Tag Archives: Normal Heights

pancakes and curry

Adams Avenue Farmer’s Market (AAFM) in Normal Heights leaves much booth-volume to be desired. It is a pretty meager excuse for a farmer’s market, covering only one-third of a small parking lot. However, I went because I had a coupon for a free giant artichoke with a $10 purchase from Suncoast Farms. I walked away with two bunches of asparagus and three giant artichokes, and they aren’t kidding. I ate one on the 4th of July with my cuz, and we steamed it with lemon, garlic, rosemary, parsley, and ginger. Twas yummy.

Thai food has somehow managed to stay out of my life for the past few months. After passing a Thai place in La Jolla on Sunday, though, I’ve been craving the stuff like a famished hyena craves gazelle flesh. Cue the afro’ed employee at the Thai food vendor at AAFM, who helped me through my indecisiveness. I ended up getting the chicken and vegetable curry over rice, with ten of these little coconut pancakes. With no tables in sight, I sat at the edge of a slide that I had to give up in the middle of my meal to two frowning, disgruntled children.

Eating hot things that taste really good is a recipe for esophageal cancer (EC, as I lovingly call it). With no care to the pain of scalding curry sauce running down my throat, I kept eating, wasting no time to blow on my food. It reminded me of an evening last semester when my friends made a tagine with homemade meat balls and fresh bread; those of us who ate it just sat there moaning in pain and satiety. Temperature will not get in the way of experiencing this flavah, no sir.

The curry was all well and good. It had the perfect amount of spiciness after adding some Sriracha and sweet chili sauce (thanks, admayer), which is always key with curry. However, the star of this farmer’s market show was the coconut pancake. Called Kanom Krok, they are a mixture of coconut milk and rice flour cooked in a dimpled cast-iron pan.

I didn’t take this picture (it was found using the Ye Olde Nouveau GoogleImage Search), but it depicts what I’m trying to say:

The last time I saw one of these pans was on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations where he went to a restaurant that allowed customers to make their own octopus meatballs. Mmmmmmm. But at the AAFM, my afro’ed friend let me try a sample of these pancakes and I was hooked. The middle is soft, gooey and warm but the outside is a crunchy and little charred from the seasoned cast-iron pan. It has unbeatable mouthfeel and a sweet but mild coconut flavor. I want to eat these at all times. I want to douse them in honey. I want to chop them up and eat them with strawberries. I want to spread peanut butter on one, blackberry jam on the other, and smush them together for a tiny PB&J. I want to buy my own dimpled cast-iron pan so I can make them for breakfast and serve them to passersby on my way to work. I have no idea where to buy one so if you do, help me so I can help others.

my first mexican food

A lifetime of East Coast Mexican food has been a lifetime left unaware of the culinary greatness that has met me here in San Diego. I would trot along, going to Mexican restaurants in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York like I had something to prove: East Coast Mexican is good! Yes, the food may have been good, but I finally realize why so many West Coasters cringe at the thought of labeling it “Mexican.” It just isn’t. Find below a brief rundown of some of the highlights.

Chicken Mole Plate at the La Jolla Open Aire Market

For $6, I enjoyed tender pulled chicken covered in rich but not overpowering mole. Served with three warm, corn tortillas, I assembled mole tacos. First, I lined the tortillas with a layer of cheesy, salty, and supremely creamy refried beans. Then I added some rice and the mole, topped with two types of house salsa made with fresh ingredients from the market, included grilled and smoked peppers. You can see the cilantro leaves! Mole leaves its eater with such satisfaction and happiness; I guess chocolate really does make everything better.

Pico de Gallo at Fruitilandia in Normal Heights

When I was first looking for a place out here, I found one option in Normal Heights so I scoured the Internet for cool places to eat in the area. I came across Fruitilandia, which is essentially a fruit salad bar, and kept it in mind even when I knew I wasn’t going to live in the neighborhood. When I walked in, I was kind of overwhelmed with the options. There aren’t that many, but I had no idea what they meant. My previous experience with Pico de Gallo had been limited to the fresh tomato, onion, cilantro salsa. This Pico de Gallo, however, was a fruit salad dressed in a vinaigrette of lime juice, salt, and chili powder. I decided to have the cashier choose my fruits for me, and he went with the typical Pico de Gallo fare: mango, jicama, cucumber, watermelon, orange, cantaloupe, and honeydew.

This dish had some familiarity because my dad passed his love for salted watermelon to me in my youth, but the familiarity ends there. The saline, spicy, tart lime juice thoroughly dresses the fruit, which makes for an interesting eating experience. You first notice the salty tang of the dressing, which gives way to the sweetness of the fruit (or the more neutral palate of the cucumber and jicama), and the chili powder leaves a nice heat in your mouth.

Fish and Carne Asada Tacos at Roberto’s Taco Shop in Pacific Beach

Roberto’s Tacos is a fast food Mexican restaurant that is actually delicous. The pictures are pretty bad because I went on a whim (translation: unprepared, without camera) and had to use the iPhone, but at least I captured the greatness. The first picture is a fish taco with crema and cabbage slaw, and the second is a carne asada taco with loads of guacamole and pico de gallo (the tomato kind). Both tacos were so flavorful and stuffed to the brim that would would have been more than enough to satisfy. How was I to know this? You need to eat like three at Chipotle and like ten at Taco Bell to call it a meal.

Also, this doesn’t strictly pertain to Mexican food but guys, the avocadoes out here are plentiful and amazing. This attractive, bearded farmer at the La Jolla Open Aire Market looked me straight in the eye and told me that the avocado he was holding would be the best I had ever eaten. I bought it, ate it, and wholeheartedly agreed.