No question about it, summer has arrived in Baja California Sur. Right now it’s about 11:30 AM, it’s 87 degrees (F) in the cabin with the fans running. It’s 97 degrees outside in the shade and I can only assume it’s over 100 in the direct sunlight. Been that way for a week at least and it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Fortunately it does cool off some at night. If we were sleeping outside or were at anchor where we’d be able to feel the influence of the nighttime coromuel winds, it’d be even better. Here in Costa Baja where we’re very protected from the wind, we are also, unfortunately shielded from the cooling breezes. Still, we’ve been sleeping fine as long as we have our fans running over the bunk. I’m not complaining, just reporting.
Yesterday we got things a little better figured out. Instead of suffering through the long, hot afternoon, waiting until the hottest part of the day (late afternoon), we realized we weren’t doing anything constructive at the boat anyway so why not head over to the pool right after lunch and just spend the day there? So we did. Lulu took a hand-sewing project and I took a book. We’d jump in the water to lower our temperatures and then get out and sit dripping in the shade either reading or sewing or just daydreaming until the heat finally made its presence known again. Then we ‘d jump back in the pool and repeat the ritual. Much cooler way to spend the day. Of course, out where the pool is we also get the benefit of any breeze that might be blowing in the La Paz channel.
While we were sitting there enjoying being cool, we got to thinking about what we should do for dinner. The idea of firing up the stove in the evening is pretty distasteful right about now. A couple of things they do down here really start to make sense as you live through the hot months. And I’m not just talking about siesta. No, I’m talking about cooking. Or, more accurately, not cooking. There are little taco stands everywhere. And there are even more of them after about 6:00 PM. Not just taco stands but hot dog stands, hamburger stands, and ceviche stands, too (although ceviche doesn’t actually require any cooking as such). These places, with their extremely low overhead, are serving really tasty food at very affordable prices. Makes good sense to let someone else slave over the hot grill (which is out in the street at least, rather than inside a hot kitchen) rather than heating up your own house. A lot of these places serve 3 tacos and a drink for 40-50 pesos ($3-$4 USD) and 3 tacos is plenty since they have so many good things for you to top them up with. That’s a tough deal to beat, especially since it means not heating up the house (or boat). Another thing that they do on weekends is kind of cool, too. Most of the supermarkets that sell meat have a big old grill out front which they fire up on Saturdays and Sundays. They will, at no cost, grill up any meat you buy in the store so you can take it home cooked. And, of course, there are numerous rotisserie chicken places where, for about $8 US you can take home a whole cooked chicken, tortillas, rice, and macaroni salad, along with a container of salsa and one of lettuce. Carry it all home and make your own tacos. All without heating up your casa.
Anyway, we (well, I) decided that we really should go out to eat last night. This was kind of an extravagance since we had gone out the night before to celebrate Father’s Day with ribeyes at Tailhunter’s. We had planned to go to Bufalito Grill but, unfortunately they weren’t open yet. But that’s OK, Tailhunter’s did a fine job on the steaks. But the bill, with drinks, was around $500 pesos (~$40 USD). Not bad but not something we can do every night. Our plan last night was to go to a seafood place we’d seen on the malecón. Pretty much anyplace on the malecón is going to be considerably pricier than a taco stand but sometimes you just have to say “Aw, what the heck”. However, after we got off the Costa Baja shuttle and were walking down to the malecón, I noticed that the Buffalo BBQ was open. My understanding is that the guy who opened the Bufalito Grill is the son of the chef at Buffalo BBQ. We’d been kind of wanting to try it so we decided there was no time like the present.
We had planned on having burgers but under the burger heading they had Arrechera listed. This sounded promising as we’ve absolutely loved the arrechera beef we’ve eaten at Ranch Viejo. I think I’ve blogged about arrechera before but basically it’s flank steak or skirt steak that has been marinated in something really tasty and then is chopped up and grilled up carne asada style. It’s SO good! So, an arrechera burger sounded like a heck of a good idea. We each ordered one. With fries.
When they brought them out, they were pretty impressive-looking. Served on a long hoagie-style bun although wider and softer, with onions and seeds and such in the crust. I was a little disappointed to see that it wasn’t actually a burger but rather chunks of arrechera beef piled on the bun. I was kind of hoping they’d have ground some arrechera up and made patties out of it. This was still good but, frankly, in spite of the price tag Rancho Viejo could teach them a lot about arrechera. RV’s is just a lot more flavorful. This was good. Very good, even. But, once again we’ve been reminded just how good Ranch Viejo is. They did serve, along with ketchup for the fries, a bottle of their house-made salsa de habanero. Looked just like the stuff our friend Dave got us one year for Christmas. That stuff was great and, as it turns out, so was this. It was habaneros, onions, garlic, salt, vinegar, and that’s about all. It was hot but it was really, really tasty. I asked if they sold bottles of the salsa and they said, “!Claro que sí!”, which basically means “You betcha!”. So, we bought a bottle to go. I can see it on lots of stuff but, as a sauce for some chicken wings it would absolutely shine. There’s something about habanero peppers. Sure they’re hot, but they also have a flavor that we’ve never found in any other pepper. Practically buttery. Well, if you buy your butter in hell anyway.
