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.


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.


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.


Spring Holidays

March 26th, 2016 § 5 comments § permalink

Lent is ending. Easter Sunday just a day away. The Holy week is very special in northern New Mexico where HG/BSK live. The Pentitntes (Members of the religious brotherhood, Los Hermanos Penitentes) have started to appear trudging along Highway 285/84. They walk for many miles to El Santuario de Chimayo, the church in the little town of Chimayo. The taxing walk serves to link them with “the passion and pain of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” They believe El Santuario has curative powers (Some eat a bit of the earth upon which El Santuario stands). Los Hermanos was founded in Spain and Italy some 800 years ago. It has been active in New Mexico for 400 years. Many New Mexican restaurants like Pojoauque’s El Parasol and Sopaipilla Factory offer Lenten specialties. HG’s favorite is El Parasol’s crisp fried cod on a bun lined with shredded lettuce and mayonnaise. Though an atheist, HG celebrates the Passover Seder meal (Aprill 22 this year). HG/BSK’s Seder is a rather irreverent affair featuring plenty of drinking, laughter and song. After all, Passover is like most Jewish holidays: “They tried to kill us. They failed. So, let’s eat and drink a lot.” Traditionally, HG/BSK start the meal with jarred Manischewitz gefilte fish. HG is not fond of this product (It is a mere shadow of the savory, handcrafted gefilte fish–think of it as a Jewish Quenelle– made by HG’s late Mom.) HG is lobbying for Baba Ganoush, a wonderful Middle Eastern eggplant dish made from scratch by HG. (It’s nice scooped up by matzos). The Seder main dish will be brisket or lamb kefte (Garlicky cigar-shaped meatballs). Dessert: Passover cookies plus strong drink–Slivovitz, Vishniak, Grappa, Limoncello, Cognac. Hey, Pharoah. Gotcha!! If there was a Jewish order of Penitentes, HG would join. Might help atone for a sin of HG’s youth: When HG was ten, HG and his pals paid a visit to a large appetizing store in the Bronx. Besides traditional smoked fish, the store offered nuts, dried fruit, hard candies–all in big, open burlap bags. Maxwell House Coffee Company distributed free Hagadahs (the little book used for the story and songs of the Seder) to stores in Jewish neighborhoods (a PR gesture). Having the sunniest and most honest face, HG approached the owner (who worked behind the smoked fish counter) and asked for some free Maxwell House Hagadahs: “We all want to study them before the Seder.” The owner praised the pious lad and while he searched for the religious tomes, HG’s buddies filled their pockets with many goodies. HG believes HG’s diversionary chat with the store owner was the seed which later sprouted into HG’s successful career as a public relations counsel for New York’s mightiest landlords and real estate developers. All goniffs. Like HG’s childhood pals.



February 8th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Ah, Texas women. HG is enchanted by their life enhancing exuberance, laughs and smiles; and, of course, those Southwest Conference good looks. Judy G., Texas born-and-bred, a pal for more than 20 years, personifies those Lone Star State attributes. Judy, recently widowed (her late husband, Henry G., was an HG` pal and business associate for more than 40 years), is visiting HG/BSK in New Mexico. Wicked cold (but sunny) in The Land of Enchantment. Nevertheless, bundled up Judy and BSK; Toby, The Wonder Dog and Judy’s delightful dog, Daisy, are going for long walks in the scenic Barrancas (mesas). Dining has emphasized Mew Mexico comfort. At home for BSK’s green chile chicken stew and HG’s guacamole. Lunch at Sopaipilla Factory in nearby Pojoauque: For the chilled and hungry women, huge ground meat stuffed sopaipillas smothered in green chile over a layer of melted cheese (a sopaipilla is a Mexican popover). For HG, the usual chicken enchilada served Christmas style (red and green chile sauce) plus a cup of spicy menudo. Food designed to brush away the icy fingers of Jack Frost. Tonight’s menu will be French-Italian. Garlic soup enriched with beaten eggs, orzo and grated Romano cheese. Served in bowls over slices of garlic rubbed baguette toast. Beware, Dracula and Jack Frost !! The trio will drink much of the splendid red wine Judy has brought. Looking forward to after dinner brandy, a roaring fire and conversation with Judy. HG/BSK acknowledge that behind Judy’s agelessly beautiful face is a sharp and well stocked mind. She’s a retired Texas University professor, among other accomplishments. Hook ’em horns!!


