Let’s Taco’bout Brunch!

Imagine a vast landscape of rolling hills that dip down into a valley laden with rows of grape-bearing vines. This place, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, is where the seed was planted in Chris Blanchard and his brother, Jon, which would eventually grow into a passion for farm to table style Mexican cuisine.

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Quaint outdoor seating under twinkle lights 🙂

“In my youth, my brother and I traveled to Ensenada with our church to build homes and we really had a deep affinity for the food and for the culture.” That’s Chris Blanchard talking to my friends and I as we feasted on breakfast tacos and Mama’s Style dishes from Chicas Tacos brunch menu, created by James Beard nominated chef, Eduardo Ruiz.

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Chicas Brunch Menu

Chicas Tacos, owned by Chris and Jon Blanchard along with their friend and business partner, Nico Rusconi, is located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. The 700 square foot eatery sits proudly among historic landmarks, swanky lofts, and towering skyscrapers. But even with its prime location, dining here makes one feel right at home, especially due to the authenticity of each dish featuring flavors that echo abuela’s home cooking.

My personal favorite was the Mama’s Style pork- a three layered dish that could be best described as a Mexican lasagna, featuring a base layer of homemade corn tortillas, followed by a secret blend of three cheeses, eight-hour brazed pork, (add two more layers of tortilla, cheese, and pork, folks!), topped off with more cheese, two sunny-side-up eggs, chicharon crumbles, and chile verde.

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Mama’s Style Pork

You might be wondering how a trip to Mexico fits into the genesis of Chicas Tacos. During that faithful trip, the brothers had a chance encounter that would later be recognized as the beginning of their affinity for food made with fresh, organic ingredients.

“As it turns out there’s a wine region in Baja California called Valle de Guadalupe,” said Chris, as he poured champagne over cucumber mint and watermelon juice to make mimosas for the gals and I. “One day while wine tasting, [Jon and I] met a woman who took us back to her family farm. Her name was Carmela and it was there that we discovered the most amazing food, all grown fresh on their farm.”

Carmela prepared fish tacos for the brothers, with same-day caught fish that her father brought home from his afternoon on the water.

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Top left to right: Breakfast Barbacoa Taco, Steak & Egg Taco; Bottom left to right: Veggie Scramble Taco, Chile Verde Taco

“It just blew our minds that there was something of that magnitude of healthy eating and farm fresh food that was missing in and LA. Flash forward [my brother and I] decided to re-group with our buddies Nico Rusconi and Chef Eddie, and put Chicas Tacos on the map in LA.”

With such a rich history leading to the development of Chicas Tacos, it is no wonder why the food, atmosphere, and spirit of the restaurant reverberate good-vibes along with its health-conscious menu.

Oh and by the way- fun fact! The nickname of Carmela growing up was Chica, thus the name, Chicas Tacos.

@chicastacos, 728 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

 

My Thoughts About Vegas

I am sad today.

And unknown amounts of people are grieving, suffering, and trying desperately to cope with a new reality. A reality that does not include their loved one.

We know this story all too well. And I do not say that to be trite. We, Americans, literally, know this story.

The first time I heard such story was in Mr. Cooper’s humanities class. I was in the ninth grade. It was 1999. It was Columbine.

Another time I heard this story (but surely not the second time) was when the victims were practically babies. School children. Administrators. And teachers.

The last time my heart broke because of this story was last summer, after nearly fifty men and woman were slain during a night that they hoped would be full of dancing, laughter and socializing.

And here I am- here we are- again today, as Americans, being reminded of the same story. And the story is this- (although I don’t assume that I could sum it all up, here are my thoughts…)

There is a mother who will not come home to her children. And another, and another.

There are children who are missing school today, because they are grieving the loss of their father, or mother.

No doubt, there is a girlfriend who’s boyfriend was shot and killed, and now all of her dreams of their lives together are nothing more but dreams. She is grieving today, too.

There are people without healthcare who were injured in this violent attack, who are worried about how they are going to pay for their treatment. I don’t know this for sure, but I can imagine that in our country this is a highly probable scenario.

There’s a brother who will never come home. A sister, too.

A veteran was killed, not in combat, but on the soil of the land for which he fought for.

And there is guilt and shame and confusion. People wishing they could have done more, took the bullet, or something else.

I know this isn’t the whole story. Not even close. But these are the things that I think about as I try to connect with the seriousness of this tragedy.

I also know that I am not a person of significant influence. I don’t know how to create change in the world other than by trying every single day to change myself. I think that is the only place to start- with yourself.

There is policy, too. And I echo the voice that says it needs to change. It needs to change.

Today I am still alive. For all of the thoughts and prayers that are being spoken and whispered, here are mine, also. I am so deeply, deeply sorry, fellow people, for your loss. I am also thankful for all of those who came to the rescue. This world is a mish mash of good and evil, but more good I think.

There is really nothing I can say that could take away any pain, although I wish I could. But I much rather say something than say nothing, and today I just want to let you know that I am thinking about you who’ve lost their lives, the people who love you, the people who helped you, the people who will lay you to rest. I am thinking about you and I am not afraid to let my heart break over this, because it should.

 

Life Update

Hellooooo out there! Is anybody there? Anybody?

Actually, I’m the one who went MIA, but alas here I am again. And here’s what’s been going on…

So back in May, my hubs suggested that we move back to Los Angeles after living in San Diego for two years. My heart sunk at the thought of it, but after careful thinking and consideration I agreed that going back home would be the right thing to do to meet our longterm goals. Why does adulting have to be so dang hard?

That said, I’ve been away from blogging due to working more, planning more, and going through the mental process of parting with this beautiful place that I’ve been calling home. I also spent lots of time reading a new book by one of my favorite authors and speakers, Rob Bell (What Is The Bible).  Just a quick note on the book- I loved it. I think the book is a gift to those who grew up in Sunday school and/or have been taught to read the bible in a way that inhibits it’s beauty and impact.  What I learned was that the story of Jesus was so much more political and his message was so much more subversive than I had been taught. Context makes a big difference and Rob Bell has done a beautiful job synthesizing years of information and learning to articulate a perspective on the bible that is liberating, exciting and fresh. Good times.

So, that’s it for me today. I just wanted to reach out to say hello and that I think about Bonita Brown everyday. More to come once this move to LaLa Land is complete. Sending lots of love…

Jenn