Monday, July 27, 2015


"Cuñape" is the best cheeseballs in the world, and it’s from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. These gooey and addictive cheese balls are similar to the Brazilian "pão de queijo" or the French "gougères" or the Colombian "pandebono" but all of these are different from each other as well. Gougères are lighter and more airy while the Brazilian ones are chewier but drier on the outside. I would say the pandebonos are closest in taste and texture to the Bolivian cuñape but it is slight more bready.

In Bolivia, we use mennonite cheese (farmer's cheese) for this recipe and honestly without that cheese it will never be exactly like the original but you do what you can. I've been hunting down a similar cheese in the U.S. for ages but the closest I can get to it is to use the queso blanco or fresco and add some more salt (or even mix some feta into it).

The history of the cuñape is very interesting. It is a Guaraní word that means "a woman's breast" because when they bake, they form a little peak in the center. To get this "peak" you must insert your thumb into the bottom of the ball creating a little hole before putting it downward on that hole on the baking pan for the oven. If you don't do this, the cuñape can end up looking very flat when you take it out of the oven. Since baking powder is traditionally not used in making these, this "hole" step is really important for the right shape.

1 Cup Yucca Starch (you can get these in latin mkts, also known as Tapioca Starch or Manioc Starch)
1 Round (3 cups) of Mexican cheese like Queso Fresco (or a mixture of fresco and feta)
1 egg
SALT, Water, and milk, as needed (use more salt if you're only using queso fresco, which isn't as salty)

1 taza de almidón de yuca
3 tazas de queso fresco
1 huevo
Leche o agua si es necesario (si está muy seco)

Preheat oven to 305 degrees.
Crumble the cheese into a big mixing bowl (it should crumble easily) and add the yucca starch and egg and a pinch of salt. Knead it with your hands until you have a dough-like consistency. At this point, if it's too dry, you can add some milk or water.

Make them into little balls and insert your thumb into the bottom to make a hole in the bottom (this helps create that peak I talked about above). 
Place them on top of a non stick pan or a floured pan. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
Place them in the oven between 15-20 minutes.
Do one batch first. If it comes out too cheesy, then add more starch.

Spanish instructions:
Rayar el queso, mezclar con el almidón de yuca y agregar el huevo batido. La consistencia debe ser blanda haga unas bolitas haciéndoles un pequeño hueco con el dedo por debajo y póngalas en una bandeja para hornear. Deje quince minutos. Ponga en horno caliente por 20 mins. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

El Chato Taco Truck

We alway drive by and see the lines, sigh, and say another time. This time though, the crowd's gone because it's a little later. Tonight's the night! We finally swing over to park (almost getting into an accident from an oncoming truck without his headlights on), and head over to the truck. Did I say head over? I meant skip over! Once there, a hipster looking dude makes a line behind us. We tell him to go first since we're El Chato virgins. He tells us to get the al pastor tacos. It's the best he's ever had. He then orders a quesadilla. Uh, okay. So we get 2 al pastor tacos, 1 chorizo taco, and 1 quesadilla with the mixed meats, and 1 horchata to go. The total comes to $8. Really? I just paid $9 for a shitty salad at baja fresh for lunch! 

Once home, the devouring begins. Why is it SO good? Is it the price? Is it the spice? Is it the fatty goodness? Is it the convenience?

I don't know but I think it's one of the more legit Mexican fares in this area.

El Chato Taco Truck
5300 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Phone number(323) 202-6936

Popotla,Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada,

Oops I did it again. 

I went back down to Mexico after my first amazing trip to the Valle de Guadalupe that I had to return with others. 

This time, we stopped by the sleepy seaside town of Popotla first.

Here are the highlights:

my car, after it got stuck on the beach.

you roll your car right in front of the crashing waves, grab a table and order

We saw a fisherman get off his boat with this 
BOATLOAD of uni.

this is maria with her stash

They are ALIVE

my hungry companions

A fisherman with his boat

Before our feast

fresh fresh oysters

Oysters so fresh all you need is some lime and hot sauce.

In Popotla, you buy the seafood and bring it to a stand like this
and ask them to do whatever you want. You can also buy the
seafood from the stands as well.

Our bowl of Uni that we got from our purchase.

Everything is so so fresh.

The campechana we got.

Our Uni



Spider Crabs

Rowdy people watching the butchering of fish.

This area was very masculine. 
We were the only women there apart from a 
couple of women who were managing the stands. 

The beautiful, dank chocolate mussels

Our spider crab deep fried

They gave us a rock to pound it with.

Maria is crying over how beautiful this lunch now dinner is.

We got another seafood cocktail.

Then we went to one of the restaurants there to check out the 
Rosarito style lobsters.

We got the smoked marlin tacos here but they weren't as good 
as the ones we had in TJ a while ago.

this rosarito style lobster was

The Spread

Then we went to see some dinosaurs before making our way down 
to the Valle de Guadalupe


After driving around in the dark with no streetlights or GPS we somehow found our bed and breakfast!!! It was so charming and beautiful. It's called Casa Encinares and we found them on and got a great deal. For the three of us, we got the big house on top of the hill that was divided in half. We got lucky!!! Well, except for the hike up to our quarters but then again, we sorta needed the exercise seeing how much food we had just consumed and we were about to tackle way more.

In front of our quarters. Too bad I didn't get a good shot of the house.

The main area

We joined the other people who were there for some brekkie

BTW their breakfast was fantastic. 

We opted to do the wine tour with the b&b and oh look! 
You can see our house on top of the hill. 
Yup! Half of that was our quarters!

We made new friends quickly

This is inside our booze bus

Before the wine tour

LA Cetto Winery

Then we went to Endemico! Where I stayed the last time I was there.

So beautiful

Starting to get tipsy

quick cheese tasting

okay, drunk

At one of the 3 wineries we went to


Before heading back to LA, we had to stop by Ensenada to eat at La Guerrerense. By far, this little stand is the most well-known seafood place from Ensenada in LA (and maybe anywhere outside of Ensenada). 

Typically in any port city where cruises dock, you wouldn't assume
that the best place to eat at in that city is right in the middle of
tourist central. But in this case, it is!!!

Just look for locals whenever you travel and you will be at a legit spot.

We got a variety of seafood tostadas and devoured everything

After, we drove down a couple blocks to get some 
amazing fish tacos, ensenada style.

This place was so legit, on the corner of the street.
Absolutely no tourists in sight.

There is no address for that fish taco spot but it was right next to this place

So we got some paletas...


Then we did some tourist shit:

Like order micheladas and get friendship bracelets.

It took forever to cross the border back to the U.S.
I think I have to get a SENTRY pass or a fast pass.
I can't deal with the wait and I'm itching to go back again.

My Loot:

Yes, I brought back ONE chair. 
some wine, olive oil, bread, cheese,
two vases, a blanket, 
some ceramics, ONE handmade glass.