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Lately, I have become extremely partial to leaf-wrapped small format cheeses. I love the earthiness that leaf-wrapping generally imparts, and find that these cheeses seamlessly complement the warm, fresh taste profile of many of my favorite summer foods.

Moist leaf-wrapping creates a robust flavor (not to mention the incredible aroma of walking through a forest after a rain shower) by fostering the growth of the “good” bacteria that contribute to flavor enhancement. There are many classic examples of leaf-wrapped small cheeses: Banon from France, Robiola from Italy, as well as a couple of great options from America, too.

My most recent leaf-wrapped find is, in fact, very American: the Hoja Santa Goat Cheese, a small handmade cheese crafted by Paula Lambert and her team at the Mozzarella Company in Dallas, Texas. It is made from locally sourced goat’s milk and wrapped in the Hoja Santa leaf that grows in the Dallas area. It’s worth noting that this cheese was the winner of the 2011 American Cheese Society Competition, so definitely make sure to try this one out if you get the chance.

What makes the Hoja Santa Goat Cheese unique is Lambert’s choice of leaves. Most cheesemakers choose chestnut, fig, or cherry leaves for their cheese-wrapping; the hoja santa leaf is special in that it imparts hints of anise, mint, and sassafras to the slightly lemony tartness of the cheese. Hoja santa, which translates to English as sacred leaf, is actually an extremely common flavoring herb in traditional Mexican cooking. It is part of the peppercorn family and is often used to add zest to a dish and then is then discarded, as you would a bay leaf.

This week I’ve been taking the opportunity to relax on my patio in the late afternoon and enjoying some Hoja Santa Cheese spread onto warm, fire-grilled bread paired with a Shiner Bock beer (brewed in Shiner, Texas). The cheese’s herbs add a contrasting sweetness and spiciness that pairs wonderfully with the light hops flavors of the dark lager. These are Texas-style treats at their best, and are a fitting East Coast salute to my friends in the Lone Star State at the Mozarella Company.

Additional reporting by Madeleine James.


Copenhagen: Hija de Sanchez – Tacos in Copenhagen? Yes, absolutely, when they come from ex-Noma pastry chef Rosio Sanchéz. Sanchéz serves a rotating selection of tacos at two locations, ranging from the traditional (lengua, carnitas) to her own creations (crispy fish skin with gooseberry salsa).

Houston: Hugo’s Hugo Ortega’s story is often called the American dream: Born in Mexico City, he worked his way up from dishwasher to open some of Houston’s best Mexican restaurants, and has recently been honoured with a James Beard Award for his efforts. Here, at his namesake restaurant, he specialises in traditional Mexican cuisine with everything made from scratch, in house.


Thai creamed corn with coconut milk

From Susan Feniger's Street Food: Irresistibly Crispy, Creamy, Crunchy, Spicy, Sticky, Sweet Recipes Susan Feniger's Street Food by Susan Feniger and Kajsa Alger and Liz Lachman

Are you sure you want to delete this recipe from your Bookshelf. Doing so will remove all the Bookmarks you have created for this recipe.

  • Categories: Side dish Thai Vegetarian
  • Ingredients: pandan leaves heavy cream coconut milk white onions corn store-cupboard ingredients ground cayenne pepper unsweetened flaked coconut puffed yellow corn

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Ethnic/Cultural Info

In Singapore, where farmland is limited, and population density is at maximum capacity, vertical farming is becoming the benchmark for sustainable, efficient commercial vegetable cultivation and food security. Bok choy is Singapore's vertical farming vegetable of choice where it is stacked and grown in automated towers reaching over nine meters in height. Nearly a half a ton of Bok choy is harvested from the towers annually and is consumed locally through restaurants and fresh markets for home consumption.


Best Dishes end of year 2014

There are several new restaurants that I look forward to returning to this year for some very specific dishes.

At Cosme, I was excited to try the creative, upscale Mexican food from Mexico City Chef Enrique Olvera. We got there at 10:30 pm which was perfect since the slick, modern space really warrants a late night. We tried many dishes, and I would certainly order the eggplant and zucchini tamales again as well as several others. My two faves:

The Enfrijoladas are a must-have, smothered with the best ricotta cheese, hoja santa which is a aromatic herb used in Mexican cooking, onion and creme fraiche.

Brioche with persimmon and ricotta salata.

Next up, I hit Vic’s. I was at first disappointed that it was no longer Great Jones which I loved. But operating under the same owners, who thought it needed a refresh, I was pleased with the food, if not the decor which sported booths and an open kitchen that was nice, but the center of the room was made to look super casual with folding chairs. My two faves there —

Heirloom carrots with dill, capers and roasted shallots

“Little purse” (like angolotti) with ricotta, hazelnuts, lemon and parsley. Some of the lightest and best I’ve ever had.

