Saturday, December 6, 2008

Why Can't They Make Burritos in the Carribean?

One amazing burrito

I hate the desert. I do. I keep trying to love it because it means so much to my family but GOD IT SUCKS!!!! I don’t even know where to begin complaining about it. Just the name desert make my lips begin to chap. Try as I might to change their minds, my completely urbanized and culturally eclectic mother and step dad are determined that Arizona is their retirement destination. Certainly, my brother, David, and his daughter living there are not helping keep the folks from this searing rattlesnake infested wasteland. It seems so unnatural that they love it, but they do.

Making this upcoming transition even more difficult for me is the fact that I LOVE where they live now. They are on Capitol Hill, just a few blocks from both Union Station and the Capitol Building. The gastronomic possibilities in Washington DC are endless and akin to New York City. Any time you have uppity yuk-yuks in the neighborhood, you have good restaurants and my folk’s neighborhood has just that. Well, I guess I can’t cry over spilled milk for too long but I am sad.
It doesn't even look inhabitable down there. Sorta Mars-like.

My brother David and I. I decided to copy his hairstyle.

OK, so what DOES the Phoenix scene have to offer? Is it on the culinary map? After a bit of Googling, turns out it is. It seems there are a lot of uppity yuk-yuks in Phoenix too. Names like Goldwater and McCain are on the list. A drive through Scottsdale or Paradise Valley proves that Phoenix does luxury right. Equally as pleasing in Phoenix are the little hole in the wall Mexican places that I’ve heard spoken of. Places where those yuk-yuks say they would never go but yet the parking lots are full of high end vehicles. One such place is Carolina’s.
Nothing exciting about the facade but wait till you taste the food.

To say that the neighborhood surrounding Carolina’s is financially challenged is an understatement. It is impossible to miss the bullet holes in the white washed concrete walls of the exterior or the bars on the doors and windows. Still, Carolina’s appears like a busy hub in this neighborhood and a crossing point for the many cultures of Phoenix. As plain as the exterior is, the interior is no better. There is no table service. Instead you place your order and wait for them to call your number. This day, it took about ten minutes. There is always a line. While waiting for your meal, you can read the numerous framed periodical reviews on the wall intermixed with all of the “Best of” plaques. It seems this place has some national as well as regional acclaim. I’m told that President Clinton’s limo pulled up once and his meal was brought to his car.
The Menu. Nothing is bad here.

Always a line.

Wobbly tables and ripped unmatching chairs are waiting for you after your number is called. Since we went at breakfast, I ordered a chorizo, egg and potato burrito that came wrapped in foil. I grabbed some hot sauce and dove in. Oh my!!!! Every morsel of this was perfect. The flour tortilla alone was spectacular. They are made from scratch every day all day and their demand is high. Inside was the most perfect combination of spices, meat and potato I have ever had. Now wait, I know I don’t eat breakfast burritos like this all the time but I have had my share and nothing comes close to this. My mom ordered the same but with Machaca instead of Chorizo. Machaca is a spiced beef and I found hers to be wonderful but the spice of the Mexican chorizo had me from the first bite. While my step dad graciously bought this breakfast, a quick canvassing of the menu told me that you could bring the family here (daylight only) for less than 20 bucks. I bought a dozen still warm tortillas to bring back to Florida.
Amazing and look at that bag of fresh tortillas.

Taking a bite.

OK, so maybe the desert isn’t so bad. They do have burritos there and don’t they make tequila from a desert plant? (I have at least a dozen potential tequila stories but don’t we all?) Well as long as my family is in Phoenix and as long as Carolina’s is still there, I will return. Leaving Carolina’s, we headed to the airport where I hopped a plane home.

By nightfall I was munching again on flour tortillas and missing the desert just a little bit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Terrific managed to capture perfectly the tone of your anti-desert whine! But only the toughest can survive on both Capitol Hill and the lovely, sagebrush and Mesquite scented, Gila Monster infested, arid SW desert! Go ahead back to the steam and sweaty mosquito bites of the Florida swampland, try to keep the baby away from the hungry gator in the yard, and enjoy your sunsets from the confines of the screened in patio! We love you anyway and will certainly eat your cooking wherever you may be!

Love, Mom