Tostadas de Chapulines // Grasshopper Tostadas

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The first time I had chapulines I didn’t know what I was eating, exactly. There was a mysterious plastic bag filled with reddish tiny things with legs. Coated in chile powder, my co-workers were chowing down on whatever was in this bag. From the looks of them hungrily devouring this snack, I knew it had to be good. When the bag made its way to me, I hesitated but as always, curiosity got the best of me and I plunged my hand in. I pulled out a few and popped them into my mouth. They tasted of mildly spiced chile powder and lime. Crunchy, savory, and delicious. My hand went in for seconds. When I asked what they were, the answer was “insectos”. Ok, I was cool with that and didn’t ask any more questions. It wasn’t until many years later that I found out what kind of insects they were. Grasshoppers! Although mostly consumed in Oaxaca, I’ve spotted these tasty treats in the markets of Mexico City and Tijuana. There are also a variety of sizes ranging from very small to quite large as in half a finger in length. I prefer the smallest ones I can find for the extra crunch.

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Tostadas de Chapulines:

yield: 15 tostadas

1 tablespoon chapulines

3 sprigs cilantro, picked

Tostadas:

yield: 15 tostadas

5 corn tortillas

2″ diameter round cookie cutter

Stack the tortillas and place cookie cutter over to cut 3 circles from the surface. Cut right through the stack or reduce the stack to 2 at a time for easier cutting. Place the tortilla rounds on a wire baking rack for 4-5 hours until dry.

When tortilla rounds are hard and dry, toast over a hot pan until crisp and edges have darkened. Set aside.

Guacamole:

1 ripe avocado

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

salt to taste

In a mortar, mash the garlic clove with a generous pinch of salt until the garlic is broken down and turns pasty. Add the avocado and mash until almost smooth (some small chunks are necessary for better texture). Add lime juice and stir until incorporated.

Assemble the Tostadas:

Place a generous teaspoon of guacamole on each tostada, top with 2-3 chapulines and cilantro.

Enjoy with a glass of dry white wine.

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52 Weeks: 39/52

This week was definitely more colorful than the last. We took a trip to Tijuana to visit the markets, eat some tacos and tortas, and roam around the city. Take a look:

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At Mercado Hidalgo the merchants are all ready for Dia de los Muertos. Candy skulls of all sizes, skeleton pinatas, and streamers are festively displayed.

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On a walk around Old Town I discovered this small cemetery, El Campo Santo that dates back to 1849.

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My new favorite tote bag. I will never part with it. ever.

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Second lunch of the day was shrimp tacos and yes, these are my greasy fingers. These tacos were that good.

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CECUT, Tijuana Cultural Center.

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Happy hour is extra happy with a glass of chilled rose.

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Breakfast and the Sunday paper. Hope your week was was good one.

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San Sebastián

San Sebastián has it all- beaches, outdoor activity, cider, txakoli wine, beautiful scenery, seafood galore, pintxo bars, and the most Michelin star restaurants per capita. This is a unique city that we find ourselves coming back to and always dreaming of moving here. We’ve put together a quick snapshot of a few of the city’s highlights as well as a day trip just outside of town. Check it out:

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A Visit to Queso Larte

It’s finally here! The long awaited and much anticipated video from our trip to Berástegui where we revisited the make room of Queso Larte and a short interview with the cheesemaker, Arantxa Garaiburu. 

Larte by Arantxa Garaiburu/twitter @Qlarte/email: larte.garaiburu@gmail.com/purchase here

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Marinated Idiazabál Cheese with Rosemary

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I have not been spending as much quality time in the kitchen lately as I would like. I always begin with the best intentions, complete with a grocery list and ideas for weeknight meals, work lunches, and a special item or two for experimenting. All that fell by the wayside and was just never revisited. The exception was this appetizer.

I’ve had my eye on this recipe and a post-it marking the page for quite some time. Not sure why it took me so long, but this is gold. It’s so easy and genius that it doesn’t really require a recipe. To be honest, the only reason I followed it was because I was still hoarding a chunk of Larte cheese from this trip. And, since this particular smoked Idiazabál is so dang good on its own, I was afraid to ruin it by adding anything to it. Truth be told, this cheese doesn’t need additional flavor, but the marinade really did add another dimension, a thin veil of herb and garlic to round it out. Plus, just look. It’s beautiful together and sure to impress at your next gathering so stop ogling and get to marinading.

