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archive for October 2010

pica’s mexican taqueria in boulder

Friday, October 29th, 2010

I shook Trent’s hand and sat down across from him. It was our first face-to-face encounter although we had emailed a few times before. Just a quick meeting in a coffee shop, in between a couple of my appointments. By the time I walked away, I felt this guy was incredibly earnest – a really good fellow. And I was right.

pica’s in boulder

That day we talked about his idea to open a restaurant in Boulder. Sure, people have dreams all the time, but Trent is the type of methodical, responsible, and hard-working individual who makes things happen. Trent used to be a professional sports photographer (um, THAT is really hard work) who trained at Boulder’s Culinary School of the Rockies‘ Chef program. I followed his progress on Twitter and on his blog. Jeremy and I even dropped by one day, a week before Trent’s projected opening, and he graciously invited us in for a tour. I was wide-eyed in amazement at how far he had come… and how much more he had to accomplish in the next week. I now know if anyone can do it, Trent can.

exhausted before the grand opening: chef andy of jackson, wyoming (left) and trent (right)

The atmosphere is totally casual. After all, it is a taqueria. The interior is brightly colored and the materials for the benches, the tables are re-purposed old doors or pews. It’s a clean and tidy space with simple artwork adorning the walls including a flatscreen television for fans to watch World Cup matches (Trent was a photographer for the US World Cup soccer team). Outside is a lovely, quiet garden patio perfect for enjoying some fine Boulder weather.

i suddenly feel so thirsty

mmmm… patio dining

Pica’s Boulder opened in June of this year (2010) bringing Baja-style Mexican food to the good citizens of this northern Colorado town. Mexican food. You all know how I bitch and moan about Mexican food in Colorado. I’m married to a guy who grew up in New Mexico and I lived in California for ten years. There are many many flavors of Mexican food, but Boulder never really did it for me.

the menu

Their Mexican food focuses on the bright flavors of fresh and wholesome ingredients with a slight upscale flair. It is NOT Northern Mexican nor is it New Mexican, so if you walk in there judging it as such, that’s really your problem. They offer several vegetarian options and I know Pica’s is gluten-free friendly based on Andrew’s love of the place. I have frequented Pica’s for work lunches and fun lunches, turning many a friend on to their wonderful tacos, burritos, and other offerings. Nichole once said she eats there so often that her baby is half Pica’s! The ultimate vote of confidence though? My stitch-n-bitch crew gathered there for a meal. Right on.

jeremy got a margarita and i had the half lemonade half agua fresca (watermelon juice)

When you enter Pica’s you should not only check out the standard menu board, but have a gander at the daily specials listed on the blackboards behind the counter. I personally love the tacos al pastor, carnitas, marinated shrimp, baja style fish tacos, skirt steak tacos, chicken tinga (I had the chicken tinga sopes which were good, but I liked the chicken tinga more than the sopes), and the wet burrito (carne asada, please!). When Jeremy and I finally went in for a “proper” review, we decided to score some appetizers. Usually, I’m all business. Give me the tacos al pastor and no one will get hurt.

You order at the counter – dine-in or carryout – then sit down and wait for the food to arrive. There isn’t a lot of wait service in the traditional sense, but all of the employees have been polite and attentive when I’ve been to Pica’s.

chips with half guacamole and half salsa

**Jump for more butter**

getting tropical in colorado

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Recipe: arepas with guasacaca

It has been snowing horizontally in my ‘hood for the past couple of days. I rather like the vertical snow more – you know, the kind that falls gently and accumulates so you can ski it? But I’ll take any snow we can get at the moment because we haven’t had our usual Big Dump Snow Day yet and it’s nearly November. Meanwhile, we’ve been taking care of business at home – like choosing who won the Doughnuts cookbook giveaway! Jeremy gathered Kaweah’s ragtag crew of toys, assigning each one a number and randomly distributing them in a line (that is, they are not laid out in numerical order). Then we recorded the number of the first toy she touched. We did this three times.

kaweah picked the number 557

Our number is 557. We had 274 qualifying entrants (I basically accepted entrants up until Kaweah had a number) and 557 MOD 274 is 9. Congratulations Emily Vigue! You’ve won a free copy of Lara Ferroni’s Doughnuts! I’ll send you an email to get your shipping address right away!

