I arrived 20 minutes late to meet my friend Barb for happy-hour drinks at Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina on Penn Avenue in Garfield.
I hate being late, especially when cocktails and snacks are involved.
Barb, looking relaxed, was seated at a table next to floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Pittsburgh Glass Center across the street. A margarita with the salt slightly licked from the rim, basket of chips and a small bowl of roasted tomatillo salsa sat in front of her.
Flustered and still stewing over my tardiness, I settled in and skimmed through Verde’s long list of tequilas. I lost count after 80.
“I have no idea what to order,” I said to Barb. My understanding of tequila is about as limited as my ability to throw a Frisbee.
Our server handed me an iPad that displayed an app listing descriptions, flavor notes and ratings for each tequila. It wasn’t much help. The iPad was heavy and a red case added to its bulkiness. After a few clicks, I lost interest and opted for the Casa Verde Margarita, on the rocks.
The guacamole Barb ordered arrived shortly after my margarita. It was a gorgeous sight, mounded in a black three-legged bowl. The top was sprinkled like a cupcake with chopped red onions, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and cilantro. I instinctively grabbed my phone to take a picture.
“Forgive me," I said. "I’m going to be one of those people for a minute."
Barb, embracing my food blogging tendencies, suggested we add a few chips to the bowl for additional height. I declined.
Looking as serious as one could look while holding an iPhone 6 inches from a bowl of guacamole, I said, “I prefer to photograph my food in its natural state."
My pick, the flautas, arrived next. Flour tortillas filled with shredded chicken, rolled and deep-fried. They were cut in half and lined up like Lincoln Logs on a glass plate. A nest of cabbage and poblano slaw perched on top added even more crunch to the already crispy tortillas. A dollop of crema smoothed out the smokiness of the chicken.
With only a few chips left and my last slurp of margarita finished, I realized we had five minutes before the meeting was expected to start.
“We should probably head out,” I said as I scraped one last chip across the bottom of the guacamole bowl. “I wouldn’t want us to be late.”
Cory loves to cover his kitchen in flour and considers eating as research. He shares his food adventures through gorgeous photos, easy recipes and stories on his blog, Culinary Cory.
Barb Kleyman shares stories and recipes on her blog The Cake's Not Ready to Bake Yet.
Cory Van Horn photos