Geez, how did “keeping cool” end up with a review of Buffalo BBQ? Oh, I remember, I was talking about going out to eat to keep from heating up the boat. Well, unless we eat in taco stands, we certainly can’t afford to go out to eat every night. Also, it’s kind of a hassle to arrange our schedule around the Costa Baja shuttle and besides, sometimes you just don’t want to go anywhere. So what are we going to eat for dinner tonight that we can make on the boat without using the stove? The first thing that comes to my mind is GAZPACHO!
For those few poor souls who are not familiar with gazpacho, let me clue you in. I think it’s basically of Spanish origin. At least the recipe I use came from the “Spain” chapter in The New York Times Around-The-World Cookbook (which I don’t find on Amazon so maybe it’s out of print). It’s a cold tomato soup. Now, before you say Eeeeew! this is not tomato soup served cold. That would completely gross me out. I don’t even like tomato soup hot but cold? Blech! No, this is more like a salad that’s been run through a food processor and then chilled. That’s even what it tastes like. It’s fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and spices all blended up. I swear it tastes like a salad in a spoon. Very refreshing.
So, yesterday, after dinner, we stopped at the grocery store and got the makings. This morning, while Lulu was in town looking for fabric, I turned the makings into gazpacho. My recipe calls for using a food processor which, of course, we don’t have on board. Or, at least we don’t have a big ol’ motorized food processor. What we do have is a cool little hand-operated food processor which I blogged about way back in 2010. So, armed with a sharp knife or two, a big cutting board, and our little food processor, I proceeded.
Cut the stuff up into reasonable sized pieces and start processing:
About 50 pulls later, I had this:
Doesn’t look too pretty at this point but, after everything’s been added and stirred up, it looks mighty good to me. I could do one tomato or a tomato and two jalapeños per load so it took me about 6 runs to get everything done. In spite of the “50 pulls”, it’s really quite easy. The hardest part is cleaning up. Just in case you might want to try this at home now that it’s the hot time of the year (at least in the northern hemisphere), the recipe is at the end of this blog.
The other factor in keeping cool is to stay hydrated, or so they say (over and over and over and over again). Normally that’s no big deal as we drink lots of beer, especially when it’s hot outside. I know that common knowledge says that, because of the alcohol, beer supposedly will actually dehydrate you. But I find that really hard to believe. Even if every single molecule of alcohol attracted one molecule of water (and I have no idea if that’s what happens or not), a can of beer is only 3.5% alcohol. The other 96.5% is water. So, in a 12 oz (or 355 ml as I’m getting used to here) can, 11.58 ounces is water. That means, that in order to dehydrate you, the 0.42 ounces of alcohol would have to pull 11.58 ounces of water out of your system just so you’d break even. To dehydrate you, it’d have to pull out even more. Again, I have no idea if this is actually how it all works but it sure makes sense to me. But, it’s a non-issue at the moment anyway since we’re (GASP!) currently not drinking beer. The only reason for this unexpected change is that I’ve developed a pretty decent example of an “old cruiser’s gut” which I hate. I heard from several folks over the winter about how, once they stopped drinking, they just lost weight like crazy. And fast, too. Sounds good to me so now we drink mostly ice tea (me) and agua minerál (Lulu). Lulu doesn’t have my cruiser gut problem, she’s just lending moral support. I still buy her a beer now and then, whether she wants it or not. The hardest part of quitting beer, and let me emphasize that this is temporary – as soon as the gut is gone, I’m crackin’ a cold one. Anyway, the worst part is that nothing else tastes quite as good on a hot day, at least as long as the beer is icy cold (Mexicold). I like ice tea a lot but it’s just not quite the same.
Last night I finally wised up and walked up to the mini-mart here at the marina (The Breeze) and got a bag of ice. We had the unaccustomed luxury of ice in our drinks while we were watching a movie. You folks with freezers have no idea what a luxury ice is. I think I’ll buy another bag tonight. Gotta keep cool y’know. Speaking of which, it’s about time to head to the pool. See ya.
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 green bell peppers, chopped
- 3 jalapeño peppers, minced
- 5 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup wine vinegar
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
- cucumbers, diced
- green onions, chopped
- tomatoes, diced
- green bell pepper, diced
Combine the onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes. Puree a little at a time in a food processor or blender. Add salt, pepper and paprika. Add the olive oil gradually, stirring steadily. Add the vinegar and water and stir well. Taste and add sugar if too acidic. Place in a wooden or glass bowl (NOT METAL) and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serve cold and add garnishes as desired.
From The New York Time Around The World Cookbook except for the sugar and jalapeños – those were my addition.