San Francisco eats.

My first meal in San Francisco was a dud, a sushi/Japanese place called Hana Zen. The fish was fresh, but totally tasteless, and the prices were on the high side. Skip it.

Breakfast on Saturday was at an upscale but very tiny restaurant called Canteen that does a simple weekend breakfast. I went with my standard plate. The scrambled eggs were really perfectly cooked, not runny but still soft, and the eggs were obviously very fresh. The hit for me was the home fries, made from red potatoes that were parboiled and then finished on a flat-top with just enough oil (or butter) to keep them from sticking. They’re not home fries, but they’re good. The chicken-apple sausage was either homemade or locally made, but it was not cooked enough for me. They do get extra points for nice presentation and for having green tea available as an option.

Saturday’s lunch was a visit to a sushi joint I hadn’t hit in six years, and wasn’t even sure I knew how to find. I stumbled across it while wandered around on Friday afternoon. It’s called Akiko, and it’s on Mason Street, not far from the Powell Street BART station and near Union Square. The place is tiny – four chairs at the sushi bar and maybe eight tables – but the fish is really fresh. The salmon was awesome, deep pink with a great texture, soft but not too soft. The unagi was great, although I’ve rarely run into bad unagi. Even the miso soup was good, tasting fresher than any I’ve had in ages. Just when I thought I was too stuffed to eat anything more, the last item I’d ordered, a spicy tuna hand roll, arrived. The thing was enormous, a good four inches or so long, with a generous serving of spicy tuna that had just enough sauce to flavor the tuna without ever making me think, “ugh, mayo.” And their prices are reasonable for sushi.

Memphis Minnie’s – The smoked andouille sausage was to die for, easily the best Q’d sausage I’ve ever had. It was like butter, but it was still thoroughly cooked, and even though it was a little spicy for my tastes, I ate every last bit of it. The pulled pork was good, smoky, just lacking a little bit of that sweetness that I’ve had in good pulled pork in the South, although it was easily remedied with any of the three sauces (North Carolina vinegar, South Carolina mustard, and Texas red) on the table. The texas beef brisket was good, but definitely a little dry, and it was the only meat left on my plate when I was done. The sides were a little disappointing; the cornbread (comes with every meal) was very sweet and had coarse-grind corn meal, which has a great taste but really needs to be cooked thoroughly (like polenta) before it’s added to cornbread batter. The baked beans were solid, with a heavy smoke flavor, but light on the brown sugar. I went for the French fries because they were hand-cut, but they weren’t any better than, say, In-n-Out’s hand-cut fries. Oh, forgot one thing – the sweet iced tea, named the best in SF in the most recent issue of Where magazine (or whatever that thing in my hotel room was), was like candy. Granted, I like my iced tea unsweetened, but this was practically iced tea syrup.

Dottie’s – This place was worth the visit for one thing alone: The scone. They make their own baked goods and the varieties change every day. I went for an apricot oat scone and was treated to a piping-hot wedge the size of a slice of a deep-dish pie. It was unbelievable – just slightly moist (like a scone should be), with huge chunks of avocado and the nice, complex sweet/nutty flavor of an oatmeal cookie. The meal itself was so-so; the scrambled eggs were cooked properly but were light on salt, the bacon rashers were thick and a little undercooked (I like ‘em crispy), and the potatoes were really light on salt. All of their egg plates come with two slices of homemade buttermilk dill bread, which was a very high-quality bread with a dense crumb, although I’m not big on dill.

My last meal in San Fran was a bit upscale, at a place near my hotel called Fino. I ordered a special, a grilled salmon with artichoke hearts and mushrooms, served in a white wine sauce with whipped potatoes. The salmon was fresh, clearly Pacific, cooked perfectly, and the sauce was light and thin so the fish’s flavor could come through. The “chocolate Fino” dessert, however, was a complete waste of time. It’s a chocolate pudding on a little raspberry sauce, and it’s bruléed before it’s served. Aside from the fact that I burned my finger on the glass bowl, the chocolate pudding was milk chocolate. Why bother? If I wanted a glass of milk, I would have ordered one.

Bill Buford’s Heat.

Bill Buford’s book Heat is three stories in one. It’s the story of the author’s apprenticeship under celebrity chef Mario Batali and the learning process that goes on during that work experience. It’s also a mini-biography of Batali, the gregarious, slightly hedonistic TV chef and the man behind a half-dozen or so major restaurants, including his flagship, Babbo. And it’s an intermittent history of Italian cooking, albeit not a very complete one, with more of a focus on answering certain questions and tracing the lineage of certain dishes.