Hot, Hotter, Scorching

July 16th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Some like it hot. Count HG among that number. HG likes food prepared with spicy ingredients or accompanied and enhanced by condiments packing much heat. HG/BSK have a kitchen arsenal that attests to love of culinary fire. There are the peppers: White pepper (ground); black pepper (in the form of peppercorns); smoked black pepper (ground); Aleppo pepper (red and vibrant from Turkey); Berbere (very hot); Italian red pepper flakes; Szechuan peppercorns; whole dried red chiles used in Chinese and Mexican cooking. Powders: Red chile (medium and hot); Chipotle (dark and smoky); Coleman’s English Mustard Powder. Condiments (in bottles, cans and tubes): Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce; Frank’s Red Hot Ketchup; Frank’s Red Hot Sweet Chile; Chinese Sweet Chile Sauce; Fire Oil (Roasted sesame oil mixed with very hot chile. This is used in flavoring Dan Dan noodles); Sriracha; Matouk’s West Indian Hot Sauce (An HG favorite, it’s from Trinidad); Tabasco (for Bloody Marys); Queen Majesty Scotch Bonnet & Ginger Hot Sauce (fiery stuff from Jamaica by way of Brooklyn); Wasabi (for Japanese food); Sambal Oelek (Indonesian); Chinese Chile Garlic Sauce; Harissa (for Middle Eastern food); Chipotle peppers in sauce (also various bottled “picante” salsas as well as pickled Jalapeño peppers and Italian cherry peppers and horseradish). HG’s secret heat weapon (served only to masochists or heat veterans) is skhug. This is bottled hot sauce originated by Yemenite Jews. Just a tiny dab will give food a delicious blast of smoke and fire. (HG’s thoughtful brother-in-law, Yossi M., brings this back from Israel for HG). A wonderful hot sauce is chile de arbol. This is served (upon request) at New Mexico’s Sopaipilla Factory restaurant. HG adds some to a bowl of menudo to banish chill, gloom and hangover. It works. Viva la vida picante!!


Viva Mexico

February 23rd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

In the early days of television (1954) HG and a colleague recently arrived in New York from California, wrote TV news programs that were broadcast nationally. The news was illustrated with still photos (they were called “telops”) which were transmitted by telephone wire to the TV stations (news film was introduced at a later date). HG and his pal were swift and nimble news writers and photo selectors. It was fun. International News Service, the Hearst wire service (later absorbed by United Press) was HG’s employer. INS was housed in the Daily Mirror building on E. 45th Street and HG usually lunched in the hole-in-the-wall Greek diner off the building’s lobby. But, knowing that his California buddy missed Mexican food, HG invited him to lunch at Manhattan’s only Mexican restaurant, Xochitl. A mistake. “This is a bad joke,” he declared in reference to both the food and the high price of lunch. In the 1960’s HG/BSK visited friends in California (their first trip to the state) and were determined to eat “real” Mexican food. Their friends (not foodies) took them to a nearby Taco Bell (then only in California). HG/BSK found it satisfactory but felt there was something missing. HG thought about all of this at a Sopaipilla Factory dinner last night (the eatery is in Pojoaque, New Mexico, a few minutes from HG/BSK’s home). HG/BSK and their visiting eight-year-old grandson, Haru, feasted on menudo, enchiladas, green and red chile of a quality simply unimaginable to a New Yorker of the 1960s. Not so to present-day New Yorkers like grandson Haru, who knocked off a bunch of chicken tacos declaring them to be “awesome” with the caveat that, as a Brooklyn guy who regularly dines in Sunset Park (a Mexican neighborhood near his home), he has devoured many an authentic taco. In fact New York is having such a Mexican food renaissance (with both high end and low down options) that HG’s Californian pal would probably find much to smile about. As part of this renaissance, HG is looking forward to next month’s opening of Rosie’s, Restaurateur Daughter Victoria’s next New York restaurant. This will feature farm-to-table Mexican cooking. (Husband/chef Marc Meyer has just returned from a two-week visit in Mexico with Diane Kennedy, the ultimate authority on Mexican cuisine). Meanwhile, HG will be off to nearby El Parasol to give visiting Haru another taco fix.