I was delighted to try RossoPomodoro since it’s so close to my apartment and a good place to take the kids. I didn’t love the salad or appetizers, but would love to return for the buffalo mozzarella pizza and Romanesco cauliflower pasta.

Almanac is the new restaurant in the old Mas Farmhouse space. I loved their menu flexibility, since you could opt for a three, five or eight course prix fixe, or any combination of appetizers and mains ala carte. Though I try not to order tuna too often, I am willing to bet the raw tuna in this appetizer was sustainably caught. I also liked that the inventive menu changes weekly with the seasons and availability.

While I’ve already written about the coconut, chocolate banana croissant at Lafayette, the food is great too. Lovely salads and the Spaghetti Nicoise with both tuna confit and seared tuna was delicious.

I’d read reviews of The Monarch Room and spoke to a trusted friend that didn’t recommend, so I was less than excited when another friend chose it for their birthday dinner. I couldn’t be more pleased with everything we ate. And the warm wonderful cheesy bread they serve made it okay that the food took a while to come. Do not miss the kale salad with pears, candied walnuts and blue cheese or the Brussels sprouts in a sweet and sour glaze.

Eggplant toast with ricotta and basil.

Red pepper gnocchi with broccolini, stracciatella and toasted hazelnuts.

Finally, I think the late 2014 new restaurant standout was The Chef’s Club at Food and Wine. The curated menu is made up of signature dishes from four contributing chefs. This line-up is selected by Food & Wine Editor-in-Chief Dana Cowin from among the recipients of the magazine’s Best New Chef awards. The night we went, we tried some very innovative dishes. And the service was great.

The spinach and smoked ricotta homemade ravioli in a San Marzano spicy tomato sauce was an artful presentation and something I would like to have again. The black cod with swiss chard, Meyer lemon in a mushroom star anise broth was light and lively.


THE SPOTS

Mariscos Jalisco

Crowning the best taco in Los Angeles is like trying to explain to your mom she’s texting you through her email - you can’t. But for our money, there isn’t a better all-around taco-eating experience than Mariscos Jalisco in Boyle Heights. This tiny seafood truck on an industrial stretch of Olympic Blvd. (they now have locations from West LA to Pomona) only has one taco on the menu, but it is glorious. It’s the tacos de camaron, and it’s a deep-fried shell stuffed with massive shrimp and topped with salsa and fresh avocado. We would travel across oceans to eat this thing, so let’s all be thankful it’s just right off the 5.

Tacos Quetzalcoatl

Tacos Quetzalcoatl operates in East LA only on the weekends (Olympic and Kern, specially), and wins the award for serving our favorite vegetarian taco in existence, the Omega-2. If you are looking for meat, their lamb barbacoa is tremendous, and if you ask, they’ll fry cheese right into the side of tortilla. Just be sure to get fully involved in their salsa and toppings bar - it’s the best in Los Angeles.

Los Cinco Puntos

3300 E Cesar E Chavez Ave

From the moment you step inside Los Cinco Puntos, it’s clear you’re in for a special experience. The deli/market in Boyle Heights is a true neighborhood institution and sells everything from cheeseburgers to breakfast burritos to hard-to-find spices and chiles, but you’re here for the tacos - and so is everyone else. The carnitas is their speciality, and while it’s some of the best we’ve had in LA, the crispy chicharron is even better. Frankly though, when the tortillas are as thick and fantastic as they are at Los Cinco Puntos, we’ll drive across the city to eat any kind of taco they’re wrapped around.

Holbox

Holbox is the first food stall you see when you walk into the Mercado La Paloma food hall south of Downtown. Across the board, this tiny counter has some of the freshest seafood you’ll find in LA, and when it comes to their tacos, focus on the octopus and (especially) the scallops. Four perfectly seared scallops come wrapped in thick corn tortillas and topped with fennel, caramelized onions, and a spicy sauce. It’s perfect, and though the $14 (for two) price tag might seem steep at first, just remember how much scallops usually cost at restaurants. Available for takeout and delivery, as well as patio dining.

Tacos Y Birria La Unica

Located just a few blocks down from Mariscos Jalisco, it’d be pretty easy to skip over this truck on your way to Mariscos’ shrimp tacos. But that would be a huge mistake - because Tacos Y Birria La Unica’s tacos are good enough to deserve a pilgrimage of their own. Your order here is the goat birria in a quesataco (a taco with melted cheese on the shell), but the regular tacos dorados (served in deep-fried shells) are a must-order as well. Each of the excellent house salsas on the outside of the truck are made for a specific type of protein, so be sure to get the correct rundown from the owners. Cash only.

