistro, La Ribouldinge, makes a specialty of offal. Pharamond serves classic tripes a la mode de Caen (Very good. However, HG prefers the Mexican tripe stew known as Menudo. As noted in many posts, HG is a fan of two versions of Menudo served at restaurants in HG’s New Mexican neighborhood: Green Chile Menudo at El Parasol and Red Chile Menudo at Sopaipilla Factory). HG’s daughter Victoria and husband chef Marc Meyer tried to introduce Menudo to New York diners at their sparkling Mexican restaurant, Rosie’s, in the East Village. Few takers, Removed from menu, alas. Sweetbreads (thymus glands) are on menus everywhere and are one of HG’s favorite treats. Best version ever was at the Oak Room of New York’s venerable Algonquin Hotel. Sauteed sweet breads with a slice of Virginian ham and an exuberant amount of Sauce Bearnaise. Pan broiled medium rare calf’s liver (enlivened with a dash of sherry vinegar) is served in scores of Paris bistros. Delicious. When HG lived in Colorado (first on a mountain horse ranch and then in Denver), HG often had splendid liver with onions and bacon at 240 Union Restaurant in nearby Lakewood. Very Parisian. 240 Union is a great, creative restaurant (A must if you ever travel to Denver or on your way to ski country). HG checked 240’s current menu. No liver. Must have met the same fate as Rosie’s Menudo. In bygone days, liver was a staple item on New York menus. Well done liver, onions and bacon (liver too well done for HG’s taste) on diner menus. Thick slabs of calf’s liver at steak houses. Chopped liver, of course, at Jewish eateries. Broiled chicken livers over saffron rice at Greek restaurants. The Schrafft’s chain, a bastion of WASP cookery, served an appetizing dish of gently sautéed chicken livers over softly scrambled eggs. Sammy’s Romanian, the flourishing homage to garlic and chicken fat Jewish cuisine, once served broiled chicken livers with unborn eggs. The livers are still on the menu but the eggs have disappeared. Only time HG ever had gizzards in New York was when SJ took HG to a little Japanese place on the West Side. Good, But, not as good as the duck gizzards in Paris. Rarely see brains in black butter in New York. Loved it at Le Veau D’or in New York (no longer on the menu but you can get a good version at Chez Napoleon in the theater district). HG ordered the dish at a nice restaurant in Paris 16e. Thoughtful owner was surprised an American ordered brains. Wanted to make sure HG knew what to expect. HG tapped HG’s skull. Owner laughed. Big, savory platter arrived. Tongue is still available at the less than a dozen (used to be a hundred) Jewish delicatessens in New York. Best tongue dish ever was served at long closed Al Cooper’s near New York’s garment center. Thick poached slice with creamed spinach and hot mustard. Sublime. Hearts have disappeared everywhere. Not for the delicate eater. In HG’s impecunious youth, HG ate big bowls of calf hearts stewed with onions, garlic and red wine. Hearty dish (to say the least). A staple at the funky far West Side French bistros that catered to the French seamen off the Ile de France and other liners. A.J. Liebling recounted in his book “Between Meals” that he would eat this dish when he was young and cash poor in Paris. Tete de Veau (calf’s head) is a feature of many French eateries.The dish is shunned by Americans. HG loves it. It consists of poached brains, tongue, mouth lining, etc.and other delectables from the calf’s head. Served with a Sauce Gribiche enlivened with chopped cornichons and capers. (Sauce Gribiche is a version of mayonnaise where mustard, cooked egg yolks and vinegar are emulsified until creamy). HG draws the line when it comes to intestines. Tried chitterlings in Harlem. Vile. The fecal stench of French Andouillette is off putting. (SJ once made the error of ordering them at Le Stella, a favorite Paris brasserie. Was unpleasantly shocked The funny food blogger Grubworm,calls the sausage:’the dish of death”). Innards do not appear on HG/BSK’s dinner table. Though a very adventurous cook and eater, BSK does not like innards. You can take the girl out of the midwest, but you can’t., etc. etc.


Ole’ and Arrigato

May 7th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Thursday was Cinco de Mayo, a major fiesta in Hispanic New Mexico. HG celebrated at El Parasol, the delightful little restaurant on Highway 285 in Pojoaque (six minutes from HG/BSK’s home). HG’s favorite dish there is green chile menudo but, given its high cholesterol level, HG has to limit the intake of this lush treat. So, HG had a big bowl of the home made green chile stew with warm tortillas. Fiery and savory. HG ate on the sunny restaurant terrace with Toby, The Wonder Dog, at HG’s side. Little fellow was much admired by staff and diners. Toby accompanied HG to the bank where he was given a substantial dog biscuit as a Cinco de Mayo treat. The doggy is now a fan of the financial sector. The dinner theme tonight was Japanese/Chinese. BSK sliced a pork tenderloin into thin slices. Further thinned them by putting them between sheets of wax paper and pounding them with a rubber hammer. Now they were ready to become Tonkatsu. BSK dipped the thin little cutlets in beaten egg and panko crumbs. Fried until golden in hot canola oil. Meanwhile, HG made a “Chinese Grandmother’s treat.” Boiled some wide egg noodles. Sauced them with a hot/sweet sauce of green onions, butter, garlic, oyster sauce, Maggi seasoning, brown sugar and a discreet amount of sambal. BSK added crunch to the meal with a salad of sliced fennel and radishes. HG drank Guiness Stout. Perfect quaff with this collaborative effort between HG and BSK.


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