Last weekend, my sister Jeana was visiting from Florida. She's been out here several times over the years, so she's seen most of the typical tourist things in the Bay Area. We decided to take a little trip down to Santa Cruz. It's the off season there, but as somebody who grew up in beach town, I know how pleasant it can be to visit the beach in the winter.
I could write about a lot of things in Santa Cruz, but this is about food. We had lunch a little Mexican place right across from the Boardwalk called El Paisano Tamales. The remarkable thing about this place was its giant burritos -- fifteen inches. I had to order one. It was a pretty good burrito, and it was huge. I've had better burritos, but never a bigger one.
Next, back at the Boardwalk they had the kind of food you usually find at carnivals and fairs. That included a fried cheesecake. I had to give one of these a try. It was a lot like fried ice cream, but with cheesecake inside the fried tortilla instead of ice cream. It was good, but I think it could have been better if the cheesecake would have been cooler.
For Thanksgiving, I like to make a pie every year. Other people make the traditional pumpkin pies, so I try to do something a little different. Last year I made a cherry-red raspberry pie. I liked it, but everyone else seemed to think it was too tart. I probably needed to reduce the filling more than I did, which would have sweetened it up. This year I decided to make an easier pie, a traditional apple pie. I found a great recipe that was both really easy and very good. The key ingredient was applesauce. More gourmet recipes use Cortland apples that reduce into an applesauce during cooking, so this is kind of a shortcut to accomplish the same thing.
This was a Paula Deen recipe. My wife and I were watching her show and she had an interesting recipe for the classic cheeseburger and fries. We tried those this weekend, and they were great. We only made "one level" burgers instead of the giant duplexes from Mrs. Deen's recipe, but they were still delicious.