Breakfast Renaissance

February 16th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

For scores of years HG’s very unhealthy breakfast consisted of endless cups of black coffee and numerous Marlboro cigarettes, all consumed while reading The New York Times (HG’s morning hands were always stained by Times print). Much has changed. HG now reads The New York Times online. No cigarettes. Cafe latte. And, nourishing, often very hearty, breakfast meals. Most often HG has a big bowl of fresh fruit and Greek yogurt drizzled with plenty of Turkish honey (this is one occasion where the Greek and Turkish cultures are in harmony). The other perpetual is organic coarsely cut oatmeal (BSK adds lots of dried fruit to the cereal). For some reason, Sunday morning is a time for eggs. BSK is an exert poacher and scrambler. Thus, there are poached eggs on buttered Thomas English Muffins. Or, poached eggs on a bed of Geechie Boy Stone Ground Grits (provided by SJ). Crisp rashers of bacon always accompany these dishes. HG is very fond of soft, voluptuous scrambled eggs with Alaskan red caviar and creme fraiche. BSK makes this perfectly; however, it is in the realm of omelets that BSK demonstrates her true mastery. Here are some of the fillings: Cheese, fried onions, asparagus, mushrooms, mixed chopped herbs, spinach…and, surprisingly, super spicy Korean kimchee. A BSK omelette is always lightly browned on the outside. Creamy on the inside. Perfect. (SJ also does great omelettes. Must be an inherited talent). When HG goes out for breakfast he consumes a cheese enchilada topped with a sunny side fried egg and smothered in spicy red and mellow green chile sauce (In New Mexico this topping is called “Christmas.”) Best source for this dish is Sopaipilla Factory in Pojoauque (15 minute drive north of Santa Fe). When HG is really hungry in the AM, HG goes to Tune Up Cafe in Santa Fe for the eatery’s massive breakfast burrito filled with eggs, potatoes and thick cut bacon. There’s a ton of fiery green chile on the plate but HG always asks for more. HG may express some nostalgia for the past, but breakfast has never been better than the present.20110719-salmon-roe-eggs

The Devil Comes to a Food Paradise

October 3rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The Pojoauque Pueblo is HG/BSK’s Native American neighbor and its retail complex (strategically located at the juncture of Highway 285/84 and Highway 502) has been HG/BSK’s source for household necessities and outstanding New Mexican food. The Pojoauque Farmers Market (much expanded through a $44,616 grant from a Department of Agriculture program which encourages marketing by local farmers) operates every Wednesday and is BSK’s source for superb little potatoes, juicy tomatoes, chiles and herbs. A stand simply identified as “Orlando’s” offers freshly made burritos and tamales. The Pojoauque Super Market carries an extraordinary range of salsas, locally processed spices, hot sauces and everything necessary for preparing authentic New Mexican dishes. The prepared food section (good menudo and green chile stew) does a brisk luncheon trade and local women prepare fresh pico de gallo and ceviche on a daily basis. At the entrance to the supermarket, Native Americans offer traditional fry bread (as well as jewelry). Besides a bank, hardware store, government offices and a drug store, the retail complex contains Sopaipilla Factory. a restaurant much favored by HG for its suave menudo and its generous chicken enchiladas prepared Christmas style with both red and green chile sauces. The friendly staff offers all-you-can-eat sopaipillas (New Mexican popovers) with honey and butter. Yes, the Pojoauque complex has been a locavore paradise. Until now. Enter McDonald’s. Yes, Mickey Dee has made an unwelcome appearance in a large building with much parking at the entrance to the retail area. Construction had been going on for some months and most people believed the building was an addition to the nearby group of Pojoauque government buildings. Unhappy surprise. McDonald’s opened last week and, sadly, has been very busy. HG finds McDonald’s factory food nasty, inedible and unhealthy. HG hopes it will not negatively impact Sopapilla Factory and the very good nearby El Parasol, a bastion of down home, hearty Northern New Mexican cooking.


Return To The Land Of Enchantment

September 17th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Green chile menudo and carne adobado tostadas at El Parasol. Red chile menudo, sopapillas and Christmas enchiladas at Sopapilla Factory. The sweet fragrance of freshly roasted green chiles circling around sweet peas and Japanese eggplants from Pojoaque Farmers Market. More roasted green chiles, shishito peppers, tiny potatoes and world’s best greens from Santa Fe Farmers Market. Watching the colorful fish in HG/BSK’s pond; long swims in the comfy warm water of HG/BSK’s lap pool; watching (with pre-dinner drink in hand) the sun coloring the Barrancas cliffs and mesas. Your guess is right. HG/BSK are back in New Mexico or as the state’s license plates proclaim: The Land of Enchantment. Adding to the joy is the presence of Gifted Daughter Lesley R. (for a too-brief visit) and Lovely Granddaughter Sofia R. (happily remaining to finish her prep school senior year at Desert Academy). BSK is planning to add a dog to the family. Though once opposed to such a plan (selfish HG likes all of BSK’s attention to be focused on HG), the aged hungry chap is now looking forward to meeting a new furry friend.


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