I have vivid memories of some dark smokey Mexican pub nâ€™ grub we used to haunt when I was in college. It was the place to be at the time and as much as the drinks were cheap and pretty potent â€¦ the Mexican fare they served was the only Mexican Iâ€™ve ever grown up with. Â If my memory serves me right, that restaurant was the onlyÂ Mexican restaurant in the city! College co-eds and a good bit of yuppies frequented this place as it wasnâ€™t so high end nor was it too much of a dive.
It was dark, with low ceilings which made it very much a conducive place to get smashed as early as 3:00 in the afternoon with pitchers of Zombies.Â Aah, those Zombie cocktails in pitchers were the stuff that made you crawl back home half dead after just a couple of glasses! Man, those were the days when we had no real money to afford booze and such , but we always ended up smashed to bits one way or another. Â I remember how we always converged at this joint and pooled all our money to get as many pitchers of drinks and our favourite crunchy platters of nachos, tacos and flautas!
Oh the stories and sorts that went on in that place. If only the walls could reveal and tell all the drunken tales. My mother wouldâ€™ve grounded me for life!Â I have that place to blame for all the failed lung function tests I took. Haha â€¦ The ceiling was so low, it kept all the smoke down and made our eyes hurt like hell and our asthma kick our butts. Â My best gal and I would step out of the pub for Â 10 minutes or so just toÂ breathe and huff on Salbutamol!
Those were good years for the books.Â Kind of like a right of alcoholic passage to being an adult!Â It was my sole introduction to Mexican food, and probably the only reason why I seem to have a knack for it all these years.
I have hopelessly fallen in love with flautas fromÂ those blurry drunken days. It has been decades long gone but the taste and the memory of those cheese flautas Â remain in me like dejavu.
Cheezy Cilantro and Pesto Flautas
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup pepitas (green hulled pumpkin seeds)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
8 corn tortillas (6-inch), softened by moistening and lightly toasting over a gas burner (turn with tongs)
2 cups (6 ounces) grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup peanut oil
1.Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan over medium-low.
2.Cook garlic until golden, 1 minute. Add pepitas; cook,
3.tossing, until toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Pulse to a paste in a food
4.processor. Add cilantro, lime juice, and remaining olive oil;
5.pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Spread some
6.pesto on a softened tortilla; top with cheese. Roll up; place
7.seam side down. Cover with a damp kitchen towel. Repeat.
8.Heat peanut oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Fry flautas in 2 batches, seam sides down, 1 minute. Using tongs, roll to brown evenly, cooking 1 minute more. Drain on paper towels, dabbing tops to remove excess oil
Photo Credit: mike_mccormick/a>
Photo Credit: CateCooks