I needed this quiet weekend at home.
Our weekend travels, increasingly fatiguing job, and simultaneous rate at which I have been pushing myself to creatively write and cook are starting to slow me down.
In the past, I have enjoyed a uncannily high success rate of nailing recipes on the first try, even while cooking without recipes. The last two weeks have brought me more homemade food fail than wins. One pasta dish was so horrible that I have to suppress my gag reflex every time I think about it.
I’m left pondering my losing streak. It’s time to find more balance, use my energy and time wisely, and continue to be inspired. Food has always been my first love and I find myself in an existential crisis between desire and practicality. I’m left wrestling with myself. My goals, abilities, weaknesses, and resources, reaching for a future involving more of what I love. Food and storytelling.
Wish me all of the luck and courage you can spare.
On Saturday morning, I stopped by La Unica in Moorhead, MN for their ethereal flour tortillas. La Unica’s bags of corn tortillas seem to be sourced from the Twin Cities, but their flour tortillas are house made and preservative-free. They’re delicate and more akin to lefse. Delicious, simply gridded and brushed with butter.
When I last visited La Unica in the spring, they were selling barbacoa beef cheek meat by the pint on Saturdays. Now, they serve breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings until 1 p.m. The tiny shop smelled fragrant with food and I noticed a steady stream of individuals picking up takeout containers.
Whenever you smell food at small markets, I suggest you always inquire.
To order hot food, customers must fill out a small ordering form located by the kitchen door. La Unica offers a selection of tacos, gorditas, huevos rancheros, and menudo. Platters of food are also available along with a small selection of desserts which weren’t available this weekend.
On Saturday, the woman at the register assisted me by translating the gordita fillings. She lit up as she described the pork and green chili option, so I placed my order.
The gordita was neatly packed in wax paper and wrapped in plastic. Before I reached home, I ate half of the gordita and stopped myself. The split corn cake cradled tender pieces of pork slicked in a spicy green sauce. It was so tasty that I wanted to save some for Jake to taste.
On Sunday morning, I returned for more gorditas and the shop was even busier than the day before. This time, I bought one filled with beans and cheese, another with lengua (tongue).
A young woman neatly packed up my order, instructing me to put the pico mixture on the tongue gordita.
The bean and cheese gordita was ooey-gooey goodness.
The lengua meat was was as tender and beefy as pot roast. I removed some of the fattier bits and gave half to Jake without telling him it was made of tongue. He polished it off with compliments.
I added the pico to both gorditas along with a needed sprinkle of salt and spritz of lime.
The gorditas cost $3.50 or $3.75 depending on the variety. For a small stomach like mine, one is hearty enough for a light meal. I look forward to returning to La Unica to try more from their breakfast menu. This girl likes her weekend grocery shopping snack breaks. Especially when they’re as refreshing as finding gorditas in Moorhead.
2615 12th Ave S
Moorhead, MN 56560
Last Saturday, the four raucous days known as Ribfest passed (Wednesday, June 6 – Saturday, June 9th).
Since we live within earshot of the Ribfest stage erected in the Fargodome parking lot, our sleep had been a little worse than normal. 80’s hair bands and country music rocked our walls from 8-11 p.m.
On Wednesday evening, we patiently waited until the concert was over before we slept. On Thursday, the music began at 9 p.m. I frantically unearthed our place, searching for an earplug. Any earplug. Even a dirty, crusty one. When my search ended in failure, I contemplated scotch or valerian root. Fortunately, I fell asleep with neither. Just a pillow wrapped tightly around my head.
On Friday evening, we visited to sample some ribs. I felt exhausted and left early. Navigating through the tightly packed crowd proved challenging.
On Saturday afternoon, we settled in for an afternoon nap. As soon as we began to fall asleep, 80’s hair bands started their extensive sound checks, tearing us from any catch-up sleep. We shrugged and thought, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Then, we meandered towards the Fargodome. I was longing for a blooming onion and we wanted to try other rib vendors.
We stop to grab cash. As I wait in line for the ATM, a strange man steps behind me. He smells like liquor and asks us if the ATM has a limit. Of course we have no idea, and he continues to spin woe-filled tales of ATM’s and dollar limits. He and Jake make small talk about the stranger’s biking.
As I finish my transaction, I am jolted to attention when the looming stranger reads my full name from the ATM screen and announces it back to me. Then he laughs.
My feistiness activates. I don’t acknowledge his comment or turn around, determined to finish the transaction as quickly as possible. I debate whether I should ignore him or confront.
The whole situation brings to mind the only time I ever confronted a stranger’s brazen inappropriateness. One afternoon, when I lived in North Minneapolis, I visited the CVS on West Broadway. As I exited the store, a man made obscene catcalls. I was furious by the injustice of not being able to run an emerency errand for special lady products, unscathed, and told him (in other words) to “Go fly a kite.” The man launched towards me as I sprinted towards my car. I managed to shut and lock the door as his hand reached the handle. I don’t remember much except driving like hell.
This time, I kept my mouth shut. Jake and I left the ATM and briskly walked towards the festival. Suddenly, Jake beaconed me to run across the street while oncoming traffic raced towards us. We turned around to see the strange man running after us. After we passed the festival gates, we zigzagged through the crowd. Jake caught the man staring at us. The man quickly looks away.
We decided it was best to quietly leave and meandered through the exit. Maybe we overreacted, maybe we didn’t. All I know is that something didn’t feel right. Jake is almost never rattled by anything but his instinct said to “leave” and so we listened.
I was annoyed that I got scared and annoyed that I didn’t get my blooming onion. However, I was not annoyed about missing the Warrant concert.
Fargo sits along the path to Western North Dakota’s chaotic oil activity. I’m going to postulate that our location, a huge festival featuring meat and overflowing beer, and a concert by a band whose music rocks strip clubs everywhere might draw some interesting folks.
We ventured to Moorhead, MN, where I chose Chinese take-out from Snapdragon, a joint recommended by a co-worker. We chose the Korean stir-fry with beef and vegetables, General Tso’s chicken (both extra spicy) and an order of crab wontons. Our bill totaled approximately $28, plus tip.
The Korean stir-fry actually contained some heat. I’m not sure why the beef looked so pale, but it tasted like beef and contained fresh carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, and zucchini. Baby corn never thrills me but overall, it was a solid stir-fry.
The General Tso’s chicken was crispy. Maybe a little too chewy, but at least it wasn’t soggy. The sauce was tangy and tasted like it might have contained ketchup. Jake preferred this dish.
Like every other version of cheese wontons, we enjoyed the crab-cheese wontons. We received eight packed into a nifty foil-lined bag and dunked them in sweet and sour sauce. Of the four Chinese food restaurants we have visited in Fargo-Moorhead, Snapdragon seemed the freshest. However, we will continue our search for our favorite version and welcome your suggestions.