Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Chips & Dips

Yep, you probably wondered where I was going with #'s 4 & 5 below. We spent the day packing and organizing before we head north tomorrow ... today is the holiday in Germany and the start to a four day weekend, and therefore is perhaps the worst day to travel ... And it was a good day to prepare Pico de Gallo and Guacamole and chips to snack while we pack.

I decided to do this after being terribly disappointed in a plate of "nachos" that I had on the town last night. A couple of girls from class snagged me to go clubbing last night (I don't kid myself about being so hip, but I do have cash and a good sense of humor, so I'm a good clubbing companion). Unfortunately, before we could get away the instructor and another student did something highly uncharacteristic, namely to tag along. One wasn't dressed well enough to get past the bouncers, and the other wasn't so keen on Techno/House, so we found ourselves sitting in a restaurant named Tequila, which was cute and crowded, but not really what we had set out for.

I decided to order a Margarita, and even emphasized that I liked Lime and indeed wanted to taste some. True to form, I was disappointed. It was rather bland, and they didn't even bother to salt the rim of the glass (which I guess is better than using sugar on the rim, which I have experienced in a couple German bars). At least the Bar Tender gave me a rather thick piece of Lime, which I could squeeze into the drink to give it some flavor.

Everybody else decided to have beer, and aside from munching on a couple chips, none seemed to interested in the food ... oh well, now I know why I haven't actually gone ahead and opened the Mexican restaurant, an idea I have been toying with for some time ... I keep thinking the cosmopolitan bankers of Frankfurt are hungry for good mexican food and good margaritas, but I am kidding myself and am glad I have not made the investment.

Anyway, I ordered a plate of Nachos and Guacamole, but what we received were plain corn chips that had a few Jalepenos sprinkled over them along with a very small bowl of guacamole-cream. No salsa, no cheese, no anything else. Very disappointing indeed.

So today I decided fill the hole that had been left in my life by throwing together some chips and dips for me and the Partnerin. In mass quantities.

The red stuff is Pico de Gallo. It is nothing more than tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalepenos, cilantro and lime blended together. In this case, I did a fairly fine puree, which works well for dipping.

You really need to decide on your own proportions, but here I used three good sized tomatoes, one whole medium onion, roughly 10 slices of jalepeno peppers from the jar, the juice of one lime, and a small hadful of cilantro leaves (I guess that would be about ten leaves if I had bothered to count). I put everything but the tomatoes into the herb chopper until they are well mixed, and then toss in the tomatoes ... don't want to make gazpacho. This is a lot of onion and garlic for the average german, so you might want to reserve half of the onion and half of the garlic until you have tried the first batch out on your significant other. Maybe the same deal on the jalepenos. Some purists will tell you to take the seeds and watery part out of the tomatoes ... I don't, as I want it to be somewhat liquid. Others will tell you to add olive oil ... I don't, as the chips are oily enough.

As for the guacamole, this one is the chunky version. Half a tomato, half an onion, and half a clove of garlic are ground in the herb-chopper until mixed, then several hits of Tabasco, the juice of half a lime, and salt and pepper are added along with at least one whole, ripe avacado ... if you find them in your local market, it is highly unlikely it will be ripe. I always buy a couple each week so that I will have something to work with the next week. Today guacamole, tomorrow california rolls.

I was so pissed about last night's batch of guacamole that I wanted to get back to my roots, which would be closer to the Guacamole you can get at Rosa Mexicano's in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which they hand-grind with a large mortar & pestle at your table. Rosa's do use cilantro in the guacamole, but I figured we had enough in the Pico. Anyway, today I decided to grind it only to a coarse texture, which surprised the Partnerin since she is accustomed to having guacamole in a cream form. As would most people in Germany, since they get their guacamole from a jar.

The Pico de Gallo is essentially a zero-calorie proposition, so you can have as much as you like without shame, although if you use as much onion and garlic as I do you might not get kissed for a couple of days. Other than that, the problem would be the chips. As for the guacamole, there is no question it is a high calorie dish, but the fat from the avocado is mostly mono-unsaturated fat (good for you) and the avocado is chock full of vitamins, so enjoy. Again, it's the chips that are killing you ... The homemade dips are good enough to eat without chips if you are really worried about things like that. Both are also good on burritos, as if that is a healthier alternative to chips ... or schnitzel.


Blogger Scott said...

I can't figure it out, either. I would kill for a decent Mexican restaurant (or even a Taco Bell!), but every one that I know of in Wuerzburg has closed after being open only a short time.

I just don't get it. What's wrong with these people?

8:24 PM, May 25, 2006  
Blogger Maribeth said...

I am going to the best Mexican Restaurant on Tuesday night. Hubby's last meal before the next knee replacement. Everything is home made and soooo good!
Do you notice you and I talk a lot about food? LOL!

10:16 PM, May 25, 2006  
Blogger J said...

Yum! Looks good.

I agree with you. I prefer to make my own Mex food rather than wasting money finding good Mex food in Europe (not just Germany).

RE: Scott's comment: I'd kill to have a Taco Bell within 150 km! Granted US bases do have Taco Bells, but I don't know anybody that can get me on to one anymore.

10:19 PM, May 25, 2006  
Blogger Claire said...

Yummy!! I have not made Pico de Gallo in ages. I did make real Guacemole for the German and he loved it. He looked at me with bright eyes as if to say, "No wonder you complain about the German stuff."

9:11 AM, May 26, 2006  
Blogger Mike B said...

Scott: Oddly enough, the Partnerin likes Taco Bell ... I really would want to open a restaurant along the lines of something like Don Pablos, but the locals don't seem interested in the higher-margin items that would make it profitable. As for Taco Bell, I looked into a franchise, but the Yum Brands franchising strategy for Germany is somewhat lacking as they are focusing more on other tried and true brands.

Maribeth: Yep, but you also talk(ed) about diet, which is something I need to consider if I keep this up ...

J: That's the only sure way to get a good Margarita. Seems Germans hate Limes and Cilantro, although they do eat the occasional pepper.

Claire: Yep, makes one wonder what happens to all those avocados one sees in the markets.

12:01 PM, May 26, 2006  
Blogger christina said...

Oh, you're making me really, really hungry! Now, what exactly is the difference between salsa and Pico de Gallo, because when I make what I call salsa (and I really don't have a clue about Mexican food - I just like to eat it) I make it just like you make your P de G.

Homemade guacamole is the best, but I agree that the avocados here can be pretty iffy. I bought some "avocado dip" in a jar once, and the only thing it had in common with guacamole was that it was green.

10:46 PM, May 26, 2006  
Blogger Mike B said...

Hi Christina: Well, technically Salsa is Spanish for sauce, so one could make the argument that it's all the same. Pico is essentially "Salsa Cruda" or raw (uncooked), while what we might consider to be Salsa has some cooked component ... for example, the tomatoes are cooked or peppers are roasted. Or the whole thing is cooked somewhat in the canning process, which is why the tomatoes in Fuego salsa have some resemblence to canned tomatoes.

12:25 AM, May 30, 2006  

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