We just got back from another trek to California – the third time in a year. Last summer, we went on our final leg of a west coast vacation that spanned from Seattle to Alaska to Palo Alto. In October, the boy had a conference held in Long Beach on the Queen Mary (the most enchanting place you’ll ever visit – if you like the golden age of the 1930s and WWII history). Last week, he had yet another conference, this time in San Francisco. And I invited myself to join – once again.
We started the trip back out in Palo Alto, visiting one of the boy’s old roommates and very best friends. While there, we wandered over the gently sloping mountains of Redwood City, ate sandwiches and drank beer on the beach, and recreated our favorite Tex-Mex dish for our favorite California-based Coloradexan (my term for a Colorado native who loves the state of Texas). Then I fell asleep, and the boys watched reruns of Silicon Valley and talked about how eerily accurate it is to the way of life in that area.
Then we wandered out to San Francisco for the boy’s conference, where he left each day delightfully sore in his head – full of exciting new ideas and inspiration for his world of web-dev-ness that I don’t fully understand. It was a full trip – full of Ghiradelli chocolate, touristy attractions on Fisherman’s Wharf, museums, steep hills, and shock and awe at the home prices around us that we kept looking up on Zillow.
On the last day, we did an 8-mile bike tour from the Wharf, all the way over the Golden Gate, down terrifyingly busy and steep hills to Sausalito, where we bought a modest lunch of two sandwiches and two beers – totaling $80. What. In retrospect, the terror of riding a bike over a notoriously windy and trepidatiously tall bridge was worse, yet still utterly exhilarating.
About 9 days and one too many meals with crab later, we headed home. Stuck at the SF airport for a few hours too long because of foggy delays, we landed back in the welcoming humid embrace of Austin in the wee hours of the morning. Still on California time and the high of travel and the near scent of our own bed, we drove home on the quietest MoPac Expressway I’ve ever seen, curled up at home and dead asleep no later than 3 am.
The next morning was met with unpacking, dog snuggles, and a happy reacquaintance with my kitchen. When we’re gone from home, I miss nothing so much as that modest kitchen – my little sanctuary I could maneuver through with my eyes closed. The place I go to create, relax, and drink soccer mom juice (what we call white wine) until dinner is ready.
This incredibly easy pico de gallo was first on my list of things to make. When we leave the state, we don’t indulge on Tex Mex – because why? We have some of the most authentic, delicious versions of it nearby, and we’d rather not risk a lackluster meal in uncharted territory. So pico was our welcome home.
I gave it the “easy” title because it is – incredibly so. It merely requires chopping and stirring, and only a few ingredients: fresh roma tomatoes, jalapenos, purple onion, lime, and cilantro. And salt and pepper, o’course (sorry – I’ve been reading Outlander again). Chop, stir, dip a chip, and repeat.
Once upon a time, I had trouble making this obscenely simple dish, skewing my ratios of onion to tomatoes, of lime juice to jalapenos. But no more – this is it. The perfect balance of sweet tomatoes and tart citrus, of biting onion and heated peppers.
The only materials you need to make this are a cutting surface, knife, and bowl. I chopped to my heart’s content on my Ode to Wood spinning puzzle trivet cutting board, and served the final product up in the matching trivet bowl, surrounded by a cloud of salty, crunchy corn tortilla chips. The combination was a much-needed homey-tasting energy boost for a full day of laundry, unopened mail, and naps.
I love to eat this simply with chips, but it also makes for a great addition to a plethora of dishes – fajitas, Tex Mex casseroles, eggs, tacos, you name it…
Delicious, simple, and tastily gratifying.
- 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped into ½" pieces
- 2 tablespoons red onion, diced
- 1 jalepeno, diced (discard the seeds if you don't like heat)
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
- After chopping all ingredients, combine in a bowl and gently mix with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with chips, or as a side to any Tex Mex dish.