Sorry&mdashlooks like you screwed up that email address

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos

Tamales Elena Y Antojitos is an Afro-Mexican restaurant in Bell Gardens with an incredible menu filled with things like red pozole, pork tamales, and beef tongue guisado - all specialties from the owner’s home state of Guerrero. The biggest highlight on the menu, however, are the pescadillas. Thin, crispy, and filled with perfectly stewed fish, we recommend getting at least three orders - one for you now, one for you in five minutes, and one for five minutes after that.

Sonoratown

It’s a competitive field when it comes to Downtown tacos, but Sonoratown has managed to take a tiny space on Los Angeles St. and turn it into a full-out institution. Their house-made flour tortillas literally melt in your mouth, and the costilla (grilled steak) is the best you’ll find in town. You can certainly go for their regular tacos, but our move is the caramelo, which is about double the size and comes topped with salsa roja, avocado, and cabbage.

Coni'seafood

Coni’Seafood is a modern Mexican seafood restaurant in Inglewood - they also have a second location in Del Rey - that serves truly fantastic food across the board. However, today we’re talking about those marlin tacos. They are special. Very special. Like “Get in your car right now and drive an hour to put them in your mouth” special.

Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla

Plain and simple, the tacos at this East LA truck are unlike anything else in the city. Served with roasted pork on a giant tortilla that almost resembles a pita, the food at Tacos Arabes traces back to the city of Puebla, where 19th-century Arab immigrants intertwined kebabs and shawarma into central Mexican cuisine. Our move is to go for the Especiale, which is their traditional tacos arabes topped with cheese and avocado. At first glance, $4 might seem like a lot for one taco, but once you see the true size of these things, you’ll realize you only need one. Or maybe two.

Los Dorados LA

Los Dorados LA is a tiny truck that only makes one thing - taco dorados (flautas) - but they are among the best versions we’ve ever eaten, period. Crispy, deep-fried rolled tacos that are doused in house-made salsa roja, guacamole, and cotija cheese, there’s nothing subtle about these flautas, and that’s exactly why we love them. There’s four different kinds (lamb barbacoa, chicken, chorizo, and potato), and while the lamb is probably our favorite, don’t fool yourself - you’re getting one of each. They pop up in Highland Park outside La Cuevita on Friday and Saturday nights, and in the Arts District on Sunday, so plan your weekend accordingly. These are tacos you need in your life immediately.

El Ruso

At El Ruso, the Sonoran-style taco truck in Boyle Heights, everything boils down to the tortilla. Made with flour that owner Walter Soto gets monthly from his hometown of Tijuana, these are the kind of chewy, translucent tortillas that make each bite its own euphoric experience. As far as El Ruso’s excellent mesquite-grilled meats go, the smoky carne asada is definitely our go-to, but as we said, with tortillas this good, they could put just about anything in the middle and we’d still be texting our friends about it on the way home. Don’t leave without getting a burrito wrapped in a sobaquera, a giant Sonoran-style tortilla and the only one of its kind in town.

Chichen Itza Restaurant

This place might be close to USC (in the Mercado La Paloma food hall), but it couldn’t be less of a hangover spot. Chichen Itza serves fantastic Yucatan-style Mexican food, and our love for this place starts and ends with their cochinita pibil. We wouldn’t blame you if you just got a big plate of this roasted pork over a banana leaf, but the taco version is definitely the way to go. Available for takeout and delivery, as well as patio dining.

Carnitas El Momo

Located on a residential side street in Boyle Heights, El Momo is a tiny trailer hooked to a van. It’s also home to a kind of carnitas you can’t get anywhere else in town - a combination of pork shoulder and crispy skin. The result is a savory and crunchy taco you’ll think about in the shower.

Birrieria Gonzalez

Birrieria Gonzalez is a family-run truck specializing in goat birria, and while they have multiple locations around town, we like the South Central one simply because there’s a shaded patio with a flat-screen TV playing soccer matches. The birria itself is incredible here (it’s the only kind of meat they serve), so you can’t really go wrong with anything, but if you’re on a taco crawl and trying to conserve room, get the quesataco. It’s similar to their regular tacos, but with a layer of crispy griddled cheese lining the inside that takes the birria to a completely different level. Just be sure to top it all off with their spicy house red salsa.

