Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Demise of Clarita's Tacos D.F.

It is with great joy that today, the 6th of March, 2013, that Clarita's has moved, but she's still in biz.

Now, I know that a lot of business talk is hyperbole, but if you are in the Los Angeles area, you should run there and get a Pambazo or some Tinga right now. 

No longer named Clarita's Tacos d.f., it's the shorter: 


Tacos Clarita
5024 Huntington Dr N
Los Angeles, CA 90032
(323) 223-3844



It is with great sadness of heart that I regret to inform anyone reading this that Clarita's Tacos d.f., is no longer in business as of December 2007. 

Of Sauces and Things

'The time has come,' the Walrus said,
'To talk of many things:
Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax --
Of cabbages -- and kings --
And why the sea is boiling hot --
And whether pigs have wings.'

Every time I eat at Clarita's TACOS d.f., I learn about Mexican food in a way that I can nowhere else.

I was in East Los Angeles again, when I decided to stop in. Clarita gave me the abrazos as ususal and introduced me to her son, Rafael.

He and his wife and I made chit-chat for a while, talking about Ana Barbara versus Ana Gabriel. When we got around to what to eat, he said "she made chile rellenos". I hadn't eaten one for some time. And I knew it would be excellent.

The various recipes I've read for Chile Rellenos all call for them to be in a "light tomato broth "or "sauce".

Clarita's proved to be the exception and perfection of that otherwise simple addition to the Relleno.

I could rhapsodize for a while on it, but suffice to say, when I asked her about the sauce, which was a dull brown color, the response came back:

"jitomate, pimenta, clavo y canela"

or

tomato, allspice cloves and cinnamon.

The flavors come together in the most extraordinary way. The Relleno is bolstered by the sauce in the best tradition of French haute cuisine.

She is my god in the kitchen.

Just for completeness sake, I Googled "Diana Kennedy Chile Rellenos" and found her recipe in Meal Master:

---------- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.02

Title: CHILE RELLENOS (STUFFED CHILES)
Categories: Meats, Mexican
Yield: 6 servings

___picadillo___
3 lb Boneless pork
1/2 Onion; sliced
2 Cl Garlic; peeled
1 tb Salt
6 tb Lard or the fat from the bro
1/2 md Onion; finely chopped
3 Cl Garlic; peeled and choppe
8 Peppercorns
5 Cloves
1/2 Stick cinnamon
3 tb Raisins
2 tb Almonds; blanched & slivered
2 tb Acitron or candied fruit; ch
2 ts Salt
1 1/4 lb Tomatoes; peeled and seeded
___tomato broth___
1 1/4 lb Tomatoes; peeled and seeded
1/4 md Onion; roughly chopped
2 Cl Garlic; peeled and choppe
1/4 c Lard or reserved fat from th
4 Cloves
6 Peppercorns
2 sm Bay leaves
2 1/2 Cinnamon
1/4 ts Dried thyme
3 c Reserved pork broth
Salt; to taste
___the chiles___
6 Chiles poblanos; or bell pep
___the batter___
Peanut oil - at least 3/4" d
4 Eggs; separated
1/4 ts Salt
Flour

Recipe by: The Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy ISBN 0-06-012344-3
This dish consists of large chiles or bell peppers stuffed with meat or
cheese, coated with a light batter, and fried. They are served in a light
tomato broth.

There is alays an exclamation of pleasure and surprise when a cazuela of
golden, puffy chiles rellenos sitting in their tomato broth is presented
at the table. If you have eaten those sad, flabby little things that
usually turn up in so-called Mexican restaurants in the United States as
authentic chiles rellenos, you have a great surprise in store. Here is yet
another prime example of the fine feeling the Mexicans have for texture in
their food: you bite through the slightly crisp, rich chile poblano to
experience the crunch of the almonds and little bits of crystallized
fruits in the pork filling. Then there is the savory broth to cut the
richness of the batter.

Chiles poblanos are imported in great quantities to large centers of
Mexican population here in the States but very few find their way to the
East. (Maybe this was true in 1972 when this book was published, but these
days they are readily available here in Cambridge. To me, bell peppers are
no substitute.) I am afraid the bell pepper is about the only suitable
substitute for appearance and size--you can always spike them with a
little chile serrano.

Assembling the chiles may seem like a long laborious task, but it is no
more complicated and time consuming than most worthwhile dishes, and this
dish is certainly worthwhile.

Prepare the picadillo:

Cut the meat into large cubes. Put them into the pan with the onion,
garlic, and salt and cover with cold water. Bring the meat to a boil,
lower the flame and let it simmer until just tender--about 40 to 45
minutes. Do not overcook. Leave the meat to cool off in the broth.

Strain the meat, reserving the broth, then shred or chop it finely and set
it aside. Let the broth get completely cold and skim off the fat. Reserve
the fat.

Melt the lard and cook the onion and garlic, without browning, until they
are soft.

Add the meat and let it ook until it begins to brown.

Crush the spices roughly and add them, with the rest of the ingredients to
the meat mixture. Cook the mixture a few moments longer.

Mash the tomatoes a little and add them to the mixture in the pan.
Continue cooking the mixture over a high flame for about 10 minutes,
stirring it from time to time so that it does not stick. It should be
almost dry.

Prepare the tomato broth:

Blend the tomatoes, with the juice extracted from their seeds, with the
onion and garlic until smooth.

Melt the lard and fry the tomato puree over a high flame for about 3
minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Add the rest of the ingredients and
cook them over a high flame for about 5 minutes, stirring.

Add the pork broth and continue cooking the broth over a medium flame for
about 15 minutes. By that time it will be well seasoned and reduced
somewhat--but still a broth rather than a thick sauce. Add salt as
necessary.

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