EN/KR Great Northbay Taco Crawl - Petaluma
I joined Eat Nopal and his delightful daughter the other day for a 'taco crawl' or investigation of sorts. I really had a great time and I hope that we will be able to make more entries in the future.
This is my report.
2. Lolitas' Market
I had made an inquiry on this board in re. to Uruapan [http://www.chowhound.com/topics/418557 ] with no response. You do not come across this name very often - but apparently Uruapan is THE(E) town in the state of Michoacan, Mexico that has the best Carnitas...anywhere.
When we arrived and sat down, the place was 60% full of cutomers, a mixed bunch - the lunchtime crowd. As soon as EN asked the waiter in regardsto the availabilty of different portions/cuts of the pig, then the inital blank look and sorry, "we dont do that here" response ---our hopes hit the floor.
We shrugged, hoped for the best and each ordered a taco of carnitas with our drinks.
What was brought out was not Carnitas ( http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?... ).
If this was called the famous juicy pork taco --- man would this be among the best. But the juicyness was its only redeeming quality.
As I confered with EN - I think that they are simmering the pork in a little water with the *hope* that it will all evaporate for the fat to render and begin to crisp. This method is commonly used as the 'shortcut' or 'lite' method to the traditonal cazo lard (simmer) frying.
Unfortunately, the 'little meats' we got never saw the crisping stage and were as EN put it: "one dimensional," and had no orange, citrus presence.
We tried. Maybe their crab enchiladas are good.....
I ordered 2 tacos: Pastor and Cabeza.
Ok -- there is a Pastor Spit here - but dont get your hopes up - it isnt that good (or at least the dried bit I received). Maybe if I got a fresh and juicy part of the interior meat I would have liked it. There was no pineapple either which I felt could have added a lot because the flicker of nice adobada flavor I could barely detect would have thence bloomed. The lime didnt save it either. Scratchy dry tortillas.
Cabeza -however- was not bad. A solid baseline version - nothing to write home about but if I came back I could order this again. The moistness of this saved the industrial tortillas a bit. This isnt exactly the choice meat for summer though either.
I did notice that one of outr tacos got the micro treatment as well.
EN and I both enjoyed the homemade Pina Agua fresca - which warrants a visit alone on a hot day.
The two guys who are working were really nice and hardworking fellows and I have hopes for the catfish soup and maybe awesome food on the weekends.
Lolita's was a major disappointment for me. The Carnitas (I had two tacos) were just shy of terrible.... overly crisped with a stale flavor. There were some encouraging elements:
> The guy behind the counter (who is from a small town in the vicinity of Uruapan) assured me that on the weekends they bustout the Copper pot & cook authentic Carnitas with different cuts of pig.
> They have a different soup / stew everyday (yesterday it was Pozolito)... which my intuition says is probably the best thing they do (didn't try it yesterday)
> The Shrimp & Catfish stew is as close to the elusive Caldo Michi as I have seen around these parts... if I understood correctly its made fresh on Friday (probably frozen & reheated other days).
> They also advertise a Goat Birria which I think maybe another Sat / Sun special.
> Like KR mentioned the Pineapple agua was nice & refreshing... and a nice change of pace from the typical Horchata, Canteloupe, Jamaica offering.
A number of towns in Michoacan rival each other for "World's Capital of Carnitas...", Cristina or Anonimo might tell us about the virtues of Quiroga's pork... but Uruapan is universally reknown throughout Mexico as THE capital. Taqueria Uruapan's carnitas... while some of the best I have tasted in Sonoma County (albeit not a huge sample)... pale in comparison to the real deal. For those that travel to L.A. regularly.... try the "Los Cinco Puntos" Market & Bakery.... or Carnitas Uruapan for a much more representative effort.
Another major disappointment with Taqueria Uruapan was the notorious lack of avocado based dishes. California's Avocado growers might not want you to know this.... but Uruapan (a tropical highland town relatively near the coast) is the true capital of Avocados... putting out about 2/3 of the world's commercial crop. Aside from carnitas.... Uruapan revolves around avocados and has a wide diversity of Tree-Testicle* centric dishes like cold Soups, mock ceviches & cocktails, salads, crab stuffed, smoothies & ice creams etc., none of which could be found at Taqueira Uruapan (with the exception of a very bland Guacamole).
* The name for Avocados is derived from the Nahuatl... Awakatl which means testicles of the tree... for their tendency to cluster into pairs, as well as their shape & dimensions.