Sunday, November 16, 2014

¡venga! empanadas

"Sometimes the wolves are silent and the Moon howls…" ~ U/I bathroom graffito in some gas station in Santa Cruz, CA, circa 1978

(And sometimes the wolves will howl during a New Moon.)

Place: ¡venga![1] empanadas[2]
Location: 443 Valencia Street (between 15th and 16th Streets)
Hours: open at 8:00am Monday - Friday; 8:30am Saturday & Sunday
Meal: Breakfast Menu: ~ Egg empanada and Coffee; one five pepper manchego[3] cheese (empanada) ~ poblano chile, bell peppers, jalapeños, Spanish Manchego, Mozzarrella [sic]; and one three cheese & walnuts (empanada) ~ Mozzarrella [sic], blue jack, onions, carmelized [sic] walnuts  

(Today's EweToobular juxtaselection can easily be discerned with the translation of the restaurant's name; see footnote number 1 below.)

I felt like trying something a little different for breakfast (or desayuno) this morning, so I headed over to the Mission and ate at ¡venga! empanadas. As their name implies (and their business slogan is also: "Artisanal Empanadas in the Mission"), this place mainly serves empanadas and Coffee, but they offer more than enough variety for me to make up a decent breakfastary repast. It's a pretty small bakery (empanadería... whatever)/café-ish joint with seating of just ten counter seats, and two tables for two inside; they also have four tables for two outside on the sidewalk. It's mostly a small take-away joint, anyway; I don't think they expect people to hang around there all day drinking Coffee and eating empanadas. 

Random Rant of the Day

While I was sitting there eating my empanadas and there were a few more customers at the counter ordering their breakfasts, some random street dude (hombre, chololo que) stormed up to the counter and demanded the lady behind the counter turn down the house stereo because it was too loud on the street. It really wasn't loud at all inside, but they do have two speakers outside above their awning and it may have been louder outside. "Too loud"? There are no businesses that were even open within two doors either way of this little place on this placido domingo. (It's mostly a warehouse area of town.) Who knew there were Policía de Música en la Misión? Even after the lady turned it down a bit, the crazy dude came back a few minutes later and complained again; at that time, I think she just turned it off entirely.

(Okay, maybe that really wasn't a "rant", so much as a "story", but it does bring up another…)

stupid parklet min-rant of the day

There is another Coffee place on Valencia (between 14th and 15th Streets) that has a three-car space parklet in front of it. I won't even bother naming the place as they don't deserve any free publicity (well, okay, that, and I didn't really bother to note the name of the place). I just know that they are now "on my (ever-growing) list", too. At least one of the parking spaces that has been absconded is being used for a bicycle parking spot. "But, Brian, there really is no need for three extra parking spaces along Valencia Street." I saw two cars illegally parked in the middle of the road (in the "Left or Right" turn lane) when I was walking back to my car. "But, Brian, maybe those idiots… er, people were not buying Coffee at the stupid place that sponsored the stupid parklets." Nope. I saw one of the jerks getting into his car after patronising the damn place. 

(Back to the good stuff.)

There were several more Meat Empanadas or "Veggie" Empanadas from which to choose and they all sounded pretty good, too: mushroom (mushroom mélange with onions and fresh herbs and Mozzarrella [sic, again]); sweet corn (corn and red bell pepper, Mozzarrella [sic, still]); and california veggie (baby spinach, Napa cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, raisins, almonds, garlic ~ it didn't list any sic-ening Mozzarrella as an ingredient in this one) to name just a few. I am sure that I will need to make a return visit for lunch sometime (empanadas are not necessarily just for breakfast any more).

They offer two different breakfast/egg empanadas even: a vegetarian (sorry, not Vegan, though) one made with scrambled eggs, spinach, and cheese (I think it was Mozzarella, or "Mozzarrella") ~ which is the one that I got ~ or a dead, decaying animal-fleshatarian one made with scrambled eggs, chorizo (or bacon or ham), and cheese (again, probably either Mozzarella or "Mozzarrella"). This was probably the best breakfast empanada that I have ever eaten in my life! (Of course, I think it is probably the very first breakfast empanada I have ever had in my life.)

I liked all of the ingredients a bit more in the five pepper manchego cheese empanada. Even with the two different types of chillies (and, for the record, I only counted three different kinds of "peppers" total, not five), it really wasn't that spicy, just tasty.

I was still a little peckish (… esurient… a bit 'ungry-like) after the initial two empanadas, so I ordered one more to curb my Walpoling appetite. The three cheese & walnuts empanada was very good, too. (Not seen in the above photo, but it looked basically the same as the other two.)

The Coffee was also very good this morning. They serve Rogers Family Company Coffee & Tea Market, a local Northern California roastery. I have had this brand before at other cafés and restaurants. I couldn't locate the specific roast/blend that I had this morning on the official web-site, but it was marked as Mission Blend on the bags of Coffee at the counter; it may very well be a custom blend made specifically for ¡venga!.

I didn't notice, nor ask for, any bottles of pre-packaged condimentary supplements, and none were really needed as ¡venga! has two of their own homemade salsas in plastic dispenser bottles. There was a reddish-orange one that was pretty tasty, but more "sweet" than "heat". There was a reddish-brown one that was a bit more picante; I liked this one the best and saw fit to use a lot of it on all three of my empanadas. Neither of the two were overly spicy, but they both had a nice, fresh flavour to them.

"Come on" over for lunch and dinner, too!

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Egg empanada ~ 6.4; five pepper manchego cheese ~ 6.7; three cheese & walnuts ~ 6.6; Mission Blend ~ 7.0; reddish-orange salsa ~ 6.8; reddish-brown salsa ~ 7.0

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, número uno:

"Venga" translates from Spanish as either: "Come here", "Come on", "Come in", or "Come on in". The counter-server lady really couldn't give me the best translation. It's actually an Argentinean place and she was Mexican. 

The verb "to come" in Spanish is "venir". This comes from the same word root of the Classical Latin verb "venire" (as in: "Veni, vidi, vici.").

2. Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-culinaristic pointer of the day, número dos:

"Empanada" is a Spanish loan word and is the past participle adjective (feminine) of the verb "empanar", meaning "to roll (bread) and fry".

3. Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-culinaristic pointer of the day, número tres:

"Manchego" simply means "from the La Mancha region" in Spanish.

(I have to note here again that the pinche Spell-checkering Nazis at Microsoft did not even recognise this variety of cheese. Really, Billy-boy, you guys need to expand your culinary intake. I am sure that Henry Wensleydale would know exactly what it is and would always have it in stock… as long as the cat hasn't eaten it.)

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