CINCINNATI - Holy guacamole! November 14 is National Guacamole Day.
I'll be the first to admit it: I used to hate avocados. I found them mushy and tasteless. I didn't understand how people put them in salads or, even worse, on toast. And then one fateful day, I tried guacamole. Maybe it was the burn of the jalapeño, the zing of the lime or the crunch of the chip, but I was hooked.
Guacamole, like chocolate, is a gift to mankind from the Aztecs. They first thought of mashing together avocados with spices to make a sauce and boy, am I thankful.
Guacamole has only a few ingredients, so freshness is key. You can also breathe a little easier because avocados are sodium- and cholesterol-free, and most of their 5 grams of fat per serving is of the monounsaturated variety (aka "good" fat).
My recipe is an adaptation of one from a friend's father, Bobby Joseph. His family is from Lebanon, so it's a little different but I love it.
4 ripe avocados (look for ones that give a little when you squeeze them, but don't feel mushy)
1 large shallot
1 serrano chili (for a less intense heat, you can remove the seeds and membrane)
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Zest and juice from one lime
Salt to taste
Dice the shallot and serrano and place them in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Zest the lime and add that to the mixture. Remove the avocados from their skins and dice them up, place them in the bowl.
Juice the lime over the avocados (this will help them from going brown). With the back of a fork, start mashing up the avocados, working the shallot, pepper and zest mixture into the guacamole. I like my guacamole a little chunky, but you can make it as smooth as you'd like. Roughly chop the cilantro and mix it in along with the salt and cumin. Some people add tomatoes when they're in season but I find this makes the guacamole too watery. I'd advise taking the seeds out of the tomato if you do.
Some other helpful tips: If your avocados aren't ripe enough, stick them in a brown paper bag. To remove the pit easily, tap a sharp knife into it and twist. Also, it's easier to dice the avocado inside the skin and then scoop it out with a spoon.
With the help of Yelp.com and all of you, we ranked the top 7 joints to enjoy some guacamole around Cincinnati:
1. Bakersfield OTR
4. Lime Taqueria
5. Django Western Taco
6. El Toro
7. La Mexicana
Where is your favorite place in Cincinnati to chow down on guacamole? Have your own recipe to share?