Taco Tuesday

Taken from the Taqueria Zorro website.

I’ve learned a lot of things living on the East coast.  Things like when a Mexican joint hangs a “Taco Tuesday!!!” sign sponsored by Bud Lite, you’re probably taking a gamble on quality.

Last night I took that gamble.  After grabbing a few great beers at the Rogue Public House, I stopped in a narrow little place called Taqueria Zorro.  I ate my tacos in a virtually empty room, plastered with beer posters, neon paint, and streamers.  Tupac droned.  The one other diner – a tough, all-business looking guy – had no actual food in front of him, but sat in the corner, periodically picking his head up from the book he was reading to smile and nod at me.

With this unfamiliar and disconcerting backdrop, I had unquestionably one of the top 3 tacos of my life.  Grilled chicken on homemade corn tortillas with plenty of fresh salsa verde.  I ate ’em quick, though, and made sure not to make eye contact with the reader on the way out.

What’s up, San Fran?

Hello from San Francisco!  I’m here for the next 3 weeks, externing at a very cool startup called Zipongo.  The company and the city both have a great food culture, and I’m really looking forward to exploring it.  If Day 1 was any indication, it’s going to be an interesting month.

I landed in San Fran yesterday a little after 1pm.  By the time I got into the city, I was crazy hungry.  Traveling and time zones put me at about 5pm (eastern time) with only a banana and an orange in my system – I needed food and fast.  Unfortunately, I was facing an uphill battle.

The reason was thanks to a documentary I just watched, called Forks Over Knives.  FoK is all about food from animals (and how bad it is) and food from plants (and how wonderful it is).  It presents a ton of evidence that all animal products (fish, eggs, and yogurt included) are slow poisons to the human body, directly translating to cancer and heart disease.  In fact, I found it all so convincing that I decided to drop them from my diet completely.

That left me combing the streets of San Francisco like a madman yesterday afternoon, praying to find something vegan.

I eventually stumbled on was a cool lunch spot just off of Union Square called The Grove.  I walked up to the counter salivating over the sandwiches I saw people eating.  Unfortunately, they were all off limits to me, and I ended up with the vegetarian chili… hold the cheese… hold the sour cream.  Dammit.

Was it tasty?  Yeah it really was.  Was it filling?  Not really.  I needed about 5 times the amount served to quell my monster appetite.  Why did I have to watch that movie this week?!

But things turned around: walking to the hotel, it became clear that I was headed straight to the heart of Chinatown.  I forgot completely about my stomach while I explored the neighborhood, wandered through the Italian district, and ended up at the bay by sunset.

Scenes from Day 1

By the time I made it back home, I was ready for dinner.  Veggie soup, again.  This time, though, it was probably of the best bowl of pho I’ve ever had.  And as I’ve learned in NY, the Vietnamese truly understand the proper size of a soup bowl.

Unbelievable soup in a completely empty restaurant.

As for my diet, late last night I came across this great critique of the documentary, which paints a more accurate picture of the research that led to the film’s conclusion (animals = poison).  It’s not that the doc was garbage, it’s just that it oversimplified to make its point, relying on black and white generalizations to describe the effects of complex processes.

In other words, look’s like meat’s back on the menu, boys!  

In conclusion, I recommend 1) watching Forks Over Knives, 2) reading the critique of the movie on rawfoodsos.com (and other analyses on the China Study and other examples from the movie), 3) staying tuned to eating goodly… this is going to be a fun month.

Required Reading

I just realized you can watch the entire Eames documentary on the PBS website.  Totally recommend you all do this – whether or not you care about design, their story is awesome and (best of all) really energizing.

If you’re on the fence, click the image below, go to the site, and check out the opening sequence of the film (it’s only 2 minutes).  It’s great in and of itself, and I promise it’ll leave you wanting more…

Click to watch the film!

“You know what I want.”

The wecome aesthetic of the LES.