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Marinated Idiazabál cheese with rosemary

from  Tapas a Taste of Spain in America by José Andrés 

Yield: 4

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 pound Idiazabál cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 1/2 cups Spanish extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, carefully mixing to coat each cube of cheese in oil and herbs.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave overnight at room temperature.

Place on a serving platter and spear with toothpicks.

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52 Weeks: 38/52

This week was busy and went by slow. It was like groundhog day, every day seemed like a Tuesday, over and over. But, come the weekend where does the time go? It whizzed by in the blink of an eye.

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Teasing B is fun. There are no more doughnuts in the bag but he doesn’t know that.

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Prepping for the week. The beginnings of a cranberry walnut granola.

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B-day cupcakes and a night out.

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Late lunch in OC.

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Treating myself to a glass of malbec while snacking on cheese ends.

Have a great remainder of the weekend, what’s left of it. See you tomorrow with a new post and a long awaited video treat later this week.

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Nanzan Giro Giro

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Tucked away in a miniscule strip off of busy Kapiolani Boulevard, there is a gem of a restaurant hidden in plain sight. Locals pass it on their way to run errands, some peer into the windows in daytime, others drive by without noticing there is even a restaurant on this unremarkable corner. At dinnertime, this spot transforms from drab outside to fab inside. It’s sleek, well lit interior is spare and minimal. There is little to distract the diner from the carefully prepared courses presented on delicate pottery. Except, maybe the spotless kitchen and well orchestrated plating in full view.

Each month, a new menu is created and another unique seven course dinner is presented. Below are four of the seven, plus dessert. The courses are fixed and each comes as a surprise, as there is no printed menu. You’re flying blind, but just trust the process and open yourself up to new flavors, textures, and preparations. It’s an adventure, go for it.

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Nanzan Giro Giro: 560 Pensacola Street/Honolulu, HI

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Oahu: One Day Adventure

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What’s a vacation without a little adventure? If you’re short on time and want to get the most bang for your buck read on for a three in one sightseeing activity. The only requirement is that you wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Get out your mosquito repellent, you’re going to need it.

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Pali Lookout

Pali Lookout was the scene where hundreds of soldiers plunged to their death in the battle of Nuuanu where King Kamehameha succeeded in unifying the Hawaiian Islands.With its sweeping panoramic views of the Windward Coast, the Pali Lookout is a quick and accessible place to begin. Only a five mile drive from downtown, in a matter of minutes lush landscape begins to appear and suddenly you feel like you’re really in Hawaii.

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Likeke Falls

From the Pali Lookout, head down the road on the right side and go past the “Road Closed” sign. Proceed down the Old Pali Road until you reach the highway overpass. There will be a ladder leading down under the overpass. Climb down and cross under the highway. Keep following the road until you reach the bottom, go left at the fork. There will be a concrete road barrier on the left for which you need to climb over to access the concrete stairs. At this point, you will be heading uphill and it gets a bit steep, you’ll have to grab onto tree roots and branches to keep balance, and your shoes will get muddy. It’s all in a day’s adventure. Keep your eye out for “WF” spray painted on tree trunks with arrows pointing the way. From here on, you will be relying only on these signs. The waterfall is small but no matter. You’re going to be so hot and sweaty, the cold water will be a welcome sight. Sit and relax a bit and get ready for the return trip. It’s a long walk back.

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Kaniakapupu Ruins

Commonly known as the summer house of Kamehameha III, these ruins are located in Nuuanu and date from 1847. Easy to access and a relatively quick walk,  it’s also shaded with bamboo and has mostly flat terrain. From Pali Lookout, get back on the H-1 highway toward downtown. Watch carefully for the Old Pali Road exit (the very next exit after you get on the highway). Park in the small lot right off the road. Walk down the road parallel to the highway for approximately 5 minutes (if you reach the Board of Water Supply building on the right, you’ve gone too far). Keep an eye out for an opening in the bamboo on the left hand side of the road and enter. The trail will open up quite wide where you will follow it sticking to the trail on the left. It should only take about 15 minutes to reach the ruins from the entrance off the road.

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Oahu: Casual Eating Guide

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It’s finally vacation time and you have some days to yourself. Whoo-hoo! Perhaps you’re making pit stop for a few days in Hawaii en route to a farther off destination. Or, maybe you have only a few days on this quick get away and want to make the most of it. Whatever the reason that brings you to Oahu, you’re bound to have a great time. Sitting by the pool or baking on the beach are options, but this short series will give you reason to leave the hotel and do some easy exploring all while getting a taste of local flavors beyond a fast food plate lunch. This first installment is all about casual and quick eating options that won’t break the bank because we all need to eat, right? Let’s get going.

