Puerto Rican Heritage Festival

17 12 2008

jibarito-plateEvery two years, the Puerto Rican Heritage Society (Sociedad Herencia de Puerto Rico) organizes and hosts a festival that features food, music, and cultural art. This year’s event was held at a different location than in past years and seemed to attract three times the attendance.  My favorite part of the event, of course, was the food.

We got there about an hour after the start and the line for food was already long. Several vendors were hawking food and the longest line was for La Marginal, a local Puerto Rican restaurant. Two lines formed at their booth to get one of two plates. The “Jibarito” (directly translated as “hillbilly”) consisted of roasted pork, rice and pigeon peas, small salad, and a choice of either tostones (fried plantains, aka “patacones”) or amarillos (baked sweet plantains. The other plate was fricaseed chicken with the same sides. My plate, shown here, was the “Jibarito” with both tostones and amarillos, and a chunk of potato stewed with the chicken. I also opted for the white rice and beans instead. Very yummy.paella

Each line was about 30 minutes long. My opinion is that they were just serving slowly. But the wait was worth it. While waiting, I hopped over to a booth run by Azuca, a restaurant serving Nuevo Latino cuisine. They offered a Spanish Paella and two desserts, a tres leches cake (three milks) and a flan (custard). My wife and I inhaled the Paella before I could get a picture of it. It was absolutely delicious. The rice was tasty, although overcooked just a tad, but it was full of seafood, peas, and carrots. For just eight bucks, I got a heaping plate of Paella that Azuca would probably charge about $24 for at the restaurant.

The Paella was made in a giant pan, probably about 36″ in diameter. It was gone in about 2 hours. La Marginal ran out of food seven times. The owner had to get his restaurant to keep bringing more food. My estimate is that the owner made in excess of $25k that afternoon. La Marginal also ran another booth out back serving fried food and roasted pork sandwiches. As much as I wanted some of this, too, I didn’t have the patience to stand in line again. There was another restaurant serving tapas, and a couple of other minor food sources, none of which I tried. The coffee was decent, the music was good, and the food was great. Maybe you’ll join me next time.

To cheat, or not to cheat

11 12 2008

cheatingI recently posted a blog about my upcoming pig roast in which I asked my readers to identify a few pop icon pigs. It really was not that difficult.  But if you are socially inept and culturally unaware, even Pigs in Space would have been difficult for you.  Oddly enough, it was my dad who was the first to respond.  Yes, with all the correct answers. I immediately smelled a pig.

You see, although my dad may be somewhat of a neophyte when it comes to pop culture he is, nonetheless, a very astute individual. I did not realize that when I had Read the rest of this entry »

Who wants some eyeball?

10 12 2008

Its time to claim the eyeballs!

The roast pig we are serving up on 12/20/08 is sure to offer a bonanza of meat and crispy skin.  However, there are several parts of the pig’s anatomy that can only be savored by a few.  Therefore, those need to be claimed ahead of time.

There are only two eyeballs on this pig, and they really can’t be shared.  Its like popping a jaw breaker in your mouth. To be honest, I’m not really that interested. However, whoever claims an eyeball also needs to agree to be featured in a video of you enjoying a taste explosion. C’mon now, don’t be squeamish. I once convinced my daughter, Isabel, to eat a fish eye. I’m not really sure how I got her to eat it since the usual enticements like encouragement, threats, bribes, or outright deception just don’t seem to work anymore on the kids. Yet, she popped it in and crunched. She didn’t say it was good, and she didn’t say it was bad – its a texture thing, you know?

However, I am willing to share the brain. Anyone?  Anyone?

While you’re thinking about it, take a look at this Man vs. Wild video.  Man, I love Bear Grylls.

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.

Suffering in San Antonio

11 01 2008

Mountain cedar juniper pollenAround mid-December each year (sometimes as early as late September) and on through January (and sometimes extending through February), cedar pollen makes its unwelcome visit to San Antonio and South Texas. Cedar is actually is misnomer, considering that it is actually the male Ash Juniper tree that produces its berries and decides to pollinate in the Winter. It floods South Texas in clouds like a swarm of army ants moving across a jungle floor. (The picture here shows the red pollen accumulated on the tips of the leaves.)

Personally, I think that mature Junipers can be beautiful trees. These evergreens seem to be the predominant tree species in the Texas hill country. They propagate easily and spread quicker than rabbits. Many developers in the area consider this tree an invasive nuisance in that it uses crazy amounts of water. Nevertheless, they don’t seem to be affected much by drought.

Despite their beauty, anyone who lives in their midst or downstream from their pollination flow will eventually succumb to “cedar fever.” It seems that no one is immune to this evil pollen. Read the rest of this entry »

Why is there a worm in the Mescal bottle?

24 12 2007

When I was young I remember going to the grocery store with my mom and waiting in anticipation for the cereal aisle. What was I going to get today? What kind of toys were in the boxes? Do you remember that, too?

Three things would always catch my attention:

  1. The cartoon character. I don’t know why I liked Sugar Puffs, I mean, the frog was not that interesting. But, there was a certain hyper-active energy about him that seemed to resonate with my persona;
  2. The toy, of course. Cheap as they were, I still wanted it. “Collect all 19 stickers!” Okay, but you only have three here! When are the rest coming in? Good thing we didn’t know about Chinese toy lead poisoning back then or mom would have never bought us this crap;
  3. Anything that blared out “Get your chocolate sugar buzz here!” Well, the boxes never said that explicitly, but c’mon, Count Chocula’s eyes are buggin’ out really far and he just seems so excited about this cereal. No : >( mom never, ever, bought me the Count.

My point is this: Read the rest of this entry »

Yet another reason why wine drinkers are snobs

21 12 2007

Have you ever wondered about wine descriptions? You know, where the taster is describing how he tastes notes of this and hints of that with a nose of so-and-so? I think its a bunch of BS, personally. But how should I know, I’m a beer snob, not a wine snob.

I was perusing the San Antonio Express News Taste section the other day and encountered a recurring article called The Wine List. I normally ignore this because, like I said, I’m more into corked beer than corked wine. Nevertheless, this one caught my attention because it was reviewing Tawny Ports. In addition to being a beer snob, I’m also a spirits snob. I’m not content with any gin – it has to be Tanq 10 or Bombay Sapphire. Jose Cuervo simply will not do (its actually quite nasty). I must imbibe Corazón Añejo or Tres Generaciones Reposado (and no, not in a shot glass, but a snifter, mind you). I happen to also like Ports on occasion and I noticed that this article reviewed a particular bottle that I had in my cabinet, a Taylor-Fladgate 20-year old Tawny Porto. Read the rest of this entry »