A Fresh Take on Frozen Burritos

red's frozen burrito

When my stomach cries out “yo necessito burritos,” my first thought was never a frozen burrito. Nor was it “why is my stomach talking to me?” Normally, I’d convince coworkers to save their sack lunch and adventure to the closest taqueria. If I had the ingredients at home, I would make my own.

The folks at Red’s Natural Foods reached out with some samples of their natural and organic burrito offerings. Maybe it was my #burritos2015 campaign that caught their eye. Their latest frozen burritos go way beyond what you’d envision from an icy burrito buried in the freezer section. The few frozen burritos I have had prior to Red’s were bean and cheese or something labeled meat and cheese. Continue reading A Fresh Take on Frozen Burritos

Chipotle’s Free sofritas: review

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Free chipotle?

Yes, I will sample your hippie vegetarian cuisine in exchange for a real meal at a later date.

I am known for a few things (at least what people say to my face). Loving burritos, and particularly Chipotle’s offerings, is the primary thing. Having the metabolism of a humming bird is the other.

As soon as Chipotle announced their promo, I received emails, texts and calendar reminders from my burrito buddies. Why they didn’t alert me first is the subject of future investigation.

I sampled their sofritas about a year ago from a mini plastic cup. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t flavorful meat.

When I eat at chipotle, I eat at the speed of feral wolf. The food is delicious and it may be one of the few times I eat quickly. Perhaps it’s the sterile seating and ambiance, but when sitting with a salad or burrito before me, you best stay on your side of the table.

My girlfriend texted me to remind me of today’s near holiday. Free (in the future) burrito day was here! Discussing it at work generated mixed reviews.

“Soy? Yuck.”

“Tofu? I’ll pass.”

I was undeterred. Chipotle had yet to lead me astray. At the very worst I’m getting 1.5 meals for the price of one. But my coworkers weren’t like Wimpy in Popeye. I am willing to try it today for a burrito tomorrow.

Anticipating an increased rush to snatch some meat alternative, I used their mobile app to order my salad. My attempt to secure the sofritas was foiled due to meetings. I called Chipotle to see if they’d save my order for 5 PM. They said they would. Note: the only things I have purchased via my phone are burrito related.

I grabbed it on my way to the train home and sat with it on my lap a la the Blues Brothers’ briefcase full of blues. Having suffered through jealous rage of other people bringing Chipotle onto the train, I noticed this bag of food didn’t have the same aroma.2015/01/img_6923.jpg
Once home, I grabbed my burrito salad fork (you don’t have one?) and started eating. Getting a salad wasn’t the best way to highlight the flavor of the sofritas compared to taco’s. The salad, burrito bowl or burrito have many strong flavors to contend with. Usually the meat overpowers or works well with the myriad of flavors. The sofritas faded to the background for me. The cheese, sour cream and salsa all trumped the meat alternative.

Did I finish it? Of course. Will I get it again? Probably not. I paid nearly 8 dollars for romain lettuce, tomatoes, rice, pinto beans, grilled peppers and some scoop of reddish material.

I’m curious to see the power of free. How many people tried it? How many people went along for a frugal friend? Did sales numbers spike today versus typical Monday numbers? Am I part of some grand social burrito experiment?!

Who else took a chance today?

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Do you hear the bells?

“Leann. Your phone is going off.”

“Huh?” She said groggily. “That’s not my phone.”

This morning, our last in Venice before flying to the city of lights, started with the familiar sound of bells faintly chiming. I mistook them for the alarm set on the phone and woke up my regazza. It wasn’t her alarm, but the real bells. It was 7am. Our water taxi out of Venice departed at 6:50.

After a Home Alone moment, we jumped into the clothes we had set out for today, hurriedly ransacked the room (like Venetians and their gold booty), and charged down the stairs and out into the misty morning. I managed to twist my ankle on the last stair.

Taking a boat to a plane seems like the Kanye thing to do. The boat/cabbie was bumping hits like “baby come back.” He was one Adele song away from making me ask if he wanted to talk about the breakup.

The previous day in Venice was lackluster. We wandered around the city, shuffling behind tourist groups and couples. The canal is pretty and the abundance of bridges is a neat feature. The absence of crazed drivers on Vespas was a welcomed respite. If Venice were in Redfin it would easily receive a walker score of 100. There are water taxis and your feet. Those are your transport choices.

The ongoing struggle with Venice, and the other Italian cities, was where to eat. I don’t often eat out so having to choose where to eat twice a day is taxing, especially when Chipotle isn’t an option. Most of our time was spent wandering the streets looking at menus.

Venice has its perks and can serve as a delineator for what type of traveler you are.

Do you like to make lists?
Are you a fast walker?
Do you like going with the flow? (Or “flowing with the go” as my friend Marissa learned from an author of a book by that name)
Do you walk around a new city seeing it through your iPad?

Venice is well suited for those looking to unwind or those ok with not having plans. One of the challenges is finding a particular address or place. The streets wind like a massive rat maze, replete with cheese shops. During our first dinner in Venice, I spotted a mouse scurrying out of the darkness around the corner. In that moment I commiserated with that mouse. For the majority of my time on the island, I was darting around looking for sustenance.

