The recently hired coat check hostess said most of the opening day staff are still working at Pampano of New York City (there’s another location in Qatar). The evening celebrating the launch of Pampano’s ten year anniversary tasting menu of popular dishes, guests murmured about the friendliness of the staff based on their past visits. Before the event started, the staff finished preparations by placing small vases full of yellow roses on various tables. The bartender stood behind a table expertly arranged with wine, tequilas, fruit purees and garnishes. The evening was an unusually warm Tuesday in March, in between two frigid, cold days. As the event started, the waiters carried out trays of food. I carefully balanced my mango sangria in one hand, made sure the camera was securely around my neck, and tasted Pampano’s empanadas. Continue reading Appetizing Event: Celebrating Pampano’s 10 Year Anniversary
Growing up, tacos were filled with ground beef or shredded chicken, and they were topped with chopped tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and shredded mild cheddar cheese. Mom deep fried corn tortilla shells and asked everyone whether they want soft or hard taco shells. Back then, tacos were simple, and I still love my childhood version today for nostalgic reasons.
Today, an online search for tacos yields more than lettuce and tomatoes. Tacos are topped with pickled vegetables and authentic Mexican cheeses. They’re filled with meat slowly simmered in mole sauce, quinoa and spicy roast vegetables. And, some people buy tortilla presses to make their own corn tortillas. Personally, my taco shells aren’t deep-fried, instead a little oil is added to a hot skillet as a tortilla shell is flipped over several times for a few minutes.
In this autumnal taco, butternut squash is roasted with warm spices and toss with shredded chicken. The meat and squash filling is placed over a corn tortilla and before its folded in half to enclose it, pineapple salsa is spooned on top for a fresh and sweet taste. Of course, no taco is complete without cheese. In this version, only a mild flavored cheese is needed, such as Cotija (think of it as a Mexican version of the Italian Ricotta Salata cheese).
Tacos are a comfort meal that is close to my heart. Both Mom and Grandma made them, but eating Grandma’s tacos is a rare occasion. She lives five to eight hours by plane in California. Growing up, my family would visit her every couple years. To a kid flying for that long, it seems like an eternity. Back then; the airlines gave kids airplane pins, playing cards and other games to pass the time. Once the plane landed, Grandma with my aunt and cousins, would wave to us from the windows of the waiting lobby as our plane approached the airport. Continue reading Cornmeal-Crusted Flounder with Saute Swiss Chard, Tomato Salsa and Cilantro-Almond Sauce Tacos