XOXO, Salsa Girl

The Dish on All Things Salsa


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Chips, Salsa, Ahi Tuna and Elections 2012–Which doesn’t belong?

BREAKING NEWS: My roommate/best friend/co-partner in excelling at life/classmate, Amelia Goe, and I rule the journalistic world.

We just scarfed down two heaping bowls of chips and salsa and a full serving of seared ahi tuna and rice during class time while simultaneously discussing politics and practicing journalism.

We wondered: What’s harder to choose: what to eat for lunch or who to vote for president?

As it turns out–our presumptions were correct. Food is easier.

Check our quick turn-around mobile story, Menu vs. Ballot.

 

….Hearst Award to follow.

 

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Arizona Taco Festival

I tend to treat tacos as only a means of transportation for getting salsa into my mouth. However, the Arizona Taco Festival this weekend taught me that salsa can’t always be the star of the show.  When it comes to tacos, salsa is to act in a supporting role to whichever meat or seafood the chefs have chosen as their superstar.

I attended the festival with an open heart, an open mind, and an empty stomach. After my friend and I spent a solid 25 minutes observing the overwhelming options of taco stands, avoiding the “see-and-be-seen” tequila bars, and giggling at the sombrero-adorned drunks, we made our first taco stop.

Chelsea’s Kitchen had their mouthwatering carnitas tacos out on display. I’ve been to Chelsea’s Kitchen before, and I can honestly say it makes my Top 5 list of best restaurants. EVER.

Before I indulged, Executive Chef Jorge Gomez was kind enough to step away from his pop-up kitchen to teach me about his tacos and salsas.

Gomez had his green tomatillo and red charred salsas at the festival, and he poured me little shots of each one to taste. The tomatillo had that tangy, acidic taste that I love, and the red charred one was smoky and slightly sweet. Gomez said that the charred salsa is served with every taco on the Chelsea’s Kitchen menu, and he said the restaurant goes through about 10 gallons of the red and 5 gallons of the green each day.

Shots of salsa > Shots of tequila

As for the actual taco that he was serving, Gomez walked me through the line up of rotisserie-cooked and sliced pork that is simmered in ranchero sauce for four hours, and served on a corn tortilla with pico de gallo and guacamole. Hi, get in my belly.

SOL Cocina also put their best pork foot forward at the Taco Festival. They were serving up carnitas street tacos with slow-roasted and shredded pork, chicharron (fried pork skins), onions, avocado, and a tomatillo salsa on a gluten-free tortilla. SO TRENDY!

General Manager, Jessica Kortas, said that SOL Cocina has 17 different salsas that they make from scratch, and each salsa is specifically made and served to compliment a taco. After a bit of wavering, Kortas said that her favorite taco on the menu is the Grilled Fish Zarandeado that has a pineapple-cucumber salsa, because she said the fish and pineapple perfectly compliment one another.

I had a total of 5 tacos over the course of the evening. No shame.

The next three that I tried were inferior to the first two, but delicious nonetheless.

I tried a “Puerto Nuevo” shrimp taco from Tonto Bar & Grill , which is a unique Native Arizona inspired eatery. Their taco had shrimp, peppers and onions, an avocado crema sauce, and a delicious slaw with carrots that they call “Escabèche Slaw.” I am a fan of any avocado-cream-ish-sauce, so I really enjoyed this one.

I tried my best to avoid the chain restaurants, but…

Macayo’s was serving the most non-photogenic cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) taco in existence.  I could tell the Macayo’s tent crew was tired of serving tacos all day.

I ended my rounds with a fresh mahi-mahi taco with a mango habanero salsa from Rubio’s, and I walked out of the festival gates while simultaneously eating this taco.


I must have looked so dedicated to my tacos as I exited the grounds. People all around me must have be in awe of my passion and enthusiasm…

XOXO,

Salsa Girl


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Behind the Label: “Sting ‘N’ Linger Salsa Company”

Despite the continual growth of his signature salsas, owner Ken Smith of Sting ‘N’ Linger Salsa Company still stirs every individual batch by hand.

Each of Smith’s 12 Signature Salsa flavors are made locally in his production facility in Tempe, Arizona using fresh ingredients and his own original recipes.

For many years, Smith sold his specialty salsa at Farmer’s Markets, but now Sting ‘N’ Linger products are available on the shelves of commercial grocery stores (including Fry’s Food Stores, AJ’s Fine Foods) and specialty shops throughout Arizona.

Watch this video for a mouthwatering “behind-the-label” look at Sting ‘N’ Linger Salsa Company.

Grab a chip, sit back, relax, and prepare for some sting…and prepare to have that sting linger.


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XOXO, Salsa Girl reports from Aisle 1

I would NEVER sneak away from my job responsibilities as a bagger at the local grocery store. Bagging is a serious task and I hold tremendous weight within my corporation.

If I were to ever to such a naughty thing as slip away and record myself from the condiment aisle, I would record it for your viewing pleasure.

….Which is precisely what I have done.

Watch this short report from Aisle 1, and help me to embrace my awkwardness.

