Monday, August 17, 2009

Open Air Queso Fresco

Last night, I went on the most amazing adventure. The DH and I headed from the beach to Boyle Heights for a little comidas corridas - street food! We walked, and walked and finally arrived at a brightly lit parking lot at the corner of Breed St. and Ceasar Chavez. Now, clearly there are a lot of people for whom this isn't the kind of cultural field trip it was for me, for whom an evening of tacos, gorditas and churros cooked fresh to order on a propane powered grill under the unforgiving glare of flood lights. There were families and couples on dates, and little dogs looking for dropped carnitas.

And sprinkled on top of each taco, and inside the quesidilla stuffed with grilled squash and huitlacoche (delicious corn fungus - take my word for it), was queso fresco - fresh cheese.

I love this cheese, and trust me, it tastes even better when you eat it on a goat taco in a parking lot in Boyle Heights. It is mild and soft, with just the right amount of saltiness, which is what you might expect from a fresh cheese. Remember, the longer a cheese sits, the more "pungent" the flavor. Queso fresco sits at most for a few days before it is wrapped up and sent out, destined to be crumbled up and put on a taco. Hence, a nice mild flavor that really helps mellow out the spice in some well seasoned beans. And, fun cooking fact, it doesn't melt, which makes it extra decorative on top of whatever.

I was so inspired after last night's fantastic food orgy, that I went out and bought some carne asada and queso fresco at the local megamart, and threw together a little southwest salad. The queso and the avocado together created a great creamy-ness that kept a little texture and body, and while it didn't take me back to the corner of Breed and Cesar Chavez, it was pretty tasty. Maybe if we'd eaten outside....

Cheese dreams all - melty or not!

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