It's May, and it's raining. Like, really raining.
But, it's still the first day of the farmer's market in Healdsburg, and occasion enough for the drive north from the city (not to mention that I haven't found a job yet, and a few hours of work in the stores will at least let me eat next week).
I just wanted to stop by and talk about goat for a moment. I'm pretty sure the first time I tasted goat was in London's Camden Market this past February. Steaming vats of goat curry (and I do mean vats - the woks were at least three feet in diameter) beckoned to me and my traveling companions. Even though it was eleven in the morning, the spicy goat was the perfect antidote to the lingering gin swimming in our heads from the previous night. We ate big bowls of the stuff, while wandering the rest of the market that was packed with bizarre vintage clothing, old suitcases and nicknacks, and cheap imported jewelry.
I liked the curry a lot, but it didn't start any kind of manic flurry to eat as much of it as possible as soon as possible, which often happens when I discover a new food I like. So my goat cravings didn't surface immediately. They sat back for a while, were appeased by lamb, but peaked when I saw goat for sale at the San Francisco Farmer's Market a few weeks ago.
And then this morning, through the waves of colored umbrellas bobbing through the two aisles of the farmer's market, I spotted Mateo's Yucatan Tamales. A tent over a simple kitchen where tortillas were being shaped and grilled, I could smell - through the rain and the wet cement - that something delicious was happening. There was a tamales menu, where I was tempted by the suckling pig, but then they pulled out a second menu, this one written in chalk, and leaned it against their table.
And right there - there was the goat. I didn't even read the whole description. I saw the words goat, eggs, and homemade tortillas, and ordered them right away.
While it was cooked, Mom and I sat under a second little tent at a long picnic table covered in bright plastic fruit and flower patterns. The scent of meat and spices drifted over to us, and by the time our plate arrived, we were salivating.
The plate was gorgeous: a handful of fresh arugula, a scattering of crispy radishes, a pile of dark spiced goat, a thick smear of black beans, and on top, a fried egg. On the side was a pile of palm-size corn tortillas and a bottle of yellow habanero sauce, house made.
Each taco was different as we wrapped bits of radish with goat and hot sauce, or egg with arugula and beans, or one little scoop of everything to taste it all at once. Like any good taco, each was messy and full of flavor, and by the end I had hot sauce on my chin and arugula in my teeth, and the smell of the corn from the tortillas has seeped into my fingers.
Although I love a standard steak taco from any old taqueria with the grilled meat and the fresh cilantro and the pico de gallo, these goat tacos were awesome little suckers, and it's hard to give the standard taco a fair trial next to them.
And here begins that manic flurry...