As a kid, I always pictured my life turning out like an 80’s “I Love New York” commercial or a Diet Coke ad featuring the Manhattan Transfer. You know, hopping from club to cab to restaurant to club with your glamorous friends in a metallic neon pink bubble skirt. Well, I wasn’t wearing the bubble skirt. Okay…maybe I was. That’s not the point. These two commercials, as manufactured and manipulated as they may be, created in me an extremely specific idea of sophistication and elegance. A goal to achieve. A way of life.
I now refer to it as “feeling famous.”
“Feeling famous” is that certain moment when the stars align and you are in the perfect location, with the perfect people, having the perfect conversation, and you are looking really goooooood. It can be elusive, but it is attainable.
A few weeks ago, I was in the Big Apple to make my Diet Coke dreams a reality. J and I, on his night off, went to see Fela, at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. (If you are anywhere near New York, it is a must see - Sahr Ngaujah is a crazy-talented alien from the planet, Afrobeat. Amazing.) Dizzy and invigorated by the show, we met up with friends at Toloache, a wonderfully high tone Mexican restaurant offering up the best guacamole on the planet and cricket quesadillas, for a tony late night supper. We sat in a high-backed, circular banquette, funky ambient restaurant music playing, and enjoyed food and each other...all with fabulous lighting.
Much to my surprise, my Diet Coke reality involved neither clubs nor cabs. It happened surrounded by good friends on 50th St. between Broadway and 8th wearing flip flops and a linen jacket…which felt remarkably like a neon pink bubble skirt.
J’s Improvised Fruta Guacamole
This is fantastic as a dip or as the glue for delicious tilapia tacos!
3 ripe avocados
½ Vidalia onion, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped green apple
½ cup finely chopped mango
½ cup finely chopped strawberries
2 Serrano chilies, chopped and seeded
Juice of 2 limes (zest of 1 lime)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large mixing bowl, scoop out avocados and mash with the back of a fork. Add onions, fruit, peppers, zest and juice. Stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
Spicy Slaw with Jicama
For those of you who are unfamiliar with jicama, it is God’s little joke of the vegetable world. Imagine the illegitimate love child of an apple and a potato. It is sweet and crunchy and absolutely delish!
½ head of green cabbage, shredded
½ head of red cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, grated
1 red pepper, julienned
1 cup jicama, julienned.
½ cup corn
½ cup black beans
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Spicy Vinaigrette (see Barbuto Redux post)
Place ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss with Spicy Vinaigrette. Allow to sit for a couple of hours so flavors can marry.
Tasty Tilapia Tacos
This can serve a crowd or serve one. A good rule of thumb: one tilapia filet per person. You can also use that good ole standby the Flatout Flatbread instead of a tortilla. It’s good and good for you!
A touch of cayenne pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Preheat skillet over medium high heat. While pan heats, drizzle filet with oil and season with cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Place seasoned side down in pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Season other side. Flip fish and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until cooked through.
To assemble tacos: layer fish, slaw, then guac into your chosen taco vessel. Mmmm…tastes like summer.