The book is largely fascinating, especially if you enjoy cooking or if you have interest in how restaurant kitchens really work. Buford’s follies as a kitchen slave – he uses a more vulgar term for it – are largely predictable, but the reactions of the people around him are always entertaining, and he has a talent for capturing the personalities of the various nut jobs populating the kitchen at Babbo.

The book slows down noticeably when the focus becomes almost entirely on Buford’s own personal quest to master Italian cooking, specifically his long trips to Italy to work under the most famous butcher in the world, Dario Cecchini, a man who “banishes vegetarians from his shop and tells them to go to hell.” Dario’s exploits and commentary are hilarious, and there are some solid passages that almost wax philosophical about meat, but after the frenetic back-and-forth approach of the first two-thirds of the book (bouncing from Babbo to Italy and back), the pace really slows down in Dario’s shop. But this book ends up rivaling Kitchen Confidential for its look inside a real restaurant kitchen, even beating it in some ways because of its emphasis on the least-salaried workers (including an empathetic look at the “Latins” in the kitchen, including one former Babbo worker who died).

I listened to Heat as an unabridged audiobook, which appears to be available only on The reader, Michael Kramer, does a hell of a Mario Batali impression, one probably forged from an all-night session of watching Batali’s TV programs. It’s exaggerated, but that’s necessary to distinguish between the voices in any audiobook. But Kramer’s big problem is a complete unfamiliarity with the pronunciation of Italian words. He stresses the wrong syllable all the time, as if he was reading Spanish words, and at one point pronounces the word “che?” (“what?”) as “chay,” rather than “kay,” completely changing its meaning. With all the Italian words Buford uses – too many, really, since they’re not necessary to tell the story – Kramer’s butchering of the language becomes a huge distraction.

Sesame Street.

So a grand total of two people have emailed me since Thursday’s chat to correctly identify the reference to the classic Sesame Street sketch, “The Ladybug Picnic.” I was referring to the line “They talked about the high price of furniture and rugs/And fire insurance for ladybugs,” which my wife is convinced is a reference to the incredibly cruel nursery rhyme, “Ladybug, Ladybug:”

Ladybug! Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.

All except one,
And that’s little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.


Anyway, I have had the song in my head for a few days because I picked up the new Sesame Street DVD, Sesame Street – Old School, Vol. 1 (1969-1974) , ostensibly for my daughter but really for me. The set includes the first episode of each of the first five seasons (meaning that it includes the first ever episode), as well as select sketches from each of those five seasons.

The set is phenomenal. I can’t say that it has every sketch I wanted, but man does it have a lot of great ones. There are several classic Bert & Ernie sketches (Ernie gets bored with counting sheep, so he counts fire engines; Bert & Ernie are at the movies and the lady with the tall hat sits in front of Ernie). Cookie Monster makes lots of appearances, including the Great Cookie Thief (all-time classic), and a sketch with Kermit in the first-ever episode where Cookie doesn’t speak but gradually eats the letter W and eventually goes for Kermit. There are several great songs, including the Ladybug Picnic, the Alligator King (which they still show on occasion), Bert’s “Doing the Pigeon,” and “Bein’ Green.” There’s a Mumford sketch and a couple of Guy Smileys (Beat the Time!); Jesse Jackson leading a group of kids in reciting his poem, “I Am Somebody;” Johnny Trash – I mean, Cash – singing “Nasty Dan” to Oscar; and Bill Cosby in a split-screen with himself reciting the alphabet. Jackie Robinson recites the alphabet in an extra from the first season, less than three years before he died. We get Simon Soundman singing about how his RUFF! RUFF! chased a MEOW up a tree. And best of all, the Martians – whom they never use or show any more – appear in a sketch where they mistake a telephone for an Earthling.

There are a few disappointments. Some of the Muppets are a little weird to see in their earlier forms; Oscar was yellow, Big Bird’s head originally had no tuft around it, and Snuffleupagus is a scary-looking mope who sounds like he’s talking into a tin can. The first episode introduces the “Anything Muppets,” who have no facial features but talk to Gordon as he puts eyes, hair, noses, or mustaches on them; I can imagine that would be a little creepy for a two- or three-year-old. It was also interesting to see that Bob’s problem of never actually talking to the Muppets dates back almost forty years; Susan wasn’t all that much better.

