We get lunch from these guys often enough that I figured they deserved a page. La Cazuela is in Rogers Park, and when the weather is nice they have one of the nicest patios in the city. Once, I had a giant plate of octopus and garlic there! Seriously, pulpo al ajo, just little purple octopods and copious amounts of garlic over a little rice. It was marvelous! So tender and absolutely perfectly cooked. It was a special and I haven’t seen it on their menu since, but trust me when I say it was just awesome.
Anyway! Shrimp tacos. That’s what I usually order from them. Their fish tacos are also stellar, and Tonya got their ceviche today which also looked amazing. It’s just a little family owned storefront taqueria, but those are the best sometimes, right? If you go, I recommend the guacamole, and also order extra of the orangey salsa, I have no idea what’s in it, but it’s like crack.
The best thing about it is I never feel guilty about these little shrimp tacos. There’s no cheese, no sour cream, no rice or beans. Just perfectly cooked shrimp with peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro and spices. They’re in corn tortillas instead of flour. Simple and perfectly delicious.
Man, do I love drawing food. :) Draw what you love, right?
So maybe I shouldn’t have biked home today. It’s not like the rain took me by surprise or anything, I knew it was coming. And yes I did cure getting wet in the rain by getting wet in the bathtub, but hot water beats cold water, or something like that.
Anyway, I could feel the craving setting in on my way home. Mac and cheese, my soul hissed. Mac and cheese will make you feel better. Mac and cheese will cure the stress and the cold and the rain. I knew it was a lie from the start, but I wasn’t as strong as I should have been. I have all the fixings for a good salad right there in the fridge, but instead I ate leftover gnocchi. I didn’t even heat it up. Cold gnocchi. Sigh. Really I should have just taken the bath first, I feel much more level-headed after that, and less likely to make impulsive decisions.
At any rate, I really need to figure out how to manage this new insane level of work stress that has entered my life, because it sure seems like it’s not going anywhere. Ever. Sigh.
I wish I had clever things to say about the long holiday weekend. I cooked a lot. I haven’t felt like I’ve had a lot of time to cook lately, so that was a nice thing. I learned to make cranberry chutney, honey roasted root vegetables, pumpkin dumplings, acorn squash gnocchi, and I managed to successfully make the disaster cheesecake recipe. It’s gorgeous, and delicious. I’m definitely keeping that one around. I shared a lot of good food with a lot of good people, which is easily one of the best things a person can do with their time.
And I finished my first draft of Shuteye #6, AND I made it all the way to the end of Wawku shrine in Okami. I haven’t beaten Lechku and Nechku quite yet. So I’m feeling pretty productive.
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if there weren’t massive amounts of food, right? I was pretty good though, and managed to only eat one plate of food. So much amazing food that the poor turkey (which was awesome in its own right) felt kind of secondary. I think my favorite was the brussels sprouts, but they were made by a professional chef so that’s a little unfair. :)
I called my folks on Thanksgiving, of course, and my mom and I were talking about days gone by… significantly, about how when I was a small child I was a very picky eater. I would sit at a huge Thanksgiving spread and only have a bread roll; or spend weeks eating nothing but yogurt or oatmeal for every meal. Times have changed! After all, my contribution to this potluck was the roasted root vegetables, parsnips, carrots and turnips roasted with garlic and onions and honey and spices.
I feel like I was shamed a lot for being picky as a kid. But taste buds evolve, they change as you grow older, and I don’t supposed you can help liking some foods and hating others. I could have been braver in trying things when I was younger, though. CSAs have gone a long way towards cultivating more adventurous taste buds for me, for sure. They give you all sorts of things that I would never consider buying in the grocery store – but if you don’t figure out how to cook them, they’ll go bad and then it’s just a waste.
Speaking of which, I have two little acorn squashes now! I am thinking about trying to make them into gnocchi, because apparently I like challenges.
So, some back story: I took flamenco dance lessons for about a year and a half and they were awesome. I know I left class every time walking an inch taller. It made me feel strong and confident. It made me feel BADASS. It also took up two nights every week, plus extra practice time, and I have a habit of spreading myself far too thin, and something had to give.
