TACOS AL PASTOR at EL FARO TACOS in Sylmar, California
You park out front on the curb and enter the tiny restaurant where two men never stop working the meats on the grill. For $1.24 a pop, you order as many of these succulent and divine no frills, street style, tacos as you think you might eat. Two tortillas topped with perfectly marinated pork and pineapple chunks. Perhaps a smattering of cilantro and a dot of salsa from the condiment bar on top. Unpretentious perfection.
BRAISED DAIKON by the Cute Gardener
A subtle, al dente rendering of an iconic Japanese root vegetable in a surprisingly simple broth that carries the tiniest hint of dark caramel to counteract softened briny kombu. The daikon acts like a tofu, soaking up its surrounding flavors. A perfect appetizer that goes down like a whisper, barely audible yet entirely complex.
Insanely simple recipe
Slice one daikon radish into 1/2-inch rounds. In about 3 cups of water, place daikon, 3 small strips of kombu, 1 tablespoon mirin, and 1 tablespoon Japanese soy in a pot. Cover and gently simmer until daikon is soft, but not mushy.
PORK POSOLE at the KITCHENETTE in Templeton, California
An elegant interpretation of the homey, yet often muddled, Mexican stew. Tender shredded pork and sliced linguica sausage with a subtle kick mingled with tangy feta cheese, the counteracting coolness of ripe, sliced avocado, crunchy cabbage slaw and hearty large kernels of white hominy. The richness was further tied together by the creamy yolk oozing from the pretty center of a stunning breaded and fried soft boiled egg, all afloat in a luscious Verde sauce. Perfect breakfast to soak up a weekend of wine tasting in nearby Paso Robles.