And I suppose a few things are missing that ought to be here. There’s no “I Love Trash,” which dates back to the first season. I didn’t catch “Rubber Duckie,” also from season one. “Mahna Mahna” is best known for the two versions sung on the Muppet Show, but it also appeared in season one. We only get one News Flash with Kermit (Rapunzel, who apparently is from Canarsie), and only one Count von Count (although it’s a good one, with Bert & Ernie in it). Herry Monster makes one brief appearance. The number of the day in the full episodes appears to be two in every episode on the DVDs, which gets a little annoying. (I did get a kick out of Jim Henson doing the voiceover for the clumsy chef – “Two chocolate cream pies!”) And we’re generally short on celebrity appearances, although we do get two short Carol Burnett cameos and the few I mentioned earlier.

Of course, they do call this “Volume 1,” so I’m hoping there will be more sets to come – why not? It’s free money for Sesame Workshop – and I can’t say I’m dissatisfied with this set, which has definitely brought back some memories, even if my daughter is far more enchanted by that shrill he-harpy, Elmo, than she is by any of the old stuff. Maybe she’ll appreciate it when she’s older – say, maybe, two or three.

An interview with me.

The good folks over at Lion in Oil just posted an interview with yours truly. Check it out.

Second Life.

In the Snow Crash review I briefly mentioned Second Life, which is a very weak implementation of Stephenson’s Metaverse. I downloaded Second Life in the offseason after reading a slew of articles about how popular it was becoming. I messed around with it for about 45 minutes. It sucked. It’s hard to use. It’s beyond irritating to look at. And there is absolutely no point to it. I uninstalled it around minute 46.

Anyway, I finally got some value out of those otherwise wasted 45 minutes, because without them, I wouldn’t have appreciated this hilarious parody.

NECBL Eats, 2007 edition.

If you ever should find yourself in North Adams – and if so, I’m sorry to tell you that you’re probably lost – take heart, because despite your isolated location there’s an unexpected treat: a very good fine-dining establishment called Gramercy Bistro, which (conveniently for me) is about a ten-minute walk from the ballpark. Gramercy boasts a pretty substantial wine list, which of course is lost on me, but the food itself was excellent. I started with a green salad with champagne vinaigrette and fresh local goat cheese; the cheese was excellent, creamy with just a little bit of tang, and the dressing was very good but needed salt (remember that). For an entrée, I went with a seared halibut fillet with French lentils and asparagus, topped with a saffron beurre blanc. The fish was outstanding – very fresh, which is impressive given how hard it must be to get fresh fish in a place that’s a solid two hours from even a medium-sized airport. The saffron beurre blanc was also excellent, as were the sides – but again, we were a little light with the salt, especially on the fish, which I think always needs a heavy hand with the NaCl. Total cost, including a small bottle of sparkling water and a 20% tip, was $39, and I was in and out inside of 45 minutes.

The next morning I found myself in Brattleboro, Vermont – not sure how I got there – and went to Chelsea Royal Diner for a classic Vermont breakfast. They get massive points for their menu, which offered the sort of combo plate I always want when I’m having breakfast somewhere for the first time. Their Royal Feast comes with two eggs, bacon, ham, hash browns, two pancakes, and half a Belgian waffle. The waitress asked if I wanted real maple syrup – I said yes, because I couldn’t even believe this was a question – and it turns out that that costs extra ($1.25 for about a half-cup), which wouldn’t have deterred me from ordering it but struck me as really weird. Anyway, the rundown: the eggs (scrambled) were fine; the hashbrowns and bacon were excellent, with the bacon not overcooked and the hashbrowns still soft in the middle; the pancakes and waffle were fine, nothing spectacular, and both definitely needed the syrup for flavor and also because they were a touch dry. (I told them to skip the ham, because I can’t stand it.) That with a cup of tea (Lipton – meh) ran about $11 plus tip.

Next stop was Keene, New Hampshire, where I went back to a Thai restaurant on Main Street, Thai Garden, that I’ve been to several times before. I’d liked it in the past – nothing great, but solid-average, a 50 on the all-purpose scouting scale – but was really disappointed this time. They had pad see ew on the specials menu, so I went with that, and found the dish too sweet, and the chicken tasted a little past its prime. Main Street’s pretty hoppin’, at least by NECBL standards, so I’ll pick another place next year.

