LA Smells Like Tacos

The title doesn’t lie.  Everywhere I have been in Tinsel Town there has been the wafting aroma of tacos.  LAX?  Tacos. Santa Monica?  Tacos.  Marina del Ray, Bevery Hills, Hollywood?  Tacos.  I don’t mean that in any derogatory way.  Oh no, it’s a compliment. It smells terrific.

The tacos that produce that intoxicating odor are not the pseudo tacos with fried corn shells or worse those using a seldom seen ingredient in Mexico, flour.  These are the real deal – grilled corn tortillas filled with any variation of slow-cooked or grilled (and sometimes both) meat like Asada or Cochinita Pibil.

After two days of trekking about LA sampling the offerings of great chefs like Wolfgang Puck it was time to listen to my nose.  But I had two problems  A) I don’t know where to find any taco stands and two, my feet were still killing me from hours of mingling at the TASTYs after-party.  So I did what our fore-fathers would have done.  I Googled “food delivery Hollywood” to find a place that would bring tacos to my hotel room.

I stumbled on a great service called that picks up food from a number of restaurants and delivers it to your door.  I punched in the zip code of where I was staying and up pops several restaurants of varying cuisines for me to choose from.  I went with Frida Taqueria in Beverly Hills.  I was rewarded with a truck load of the good stuff.

Taco Sampler from Frida TaqueriaI ordered a taco sampler with Carnitas (slow roasted pork), Cochinita Pibil (Slow-roasted pork marinated in citrus juice), Pastor (Roasted pork in a special marinated sauce), Asada (grilled tenderloin strips) and a pair of Fish Tacos.  I also had them bring me some Guac and Chips and a fresh order of Churros.  What arrived was a revelation.  The tacos were amazingly thick with stuffing, each morsel better than the last.

The guacamole was smooth with chunks of avocado that announce on the first bite that you haven’t had avocados until you’ve had fresh avocados.  They were very sweet and succulent.

The Churros, however, stole the show.  My previous experience with these south of the border donuts has been from the freezer department of the grocery store.  These were so much better as to be a different dish altogether with a soft filling that was the perfect foil to the crunchy exterior and cinnamon-sugar dusting.  And unlike so many American desserts they were not so sweet that all flavor was lost.

In conclusion, and in summary, Frita Taqueria has great tacos and their Churros are fantastic, is a great service and no matter how comfortable the shoes five hours on concrete will make your feet hurt.

In conclusion, and in summary,

Roadblocks to the TASTYs

Today I head to the West Coast for the TASTY Awards.  If the trip is as interesting as the week leading up to it then I should have some crazy stories to share.

The Encounter restaurant & bar at LAXThis trip to LA is way more important to me than just getting to go see an awards show.  The potential for networking and bringing what I do to the attention to people who can make a difference is immense.  That in and of itself is stressful so I clearly didn’t need all of this:

My week started with the good old US Postal Service losing a deposit I mailed to the bank – my spending money for the trip.  I love how when they lose your mail they always ask, “Did you purchase insurance for your parcel?”  Yes, as a matter of fact I did;  it’s called a stamp.

For the record, the US Constitution gives the federal government two responsibilities – maintain a military and to provide postage FREE OF CHARGE to all citizens.  If you are going to charge for postage then you damned well better guarantee it gets there.   I really should think about moving to a bank in my own state.

A few days later my water pump goes out on my car which forces me to dip into my vacation funds.  That sucks considering the USPS has just lost my hard earned money.  Again, Post Office, when I pay you for a service I expect you to provide it otherwise don’t take my money.

2010 national championship Auburn SI CoverAs if this weren’t enough I have the added stress of my Auburn Tigers playing for the National Championship in football.  It’s been a great year but I won’t bore you with the details.  I just never knew how nerve wrecking it was to have your favorite team play for all the marbles until this year.

There is an old saying in the South, “If you die and go to heaven you still have to change planes in Atlanta.”  This holds true with my trip to LA.  I depart from Pensacola and switch planes in the same Atlanta that is currently bogged down with a freak winter storm that has to put the final nail in the coffin of Global Warming.

As a lad in Sunday school I was taught that God never gives us obstacles we cannot overcome.  I’ve never actually seen that in the Bible.  Not saying it isn’t there, just saying I’ve never read it.  But I do know this, I got my water pumped fixed and for less than a $100, the head of payroll at The Kitchen Hotline has overnighted me a replacement check, the Auburn Tigers are now officially the best team in college football and if there’s a delay in Hotlanta I can finish watching season two of 30 Rock via Netflix on my laptop.  That Tracy Morgan kills me.

If the resolutions to the few remaining roadblocks I have left pan out half as well then this will quite possibly be the best week of my entire life.  Oh who am I kidding?  When Wes Byrum put the ball through the uprights as time expired it was already the greatest week of my life.  And that was on a Monday.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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