For the first time in a long time, I’m writing from what used to me my captain’s chair: NYC, the Starbucks at Delancey and Allen, seat by the window. I’m in the city for a couple days while on break, and let me tell you it is good to be back. Last night I finally got to hang out with my old roommates at Laura’s new restaurant – Ellabess in Nolita – a very cool place. I ordered “The Capri”, a house cocktail made with vodka, muddled peach and cucumber, St. Germaine, and sparkling wine. It was a total powerhouse… really awesome. Drinking it took me back to my own days behind the bar, specifically to lessons learned from one of my favorite regulars.

the view from the chair

This guy’s name was Alan. Now as a bartender, as I’m sure is the case with a lot of service jobs, you encounter a ton of personalities. Over time, and especially with alcohol, it gets to be pretty obvious which ones float to the top and which ones don’t. Alan didn’t just float – he was like a styrofoam ball. For all intents and purposes, picture country music legend Kenny Rogers (menwholooklikekennyrogers.com). Too Santa Clause-y to be cool? You’d be surprised. When Alan sat down at the bar, owned it. Continue reading

Fresh Look, Fresh Lemonade

Never-before-heard lemonade stand quote: "Marina! Don't forget the garnish!"

A few matters of business:

1) Welcome to the new EatingGoodly.com! You may have noticed there’s a different look in here…the grainy picture of that faceless mustachioed man has been replaced by the crisp, clean lines of Americana-Andy. For those who didn’t know, the owner of that mysterious mustache was my good friend, Sam. I’m sure his presence will be missed by some.  More style updates should be on the way…

2) If you’re waiting with baited breath for Part 3 of the Corn Futures series, hang in there. It’s coming. Promise.

Okay, now about that lemonade…

For those who’ve never been to Ithaca, it’s a bit different up here.  My girlfriend, who went to school up here, explains it well: “You know the whole organic/local movement that’s really big right now?  Ithaca’s pretty much the capital of it – but they don’t even know its in style. It’s a way of life.”  A case in point is that lemonade from above, which came from the first organic lemonade stand I’ve ever come across.

I didn’t ask for organic certification (should I have?), but I did ask permission to photograph Marina and her brother’s operation.  Cool kids, delicious chocolate chip cookie, organic lemonade.  Not a bad day in Ithaca.

Times they are a changing.

The Price of Corn: Futures (Part 1 of a 3 Part Series)

Welcome to the first of a 3-part series on corn pricing!  Yes!  Over the past couple of weeks, current events taking place in the country’s heartland have perked my ears to issues surrounding global commodity trading.  The thing is, the more I read, the more in the dark I realize I am.  What follows, in true Eating Goodly style, is a really barebones look at all these subjects.  My aim isn’t to close the book on them, but to allow others in a similar boat as me (the “embarrassingly uninformed” boat) to open that book.

To begin understanding the price of corn, you’ve gotta know where it’s traded.  I’m not talking about the produce aisle or the farm-stand… I’m talking about the winner-take-all, no-holds-barred arena known as the futures market.  Continue reading

Liquor Before Beer…

Finger Lakes Distilling

Yesterday was a good day – my first tasting trip into the beautiful hills of the Fingerlakes.  The area’s known for its wine, but my crew went straight for the hard stuff at Fingerlakes Distilling.  The place is unique in that, while other distilleries focus on one specific type of alcohol,  they pump out a huge range of products.  Vodka, gin, a bunch of whiskeys, brandies, liqueurs – even grappa (they’ve gotta do something with all the grapes out front).

gotta try this

Still, the variety would be meaningless if it didn’t taste good… and it tasted great.  The two standouts were the gin (the best I’ve ever had.  Seriously)  and the cherry liqueur.  Straight up, if you like gin and live in New York go to the liquor store and find Seneca Drums.  Last year it was named Best NY Spirit at the NY Wine & Food Classic and I’m not at all surprised – it’s bright and really flavorful.  Think Hendrix but more citrusy and smoother.  Great taste.

The cherry liquor was the standout in a line of fruit liquors (we tried the cassis and blueberry, too).  While the others were really sweet and dark, this was sharp and tangy.  Not intentionally sour – more like the tart sweetness of a fresh cherry pie.  Super super good.

To make the experience that much more memorable, as we started the tasting, a huge thunderstorm erupted and the power went out.  We pretty quickly learned electricity isn’t needed to enjoy good alcohol.  In fact, it’s probably an impediment.

Continue reading