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An early spring means margaritas

So you’ve heard that I crave Thai food in the warmer months.  Well, I crave Mexican food even more, and here’s the proof…

Yesterday we got out for lunch at Taqueria del Sol with but one goal in mind: Drink margaritas on the patio in the beautiful spring-like weather!

Well, it ended up only getting to around 62 degrees out when we left for lunch, so instead of sitting outside with a pitcher of margaritas for a few hours like we intended, we decided to grab a quick bite and just one drink then walk around Decatur for a while before stopping in somewhere else.

We always start with the chips and guac at Taqueria del Sol, it’s the perfect consistency and always full of ripe chunky avocado and juicy tomatoes. The house margaritas are never too sour and are always deceptively strong!

Chips, guac, and margarita at Taqueria del Sol

Jeff got his usual beef enchilada with red sauce, he usually gets two but he got some tacos to share with me instead.

Taqueria del Sol enchilada

Two fish tacos are my usual. They are lightly fried, never greasy, and come with more super-hot jalapenos than most people can handle and a cooling lime cilantro aioli. My lips are always swollen and burning when I eat these!

Jeff got another fish taco and one of their featured “special” tacos, the Al Pastor. It tasted like vinegary pulled pork barbecue topped with a limey tomatillo salsa.

3 fish tacos, one taco al pastor

After that we did some window shopping and walking and inevitably ended up at Leon’s. I love that their bar is open to the sunny patio, it’s flooded with natural light and cool breezes. I got a Mikkeller Limoncello beer which was very herbal and zesty, it had that oily feel in the mouth that a citrusy beer gives but without feeling like you’ve bitten off a mouthful of chapstick. Very refreshing, I would order this again for sure.

Mikkeller Limoncello beer

And today, we essentially repeated yesterday’s margarita celebration, but with more vigor!

Jeff’s youngest brother Bryan and his girlfriend Caitlin met us for lunch at Raging Burrito. They have the largest outdoor patio in all of Decatur—perfect margarita conditions!

Raging Burrito menus

We got a pitcher of texas style margaritas which have a higher grade tequila plus orange juice to split between Jeff and I. Bryan was being a gentleman and not drinking since Caitlin had to drive.

Raging Burrito texas style margarita pitcher

So for the second day in a row we chomped down on delicious Mexican food for lunch. I had two veggie-stuffed tacos with rice and beans and Jeff got a monster quesadilla…really, that’s what it’s called.

Two veggie tacos at Raging BurritoJeff's Raging Burrito monster quesadilla

So, yeah…I just had heavy Mexican food and margaritas for two days in a row now and I feel great about it! It’s not like I’m gonna eat this way all spring and summer or anything.

I think it’s very healthy to allow myself to indulge in this new pleasure of seasonal food and fresh drinks in the sunshine while it’s still comfortable enough outside to do it. Once true summer rolls around I’ll be too sweaty and sluggish to eat such heavy food in the oppressive direct sunlight and chug a pitcher of alcohol in a daze as the sun further bakes my hot brain.

See? It’s all about balance. I haven’t had a tomato in all of winter because I know that they are just not worth it while they’re out of season, watered-down and expensive in spite of it. And a margarita and quesadilla will be just as unappealing in hot-as-h311 august as it was in the freezing cold of december.

This pleasure has its place, and I’m getting my full joy of it now while it’s still enjoyable.

Are there any favorite foods that you only enjoy at special times?


Garlic Thai

I am really loving all this nice weather we’re having in Georgia right now. February is normally the coldest month of the year, but we’ve had temps in the high 60’s for almost 3 whole weeks now. I’m just waiting for the inevitable cold snap to hit and crush all my dreams. 😉

I love it when it’s warm enough that we can walk into Decatur and grab a drink or a bite to eat; it makes me feel like we live in a real city!

One thing I always crave when the temperatures start to rise is spicy food. Mexican and Thai are all I want in the summer, and the heat wave has me craving both already.

Thai iced tea at Garlic Thai

I’ve been disappointed in the Thai restaurants in Decatur though, that is until we finally visited Garlic, a relatively new place that we’ve been avoiding like the plague.

First off, they’re in a spot that has had a few failed restaurants in it previously, so for some reason we just assumed that it was equally crappy. Secondly, they advertise $1 sushi between the hours of 5pm and 7pm, which is a surefire way to have me running for the hills. I’m of the opinion that you need to pay a good bit for sushi for it to be any good. It doesn’t have to break your wallet, but $1 is ludicrously low, and that fact left me skeptical of the quality of all their food, not just the sushi.

Well, the other day we wanted Thai and didn’t want to go very far for it. Since we already knew we weren’t that into the other Thai places near by, we figured we’d at least go to Garlic once so we could confirm our unfounded bias that it must be awful and never have to wonder about it again.

