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.
This elegant little block of tofu doused with a perfect amount of soy and striped with tender piles of meticulously placed chives represents the Cute Gardener. He is neat, ordered, minimal and aesthetically clean.
This chaotic bowl of ramen with awkwardly large noodles trying to elbow for room amongst the greens and wobbly eggs punctuated by strands of fatty pork represents me. I am messy, cluttered, rich and juicy.
Together these dishes make one of our favorite at home meals – food being the common denominator in our sea of differences that have always fueled our relationship with curiosity, wonder and mutual adventure. As we celebrate our third anniversary I thought I would pay homage to some of the best things I’ve learned or come to understand about our foodie life together.
The CG will never share my love of white foods, i.e. bananas, coconut, etc.
I will never share his love of sucking the goo from a crab head.
When it comes to a bird, he likes stripping the carcass whereas I like digging the marrow from the bones.
The CG received the gene that makes a person hate cilantro. I did not.
If you want a cake or cookie in this household, you better ask the CG otherwise you may get something resembling rabbit food and granola without proper fat and termed raw.
I make better homemade pizzas but his look prettier.
Cooking the entire Dorie Greenspan Around My French Table is taking me a lot longer than I had envisioned when I gifted the book to him for our first Christmas together.
Whereas the flavor of peppermint is like garlic and the sign of the cross to the CG, my kryptonite remains any form of poultry skin not fried to a non-flabby crisp.
I am in charge of the baked salmon and other things in the oven; he is the king of the stove top.
Rye bread doesn’t last in our household, especially if it’s from Diamond Bakery on Fairfax. He prefers it lighter without seeds and I crave dark loaves with seeds. Sometimes we get marbled.
I am most assuredly spoiled because I get dinner cooked for me at least five days a week but I don’t take it for granted.
Backyard produce has made grocery store produce unbearable to me.
Bourbon is to be respected.
For red wines, he likes his complex and balanced while I prefer funky, dark and big.
We have found that there are very few restaurants that make us want to return more than once and so many good ones to choose from that it seems normally silly to do so. But there are exceptions that include Asenabo for simple yet sophisticated Japanese, Hatfield’s for buttery agnolotti, Scarpetta for scrumptious spaghetti, Papilles for Chef Tim Carey’s new-nightly dinner menu, Il Fico for belly comforting pastas, Osteria and Pizza Mozza, Brent’s for the best pastrami in Los Angeles, El Faro for dollar fifty pastor tacos, TLT for pork belly nachos and Kokekokko because we will never tire of skewered chicken parts and cursing, beer slinging cooks.
We will always enjoy non-American food for the Fourth of July.
We will never eat out on Valentine’s Day preferring to whip up a feast at home.
He was right when he told me I should ban dessert at restaurants because I would forever be disappointed.
I was right when I told him he should do the same with BBQ anywhere on the West Coast.
It is mutually understood at this point that we will never meet a pork belly we don’t like.
You don’t have to like the same foods to be compatible but you have to be a foodie to be in love with a foodie.
We are very lucky.
I say that last one, “We are lucky,” while knocking on wood because when you find your food soul mate you never want to lose him.