I realize that it may not mean a tremendous amount to all of you, but I feel exponentially rebellious for filming this short clip.

Additionally, I feel that this could be the start of a great weekly VLOG report from various locations within the grocery store. If I feel so inclined, I could even make my way from Aisle 1 to Aisle 17 and document my adventures. This could even potentially win an Academy Award.

So, look forward to that. Possibly…

I’d like to keep my job through all of this, but we’ll see.

XOXO,

Salsa Girl


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Roosevelt Row Chile Pepper Festival

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are out and the Roosevelt Row Chile Pepper Festival is in.

Last night, I joined fellow chile pepper  lovers, salsa connoisseurs, beer drinkers, and some hipster downtown folks for the First Annual Roosevelt Row Chile Pepper Festival in Phoenix. Vendors of all varieties gathered on an open lot within the Roosevelt Arts District to honor chile peppers as they got roasted–while the attendants got toasted (on beer).

As I could not partake in the draft beer and margarita extravaganza, I opted to take shots instead.

LunchaLibre had their food truck crew serving shots of “agua de salsa.” This was by far the most innovative and unique shot I have ever taken. I mean…it is the only shot I have ever taken. But that is besides the point.

As someone who literally drinks hot sauce and salsa, I didn’t even hesitate to try the corn tortilla foam and strained salsa water concoction.  The experience of gulping back the emulsified tortilla chip while simultaneously tasting tomatillo salsa was comparable to what I imagine it would be like to taste Willy Wonka’s Flavor Changing Gum.
As for the actual salsa at the festival, Barrio Cafe had the best batch, hands down. They came equipped with a “salsa de habanero con nopales.” Nopales is the Spanish term for prickly pear cactus, and they are often used in traditional Mexican cuisine.

Yes: the salsa had cactus mixed right into it. Truth be told: THIS IS THE SALSA I VOTED FOR.

The base of the salsa is nothing more than tomatoes, garlic, habanero peppers and spices. Chef Julio Marta of the Barrio Cafe says that they add the nopales (prickly pear cactus, with the spiky nettles removed) to their tomato sauce just before serving. The salsa mixture is cooked, but the cactus is left fresh. Prickly pear is comparable to a green bean in both texture and size, and the taste is similar to a very bland green bell pepper.

They make it seem so simple, but my guess is that cleaning and preparing a cactus for consumption is no smooth task. Puns.

In addition to plentiful salsas from notable local restaurants like Gallo Blanco and Macayo’s,  some booths came equipped with other dishes and dips. I took a particular liking to the spicy Japanese and Serrano pepper hummus that  Gabriel Hernandez, general manager of Carly’s Bistro  brought to sample.

If there is any dip that give salsa a run for its money, it’s hummus. Hernandez and I spent about 10 minutes discussing the basics of hummus, the difference between toasted sesame oil and tahini, and the randomness at Carly’s Bistro. I have been a regular at Carly’s for quite some time, and it was great to learn that:

a) Carly indeed exists

b) The menu is entirely random for no good reason–except for that it can be.

For dinner, I enjoyed a delectable shredded beef torta (Mexican sandwich) with strawberry and jalapeno salsa and jamaica glaze  from the totally rad crepe shop, Jobot. Come to find out, flor de jamaica is the term used in Latin America for hibiscus flower. It was a beef sandwich with strawberries and flowers…Peace, Love, Jobot.

The festival itself was a great tribute to the world of “all things salsa.” Those who enjoy chile pepper festivals are my type of people. If you don’t believe there is a group following for everything, you need to attend a festival like this one.

Food brings people together. Salsa brings awesome people together.

XOXO,

Salsa Girl


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Salsa Girl’s identity is REVEALED

Who is Gossip Girl?

We still have no idea.

But who is Salsa Girl?

That I do know.

I know I promised that I would dish out all things salsa in secrecy, but truthfully, I am too vain to stay hidden.

Let me introduce myself to you in my natural habitat: the kitchen. Allow me to reveal my dorky personality through a daredevil stunt. Today, I show you that my dedication to chile peppers is real. Watch below to see me casually snack on a jalapeno pepper in my totally chic downtown apartment.

XOXO,

Salsa Girl


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“Fire Roasted Salsa” Tutorial

Allow me to save all of you from making the same mistakes that I did. Many months back, I decided to act independently and attempt salsa creation without any guidance.  I must have cried enough to fill a bathtub when I first attempted salsa-making. Although the tears may have been from the jalapeño seeds I wiped in my eyes, I still want to prevent anything like that from happening to you.

SO, while I guarantee nothing, I wanted to provide this quick tutorial for salsa preparation. I realize that very few people know how to create a batch of salsa that legitimately resembles the appearance and taste of that which you can find in restaurants and stores.

Using just SIX simple ingredients, a classic concoction of spicy peppers, tangy tomatoes and zesty garlic can be achieved. That is a Salsa Girl guarantee.

Watch this video to learn how to: cook and blend tomatoes, roast and chop chile peppers, and how to eat the salsa the “Salsa Girl” way. Which is, of course, straight out of the bowl with a spoon.

ENJOY!

XOXO,

Salsa Girl