I didn't think anything could fill the hole in my heart left by Wholesome Choice Grocery in Irvine. But then after 4 months apart, I'm getting butterflies again-- Mi Pueblo, mi amor!
The new Mi Pueblo just opened in East Palo Alto, right next to IKEA (and conveniently also right next to the building where I work). If you are in the Peninsula and haven't been yet, it's definitely worth a visit. Big, colorful, and clean, it has been bustling every time I've gone in. There's a candy-hued dining area and generous selection of hot food (that I've yet to try since there has always been a line.) Besides the standard grocery items, they have a sizable bakery with pan dulce, a deli with fresh salsas, cremas, cheeses, and sweets, and all sorts of things I'm fantasizing about experimenting with--banana leaves, cactus paddles, intoxicatingly fragrant guavas, bulk hibiscus, brown sugar cones, peppers, peppers, peppers--a very different palate/palette than Wholesome Choice's MidEast imports.
Then, there are the meat counters, where a totally distinct type of dreaming happens. If you ever need a reminder that meat comes from animals, this is the place to explore. Every bit of every beast is represented: feet, heads, guts, tongues, lips (what do you do with beef lips? Do you remove the prickly things? I'm dying of curiosity.) The pollo entero is like chicken in any other grocery store except that it still has its feet, legs outstretched and talons grasping towards the unknown. Among all these odds and ends, I finally found what I'd been looking for: carne de chivo,$1.99/lb (goat meat)! The young, flirtatious butcher dug through the pile of legs(?) to find something small enough to would fit in my dutch oven (or passenger seat). I'd been hoping to take home shanks or shoulder or even stew meat, but walked off with ribs. So now I have a rack of goat in the fridge that I have absolutely no clue what to do with....
(to be continued...)