I was asked to play mandolin for a few Spanish carols for their holiday recital, and so there I was, watching the dress rehearsal. The girls I used to dance with were doing awesome dances with fans and castanets and God help me, I miss it. I know I don’t have time for it anymore, but I really miss it. I was sitting there, toying with the idea of taking it up again, and that little voice whispered in my ear: if you did, if you were in that class, you’d be the fattest one there. And I probably was the biggest girl in my class when I was dancing. I hated watching the videos of performances for that reason… but I loved dancing. I never thought about how big I was when I was dancing, only how strong I felt.
Speaking of dancing and such concerns, have you read Ragen Chastain’s blog? She’s pretty amazing.
Anyway. No flamenco for me, for the time being anyway. Someday I’ll have time for it again.
You guys are the best. :) Thanks for the hugs and the patience! I am not crazy about what I chose to eat for dinner tonight, but I’m giving myself a little bit of a pass considering the last few days.
A hot bath and some purring kitties and your kind words and running into good friends at dinner yesterday have gone a long way towards healing my mood. :) And now, I have decided to challenge myself to eat as healthy and smart as possible over this long, food-centric holiday weekend. Speaking of which, we’re going to a potluck for Thanksgiving. Main dishes and desserts were all spoken for, I think, coz Niles signed us up to bring the side veggies. WHAT?!? I am rolling my eyes and thinking, how boring. Surely there is something exciting and tasty I can do with a bunch of root vegetables, guys, right? Anyone have any ideas? I know there are at least some parsnips and turnips in the kitchen right now.
I came home yesterday exhausted and kind of depressed, so Niles suggested Longman & Eagle for dinner. Did you know they have a Michelin star?? I had not heard about that. I can’t believe I live four tiny blocks away from a Michelin star’d restaurant.
Anyway it was, as always, magnificent. The amuse was chestnut bisque, with a bite of seared foie gras, topped with shaved black truffles. To start off we got the scallops and oxtail, and the ricotta gnuddi, which had changed from the menu, and I don’t remember what changed… I think they came with butternut squash and some kind of pear/fig jam? Niles got the skirt steak and I had a seriously insanely good pan-seared cod, it came on a bed of mushrooms in a watercress nage (I had to look up what a nage was) and was topped with a brandade (I knew what that one was) and a potato that was sliced so thinly and fried so well that it was pretty much transparent.
For dessert we shared the gruyere donuts, which was a gamble but might have been the standout of the whole meal. Little fritters of gruyere, served over a small amount of fancy maple syrup, with whipped citrus-infused goat cheese. “It’s more savory than sweet,” the waitress warned us, but honestly the goat cheese was crazy sweet and rich, and paired perfectly with the saltiness of the gruyere donuts. It was like the world’s fanciest PMS food. :)
So! Right after a post about not needing to eat with abandon anymore, right? Here’s the awesome thing about L&E though – the portions are small. No, not small, normal-sized, not like the giant troughs of food like you’ll get from most American restaurants. So I feel like I ate a whole lot. I certainly ate a lot of different things, but it was only a few bites of most of them. Quality over quantity. At any rate, I weighed myself this morning and I had actually lost a pound from yesterday. Hooray! I’m going to write the Longman & Eagle weight loss diet. :) Lose weight while eating small amounts of the awesomest things. It may bankrupt you, but you will be happy.
This was a conversation I had with Niles a few months ago, sitting right here at this computer, probably uploading a comic like I am right now. I was whining to him that I couldn’t gorge myself anymore, I guess. It made sense at the time? I don’t know what made me think of it this morning, but I realized, huh, I don’t actually miss that anymore. I don’t have a longing anymore to sit down and eat til it hurts. It used to sound awesome. Then, it started sounding like it would feel temporarily awesome, and unpleasant afterwards. These days, it just sounds unpleasant. Period.
It’s kind of like, as I get older, getting drunk doesn’t sound that good to me anymore. A little toasty, sure, but really drunk? It sounds a lot more unpleasant to me now than it did when I was 22.
Anyway, it’s just one more satisfying little shift. I really love these little signs that I’m on the right track, that my habits and attitude are actually changing, no matter how slowly.
Incidentally, I found three different contested spellings for the Wayne’s World flashback sound effect. The OED needs to standardize that yesterday, am I right?