I stayed in Hanover the next two nights and ate two meals at Lou’s, a bit of a local legend and the kind of greasy-spoon place I really fall for. Their lunch menu is very heavy on hamburgers; I didn’t want to go that way, and my meal was so-so. I ordered a special, the “Chicken Philly Bomb,” a sandwich served on a warm ciabatta roll with marinated chicken, onions, peppers, and mushrooms (I had them hold the cheese). Everything was clearly fresh, but the sandwich tasted completely unsalted. I have no idea if there’s some law that says restaurants in tiny New England podunks have to hold the salt, but it was a recurring problem. I was tempted to stop by a McDonald’s and stuff my pockets with the little white-with-red-printing salt packets, fearing there might be an unreported shortage of sodium chloride plaguing the region. These fears were only partly assuaged the next morning at breakfast; I went with another special, the “Southern Country Breakfast,” which was a simple plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, a corn muffin that had been split and grilled, and grits. The grits had no taste, and, as you might expect, no salt, but I don’t like grits anyway so this was no loss. The muffin was delicious, and splitting and grilling a corn muffin is something I intend to try at home, but serving that sugar-filled corn cake anywhere south of Baltimore will get you shot. The eggs were clearly made to order, and only required a tiny bit of additional salt.

My lunch visit to Lou’s included an interesting run-in with two loonies. I was seated next to a professor and a grad student, who were bloviating in only the way that Ivy League professors and grad students can do. My personal favorite tidbit was the assertion that because the Microsoft Word spellchecker does not recognize the words “heteronormative” and “neoliberal” (I can now confirm this, as I now have two red squigglies mocking me for, as it were, making up words), the program clearly represents a right-wing bias on the part of the programmers and/or Microsoft. The grad student had a friend who was writing his dissertation on this very subject, which did little to restore any faith I might have left in American higher education. This silliness degenerated into a diatribe by the professor on how liberals are smarter than conservatives and therefore they use longer words in their works – setting E.B. White spinning on his axis at 800 miles an hour. (Oddly enough, Firefox’s spell-checker doesn’t recognize “heteronormative” or “neoliberal” either, so apparently I’m using a right-wing browser. It also doesn’t recognize “squigglies.” I’m not sure what that means.)

Torrington, the last stop on my tour, was a culinary dud. An Ecuadorian restaurant that used to be a five-minute walk from the ballpark has apparently closed, and its replacement wasn’t open for dinner. (The Ecuadorian place was an offshoot of a still-extant restaurant on Winsted Street, Northern Galapagos, so if you end up stuck in Torrington, you might not starve.)

One final note: At the Vermont Mountaineers’ stadium in Montpelier, there’s a concession stand that serves some pretty good barbecue – so good, as one local put it, that nearby residents will call in take-out orders during games without actually watching any baseball. I had a pulled-pork sandwich with their homemade “medium” sauce, which I thought was a little on the hot side. The portion was generous, and the meat was pretty tasty; the pork was finely shredded, so it got a little bit dry. I’ve had better Q down south, but this definitely wins the prize for the best Q I’ve ever had at a ballpark.

Some Boston-area restaurants.

Troquet brings a different concept to fine dining by trying to integrate the wine into the meal experience. Each appetizer and entrée is paired with a set of three wines which can be ordered by the glass or half-glass or which can be ordered as a full tasting. It’s a clever idea, and if you’re more oenophile than gourmet, it’s probably a dream restaurant. I’m much more interested in the food, however, and I thought Troquet really fell short there. I ordered a seared sea bass served with a corn and potato succotash; the bass was seared perfectly, but the dish was bland and unremarkable. My wife ordered the ricotta cavatelli with wild mushrooms, which was better, mostly because of the impressive mix of fresh mushrooms, but not the type of dish I’d expect at a high-end restaurant. The dessert menu was totally uninspiring as well, without a major chocolate dish. Granted, I’m not a wine guy – I drink it but can’t say I really know it – so perhaps it was just a poor choice.

Given the lack of an appealing dessert option, we headed to the dessert buffet at the Four Seasons Hotel’s Bristol Lounge. We hadn’t been in probably three years; the quality was still really high – they had a chocolate mousse and raspberry sauce “cocktail” that was superb – but I thought the selection was a little smaller, and the price is now up to $26 a head, not including drinks. I think they still serve the best restaurant coffee in Boston, though.

