That’s Gold, darling! Horchata Series: Part I

Alboraya Horchata Big Bang

‘That’s Gold, darling!’ he exclaimed upon tasting a sample of the drink. So…who am I talking about? What is he drinking? And why am I opening up my blog post with a Spanish quote?

He is James I of Aragon (d. 1276),  who according to Valencian urban-legend*, was in a Spanish town called Alboraya **, for some reason… ***, when he came across an insanely delicious drink called ‘horchata’. And he clearly liked it!

The English translation in it’s original Valencian is  ¡Açò és Or, xata! 

Or, xata —– > orzata —- > horchata.

I highly doubt my first horchata encounter will similarly become centuries-old lore**** , but I’m going to share it with you regardless, because horchata is mind-blowing! 

So here’s how it went down…

Striking Gold: 

Tucked away on Hornby & Dunsmuir, lies a sizeable Mexican taco shop called La Taqueria. For weeks my boyfriend swore up and down that we’d been there before (although we hadn’t), and somehow we ended up going on Cinco de Mayo, just a few weeks ago.

The bar which we did not sit at…

La Taqueria Taco Shop

 

If you’re wondering whether there was a big hoo-ha going down to celebrate – I thankfully didn’t have any expectations going in*****. To be honest, it wasn’t really happening at this location festivity-wise. At least not during the time we were there – which was that weird in-between lunch and dinner period. Which is often, pretty dead for restaurants.

Additionally, the location is smack-dab in the middle of Vancouver’s business district, which is a very small yet literal ghost town on most weekends.

So anyways – we didn’t go there for ‘party-time’. We went to drink horchata. And eat tacos.

That first sip was divine!

It reminded me of a creamery version of orzata, an almond based drink that is super popular in Southern Europe.  I looooove anything remotely almond tasting, so I gave it my seal of approval. I also assumed it was made of almonds.

Here’s a shot of the horchata drinks we very specifically ordered. It reminds me of Maltese tea in this photo. All that is missing is the steam rising from the glasses and some pastizzi.

Glasses of Horchata

 

Gold indeed…

But I was wrong about the ingredients. The Mexican version I tried is made from rice, not almonds, and the first legit horchata recipe I tried (below) involves rice.

The North Star: 

As a starting point, I used this recipe to get an idea of what I should be using and doing… and then I just super winged it and improvised to my heart’s content.

  • I used half & half instead of regular milk – only because that’s what I had in the fridge.
  • I drained the last remaining globs of maple syrup into the mixture instead of sugar – substituting sugar with maple syrup always gives me elated Canadiana tingles.
  • I obviously had no cinnamon sticks handy, so I just used the ground kind – efficiency!
  • And I didn’t have a fine-enough sieve for my perhaps slightly over-ground rice and cinnamon mix, so I used a french press instead – MacGyver of the kitchen!

One thing I did follow was to allow it to infuse overnight. And I think it was all worth it in the end, because the following day we were able to enjoy this…

Homemade Horchata 

The boyfriend took the liberty of adding a dash of cinnamon and some gold flakes to the glasses before serving.

So elegant! I will definitely be making this drink again. 🙂

Also this little culinary adventure has opened up a rabbit-hole for me. More to come in Part 2 of the series. 

ps. For anyone that wants to know how to make a Spanish inverted (upside down) exclamation mark, like in this post’s title… it’s ALT/Option + 1 on a Mac. 

Side Notes: 

(*) Are legends the result of centuries old marketing?

(**) It’s a town in province of Valencia, Spain – on the West Coast (Mediterranean).

(***) maybe dodging more arrows to the face? Check out this guy’s story! Listen to this, in his written word:

“As I was coming with the men, I happened to turn my head towards the town in order to look at the Saracens, who had come out in great force, when a cross-bowman shot at me, and hit me beside the sun-hood, and the shot struck me on the head, the bolt lighting near the forehead. It was God’s will it did not pass through the head, but the point of the arrow went half through it. In anger I struck the arrow so with my hand that I broke it: the blood came out down my face; I wiped it off with a mantle of “sendal” I had, and went away laughing, that the army might not take alarm”.

(****) … and wow the 13th Century is ages ago!!

(*****) I literally only clued in on the ‘May 5’ connection part way through my meal.

 

 

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Grilled Watermelon with Burrata

Grilled Watermelon Top View

Credit where credit is due. I owe my culinary discovery of grilled watermelon to my good friends Ed & Eka. They sure know how to throw a mean party.* The type an immaculately detail-oriented Martha Stewart would be proud of.

So cue my initiation to a life-changing grilled watermelon experience during early Summer 2016. Warning – once you try this there is no going back.  It’s like a B.C / A.D type transformation when it comes to watermelon-eating.

Really it is sooooo delicious.

All this to say…. Thomas turned our mini-watermelon into a truly stunning dish last night, and I want to relive it with you**!

He went with a super classic variation –  avocado oil (for grilling), olive oil & balsamic vinegar (for dressing), creamy burrata, fresh mint***, salt and pepper.

Check that out…. so yummy! And it looks like a pretty 3D psychological Rorschach test doesn’t it?

Grilled Watermelon Side View

 

It was fabulous and a great way to feast on Summer-worthy food during Memorial Day weekend! Aka the unofficial start to the Summer season.

Try it!

There are countless recipes out there for how to grill watermelon. Like notice all the variations from this one, to this one, and now this one,  and…. finally this one! One with cilantro & lime, another with blue cheese & prosciutto, yet another with pepper flakes …

It’s such a simple dish; yet you can keep it interesting & exciting by experimenting with different flavours****.  I love that.

Side Notes: 

(*) By that I mean culinary extravaganza! 😉

(**) ahem….brag

(***) Although basil works too.

(****) I’ve also encountered some memorable disasters like one recipe that called for way too much cayenne. Which I regrettably followed…. grr! The entire lot went into the trash sadly; was simply inedible.

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