Archives for posts with tag: Puerto Rico

My grandmother in the backyard of the house in Hayward in the 40’s and on her last trip to her birthplace Lihue, Kauai mid 90’s.


My great-grandparents were born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. They left the island in 1899 as part of only 5000 documented immigrants to work on the island of Kauai in the sugarcane fields after two devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico. They settled in Lihue, just a mile away from where the airport is today. My great-grandparents had 13 children there before bringing them to California and settling in the East Bay during the early 30’s.

They bought a house in Hayward and moved it across town to a small lot where my grandmother grew up as a teenager and would eventually pass away in. I would spend as much time as I could in the kitchen with her. When we sat and looked through old photo albums the images of celebrations from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s reminded me of what a special place this was.

My grandmother didn’t have a written recipe for this dish and things were never labeled on the pantry shelf – most of the time ingredient portions were measured with “just a little bit of that.”


Arroz con Pollo

1/4 cup achiote oil
6 chicken thighs,
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Sofrito, recipe follows
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, cut in half
2 cups long-grain rice
3 1/4 chicken stock
1 can gandules

Achiote oil:
1 cup lard
2 tablespoons annatto seeds

2 yellow onions, cut into large chunks
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bunch cilantro, washed
1 red bell pepper, cut into pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Soak the rice in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse until the water runs clear.

Heat the achiote oil in a wide, shallow pan (that has a lid). Season the chicken with salt and pepper and fry on both sides until brown. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the sofrito, cooking until most of the moisture is gone.

Stir in the rice and coat with the sofrito and achiote oil. Stir in the olives, gandules and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Arrange the chicken pieces into the rice and let the dish come back up to a boil. Lower the heat and let some of the liquid evaporate before covering with the lid. Cook on medium-low heat for about 40 minutes.

Achiote oil:
Heat the lard and annatto seeds in a small pan over medium heat until the lard turns a deep orange color. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Place the onion, garlic, cilantro, peppers and vinegar in a food processor and puree until smooth. Any extra can be frozen or refrigerated.

Walter Gomez Eats Out

Walter Gomez

I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure or in some cases the misfortune of meeting my son – the walking / talking Puerto Rican Parade of ONE, Walter Gomez.  Anyway, I’m sure that you will be extremely entertained by his razor-sharp tongue and fiery mouthful of sass that he spews on everyone and everything in his sight. All joking aside (although I’m not joking) he’s simply a joy. He’s patented his own little dance – arms flapping furiously, whilst turning from side to side and doesn’t normally like to wear pants. On the food front he is always a welcome guest at my table and has enjoyed many a gourmet meal here at Chez MORE! When we travel together, our priorities are to seek out new and exciting restaurants, ordering everything possible and all of the desserts.

We host a monthly party together every third Saturday of the month at the notorious SoMa bar Powerhouse called BEATPIG. It brings together the worlds of music, leather, fashion and drag.

Walter and I at BEATPIG.

Walter Gomez answers my foodie questionnaire here:

What is your favorite dessert?

I don’t think any meal is complete without dessert. In fact, I won’t assess a restaurant’s prowess until I get to the dessert. There’s very few dessert things I wouldn’t try, aside from the combination of mint and chocolate (it makes me poopy). After moving from Puerto Rico, I’ve become obsessed with trying flans whenever available. It’s such an easy dessert to make, but people in the west coast have perfected the art of fucking it up. So, a simple and smooth flan will make me a happy piglet.

Sassy face.

What restaurant would you call your home?

It would be a tie between Rocco’s Cafe and Basil Thai, both in SoMa. The pork chop sandwich (with added cheddar cheese) from the former is a must for lunch. And I’m pretty sure I’ve had the roasted duck curry from the latter roughly 49 times..

What is the strangest or most inspiring thing you’ve ever eaten?

Back home, morcillas (pig’s blood sausages) are kind of a big deal, especially over Christmas. I think they’re disgusting, and as a child, I was pressured into eating those abominations every year. As far as inspiring, I have to give props to Skool for introducing me to their uni flan; I never thought I’d enjoy sea urchin. Also, any pizza with an egg on it, because it’s fucking genius!

What was your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid?

I had surprisingly boring tastes as a kid, so Frosted Flakes or Corn Pops usually did the trick.

What is your favorite food to pig-out on after the club?

Denny’s now has a burger that has bacon, hash browns and a fried egg in it, and there’s one ‘conveniently’ located about 2 blocks from my house and open 24 hours. The heartburn you get from it the morning after is about as close to God as one can get.

Walter as a human ketchup holder for my fries.