About 15 years ago, during a weekend stayover on a business trip to visit my top distributor in Venezuela, I was invited on a trip to Morrocoy National Park for a weekend of boating, sun, and fun. The weekend was a picture-perfect caribbean beach vacation, complete with pristine white beaches, calm seas, tiny cays and beautiful tanned bodies. But what most stands out from that trip was when a small wooden boat pulled up to ours with a fisherman selling vuelve la vidas- a venezuelan seafood cocktail- mind-blowing! The ones that day had freshly-caught shrimp, octopus and oysters with a spicy cocktail sauce. We've brought this moment back to life with our version- wild caribbean shrimp, calamari from Monterey, Washington Manila clams, diced tomatoes, sweet onion, and cilantro, and our spicy cocktail sauce. We just put them on the menu and you can hear the gentil caribbean waves lapping on the fine white sand as eat you this. This dish is probably the perfect bar or picnic food (tailgates too). Come check it out, or better yet, book a trip to Morrocoy!
January 2009 Archives
Since the early days when I was planning what eventually became Tucos, I wanted to serve pizza. Since opening we've become more confident with our various doughs and thought we might have an interesting pizza dough. We made a few test batches and confirmed that we have a wonderful pizza dough. So what kind of pizza do we want to serve at Tucos? I didn't want the typical american style pizzas, instead I wanted the wonderful, artisan pizzas that I remember eating at the Hotel Tamanaco in Caracas, Venezuela. Thin, hand-made, fresh mozzarella, and sublime (technically these are neapolitan-style pizzas). A few places I frequent serve pizzas with fresh toppings, like arugula, that are tossed on after baking. I love this fresh, crunchy, cold contrasting with the hot strechy pizza. For ours at Tucos we decided to go one step further and serve a full salad, complete with salad dressing, on top of our pizzettas (small pizzas). The result- the best damn salad (and pizza) you've ever had. Two versions debut- Prosciutto, Arugula, and Nicoise Pizzetta and the Bacon, Spinach, Apple & Blue Cheese Pizzetta. You gotta check em out.
It's the farthest thing from fine dining, but that's exactly what we want- something hedonistic, uncerebral, primitive that connects us to our heritage and that's absolutely delicious. Think of it as a dinner at grandma's, minus grandma. For our version, we take our grass-fed beef tri-tip cuts and braise them long and slow in our favorite red wine for cooking (a Negroamaro from Italy) with bay leaves, garlic, onions, salt & pepper. Once the meat's done we make a red wine sauce by adding more of the Negroamaro wine, portobello mushrooms (just a little bit for flavor and texture) and reduce it by half. We finish it with a healthy dose of our favorite sweet butter, and emulsify the sauce with a tad of dijon mustard. I just tried it today and, honestly, I could eat this every day. We serve it over our mashed butternut-potatoes and twice-cooked vegetables. Comfort food as old as this country is and wonderfully delicious and soulful.