Metztli Taqueria

Operating as a weekly pop-up inside Melody in Virgil Village, Metztli is certainly on the higher-end of things - both in terms of presentation and price (tacos start at $6) - but the fact is these are some of the most original tacos you’ll find in LA right now. Take the mushroom chile verde taco, which comes topped with pine nut salsa morita and egg yolk bottarga, or the hoja santa quesadilla, filled with squash blossom and grasshopper za’atar - these aren’t just dishes that are unique for the sake of being unique. They’re impeccably balanced and deeply flavorful experiments that are pushing the boundaries for taquerias all over town. The exact menu changes weekly, so keep an eye on their Instagram for the latest.

Tire Shop Taqueria

Tire Shop Taqueria makes incredible carne asada, but that’s not even our favorite part of this place. Our favorite part is that Tire Shop Taqueria isn’t its real name. That’s just what people tend to call it because it’s in the parking lot of a used tire store, and eventually it stuck. But no matter what you call it, the long lines at this tiny stand should tell you all you need to know about that asada. Trust us, the wait is worth it.

Leo's Tacos

Starting out in the parking lot of a gas station on the corner of La Brea and Venice, this black-and-orange taco truck has become a member of LA’s taco elite simply by serving an al pastor taco that’s worth waiting in that 45-minute line for. They now have eight different trucks with locations ranging from North Hollywood to Wilmington.


Family

Miles of unspoiled nature fill this island, ready for you and your family to discover, explore and experience together. An all-year-round family destination, the Dominican Republic boasts of its excellence in the all-inclusive resort category, probably the best invention for family vacations since the airplane. With money issues already resolved, everything is &ldquofree&rdquo! Included in the price are day- and night-filling activity programs, where everyone can do their own thing.

All-inclusives were invented for fun-loving adults, but children stand to gain the most. Children are free to order anything, to roam, to participate in their own activities&hellip it couldn&rsquot get better.

Take a baby to the beach and check out the smiley face baby will make when little chubby toes tickle the sand, magic moments to be captured on camera.

For older children and those who will always be a child-at-heart, forget Space Mountain in Disney World. For thrill-seekers, the eco and nature adventures in the Dominican Republic will show you the real thing. The waterfalls at Damajagua in Puerto Plata, Jimenoa in Jarabacoa and El Limón in Samaná are thrilling and unforgettable experiences.

Dominican food is unique and delicious. Try the popular &ldquoMangú&rdquo (green plantains, boiled and mashed) with eggs, fried cheese or salami for breakfast rice, red kidney beans), meat and &ldquotostones&rdquo (mashed and fried green plantains) at midday. Also try pork rinds, &ldquolocrio de pollo&rdquo (rice with chicken, Dominican- style), shrimp stew, &ldquomofongo&rdquo (plantain mash with fish or meat), fish with coconut, stewed crab and conch, roasted or stewed goat with boiled cassava and a &ldquosancocho&rdquo (stew) accompanied byavocados for dinner. And of course, do not forget to try cassava bread and &ldquoqueso de hoja&rdquo, a type of string cheese.

Delicious Dominican desserts include grated coconut, sweet beans, sour milk dessert, orange sweets, milk (papaya) desert and pineapple desert, and guava and cashew paste in syrup. Natural tropical fruit juices include: passion fruit, guava, pineapple, orange, strawberry, mango, mandarin and papaya juice with milk.

Do not miss out on tasting sugar cane juice from the abundant fields in the country. You should also sample Dominican coconut juice from the hundreds of coconut groves and forests in the country. Delight in Dominican coconut&rsquos delicious pulp and refreshing milk

Dominican Republic is known for its top-notch rum production. Brugal, Bermúdez and Barceló are some of the best-known brands to come out of the country.

Mamajuana is a traditional drink of Dominican Republic &ndash legend has it that it will cure all that ails you. Recipes vary, but ingredients typically include a combination of rum, red wine, honey, herbs and tree bark.


Tamales Coloraditos

Tamales are practically required on so many December holidays. Take Posadas. And Christmas. Not to mention New Year’s. Wait, of course, that spills over to January with Día de Reyes. Then it continues in February for Día de la Candelaria

There’s also any morning after a big Mexican wedding… and all Mexican weddings are big! I could go on with every month of the year, but tamales are especially craved in December.

Of course, tamales are also everyday food for Mexicans. All sorts of tamales are found daily in lots of places, from markets, to food stands, to restaurants. Why then, if they can be eaten everyday, is there that crucial need for having tamales in December?

Well, I do not know. But what I can say is that I can eat tamales every day of the year and then feel the desperate need to have them for Christmas. To the point that it can be a pretty sad Christmas if tamales aren’t there.

