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Friday, January 13, 2006

If it's Friday it must be airport, and where to eat in San Jose del Cabo

Just another day in a life of a veritable vagrant, this morning saw me back at the airport, sitting at the California Pizza kitchen -the least of all evils- chowing on a salad. Yes, I am off again. This time a little farther afield, all the way to Thailand. It has been two years since the last time, overdue really.

I am on assignment, for a rather grand magazine even. I'm not just going there for the assignment though, there are family to see and friends to play with and yummy things to eat and new old dishes to learn. It should be fun –the usual family entanglement notwithstanding.

I'm planning quite a roller coaster ride, from fancy western dégustation menus, to rarefied Thai meals, on the table, the kitchen floor, the street and everywhere in between. You are very welcome to come with me. Some of those juicy details, naturally, you'd have to wait to read about in said magazine, but there will be plenty others fun things to go around. It's not like they'd let me fill up an entire issue's worth of materials. Or would they? Perhaps I should have asked?

But before we get to Thailand, I promised you some fun stuff from my trip to Mexico last week. We were in Baja California, our second time in less than six months. David goes to surf, I go to lie around in the sun. In the summer we were over on the Sea of Cortez side, staying in San Jose del Cabo –the quieter, more genteel neighbor of Cabo San Lucas. In the winter we followed the wind and the surf to the other side, staying over in Todos Santos.

Taqueriaerika_1We managed a quick pit stop in San Jose to visit our favorite taco place, Taqueria Erika. David has been going there for years. He insisted they've got the best Tripe taco anywhere. I think I agree with him. You can get other things too, the chorizo and carnitas are also excellent, but the star of the show there is certainly the tripe. They take a piece of tripe and chop it up into little bits, then pan fry them until all crispy on the edges, before piling them on top of freshly made and warmed tortilla. Maíz, naturally, flour tortillas are for beginners!

TaqueriaerikasaucesAs is the tradition in taco places in Mexico, Taqueria Erika will give you the usual suspects of condiments, roasted pepper salsa, tomatillo salsa, tomato salsa, and even guacamole. And if they like the look of you, you might even get a plate of sautéed onions and roasted chilli peppers. Proceed at your own risk with the chilli peppers though, don't say I didn't warn you. Last summer I was in such a Padron pepper kick that I took an entire piece and chomped on it like it was a Padron. Let me just tell you they ain't!

TaqueriaerikatripaHow might one find this Erika, you asked? Well, I'm not sure I know how to explain the labyrinth that is downtown San Jose. I'll just give you a landmark. Taqueria Erika is almost exactly across the street from Little Cesars pizza. There is just the one in town. One too many, if you asked me, but it's useful for giving directions. I'm sure some kind local folks will be able to point the way for you.

NextdoortoerikaOnce you found Taqueria Erika, you could use her as a landmark for two other places I would recommend. One is a nameless place next door. Presided over by a-bit-over-middle age man, this little spotless restaurant serves homestyle cooking. We had a great breakfast and a simple dinner there, both quite lovely, and very inexpensive. At breakfast he serves eggs with an assortment of meat, chorizo, carne asada, and even an odd looking dried and salted meat, the local special, apparently. David had it in his eggs, and pronounced it delicious.

ElfogonA little bit down the street toward downtown is another taqueria, this one is called Taqueria El Fogon. They also have all sorts of tacos, but the best thing here is the Al Pastor, peasant style. ElfogonspreadThe meat is turning round and round in front of a heat source, much like a Donor Kebab, and sliced down in the same way, but here it's given another cooking on the pan with oil to warm up. I could eat almost unlimited number of these. They are seriously yummy.

Well, there you have it, three places to eat if you ever found yourself in or around San Jose del Cabo. Stay tuned for more.

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