Exciting News

The realization that the number of cookbooks in my possession continue to multiply at alarming rates made me come to this conclusion:

So many cookbooks, so little time!

As a result, I decided to invite a number of contributing cookbook reviewers to join in on the fun and lend a helping hand. Over the next few weeks you will have the opportunity to get to know each and every one of these talented foodies through their reviews and guest blog posts.

First up to bat? My dear friend and reigning Pie Palooza champion extraordinaire; Jacqueline Twa. She is the epitome of a foodie and I absolutely adore talking about all things culinary with someone as passionate about food as this lady. Being lactose intolerant doesn’t stop her from creating delicious dairy-filled concoctions for others to enjoy, although personally I would consider this a form of torture!

Meet Contributing Writer Jacqueline Twa
Jax, as she is known to her friends lives a life of quiet food worship in White Rock, British Columbia.  She shamelessly abuses her wonderful husband Don, by using him as her tasting guinea pig for all things dairy. When not meddling in her children’s lives, she spends her time being a full time bureaucrat, political dabbler, volunteer coordinator, motorcycle enthusiast and tireless shoe collector.

Tacos al Pastor
by Jacqueline Twa

I have been having a love affair with Mexico for the past 30 plus years. I love the climate, the culture, the people, but most of all I love the food!

While I have travelled to and enjoyed most of the major cities in Mexico, it is the city of Puerto Vallarta that has truly captured my heart. My husband and I usually try and visit this city a couple of times each year. We have friends with a beautiful hillside Villa above the old town district and they are gracious hosts and treasured friends. Our days are typically spent taking early morning walks, lazing at the beach and shopping, while evenings are reserved primarily for indulging in the great restaurants of Vallarta.

The number of restaurants and variety of food available makes Vallarta a perfect destination for foodies. You can enjoy amazing classic Mexican fare at places such as The Red Cabbage, Fajita Republic and Café de Olla. Vallarta also offers wonderful Spanish food at Tapas Barcelona and classic Italian at La Dolce Vita and Café Roma. Be sure to try the excellent Asian fusion at Archie’s Wok and don’t miss great contemporary restaurants like Teatro Limon and Café de Artists.

Despite the burgeoning food scene in the city, my favorite place to eat in Vallarta is at any of the Tacos al Pastor stands. Now my Mother always gave me dire warnings of Montezuma’s Revenge should I ever eat at any of the curb side taco joints, but nothing and I mean nothing does it for me like an al Pastor taco.

Tacos al Pastor (Spanish; “Shepherd’s Meal”) was thought to have been brought to Mexico from Lebanese immigrants around the 1930’s. It consists of pork that is marinated over one or two days in a combination of dried pasilla, ancho and guajillo chilies, fresh herbs, a classic Mexican spice paste called achiote, and orange juice. It is then slowly cooked over a vertical gas rotisserie called a trompo, very similar to how donair or shwarma meat is cooked.

Thinly sliced pieces of the marinated pork (usually pork butt) are layered on a long skewer with a large, peeled pineapple crowing the top and then placed on the trompo. The whole combination ends up looking sort of like a large beehive.

As the marinated pork cooks, the juice from the pineapple runs down and the enzyme in the pineapple (called bromelain) works to break down the meat protein resulting in the most incredibly tender meat. The meat is then sliced thinly off the spit with a large knife, along with a bit of the cooked pineapple. It is served on small, handmade flour tortillas topped with finely diced white onion and fresh cilantro. The whole thing is handed to you steaming hot with a slice of lime and an assortment of hot sauces.

Over the years I have been trying to recreate Tacos al Pastor at home, but not having my own trompo along with limited access to local Mexican ingredients can be a challenge. Click here for my recipe.