This is the food blog called mmm-yoso!!! The bloggers here are usually Kirk, sometimes ed(from Yuma) and sometimes Cathy. Today is one of those sometimes Cathy days.
Well. This has been a crazy summer so far. The Mister and I seem to have something scheduled every day, but aren't overly busy...just home-type chores, which includes gardening and the occasional Home Depot and food runs. We have been cooking at home a lot and were thrilled when we found out that Penzey's Spices was opening a San Diego location. Kirk posted about one of his Penzey's stops during a Torrance Road Trip in 2010. The Mister and I get excited when the Penzeys catalog shows up every couple of months and usually make two orders a year, to save on shipping charges. The spices, herbs and blends are so fresh and interesting. We decided to take a drive West, to the Hillcrest area of town to see "our" new Penzey's store.
The store is located on University Avenue one block East of the Ralphs/Trader Joe's Center, in the same parking area that has the Starbucks. Apparently that little mall is named Hillcrest Colonnade.
The display area inside is mostly stacked wooden crates and even this kitchen vignette (I grew up with a Kelvinator refrigerator just like this one; a common sight in Detroit). See the larger jar in the middle on top of that fridge? That's a sample jar. There is one with just about every product in the store- you can smell the herbs, spices, whole chilis and blends (there are even glass bottles with the liquid extracts for you to sniff). It was like reading the catalog but live!
As I said, we have purchased items from here before and sort of knew what we wanted... but of course we got more than that. The blends are very convenient and have all the flavors we like and would end up mixing anyhow. (The Mitchell Street Steak Seasoning was our 'gift' when we presented a coupon from the catalog which we had received in the mail.)
Really, I only came here for the peppers- they are unusually moist and fresh...they smell 'rich' and almost buttery in the sample jars; that's the only way I can explain it. They are not all dry like the stuff from dusty packages on store shelves that need to be reconstituted or added to liquid to get at the flavor. I don't use much for the flavors I like and the smaller size portions available are just right for a few months.
We then headed East on University and in the newer City Heights mall area (with the Albertsons, McDonald's, Starbucks among other stores) made a stop (for the second time now) at this clean, modern tortilleria, La Casa del Maiz.
Basically a tortilla factory
which sells a few other related items
shelf stable milk, eggs, cheeses, salsas and a refrigerator of beverages, mostly Jarritos.
On this visit, we went all crazy and purchased a dozen flour and a dozen corn (you are given a choice of white or yellow) tortillas. The corn are wrapped in paper and are sold by weight. How much are these still warm , fresh made tortillas?
Yes. A dozen fresh, hot corn tortillas *and* a dozen fresh, nicely thin and flaky flour tortillas...that's the price.
Since it was close to lunch time, we continued East on University, down to one block West of the Kroc Center. This sign is on what used to be a Starbucks and can be seen from the street. The restaurant is just to the left in this photo.
Walk in and that's the menu: Burritos, carnitas by the pound, quesedillas, sopes, soups, tacos, plates, posole, tortas, tostadas maravilla and chilaquiles. The by the pound carnitas are not at all the only meat here, although (so far) I like it very much.
Neat and clean, there is seating for 60 inside.
If you order to eat in, sides are brought to your table when you order.
As well as a salsa bar at the front, if you are buying something 'to go'. As an aside, the green hot sauce tastes green-and is hot/spicy. The orange hot sauce is very pleasant and has a mild, if any, heat.
On our first visit we ordered one pound of carnitas ($10.99). It comes with rice, beans(cooked with lard and runny, in a good way) and a dozen corn tortillas.
The carnitas are just filled with flavor, moist with a little crispness, not fatty and just right. This serving of one pound was substantial for the two of us; we had leftovers (especially of the tortillas, which are good, but not when compared to those from La Casa del Maiz)
This was the recent meal- a carnitas taco ($2.39) and a cheese quesedila ($2.79)-filled with all white cheese and very good with the hot sauces offered.
The al Pastor burrito ($4.99). The marinated meat is tender, flavorful and plenty in the burrito, which has some rice and the wonderful wet beans, the al pastor marinade and avocado. This was a wonderful surprise and I now want to order the other meats on the menu...
All in all, a nice drive, great food and shopping and we were almost home. I hope all of you are having a good week.
Penzey's Spices 1274 University Avenue San Diego 92104 (619) 297-2777
La Casa Del Maiz 4403 University, Suite 100 San Diego, 92105 (619) 283-3566
Carnitas Las Michoacanas 6503 University Avenue San Diego 92115 (619)229-9574