Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Poison Ivy

Not her

When I was in the 6th Grade, I had the great pleasure of learning first-hand what it is like to have poison ivy, and the itching and scratching and swelling, and pussing that goes with it...on my face.

We still don't know how I got it all over my face, however, it was there...and it wasn't pleasant. My face was also swollen and misshapen. Not that it was ever that shapen to begin with.

And yes...there is a picture out there somewhere, but darn it all, can't find it :)

I recollect this now because a few days ago...Poison Ivy and I once again came together. I am pretty sure I know where and when it happened...however, as you will learn if you ever cross paths with this itchy vixen...the rash and itching will sometimes take up to 48 hours before showing up. At that point, you may have inadvertently spread it to other parts of your body.

Fortunately, this round of rash-bashing has kept to a pretty minimal area on my right leg. I have been able to contain it by keeping it wrapped and dry, changing the dressing about every 12 hours.

So I share with you today some words of advice if you ever come across Poison Ivy. First things first...if you know you have touched it, wash the area thoroughly. It is actually the oil from the plant that causes the rash and itching. This oil can remain potent up to a year after being brushed off of the plant. It is also located all over the plant, on leaves, stems, stalk and root.

If you scratch before washing, the oil can get under your nails and then spread to wherever else you may touch with your fingers.

Don't pick your nose.

That said...once the rash appears, and there really isn't much you can do to prevent it if you haven't washed thoroughly...is to just keep it clean. It will itch. It will blister. The blisters WILL pop. The area will be covered in yellow puss. Just keep cleaning it.

Doctors can give you medication to help...but most of it is not as affective as you would hope.

Best solution of all though...just don't mess with the stuff. It looks like this:

Remember, "Leaves of 3...let it be!"

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Taco Crawl

Most of you know that I LOVE food. I am a huge fan of trying new things, and am always looking for great places with good food. Well, while I was down in Trinidad, I came across a new podcast that helps feed my love of cuisine. It's called Vendr.TV. Basically the host goes around to different street vendors around the country and tries the different wares they have to offer. In one episode, he and a friend were in downtown L.A. with the sole purpose of trying several taco stands and finding which ones were best.

Taking this as inspiration, my buddy Scott and I decided that we should have our own Taco Crawl. So yesterday I drove up to Salt Lake, and from 1:00 until 6:00 PM we ate tacos.

Scott had researched and mapped out any and all places that served tacos that he could find in the general area. There are a LOT of places you can get tacos.

We ended up hitting eight (8) different tacos stands and establishments over those 5 hours. It was absolutely fantastic.

While we were there, we took notes of the experience. So now I can happily share with you our impressions, along with pictures and information about each of the stands. Overall, I have to state that the general consensus was that those places that can't afford the nicer amenities and frills, had to rely on putting their all into their food. They made their food with love and care...they focused on flavor. The quality and taste were far superior in these "run-down" locations, as opposed to the nicer, "cleaner" establishments. All of the addresses are in Salt Lake or the Salt Lake area. They are listed in the order that we visited them. We ranked the tacos on a scale of 1 to 5 Shells, and have recommendations if you ever have a hankering for a taco. Oh and if you don't want to hassle with actually reading through all of these...my vote for the best location is # 5 on this list - Don Martin Street Cart. The address is below.

Without further adieu:

The Taco Crawl 2010

1 - Sergio's - 900 West 200 South - (the building looks like a warehouse, and the door is about halfway down the north side)
Tacos cost $1 each and we both ordered 2.
Zachary - Ordered 1 Al Pastor (Spicy Pork) which was very good. It had really good flavor and reminded me a lot of the many tacos I used to eat in Southern California. I also got a Carnitas (Grilled Pork), which tasted pretty good, but was sort of dry.
Scott ordered an Asada (Beef) which he thought was pretty decent, and a Chorizo (Mexican Sausage), that he raved about for quite awhile. He seemed to have liked it.
The condiment selection was slightly limited, however, we did find that the Red Sauce had much better flavor than the Green Sauce.
Rankings - Al Pastor - 5 Shells, Carnitas - 3 Shells, Asada - 4 Shells, Chorizo - 5 Shells

2 - Red Iguana 2 - 866 West 200 South
This establishment is more of a sit-down type restaurant with full entrees and free chips and salsa (which was very spicy, but great flavor). So the meals were a little more expensive.
Zachary - Ordered Traditional Tacos (2) - $8 - These were pretty decent tacos. With a choice between chicken or beef, I ordered both. Honestly, they were pretty commonplace as far as tacos go. They were good...but common. 3 - Shells
Scott - Ordered the Tacos A La Iguana (3) - $10 - These were very good tacos. They were a bit oily, but the flavor was fantastic, very strong. This also had the added bonus of melted cheese at the bottom of the shells, that was deliciously gooey. 5 - Shells