Since the tamal love is spreading beyond Mexico, let me give you the recipe for a tamal I am pretty sure you haven’t tried. Unless you are Norteño, from the Mexican north.

The tamal coloradito, which translates to “infused with color,” takes its name from the filling of meat cooked in a mole sauce by the same name, coloradito. It has an intense color and a deep, rich, complex taste. It is made with ancho and guajillo chiles, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cinnamon, cumin and cloves. Then it coats the meat and simmers with olives, almonds and raisins, resulting in a teasingly sweet/spicy, savory and crunchy mix. The full-blown exotic flavors of the filling contrast beautifully with the mild, fluffy tamal dough.

It seems to me that this tamal is particularly festive because, aside from tamales screaming out for celebration on their own, even with no filling, this one is filled with quite a stunner of a mole sauce. And moles are cause for celebration, too! Pair the two into one bite, and you have a happy crowd.


Rodeo Bites

Before the first bronc bucks out of the chute, RODEOHOUSTON’s heated competition begins with the February 21 – 23 World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest at NRG Park. The three-day, open-to-the-public competition sees more than 200 teams compete in the brisket, ribs, chicken, and Dutch oven dessert categories. There are also nods for most unique pit smoker and most colorful team. But whatever team comes out on top, the real winners are the folks who get to grub on the results of the smoky endeavors. They can also pop into the Miller Lite Garden, the Rockin’ Bar-B-Que Saloon, and the Chuck Wagon for a preview of the main event’s drinking and dining options.

What’s more, there are the carnival foods that await the rodeo-
going crowds. Eat your way through the list of winning bites of the Gold Buck Foodie Awards, the annual pre-rodeo competition recognizing concessionaires’ best dishes. Last year’s winners included Fried Bacon-Wrapped Cinnamon Rolls from Fried What! and Fried Bread Pudding on a Stick from Sudie’s Catfish House. Go old-school with a funnel cake or a turkey leg. Those attendees still not stuffed ahead of the rodeo can feast on Tex-Mex, sweets, a selection of items representing international cuisines, and yet more barbecue.

The rodeo isn’t slacking on the whistle-wetting options either. Visitors can pop in to the Champion Wine Garden, featuring more than 70 wines across tasting tents and wine bars and seminars with Western oenophiles. Tent and table reservations, from which you can hear the music from the garden’s two stages, will also be available.

Your favorite rodeo cowboy or barrel racer might not finish with a buckle, but one thing is for sure: You won’t go hungry or thirsty watching him or her ride. rodeohouston.com

Feedin’ on the Range

If you’re looking to sate your appetite beyond the grounds of the HLSR, the city’s world-class dining scene as diverse as the city itself won’t disappoint. First up should be meals or drinks at one of the nominees or winners of the James Beard Awards (the culinary equivalent of the Oscars). Drop in for handcrafted cocktails at Anvil Bar & Refuge, slurp contemporary Viet-
Cajun at Crawfish & Noodles, relish a glass of red (and a rib-eye) at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, and order all of the dishes at Houston institution and Mexican restaurant Hugo’s.

One of our favorite restaurants is a sister establishment to Hugo’s, Xochi (pronounced so-chee). The chic downtown spot specializes in fine-dining renditions of the cuisine of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The highlights here are the infladita de conejo, a squid ink-infused blue corn tortilla that is puffed and opened in the center. The pocket is then filled with silky ropes of rabbit, just this side of gamy. The tetala, a blue corn tortilla folded into a triangle with fragrant hoja santa and cheese atop a mole coloradito, makes for a quick starter. Then there is the ethereal four-item flight of moles, the complex mother sauces of Mexico, for which Oaxaca is renowned. Dive in for the mole amarillo, an earthy yellow sauce the classic mole negro, a salsa that perfectly balances spicy and sweet notes and the mole verde, an herbaceous order. Allow your server to recommend the final selection. And do yourself a favor: Save room for the Texas Blue Corn Whiskey-infused ice cream, a vibrant, playful finish to a stellar meal.

Of course, you can’t go wrong with a Houston stalwart like Ninfa’s on Navigation, the nearly 50-year-old restaurant that got the world hooked on sizzling fajitas.

While exploring Houston, be sure to visit The Arrangement and experience the rustic-chic & Western furnishing stop along with the new collection of sofas, chairs and dining collection.
Start creating your perfect home today!

The Arrangement
1721 Post Oak Blvd
Houston, TX 77056
(713) 627-9009


Watch the video: Plate of Bloomy Rind Artisan Cheese


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