Posted by: Travis | July 15, 2008

Sweet Jesus, I love food! (Carnitas Edition)

So I’m totally swamped at work right now, but this was so good that i just had to share. Rachel’s folks have been in town for the last two weeks or so. Her Dad has pretty limitted time off and had to go back home on Saturday night. But since her Mom, Cathy, is a teacher and has the summer off, she’s going to be here through Wednesday night. Anyway, we’ve been cooking up a storm while they’ve been here. Its been very good, except for the whole bit about me trying to slim down a bit for the triathlon this Saturday. I haven’t really been training very hard, so this one is just going to be for fun, maybe i’ll actually get my stuff together and make a good showing for a tri in August.

Tyson (Rachel’s Dad) rides bikes and had heard us talk on several occasions about Old La Honda, the bench mark climb in our area that serious cyclists use to gage their fitness. Its just over 3 miles of straight up that never really flattens out, good for about 35 minutes of pain and suffering. You can call me crazy, but i just love the feeling of busting my ass and being totally spent afterwards. So Tyson had heard us talk about it and decided that he had to do it when he came to visit. We did it one day after work, which was the first time i had done it on a weekday. For some reason i just mentally designated this ride as a saturday or sunday only ride. Tyson started too fast and didn’t really respect how long the climb was (they don’t really have stuff like this in Oklahoma). He had to stop about half way through and he wasn’t very happy about it. Rachel wanted in on the action so the two of us rode it a few days later, and then the next day Tyson wanted to improve his previously poor showing so we rode it again, this time in 32 minutes (my new personal best time). Realizing that Old La Honda can now be done pretty easily afterwork i hit it pretty hard last night. Climbing is much harder when you’re by yourself. Not sure why, it just is. Being bymyself and not having eaten enough before heading out really put me in the hurt. I bonked pretty spectacularly, stopped at the top, and did the ride back home in a bit of a mental haze. After a few minutes back home and some chips, i was feeling much better. I’d estimate that Old La Honda, by itself, requires about 1000 calories to climb, and thats only 30 minutes out of the full 2 hours that the whole ride takes from my apartment and back. You return home damn hungry. You can check out some pictures i took of Rachel’s first climb up Old La Honda beck in February here. I’ve done it four times in the last 10 days. I’m really starting to like it.

So back to food. Late last week i was checking out one of my favorite blogs, The Homesick Texan, written by a Texan who lives in New York City and has a serious love of all things Texas, especially Tex Mex. She posts recipes of some of her favorite dishes, as well as a little story behind each one. It really is a fun blog. If you’re into Texas cooking, its a good one. Last week she posted a recipe for carnitas that i just had to try. I know Texas sn’t much of a pork state, so i dodn’t know where i get it, but i LOVE pork. Not only was it pork, but the recipe was really simple: just pork butt, a cup of orange juice, 3 cups water, a bit of salt, and some pepper. We made some beans and pico to go along with the carnitas, and because i was in a state of seriously missing Houston, we made some Ninfa’s green sauce that i got out of The Tex-Mex Cookbook, which has some good recipes and lots of interesting history about Tex-Mex.

Oh my goodness. These are incredible. The pork is the star of the show, not masked behind a bunch of bold flavors, and it just sings beautifully. It is pretty critical to get a good quality pork butt though. And don’t trim off the fat, its necessary for the cooking process. This is not a low calorie meal. My long term health might suffer as a result. If you like carnitas, or pork, or just stuff that tastes good, you have got to take a sunday afternoon (it takes about 3 hours) and try this recipe. You’ll be better for it.

Thursday night Rachel and i will be going to a Yelp Elite event at an upscale Indian-French Fusion place in Palo Alto called Mantra. It’s a place i’ve been wanting to check out since i first saw it about a year ago, but just haven’t had a chance to get there. A night of free drinks, and free food off the menu, along with some amuse bouche style stuff where the chef can really show off his chops sounds like a fun night to me. Being an Elite Yelper sure has its perks. My bouche is ready to be amused.

Triathlon is on Saturday in Pleasanton (East Bay). Its about 45 minutes away and we have to be there for packet pick up at 5:30 am. Needless to say, i will be going to bed pretty early Friday night. This is the first tri i’ve done in just over a year, and as i said i haven’t really been training for it, so it wil just be for fun. I really need to spend some time in the pool (my worst leg of the race), but the US Olympic swim team has taken over the Stanford pool for th month of July, leaving me no place to swim. Oh well.

I don’t know where we’ll be going for brunch after the race, but i have a feeling its going to be awesome.


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