The next morning we headed to the Pour House Bar & Grill to try out their breakfast … can’t say I was optimistic about heading to what looked like a dive for breakfast, but I’d read some good reviews online about what they offered. And it was legit – some of the best pancakes I’ve had in ages, so light that I could eat them without syrup. My wife had the French toast and also liked it, although it didn’t measure up to the brioche version offered at Arlington’s Tryst, which offers brunch on Sundays from Labor Day till Father’s Day.

Finally, we found a great little Greek place in Needham called Fresco, where they only offer breakfast and lunch. We were there for the latter and even my mother-in-law (who’s roughly half Greek) approved. Their avgolemono (an egg-and-lemon soup) was outstanding, nice and thick with a solid chicken-stock base. The fresh feta appetizer was huge, and the cheese was delicious with a great texture and that tang you only get from good, imported feta. I went with a lamb kabob with rice and a Greek salad; everything was solid, with good flavor on the lamb, although it was cooked rare and I prefer my lamb closer to medium. My wife went with the spanikopita and approved, although I’m not a fan and can’t vouch for it. We’ll definitely head back there for breakfast, since they offered a large menu of breakfast standards like the menu at the Pour House.

Snow Crash.

Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash is apparently considered a classic of the cyberpunk genre, even earning a nod on TIME‘s list of the 100 best English-language novels published since TIME itself began publishing in 1923. Until I saw that list, I’d never heard of the book or of Stephenson, and didn’t get around to picking it up until earlier this year. It turns out that I probably did myself a small favor, since a lot of what the book “predicted” has started to come to fruition in the last 12 to 24 months.

Snow Crash takes the basic template of William Gibson’s genre-defying Neuromancer (also on the TIME 100 and also a great book), depicting a semi-dystopian future where top hackers can program and even exist from within a virtual reality that sits on a global telecom network. But Stephenson fleshes that virtual world – called the Metaverse – out in a way that makes it easier for the reader to envision it and to imagine himself in it, which for me is a critical component in my enjoyment of any book (and is one of the major reasons I’m such a cheerleader for J.K. Rowling). The Metaverse is a burgeoning virtual world with streets and buildings, businesses and transport systems, and a programming-on-the-fly feature that allows the more advanced residents to customize certain aspects as they go. It makes Second Life look like the virtual-world equivalent of Pong.

The plot of Snow Crash revolves around an attempt to simultaneously crash the virtual world (“Infocalypse”) and at the same time take over what’s left of the United States, which has devolved into an endless series of independent neighborhood-states run by continent-wide corporations. It’s a bleak view of capitalism run amok, one where many people live in public storage facilities and the Mafia isn’t so bad after all. In a clever bit of storycraft, the twin schemes are intertwined in the narrative, which is then also split between the two protagonists, the too-cleverly-named Hiro Protagonist and the teenaged skateboard courier Y.T. It’s a lot to follow, but Stephenson’s prose is clear and as a result I never lost any of the threads.

The one real problem with the book is that the resolution to the scheme hinges on some esoteric knowledge of the history of Mesopotamia, particularly its languages and its proto-religion. Delivering that knowledge to the reader so that the plot’s resolution makes sense takes up a lot of pages in the dreadful form of lectures from a virtual librarian to Hiro, who sends the librarian on research tasks and then receives the information in a sort of Q&A format. It got old, especially when most of the rest of the book delivers a lot of adrenaline. Fortunately it was over within fifty or sixty pages, at which point the action picked back up and never let up until the second-to-last page.

I definitely enjoyed Snow Crash and recommend it, although I’m not sure about its inclusion on TIME‘s list over, say, Brave New World or Tender is the Night or A Confederacy of Dunces. Heck, if we’re considering a novel’s influence, why not include The Lord of the Rings? But I shouldn’t complain, since I wouldn’t have found this book if TIME hadn’t gone outside the box to include it.

Go Islanders.

Not that I’m any kind of hockey fan – the NHL ceased to exist for me when the owners lied about how much money they were making and the players bought it – but I have to give credit to the Islanders for making some attempt to bring bloggers into the arena on a wider scale without marginalizing the mainstream sports media. The sports blogosphere is a mixed bag; it’s full of bad writing and uninformed analysis, but at the same time, it’s capable of the sort of narrowcasting that the MSM can’t handle, it’s got a real-time no-bull ethos that the MSM definitely can’t handle, and it has the potential to be incredibly fun … and we know that the MSM looks down on fun.

