Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The insane Torta Cubana at Real Mexico in Columbia, SC

After falling in love with the Torta Cubana at El Varadero de Oscar in Isla Mujeres, MX, I was emboldened to order this classic Mexican diner dish on a recent brunch outing to Real Mexico in Columbia, SC.

This monster sandwich contains at least the following fillings, griddled and then stuffed into the Mexican bakery version of French bread: ham, milanesa (breaded, fried pork cutlet), chorizo sausage, scrambled egg, hot dogs (I jest not), avocado, cheese, mayonnaise, and more.

If you saw celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" TV episode on San Francisco, CA, back in 2009, you saw him dive face first into this exact type of torta at the legendary Mission District corner store, That's It - The Center of the Mile.

(We used to stop in there for travelers of Tecate and Modelo on the way to Dolores Park when I lived in the neighborhood.)

Seriously. Look at those hot dogs. 

Even after a couple of brunch-time top shelf margaritas, I couldn't finish even half of this sandwich. I guilted my business partner's boyfriend into taking it home with him, because he is avid about not wasting anything. Thanks, Derek!
Loved by local foodies for their small, street food-sized tacos smothered in chipotle chicken, queso fresco and cilantro, Real Mexico is the restaurant I recommend when people ask about an authentic Mexican place in the Midlands.

Close second: La Fogata. I also hear that El Poblano in Chapin is the bomb. For fresh, hipster burritos and salads? El Burrito, of course! For upscale agave nectar margaritas? Cantina 76, although their fancied up Mexican menu is just ok in my book. (That said, I would happily hoover up their queso, guac and salsa trio any day of the week.)

Out front at Real Mexico: a planter made out of an old candy dispenser. Is there anything more awesome than pansies and dirt planted in an old gumball machine?

That's right. There's not.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Burger Time video game nostalgia

When's the last time you played the 1980s video game, Burger Time?

Um, turns out it is really hard. How did I play it so brilliantly as a kid in the Putt-Putt video arcade?

Do you remember it being that hard?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Growing fennel bulbs in your garden is a weird challenge

Last spring, I planted fennel seeds in my garden and got nothin' and was a little demoralized by it. (Only a little.)

This spring, I got a big, fabulous fennely surprise!

This one is starting to bolt. I'd better cut it out of the ground and roast it before it's too late. Got like 10 of these! So stoked.

Have you ever grown fennel bulbs successfully in your garden, O gardeners of the intarwebs?

Monday, April 1, 2013

The great Butter Lamb beheading of 2013

Butter lamb!

My awesome friend Anne, who writes for The Kitchn and publishes The Shop Tart blog, hosted an Easter dinner that was a little bit extra special this year.

The private elementary school at St. John Neumann church in Northeast Columbia, SC sells butter lambs as a fundraiser each year. Anne got like 4. IT WAS AWESOME!

I got to sit next to her Dad at dinner. He beheaded the lamb for me and put it on my bread plate. There's a reason why The Wolfe Company real estate is a great family business, y'all.

My favorite thing from Trader Joe's

This national grocery chain has much to love, despite being a national chain.

This is my favorite:

Spinach and kale dip w/greek yogurt base. Crunchy carrots and water chestnuts take me to a 70s place, while the kale and Greek yogurt feel so late 2000s.

If your dip can span 3 decades of nostalgia and have half the calories of normal dip, you've won me over.