San Jose is the first village south of Cabo San Lucas near the Sea of Cortez. The centro, or town center, is full of restaurants that share a Mexican flavor and silver shops, ice cream parlors, gift shops and the like. Very colorful, sprinkled with tradition.
We found what we were looking for a few blocks away, near the “freeway” in a Taqueria called El Faogon. The menu is posted on a large wall opposite the open kitchen. As you sit down a server approaches the table with a traditional plate filled with salsas and a smooth, buttery guacamole. We discussed the papas de arrachera, she explained (through our guide) that they were baked potatoes filled with braised beef, carrots, onions, and cheese. The wall also offered Papas de cameron, and adobada (shrimp and pork), so we tried one of each.The potatoes are a perfect addition to my menu @ Estia’s Little Kitchen because they feature ingredients that are already in our pantry. At El Fogon, the pre-baked potatoes are sliced in half, topped with about 2 tablespoons of butter, then stuffed with a combination of protein and vegetables. In the shrimp potato they used carrots, onions, and mushrooms, followed by a heavy portion of white (jack?) cheese. The pork was a bit more flavor packed with jalepeno pepper, onions, mint, and pineapple, again set up with lots of butter and cheese. The beef version, diced bits of braised flank steak with onions and carrot, butter and cheese. Finally each potato was wrapped tightly in foil leaving the cheesy top exposed and finished in the oven for a few minutes. This is a quick pick up for the kitchen because all of the ingredients are pre-cooked and stuffed in the potato warm, just needing time for the cheese to melt.
For the Little Kitchen menu, I’m envisioning a lighter version. We will try removing 1/2 of the potato and adding the pre-baked product to our home fries. Then, with a lighter baked potato shell we’ll add fillings that are brought together in a saute pan to order, each including a spicier version with cilantro, mint, garlic and pepper. To top it off, we’ll add a dusting of queso fresco or feta cheese. The potato will go under the broiler for a minute, then into a bowl on top of a small salad of greens and our Mexican cole slaw, which is prepared in advance with lots of red onion, tomato, cilantro, pepper, olive oil, and lime juice.
I think we’ll call it the El Fogon Papas Salad. A special that will offer a different protein stuffing on different days.