I almost titled this post “Birthday Eats”. I hate “eats”. Not as much as “noms” – nothing can be worse than that – but who am I kidding. A single person should speak of “eats”. Only companies. I still love you Serious Eats.
You know what? I have no recipe because I didn’t want to come up with a recipe to make. I ended up cooking everything for my birthday party and that was enough, thank you. So instead you get to read about things I ate for my birthday (week). You probably should just become friends with me on Yelp, which seems a much more suitable place to hear what I have to say about restaurants, but oh well.
While I really love fancy tacos, I feel like fancy taco places are kind of like the equivalent of how people caught on to how wonderful lobster meat was and instead of being relegated to the lower classes, it all of sudden became $40/lb. Not that I’m all anti-bourgeoisie, I guess it just bothers me that there a lot of people that would never have gotten tacos from that bright yellow-painted, fluorescent-lighted taco place in the sketchy strip mall, and then are all now showing up in their slouchy hats, mustard yellow scarfs, and thick-rimmed glasses and asking about my political affiliation before letting me sit in their soon-to-be-vacant bar seats. Believe me, people, I knew yours from across the room.
Regardless, I enjoy better atmospheres than those strip mall taco places can offer and I enjoy some creativity with traditional food and the (hopefully) better quality meats, like the place I went with friends on Friday, Pinche Tacos. Braised pork belly taco (where the belly wasn’t as succulently fatty as it should be, but more on the spongy side), lengua, asada, and carnitas. Their tongue is cooked really well and oh how novel, the carnitas were crispy! I don’t know why most carnitas I’ve gotten are more stewed than fried.
So Sunday night, for the end of birthday week, we trudged through the snow to the opening night of Old Major, just a few blocks away. Focusing on heritage pork and sustainably-raised seafood, I’ve been excited to see this place finally open. I’m pretty alright with another farm to table kind of restaurant, especially when they even churn their own butter, like I overheard a server saying to another table. Hopefully it’s not just from shitty ultra-pasteurized cream, but perhaps I’ll bring up that snarky question next time I’m there… our waiter didn’t laugh when I tried to make a joke about their mustard seed emulsion. “Oh nice, I always emulsify my mustard seeds.” “Yes, it’s really delicious.” “…”
Despite some cardboard personalities (or perhaps mostly nervous that they’d forget anything and get fired on their first night), the whole experience was great and the food was wonderful. Nothing incredibly novel, but then I’m not really that excited by novelty. This is “elevated farmhouse cuisine” and I’d be pretty okay living in a farmhouse that has food anything like this. They butcher their own hogs, make charcuterie, and yeah apparently churn some butter. There wasn’t much evidence of nose-to-tail eating on their current menu, but maybe they’re using some of the off parts to make broths. Or are stockpiling in the freezer for the next menu iteration. Frozen pork stomach.
We got the pork cheeks, cassoulet, and cioppino. So it was a good birthday week. Tacos, tacos, pork, and fish. And some snowboarding in lots of fresh snow. But I’m so old.