Monday, August 8, 2011

Acquiring new tastes

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I went to the Hester Street Fair in New York City. Now, when you first walk into the Hester Street Fair, it looks like a rather ordinary street fair. Racks of hand-woven scarves and blouses, custom-made jewelry laid on tables, and the like. But when you venture a little further, then you will discover amazing new tastes to be acquired. Towards the rear of the fair, there were at least half a dozen food vendors serving unique artisanal foods. We sampled the meatballs from Mighty Balls, a chorizo taco and a tamale from Brooklyn Taco Company, and my personal favorite, Taiwanese shaved ice from The Shaved Ice Shop.

But this isn't a post about the foods I ate, but rather the new tastes that I took home with me. At the fair, we bought a bottle of fish sauce from The Saucey Company and salsa from ZapoSalsa. This salsa has a new taste that I acquired, and used in the quesadilla that you see above. The label boasts that it is made of fresh ingredients, such as tomatillos, onions, tomatoes, but most importantly for this post, cilantro.

I hate cilantro.

Or at least, growing up I did. And I am not alone in this averseness to the leafy herb. There are enough people out there that the New York Times ran an article on why a certain segment of the population hates cilantro. To me, it always seemed to make me want to gag. So when I tried this salsa, I had my doubts. When I sampled it at the fair, it had a nice smoky, tangy flavor, with just a bit of a kick of heat.

So for dinner last night, we made pork and bean quesadillas. I marinated the pork tenderloin in the salsa for about two hours before cooking, which made the meat wonderfully flavorful. I also used the salsa as a garnish at the end.

So there you have it. I have acquired a new taste. What new tastes have you acquired?

Pork and Bean Quesadillas

1 slice of pork tenderloin, about 1 inch thick, cut up into bite-sized pieces
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red pepper, diced
a few slices of pepper jack cheese
a few tablespoons of Zapo mild salsa
flour tortillas (burrito sized)
Olive oil

Seasonings to taste:
Salt and pepper
chile powder

sour cream
avocado slices
black beans

Marinate the pork in salsa for at least 30 minutes, the longer the better. Heat oil in a pan and cook the pork. Remove from pan, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Add peppers to the pan and sprinkle with seasonings. Cook until soft and have a slight char. Set aside with the pork. Wipe the pan clean.

In a separate pan or pot, heat the beans and add some cumin and chile powder. Stir in pork and peppers.

Spray some cooking oil in the pan that you cooked the pork and peppers in. Heat until hot. Add one tortilla in and lay some cheese on it. When the cheese starts to melt add some filling. When you see the tortilla is forming bubbles and the bottom is nice and brown, cover with another tortilla. Flip the quesadilla as carefully as possible. Cook for another minute, or until the tortilla is golden brown. Repeat as necessary.

Serve with garnishes.
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