3 - Don Rafa Street Cart - 800 South State Street, west side of Sears Parking Lot
This was our first "official" taco stand, as it was in fact, mobile. The people working the cart were very friendly and eager to help you without being overly pushy. They had a wonderful selection of condiments, with several types of salsa (which they happily pointed out which ones were hot and which ones were more mild), marinated carrots (of which I am a huge fan and Scott had never had before...but has been converted), and lots of lime wedges, (which are important for juice and flavor). We ordered just two tacos and shared them because our next stop was literally just around the corner. Tacos were 2 for $1.50.
Carnitas - This had decent flavor, but was very dry. 2 Shells
Barbacoa - (BBQ Pork) - This taco was delicious. It was tangy and flavorful with just the right amount of spice. The meat was very tender and moist. 4 - Stars

4 - El Toro Street Cart - 800 South State Street, south side of Sears Parking Lot
This was another "official" taco stand that was also ran by some very friendly people. The condiment bar was not as plentiful as the last cart we had attended, it's greatest grievance was that it was lacking any lime wedges. However, the pico de gallo was fresh and crisp. Again we just ordered two tacos. Tacos were 2 for $1.50
Carnitas - The carnitas were starting to disappoint. This batch was pretty grisly...but it had a good salty, savory flavor. Still though, only 2 Shells.
Al Pastor - You can't go wrong with this one. It was very spicy and delicious. Good strong flavor. 4 Shells.

5 - Don Martin Street Cart - 1100 East 2100 South, Sugarhouse - Across the street from library
As previously mentioned, this cart has my vote for best taco stand found in the Taco Crawl of 2010. The lady that was running the cart was very friendly and happy to talk about the different types of meats and tacos that were available. The condiment bar was fantastic and held, probably the best pico de gallo that we found that day. It was very fresh, crisp, and besides the traditional tomatoes and onions, this one also had diced green peppers in it. Very good addition.
Zachary - Carnitas - This one had really good flavor, but was a bit dry. Still, I gave it 3 Shells.
Scott - Asada - This one also demonstrated good flavor but was a bit on the dry side. 4 Shells.
We both ordered the Al Pastor...and this is where the cart really separated itself from the crowds. This was one of the best Al Pastor tacos that I have ever had in my life. The flavor was amazing. It was quite spicy, without overwhelming the taste buds. The meat was moist and tender and just demonstrated what Al Pastor is supposed to taste like. This one easily earned 5 Shells. (Though I argued to extend our rankings to now include 6 Shells...Scott kept a level head and pointed out that we needed to have boundaries)

6 - Lone Star Taqueria - 2256 Ft. Union Blvd.
I hadn't been to this establishment in years...but always remembered it being very good. This was another "sit down" type restaurant, but as with the rest of the locations to follow, had the option available to order single tacos, and not just entire meals. I highly recommend sitting outside if the weather permits.
Both Scott and I ordered the Carne Adovada Tacos at $2.60 each. This was a larger taco that had a strong spicy flavor, with just the right amount of charcoal hinting to give it that grilled flare. It was a bit dry though, thus dropping it to a 3 Shell rank.

7 - El Taconazo - 7900 South State Street
When we sat down and the waitress came over with some chips and salsa, I think she was a bit disappointed when we only ordered a total of three tacos (Scott had 2 and I had 1). I wanted to explain to her that we had already been eating tacos for the last four hours, and that there really wasn't much room left in the ol' gullet. But I didn't...we just ordered. I do need to point out that the salsa that they brought to the table was one of the better salsas of the day. It was pretty spicy...but had a wonderfully strong flavor. Tacos were $1.50 each.
Zachary - Chorizo - This was a very good taco. The flavor was strong and the meat was pretty tender. However, after the initial bite...it seemed to lose steam in the flavor category and trended slightly downhill. 4 Shells.
Scott - Asada Bravado - This was described as tasting LIKE jerky...without being jerky. This also had a good flavor and warranted a 5 Shell ranking.

8 - Tenochtitlan - 1825 West 3500 South - Way out past Redwood Road
I wish we had hit this place first. The taco I got here was probably one of the best tasting tacos of the day, however, by this point I was filling up fast. In fact, I was only able to finish half of my taco here, (though in my defense, these were some of the largest tacos we had received that day). But I loved this place because it was located in the back of a market store, which was completely inundated in the Mexican culture. It is a very friendly place with all sorts of wonderful foods to try. It does help if you speak Spanish going in. Fortunately, during my time in California, I picked up just enough of the language to order food and get myself in trouble. But not out of it. But I digress...tacos are in the back of the store and they are $1.75 each.
Both Scott and I ordered the Chicharon tacos, which is a type of fried pork. As you can imagine, it was very fatty, fried, and fantastic. The meat was exceptionally tender and had been marinated very well. The overall flavor was of course porky-goodness with an overtone of bacon. And since when has bacon been a bad thing? This really was a good taco, well deserving of a 5 Shell ranking.

So there you have it! Taco Crawl 2010. The final tally was Zachary - 10.5 tacos and Scott - 13 tacos. I know that I drank at least 4 sodas and several waters throughout the event, and I am sure Scott had at least that many, if not more.

I highly recommend you get out and try new foods and new places. If you want someone to come with you...let me know! In the meantime, Scott and I have already begun plans for a Sushi Crawl and Taco Crawl 2.0 - the rest of the list.