What is so special about pig, anyway?

30 11 2008

Special? May my ears never indulge such blasphemy, and may the infidels who utter such a question be anathema. I pray that my first attempt to roast a pig on December 20 may bless your palate and not rain curses on my household and the children of my grandchildren (um, you should pray, too).

I can think of nothing better to tease you with than to have you watch a short clip (about 9 mins.) of Anthony Bourdain’s show, “No Reservations,” where he visits Puerto Rico.  As he explains in the beginning of the show, this is not your typical tourist travel show. Bourdain sets out to find the real culture of a city or country. He gets away from the tourist traps and the kitsch and explores the places we wish we could visit. He gives you an insider’s view of people’s homes, how they cook, how they interact with their families and friends.  Bourdain sums up his visits not with quaint descriptions of monuments or places, but by identifying a culture or society by its people and their beliefs, and exploring those beliefs through their food.

Here is a quote from Bourdain that I think best sums up this video: “Some people watch porn.  I…watch men chopping pork.





Spice Asian Bistro

29 11 2008

rollThere are a lot of lame oriental restaurants in town. You know what I’m talking about – you’ve eaten at them. Spice Asian Bistro is not one of those. I’ve eaten there twice and been happy both times. For the most part, the menu is comprised of Thai dishes. There is also a comprehensive sushi menu as well as a few Chinese dishes as well. However, I went for the Thai food.

To be clear, I am not one of those newspaper food critics that goes in to an establishment with three other people who order and share numerous appetizers, entrees, and desserts…and again on a second or even third visit. On the other hand, I’m just a regular joe who can afford to eat out on a not-so-frequent basis. So, my wife and I order two entrees, and maybe an appetizer as well. However, those two entrees should be emblematic of the restaurant as a whole. If the food I’ve ordered is made well and tastes great, I can be fairly confident to expect the rest of the food to be just as satisfying.

And that’s exactly what I have found at Spice. Read the rest of this entry »





What was I thinking?!

25 11 2008

As I mentioned before, this upcoming pig roast I am hosting will be my first time (I’m the “39 Year Old Virgin”).  I’ve given myself plenty of planning time (about 2 months) to ask a lot of questions and do some research. But when the owner of La Marginal, the Puerto Rican eatery here in town (the only one, as far as I’m concerned), heard of what I was attempting when I visited him for advice yesterday, his eyebrows raised a little bit.  Part of me was a little concerned.  “What the $!#@ was I thinking? I’ve already invited everyone!” The other part of me doesn’t care, as my wife will attest to.  I always have big plans, but never really give the details too much thought. I’ll let someone else do that. I’m a big picture kind of guy. In this situation, however, the onus is completely on me.

Although Leonel has roasted some large hogs, he prefers to to stick to the smaller ones (25-40 lbs.). Right here you are probably wondering: “What size porcine are we talking about cooking here?” Well, it needs to be about 100 lbs. based on the number of people coming. For him, as a restauranteur, the effort needed to cook a large hog is too great for the minimal return. For my purposes, however, I’ll just have to wake up early – real early.

To make things easier for me, however, I will be asking everyone to bring something. As some of you may know, I’m real picky about people bringing food to my parties. I normally have a theme and I like for my sides to match the main course. No different here, people. Very shortly you will be hearing from me and how you can help. I’ve never hosted a party where there will be more than 75 people attending, so this will be interesting.

So, back to my question: “What was I thinking?” Roasted pig, that’s what I was thinking.





Preparing for the pig roast

17 11 2008
Lechon plate

Lechon plate

I thought I would continue to get you excited about the upcoming pig roast by providing you with a picture of a typical Lechon Asado plate.  The lechón (or roast pig for you gringos) is a typical Puerto Rican dish, usually served at large gatherings.  Common side dishes (for me, anyway) would include yellow rice and pigeon peas (arroz con gandules), tostones (or fried plantains), and amarillos (literally translated as “yellows,” these are baked sweet plantains). No green stuff here except for in the marinade.

