WRITTEN ON August 12th, 2010 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Mexican, Pork

I’ve just returned from two weeks away.  My apologies for not writing sooner, but I just wanted to leave it all behind, and, sadly readers, that means you too. Don’t take it personally.  Please?

If I tell you about my vacation, will it make you feel better?  No?  Well it’ll make me feel better so here goes:

Sunday the 25th dawned bright and hot and I hit the road, sans hubs, heading north towards the Cape. My friend from culinary school lives there (sporadically) with her family and had invited me for a visit.  It worked out perfectly since I was due to pick up said hubby in Boston around the same time for our annual Rockport getaway. So I packed the car for two weeks away (don’t you love packing to go away? It’s like Christmas Eve, all anticipation and excitement), stopped for a coffee, and shook the dust off this town, driving off into the great blue yonder towards sea and sand and cooler temps.

First let me say that for all the time I’ve spent in New England (Cape Ann, the Berkshires, Stratton, Maine, North Conway), I’d only been to the Cape once, and then it was just for a night in a flea bag motel because we were catching the first ferry from Hyannis Port to Nantucket the following morning.  So I was giddy as a kid on her way to camp, wondering what it would look like (well, ok, I had a pretty good idea), smell like, taste like, and, frankly, curious about my friend’s family, because she talks about them like all the time.

Pulling onto the Sagamore Bridge, I realized what all the fuss was about.  There’s just something about the water in New England that sparkles a bit more.  The light is clearer, the colors more vibrant, the blues and greens jump out at you, dotted with brightly colored buoys. Nothing is muddy, everything has a fine edge. I’ve long felt this way about my beloved Rockport, and I knew before I even reached the town that this would be a similar place (albeit much more chichi. I mean, it is the Cape, after all).

Arriving at the Metzlers’ place, I immediately realized why my friend Kate is never in the city. I’d want to stay there forever too.  Aside from the aesthetics of the house, it was the feeling that enveloped me the moment I stepped in: welcome, relax, you can be yourself here. Kate’s parents seem to have created this oasis from the world, that keeps their kids and grandkids coming back (and I do mean that.  The place was like Grand Central Station). What I loved most was that every detail seemed to have been thoughtfully placed, selected with care.  This was a well loved, well planned, well thought out home, and it radiated warmth and style and comfort.  Having just moved into my first house, I realized the enormity of that task, and respected the work that most have gone into creating such a haven.

Dinner was a riotous affair, complete with kids table. Suffice it to say, when you visit the home of a friend from culinary school (and, later, catering) you never worry about eating well. Kate made pork carnitas for tacos, and “deconstructed” Mexican street corn.  I was stuffed, and happy (the fact that I was leaving the next day for my two weeks in Rockport was only adding to my contentment. What was it I was saying about Christmas Eve?).  The meal was so good that I replicated the same meal a week later for my own family, at our traditional “Mexican night on the porch” in Rockport.

Pulling out of Harwich the next day, my bucket of freshly picked blueberries from the garden occupying the seat next to me, I thought about how lucky I felt.  For big-hearted friends, summers in Massachusetts, and mostly, escape when I needed it most.


Pork Carnitas (serves 8-10)
3 lbs pork shoulder, pork butt, or thick country style ribs
4 tbsp salt
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp black pepper
1 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1 onion, quartered
2 tbsp Canola oil
Preheat oven to 375. Rub pork with 2 tbsp salt, all over.  In a large frying pan, heat oil.  Brown the pork on all sides. Place in a deep oven proof dish, like a dutch oven or casserole dish, along with onion and garlic. Mix the rest of the salt, cumin, pepper, bay leaves and cinnamon stick with about 1 1/2 cups water.  Use this to deglaze the pan, and then pour liquid over pork  in dish.  It should cover by about two thirds. Add more water if you need to.  Cover tightly with a lid or foil and bake in oven for about three hours, until pork is very tender and falling off bone.  Remove from oven, set pork into another dish, reserving about a cup of the cooking liquid. Let it cool (you can chill over night). Pull pork so that it’s shredded for taco filling.  Serve in warm soft tortillas, with a dollop of sour cream, chunky guacamole, salsa, shredded red cabbage and a wedge of lime.

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