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Leonard’s Bakery

933 Kapahulu Ave/Honolulu, HI

Like doughnuts? Of course you do so you’re going to love malasadas. Similar to a doughnut but much lighter in texture, malasadas are like puffy fried pillows of dough rolled in a cinnamon sugar (or plain sugar), a Portuguese treat. They can also be enjoyed with a custard filling but I prefer mine unfilled with cinnamon sugar. As far as I’m concerned, the ONLY place to get a malasada is Leonard’s where they are fried to order and piping hot since 1952. This place doesn’t mess with success. Get in there!

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Marukame Udon and Tempura

2310 Kuhio Ave, Suite 124/Honolulu, HI

This place was recommended to us by a local. Therefore, we wasted no time getting there especially since it was walking distance from our hotel. The noodles are made fresh on site and if you’re lucky, you just might get a glimpse of the action. My favorite was the kamaage udon which is served with a savory and flavorful hot dipping sauce (below). The tempura is also good, but it was the udon that kept me coming back. Be prepared to wait in line but fear not, it moves rather quick. Cafeteria style service keeps diners flowing in and out and the line manageable. Expect to wait between 20-30 minutes during peak meal times.

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Waiola Shave Ice

3113 Mokihana St/Honolulu HI

No trip to Hawaii is complete without shave ice. Everyone has their favorite spot. My shave ice shack of choice is Waiola (above) for their super fine ice texture and tasty syrups. I always get the lilikoi, plain with no azuki beans. There are other options of azuki bean bowls with sweetened condensed milk topped with shave ice but I like to keep mine simple. After a hike up Diamond Head reward yourself with a refreshingly cool treat here.

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Matsumoto Shave Ice

66-087 Kamehameha Hwy/Haleiwa HI

If you happen to be on the North Shore side and want to experience the most popular shave ice spot, head to Matsumoto’s on the main drag. You can’t miss it. It’s the only place with a line of tourists. Back in the day, if you asked me about Matsumoto’s, I would have been far more enthusiastic as I felt the quality was better. This last trip left a lot to be desired. I had ice chunks in my cone and they were stingy with the syrup. One scoop in and I could see white ice and taste the familiar flavor of… water.

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Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream

1010 University Avenue/Honolulu, HI

By now, most everyone knows what mochi ice cream is and local favorite Bubbies is the place to get your fix. With 20 flavors to choose from as well as regular ice cream and desserts, there’s something for everyone. If you’re a first timer, hopefully you have traveling companions because a platter of 12 makes for a great way to experience a variety of flavors. If you’re going on a weekend during peak dessert time, you will be waiting in line. This is a small shop but the line moves at a decent rate provided there is not somebody hemming and hawing over what to get once it’s their turn.

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Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

66-472 Kamehameha Hwy/Haleiwa, HI

Break out the wet naps ’cause you’re going to need ‘em. Find your way to this popular shrimp truck across the golden arches, the white one with a ton of black marker writing on it. The menu is limited (in a good way) and the servings are large. I had the garlic butter laden shrimp scampi half order (below) and that was plenty for me. If you’re feeling brave, try the “no refunds” hot and spicy shrimp… only if you dare. Seriously, if you’re accustomed to eating spicy foods, it’s not too bad, you’ll live.

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Next up will be a roundup of easy outdoor adventure concentrated in a manageable area, including a not so secret spot to see ruins. Stay tuned!

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52 Weeks: 37/52

And so the heat wave continues… Where can I transport myself to where the temps are around 60- 70 degrees? I am so ready for fall weather to take hold. This week trudged on as slow as molasses and I blame the excessive heat. On the flip side, warm weather prevents me from over eating and zaps the appetite so maybe there is a plus in here somewhere?

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Coffee + waffles + paper= relaxing breakfast.

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Making a bunch of waffles and stashing them away for the week. Having a break from toast is a welcome change.

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This full moon was large and low but you can’t tell from this photo.

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Trying out a new restaurant for tsukemen (dipping noodles). I’ll definitely be back.

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I dread turning on the stove but these noodles are not going to boil themselves.

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A day at the theatre to escape the heat. Ahhhhh, air condition. I could stay all day and night.

Stay cool and enjoy the last bit of weekend. See you here tomorrow!

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