The lechón is the Puerto Rican version of pulled pork. The only difference, really, is in the marinade. Whereas your typical barbecue pulled pork would be marinated with a vinegar or apple cider base, the Puerto Rican version is marinated with a “mojo” (pronounced moho).  My mojo will consist of bitter orange, olive oil, garlic (enough to choke a brood of vampires), fresh oregano, salt, and pepper. Pretty simple, yet incredibly flavorful.  What is bitter orange, you might ask? Well, I can’t find it around here. Although it is pretty common in the tropics, even my specialty grocer doesn’t carry this particular orange.  Here, it is commonly referred to as a Seville orange.  However, you can make a semblance of the bitter orange by combining equal parts of regular orange juice and lime juice.  It will work just fine for me.

By the time this pig is done cooking, it will just completely fall apart. Get your appetites ready.





First annual pig roast

10 11 2008

pig

For those of you who have followed my blog before, please ignore the fact that I haven’t written a thing in quite some time. That’s what happens when you own two businesses, home-school three children, and are involved in law suits. Oh, well. Nothing gets my mind off of those things better than thinking of…food! (what did you think I was thinking about?)

I have been Jonesing for some well-made, crispy and tasty pork skin (chicharrón to you gringos). About the only way to get it is to make it yourself. So, that got me thinking: I should roast my own pig homer(mmm – pig).  Now, this isn’t such an easy undertaking, nor will it be cheap. And I’m certainly not going to roast a 100lb. pig just to get some skin. So, why not turn this into a huge shindig and invite my closest friends and family to enjoy it with me? Thus, our first annual pig roast!

As this process progresses, I will update this blog to show you how we’re putting this together. I’ve already spoken to several people about the idea and they are extremely excited, especially my mom. In fact, one of my friends even offered to provide the pig (sweet).  For those of you who are invited, you will be receiving regular e-mail updates. These updates will probably point back to this blog to give you further details and continue to whet your appetites.

This year I’ve decided to roast the pig “a-la-isla.” That’s what I call it, anyway. It will be done Puerto Rican style with many common Latin side dishes. I will be cooking the pig on an above-ground pit, somewhat like a concrete block caja-china.” If this goes well (and the stress isn’t too horrendous), subsequent years will feature the same pig, but be cooked in different styles: Thai, barbecue, Hawaiian, etc.

Keep watchin’,’cause I think this is gonna be good!





Zinc – upscale lounge

6 03 2008

My wife and I are not into the club scene at all. We do enjoy an occasional drink, but don’t enjoy the places that normally serve them as they cater to decadent youth focused on competitive imbibing. Not so with Zinc, located in the heart of downtown San Antonio within a short walk of the Riverwalk or the Alamo. This place has a more elegant and upscale feel than many other places do. The clientele seems different, too. At least when I’ve visited, the patrons are more subdued, enjoying the company of a small group of friends. Although the tv’s are usually showing a game, the volume is normally muted so as not to compete with the music or conversation. This is not the type of place you will need to raise your voice at to be heard.

The menu is lengthy with a good selection of wines, spirits, and specialty mixed drinks. Although I’ve never had their food, they also offer panini’s, pizza’s, and a couple of desserts as well. There is ample seating in the main bar area, as well as the adjoining lounge. On nice evenings, the outdoor courtyard is an excellent place to relax.

If you want to get away from the ordinary and step into a relaxing, adult environment, make sure to visit Zinc.





Boudro’s on the Riverwalk

6 03 2008

I wish I had gotten the jump on San Antonio’s Express News review of Boudro’s, but sometimes life gets too busy and things go by the wayside. However, I have pictures! Here’s my two cents on a recent visit.

Boudro’s prime ribWhereas the writer of that article did not mind being shoehorned into her table, that is the first thing I noticed when my wife and I met my parents and my aunt and uncle at Boudro’s this past weekend. I expected this upscale restaurant to be crowded (this is on San Antonio’s Riverwalk, after all), but I’ve never seen a more worthy attempt at cramming tables and chairs into such tight spots. The small table couldn’t hold all of our dishes at once, the guacamole cart just would not fit between my uncle’s chair and our neighbor, and I think I actually rubbed hair with the person sitting behind me several times. Yes, it was also loud, but you sit so close to your tablemates that it doesn’t really matter.

My first impression was not good, and neither was my second. Read the rest of this entry »