Well, it turns out we were wrong and Garlic was oh-so-right!

We started off with two thai iced teas and this plate of barbecued eel for an appetizer.

BBQ eel appetizer

It was so good dripping in eel sauce and set atop both fresh and grilled veggies. It’s just one of the many tapas style items they offer. We were also eyeing the fried lotus root chips, one for next time!

Jeff got red curry with pork. This is his “litmus” dish for Thai food; if the red curry is good, it’s all good. And it was good!

It was lightly sweet and creamy with a creeping heat in the back of the throat. The best thing though was that it had a sourness to it that was much more authentic-tasting than typical Americanized curries which are always just cloyingly sweet.

Red curry with pork at Garlic Thai

I got a green curry with fried tofu that was out-of-this-world! The veggies were cooked but still snappy, the tofu tasted beany rather than bland, the sauce was rich and plentiful, and the frizzle-fried basil was so fresh and green-tasting.

Green curry with tofu at Garlic Thai

One of the better curries I’ve ever had.

We didn’t try any sushi, but with the quality of their other offerings I’d be willing to give it a go now.

I haven’t made Thai curry at home in quite a while, whereas it used to be one of my weekly meals. Nope, I don’t only cook Japanese food, that’s just what I gravitate towards most often.

I think it’s time to bring back the curry, or at least walk up to Garlic more often and order some of theirs since we were so wrong about it. :)

Do you like Thai food? What is your favorite Thai dish?


Takoyaki, katsudon, and…curry?

I need to hit up the market today if I’m gonna have anything to make for dinner tonight.

Such was the case last night too. What started as just a quick swing up to Sushi Avenue to fill our growling tummies turned into a rather eye-opening experience. We had been meaning to go there and order hot dishes rather than sushi for a while now. Last night was the night.

Started off innocently enough with the standard miso soup and gingery salad.

Miso soup and ginger salad

Next, takoyaki time! I love the takoyaki at Sushi Avenue. The pieces are huge and cooked through a bit more than other places, so it doesn’t turn into goo as soon as you pick it up. They use really cheap bonito flake though, it’s pretty flavorless and looks more like that stuff you find in the bottom of an Easter basket than shaved dried fish flakes. No prob, just swirl it around in the delicious sauce and squiggles of Kewpie mayo, all that floss will melt right in.

Takoyaki at Sushi Avenue

This is supposedly just a wintertime special though, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to have it again any time I’m craving it. :( Jeff thinks it might be time for us to buy a takoyaki griddle for the house. I don’t know about that. Takoyaki is an unhealthy treat food, I don’t know if I want instant access to it and all it’s delicious sauces.

It might be fun to experiment with using the takoyaki griddle to make something different though. Maybe I could make some kind of little vegetable puffs or even a sweet donut-hole type thing.

Ok, moving beyond takoyaki. Jeff ordered the katsudon, which is a bowl of rice topped with a breaded and fried pork cutlet with caramelized onions and egg.

Jeff's katsudon

You think Japanese food is all sushi and clean healthy veggie fare? No way man, dishes like the one above are pretty standard, however, the portion of the one above is somewhat larger than average.

I used to make katsu at home pretty often, maybe it’s time to bring it back.

I got another Japanese staple dish that many people aren’t aware of. Curry. Yep, the Japanese eat curry too. Theirs is a very rich, stew-like curry with subtle but not overpowering Indian spice flavors. It’s pretty common to crack a raw room-temperature egg over this and mix it in to make a super-creamy sauce.

Japanese beef curry at Sushi Avenue

The curry roux for this is often sold in solid bars perforated into little squares, much like a chocolate bar. You just mix the roux with liquid, add steamed vegetables and the thinly sliced meat of your choice and serve over rice. It’s a pretty common meal to have at home because it’s so easy to prepare and so comforting.

This one was served with an assortment of pickles. Pickles are another very common Japanese staple. They are so much more than just salty brined cucumbers though. These pickles are an art form.

Japanese pickles

The yellow ones in the front are sweet pickled daikon slices, it’s pretty common to add sugar or mirin to pickling liquids to make a very sweet flavor. The purple, I’m pretty sure they were cucumbers and that they were pickled in ume plum juice and/or ume vinegar. The little green ones are very much like cornichons, they are small, crunchy, and very salty.

I miss all the colorful and various-flavored pickles we had on top of rice in Japan. I think I’m going to start learning how to make some myself at home.

I’m so glad we opted out of ordering sushi last night. With the girly J-pop music playing over the speakers, lemony smell of raw fish in the air, and two hot bowls of Japanese classics in front of us, it really felt for a moment like we were back on Dotonbori street in Osaka cramming our faces full of one amazing dish after another.