Thursday, June 25, 2009

I will never be able to survive based on my ability to grow food

Another year and another summer of disappointment out in the yard. At one time, I had quite an impressive yard. Neighbors would stop and comment. I could spend hours admiring my own handiwork. And then I had to leave my lovely yard in Memphis and move to a hill in Nashville. Where almost nothing grows and what little does is hastily devoured by the myriad creatures that inhabit my neighborhood. The raspberries? Stripped bare just before they were ready to harvest. The lavender? Dead (and I have no idea why). The tomatoes' growth has been stunted for weeks as have all but one of the gourds. One lone cucumber is moving right along while the squash and zucchini are not dead but just sit there and do nothing after weeks of fruitless blooms.

Meanwhile, remember the gourd behind the office building? The one planted in mulch that is mixed with sewage to give it a horrid smell and a coal-black color? It's a pumpkin! And the pumpkins are thriving. Actually, that patch of mulch has exploded in growth in the last six weeks. I've also discovered a hosta, petunias, marigolds, acorn squash, cucumber, possibly wantermelon, and some romaine lettuce. All of it thriving. Beautiful. Tantalizing. And toxic.

Have a look:

It's grown quite a bit!

And this guy's already about six inches in diameter. The others are a bit smaller. Even the blossoms are huge--about five or six inches long.

I'm already on my second set of Wave petunias because I missed ONE day of watering and they scorched on my front porch. Meanwhile? These things fluorish in black mulch next to asphalt.

Life is not fair. Thank goodness for McNeil's Produce Stand and Delvin Farms at the farmer's market.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A tale of two enchilada dinners

When I started this blog, it was really just a way to answer the inevitable question, "what do you eat???" I can just tell people to look it up. I'm amazed that so many people think that being a vegetarian has to be so limiting.

I'm not a great cook, I'm not a great writer, and I'm certainly not a great reviewer, but I do like to share my experiences here. A lot of times, I have fairly negative experiences--inside and outside the house. Sometimes I tell you about them, sometimes I don't.

All that to lead up to tell you that I went to a new place here in Nashville that's not far from my home, The Local Taco. I had high hopes--vegetarian selections! Locally-sourced ingredients! A patio! But I left pretty disappointed. As did the husband and my friends. We went across the street to another restaurant to supplement our dinners.

Tangent: When I first moved to Nashville ten years ago, a friend of mine who'd gone to Vanderbilt said, "You gotta go to SATCO!" (San Antonio Taco Company), so I did. It was terrible--long line to get food, everything was a la carte, so it added up quickly and then it was difficult to get a table. And the food...was just not very good. So I emailed my friend and said, "What the hell were you thinking? SATCO was shit! The food was terrible!" He wrote back, "Oh, you ATE there? No one eats there. You just get beers and sit out on the patio." Oh. Duly noted.

Exhibit A: two enchiladas at The Local Taco

So that's how I feel about The Local Taco. Go there, wait in line to order your beers and have another member of your group vulture around the patio for a table. Maybe get some guacamole, because it's pretty good and comes with a generous portion of chips. But if you're planning to go for dinner? Be prepared to be hungry or broke from it. Two vegetarian enchiladas (tiny and unfulfilling, but reasonably tasty) and one vegetarian taco (major difference? less cheese) plus the husband's meaty 3 tacos, an order of guac and a pitcher of "margaritas" (if there was tequila in that small pitcher, I didn't know it--it tasted like it was nothing but mix) was $44. $44!

Exhibit B: three enchiladas plus at Los Rosales

In contrast, three enchiladas verdes served with rice and steamed vegetables plus complimentary chips, salsa, pico and refried beans, plus the husband's chicken something or other with bacon, two bowls of complimentary cactus soup (I thought I didn't like nopales--no, I just don't like overcooked cactus; I like well-prepared cactus) AND two big ol' glasses of sangria at Los Rosales was just $39. And we were both satisfied and stuffed. And I love the enchiladas verdes. The spinach is not overcooked, so it doesn't make me gag. And the avocado sauce is divine. And I really can't say enough good about that cactus soup. I liked it so much that I'm considering veering from my favorite in order to try one of the cactus salads next time.

Bonus: cactus soup (yum!) at Los Rosales

Oh, cruel world, why can't Los Rosales be in The Local Taco's location? I could ride my bike there and sip sangria on the patio. Though in all fairness, The Local Taco is new. Mayhaps they just have some bugs to work out. But I'd love for them to know that Soysage and various gourds aren't the only ingredients one can use to make vegetarian enchiladas. Vegetarian food does not have to be limiting. Sweet potatoes and black beans make excellent and hearty enchilada fillers, for example. It'd also be nice if they were a little bigger for the price. It hardly seems fair to pay the same price for a vegetarian version of a taco or enchilada that's significantly smaller and less filling than a non-veg version.

In the meantime, I've learned my lesson and won't soon cheat on Los Rosales again.