But what I also find interesting is the strategic value of this move. Credentialing bloggers, even on a limited, separate-but-equal basis, is a way of co-opting them. Bloggers tend to revel in their excluded nature; they are not part of the mainstream, and often the teams/leagues won’t even acknowledge them (putting them in company with Al Jazeera!), et cetera, giving them a rebel’s cachet that I think is a huge part of their appeal. But access will almost certainly blunt some of that edge; when you meet a player, for example, it’s a lot harder to tear him to shreds for his on-field (-ice, -court) incompetence. It’ll be interesting to see if criticism of the Islanders from credentialed blogs starts to fade, or at least soften, or if we start to see a divide between credentialed and uncredentialed blogs. Does taking a credential mean you’ve sold out? And will this pay off for the Islanders in improved coverage, or at least reduced criticism? I’m betting this wasn’t as ad hoc a decision as the Isles’ PR guy would like us to believe – that it is, in fact, part of a strategy to bring bloggers into the fold.


My trip Albuquerque last week was my first visit to the fine state of New Mexico (43 down, seven to go), and one I was really looking forward to because of its reputation for outstanding chili pepper-based food. Calvin Trillin’s Feeding a Yen first turned me on to the existence of a whole new cuisine within the borders of the U.S., and I’ve been dying to get out there. Granted, Santa Fe was my first choice, but the game in question was in Albuquerque.

I only ended up hitting two places for four meals – more on that in a moment – but both places were hits. Frontier Restaurant is apparently something of a local icon; it’s open 24 hours and works from the not-always-successful strategy of giving large quantities of food for a low price. The food at Frontier really is outstanding, and it’s fast and cheap. I can’t see how any fast-food joint within five miles stays in business. For dinner – twice – I went with an enchilada plate with the “green chile stew” topping, which is apparently the mildest of the three offered (the others being red chile sauce and chopped green chiles). For $7, the dish includes two enchiladas, rice, and two fresh flour tortillas. It was enough food that on my second night there, I ate that full meal around 6:30 and still wasn’t hungry when I got on my redeye five hours later. I did try the guacamole on the first night, but it was kind of bland and was puréed smooth – not my favorite style.

Their breakfast is what really set them apart. I hadn’t originally intended to go to Frontier again for breakfast, but the place I’d picked out, Perea, was closed for three days that week, and when I stopped into the Flying Star nearby, the menu looked very … corporate. So I kept driving and ended up back at Frontier, which turned out to be a huge stroke of luck. I went with the #1 special – two eggs (scrambled), meat (carne adovada – hey, when in Rome), hash browns, and tortillas – plus a side of pancakes, which you can order by the flapjack. The pancakes were to die for – buttery, fluffy, and not at all like the leadcakes you get at most chain restaurants and even some mom-and-pops perpetrating breakfast fraud on unsuspecting diners. The hash browns were almost like a rösti, with a crunchy brown crust on the outside but soft and moist potatoes on the inside; they could have used more salt, but that was easily remedied. The only misses were the carne adovada, which was extremely acidic and wasn’t really hot in temperature – mind you, I’m no expert in that genre – and the coffee. I ordered tea and didn’t realize I had coffee until I took a sip, which tells you something about how weak it was.

The one other meal was Monday’s lunch, when I headed west to El Charrito at 4703 Central Ave NW. (Props to Dan McKay, a poster on McCovey Chronicles, for suggesting this place.) The menu is simple – seems to be a theme out there – and the service was excellent. They had no problem preparing one of their combo plates – a tamale, an enchilada, and a taco – without cheese for me, which is usually a great sign because it means everything’s made to order. Despite that substitution, the food still came out pretty quickly, with the tamale and enchilada served Christmas style (red and green sauces). The taco was good, straightforward, just served as ground beef in the shell so you can fix it as you’d like. The tamale was a little too spicy for my Northeastern (read: untrained) palate, but the pork inside was delicious. The enchilada wasn’t quite as good as Frontier’s, with the chicken tasting a little blander to me, but was otherwise fine. The green sauce was definitely the less spicy of the two. The dish was also served with fresh sopapillas and a big squeeze bottle of honey. I left full. The one negative on El Charrito came when I left – the counter was covered with political stickers and pamphlets, all left-leaning and mostly anti-Bush. I don’t care how these people vote or what their beliefs are, but I don’t want to be assaulted by it while I’m eating there. Food and politics don’t mix, because the politics invariably spoil the food.

Anyway, sorry for the long lag between posts, but with the draft over I should be writing a little more frequently.