In case you’re wondering just how random my selection process is, my resident astrophysicist came up with the method and we had it verified for pure idiotic randomness by my friend and resident economist (also statistician), Erin. Not to mention – it’s Kaweah – does ANYONE know what goes on in that little brain of hers?

well, right now you know what kaweah is thinking

Erin and Ali came up yesterday so Erin could teach us to make arepas. Erin has been wanting to share arepas with us forever and ever. She learned how to make them the proper way in Venezuela. While I don’t particularly enjoy spending time in tropical climates, I am more than willing to partake of the cuisine. I’ve been wanting to try and blog about arepas ever since Erin mentioned them, so it all worked out. And if you see henna tattoos on the hands of our models, yes – they were at the party too!

start with harina pan

Erin told me there are two brands of harina that she is aware of and harina PAN is the one you want to use. You probably won’t find it in your neighborhood grocery store unless you are lucky enough to have a good Latin American market nearby (if so, color me jealous). So burn that image above into your brain because it is soooo worth it to make these delectable little pockets of savory amazingness.

pour the harina pan into a large bowl

add warm water

and some oil (and salt)

mix it together with your hand and let it rest

While you let the harina sit (Erin says ten minutes minimum, but the longer the better), you can make the guasacaca, a Venezuelan avocado salsa. Sounds like huasakaka – no hard G, okay? The ingredients are relatively easy to come by.

onion, jalapeño, parsley, cilantro, garlic, and avocado

blender it

You’ll also need a little salt, some white vinegar or rice wine vinegar, and oil (which you add last – always last). This might have come together easier had we used the food processor or if we hadn’t packed the leafy herbs in first. If you go the blender route and your blender sucks as much as mine does, then please blender the onion, vinegar, and avocado first. That will produce enough liquid to get the rest of the ingredients blendered properly, otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time pushing ingredients down toward the blade over and over and over again (with the blender OFF, of course).

erin finally gets the guasacaca to blend up

brilliant green color

**Jump for more butter**

hands, hearts, belly

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Recipe: mashed potatoes

***Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni! You have until midnight (24 hours from time of this posting, yo!).***

The weather turned rainy, cold, and windy over the weekend. Occasionally, when the clouds lift, I spy snow in the distance. I’m anxious for the snow. To be honest, I’m anxious to finish out my travels this season and be in one place for more than a week or two at a time. I was reminded of that this past Friday when I attended a get together that was looong overdue. Our stitch-n-bitch crew has been so ridiculously busy that it’s the first time we assembled in one place in several months. (I’m totally one of the guilty parties.) It was a very special SNB and we didn’t even think to bring any knitting or crafts projects.

whenever manisha hosts, she makes exquisite food

and we devour it

After the initial feast, we all settled into Manisha’s living room where our hostess explained an Indian ritual for the expectant mother. In this case, we were celebrating our dear Nichole and her baby bump! We each took turns, administering tumeric, a red powder (I don’t recall what it was or if it was edible), and rice to Nichole’s forehead. We offered a coconut and a little nut in a cloth, sprinkled rice on her head, and fed her something sweet. I was running on fumes by Friday afternoon – the week had been insanely hectic – so I wasn’t able to catch the significance of each act while I was shooting. But it was fun as well as incredibly touching as the gals, one by one, offered their heartfelt blessings to Nichole and her baby.

manisha explains the coconut to all of the noobs

erin places tumeric on nichole’s forehead

ali sprinkles rice

she glows

But the party didn’t end there. No no, it was just getting started! Manisha hired two of her girlfriends to come and do henna tattoos. There was a lot of gossiping and bonding and laughing and snacking and admiring of one another’s tattoos as we migrated from the guest room floor (where we were getting tattooed) to the living room to the kitchen and back again. It was a beautiful time and the smell of eucalyptus oil permeated the guest room. Despite my exhaustion as the evening wore on, I felt that I was in a good place. I was with beloved friends celebrating a soon-to-be significant moment in Nichole’s life. We watched smiling, joking, giggling, admiring as Nichole’s belly tattoo blossomed into a work of art. She was beaming.

it started in the center

so lovely

erin’s cool design

end of the night: all in (missing 3 of our gals who had to leave early)

This was my first tattoo if you don’t count the four blue dots I have on my chest from my radiation treatments. This one is far prettier and definitely more special. It isn’t permanent, but I think I’d like it to last as long as possible – maybe 2-3 weeks depending on how well I take care of it. At first I would see my hand out of the corner of my eye and it would startle me, but I’m getting used to it. So don’t be startled if you see a tattooed hand in some of the recipes in the coming months!

my favorite potato in the world: yukon golds

**Jump for more butter**