After the Murano incident and our general meandering, we decided to try one last time to find a particular restaurant. It had been rated highly on yelp and was in Cannaregio, an area my boss recommended as being a hot spot for the remaining locals. I asked our concierge, who had a penchant for whispering, if he could call the restaurant to make sure it was open. He gladly assisted us and informed us we had until 9. That gave us 60 minutes to find our way. Pressure cooker.

Uncharacteristically, I successfully navigated our way to the area (the top part of the fish). We eventually spotted the restaurant and sat down outside for our last supper. Leann chose tortellini in a cream sauce with prosciutto. I went Jesus style. Linguine alla pescatoro.

The dinner was good and our most substantial amount of food. Leading up to that dinner we had eaten: yogurt, croissant, mini sandwiches, two nectarines and a creme-filled donut. The food came out Taco Bell drive-thru fast. Maybe I’m just going though taco withdrawal. It’s been 10 days since I’ve had Mexican food.

The evening was the perfect temperature for pants and a tshirt. The food was fresh, good and fairly priced. We lingered finishing our half liter of vino rosso. Then we wandered into the maze one last time. Eventually we found our way to piazza San Marco to shake off the rose and laser pen salesmen, and to take in the orchestral sounds one last night.

Venice was a reminder to relax. You’re on vacation and there’s nowhere you have to be. Enjoy wandering. Enjoy stumbling on a scenic view. Enjoy the charm or reconstructed Byzantine architecture. Just enjoy being alive.

All too soon I’ll have to return to the real world of scheduled conference calls, navigating the streets I know and the suburban sprawl I call home. But for now, I’ll bid Venezia arrivederci and grazie mille for the reminder to enjoy being a tourist. 20140526-172052-62452856.jpg20140526-172053-62453289.jpg20140526-172052-62452533.jpg

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Ultimate Guacamole Recipe & Turkey Taco Tuesday

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I don’t trust any guacamole recipe that doesn’t yield a bathtub full of the green stuff. Most recipes will mislead you and instruct you to peel the avocados or mix salt with lime juice.

False.

Step one should always be: find a larger vessel, like an unused ship or timpani.

Step two: find more avocados. However many you have, it isn’t enough.

Then multiply whatever inadequate recipe you were following by a multiple of 10 and proceed.

The snowicane named Nika is hitting Chicago tonight, so I loaded up on the essentials at the grocery: bell peppers, cilantro and avocados. When they start naming snow storms you know it’s serious. Will this be my last meal?

After snacking on cold pizza, I started my cooking. I’ve outlined my basic approach to tacos on here before. Quick recap: sauté onions, garlic, peppers. Season with s&p. Brown meat. Add cumin, chili powder and oregano. Finish cooking meat. Heat tortillas–we are civilized aren’t we? Add cilantro.

Plate.

Eat.

Bring it on Nika. I have food for 2-3 days and I found yogurt that may or may not be expired. I’m saving that until shit gets real.

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Ain’t No Party Like an Al Pastor Party

20130713-193943.jpgHow do you kickstart a conversation?

Person #1: Hi. I’m Mr. So-and-So.

Me:  Hi, I’m Andrew.

Person #1: Where’d you go to school? What do you do?

After everyone in the small group answers, an awkward silence results. We have all been in one of these dead end conversations. It’s painful. You look down at your glass, wishing the libation were stronger or that there were more of it. I tried unsuccessfully to spark the conversation asking about upcoming summer travel, passions, and any recent good reads.

You can read all the books and blogs about networking or developing your inner extrovert, but I discovered a secret yet to be enumerated. And it goes against all conventional wisdom. Continue reading Ain’t No Party Like an Al Pastor Party

Skinny Chef Gains 3 Pounds. Blogs About It.

I did something.

Something I’m not proud of.

At some point during the past 3 weeks I gained 3-4 pounds. And no, I didn’t just eat a delicious Chipotle barbacoa burrito.

This is my life.

For those who have yet to meet me, I was recently described as “ridiculously skinny.” Was it comments from family on the multitude of my food pictures? Or a subliminal seed planted by med student friends who warned that my metabolism will slow as I age and that the “Burrito-a-day” plan isn’t “healthy”?

Am I going through the change?! If I continue at this rate, how long do I have before my BMI surpasses my age? Continue reading Skinny Chef Gains 3 Pounds. Blogs About It.

Breakfast Showdown: Me vs. Ronald Q. McDonald

Veggies and bacon

I was recently informed that McDonald’s southwest breakfast wrap was no longer available for a buck. Years ago, my boss used to grab them and during her carb-free days would ask me if I wanted the tortilla. I will go on record as to never turning down a tortilla. Ever.

Much like a drug pusher I was warned about during D.A.R.E., she hooked me on the breakfast burrito. It served as a gateway food. In a mere hours I would have the itch for bigger, meatier burritos that were affectionately referred to as “productivity killers” in the office. And yes, I do realize I was begging for her unwanted scraps a la Oliver Twist. Continue reading Breakfast Showdown: Me vs. Ronald Q. McDonald