Not far from where I live is the Mercado Hacienda (Spanish for Ranch or Plantation Store). If you live in the Phoenix area, mark your maps–it’s at the Southeast corner of the intersection of University and Country Club in Mesa. It’s a small store, but the ingredient list is perfect for a great little dinner.
Drinks: Rum and fruit juice. The mercado carries guayaba (guava), tamarind, guanabana (soursop), mango, pear and pineapple. I prefer the fruit juice, but there is also a powder mix that would work well. It comes in pineapple, mango, guava, and my favorite, jamaica. I didn’t know that ‘jamaica’ is Spanish for ‘hibiscus.’ You can learn a lot in a grocery store.
Appetizers: The mercado has the best guacamole I’ve ever eaten. My husband’s was my favorite until I tasted this. Even he will agree that the rough-chop mix of perfectly-ripe, pale-green avocado studded with lime, jalapenos, red pepper flakes and onion is a perfect mix of spicy, but not fiery, ingredients. You can taste the fire and the sour tang of the lime, but the bland, creamy avocado soothes your tongue. I’ll cut up fresh corn tortillas and fry them to make nachos, hot and salty, for the guacamole.
Main course: Grilled shrimp tacos. The mercado has mouth watering meats, shrimp and fish. I’m going to get some of the larger shrimp, grill them under the broiler, and wrap them in hot flour tortillas filled with field greens, slivers of jicama and red pepper and moistened with green salsa, also from the mercado.
Dessert: I’ve got some choices here and haven’t made up my mind. I can certainly make Meyer Lemon posset and serve it over berries. Or the incredibly smooth coconut sorbet topped with dark chocolate shavings. Or keep it simple. Just a few grinds of pink, black, and green peppercorns over premium French vanilla ice cream.
Think I can get him to stay for a few days?
—Images: Soursop, on left, http://www.css.cornell.edu Guava, on right, http://www.tropicalfruitnursery.com –Quinn McDonald learned cooking basics from her mother, who was French. She practiced on various dates, unsuspecting visitors, and her son, until she became quite good at putting together a decent meal from a few, well chosen ingredients. You can see more, but different work of Quinn’s at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2008 All rights reserved.