Today’ s prompt from The Daily Post is this: “Some people eat to live, while others live to eat. What about you? How far would you travel for the best meal of your life?”
I do not know if there are any meals for which I would specifically travel a far distance, but my travels have led me to some memorable meals. Fondly remembered meals include hotdogs at Nathan’s and a midnight chocolate mousse at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, sweet and creamy Maine lobster fresh off the boat in Kennebunkport, chicken and green chile soup in Santa Fe, and a rosemary-fragranced clam chowder on Cannery Row in Monterey.
However, my most memorable meals are from trips to the Pacific Coast of Baja California, Mexico.
These meals have included carnitas cooked in a cauldron in a parking lot, chicken roasted over mesquite wood, and grilled fish and garlic shrimp served up at a tarp-covered dirt-floored cafe appropriately called El Carrizal. El Carrizal means “reedbed”, but my companions and I affectionately called this cafe situated at a low point along Highway 1 “Fish-in-a-Ditch”.
My memorable meals in Baja were not limited to rustic road-side fare. We also enjoyed several meals at El Rey Sol, the oldest French restaurant in Mexico. The rosemary lamb chops served there were my favorite, but a brace of quail in a wine reduction comes in second.
But, the meal that I remember most fondly is that wonderful, glorious, lard-fried, cabbage-garnished, beer- battered, world-famous Ensenada Fish Taco. We would usually roll into Ensenada about 9 a.m. and head straight to the El Fenix fish taco stand a few blocks off the tourist street. We would belly up to the counter and, since we were such regulars, the counter women would immediately pull a perfectly fried golden wedge of angelito fish out of the pot of boiling lard, slap it into a warm tortilla, and hand it to us on a paper plate. Since the stand was usually crowded with locals, even at that time of the morning, we would often stand off to one side and eat our tacos over a trash can. How cool is that?
The wonderful thing about Baja Californian cuisine is that it is locally sourced before being locally sourced became a hip thing: wine and olives from the Valle de Guadalupe a few miles north; fresh produce, poultry and meat from the rich farmlands around Maneadero, and succulent seafood from the cold waters of the California current.
This stroll down culinary lane is making my mouth water.
Dos Hermanos Carnitas Restaurant
Note the cauldron on the porch on the far right
“Tourist Street” in Ensenada where there is a restaurant that serves mesquite roasted chicken, the best I’ve ever eaten.
El Fenix fish taco stand! Oh, yeah!
Locally produced honey and olives on the roadside near Maneadero
ljgloyd (c) 2012