Monica Dimas.jpg
Part two of our interview with Monsoon brunch chef Monica Dimas. You can read part one here . Check back tomorrow for a recipe from

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Grillaxin' with Monica Dimas, Part Two

Monica Dimas.jpg
Part two of our interview with Monsoon brunch chef Monica Dimas. You can read part one here. Check back tomorrow for a recipe from Dimas.

What was your favorite food when you were a kid?

Homemade cheese. Tacos de carne adoba with the tortillas fried in the left over fat of the marinated meat. Chilaquiles rojos. It's a three-way tie.

What sort of homemade cheese did your mom make?

Oh, just a raw milk cotija. Actually she had this old farmer in Lower Yakima Valley who she would always go visit for milk. He's probably passed away by now, and what he was doing was definitely illegally selling us raw milk, but my mom would get tubs of the stuff.

Did you grow up eating primarily Mexican food?

Oh yes, definitely. Just the other day for family meal at Spinasse, I made us porchetta sandwiches on this nice, spongy bread, and I was thinking to myself, "This is SO satisfying." Sandwiches are definitely not what we were raised on. My brother won't eat relish, or any kind of condiemnt, but he'll eat tripe. That's just what we ate as kids. My mom jokes about when I ate chilaquiles rojos for the first time. I said, "When I grow up I'm going to make these."

I grew up in a culture of pickling, sharing recipes, sharing food ideas, cooking. We'd go over to my mom's friend's house and they'd swap jars of pickled goods. Food is really big in our family. We always had dinner together--even when I was a vegetarian and there was a big pot of seafood stew with octopus and whole prawns on the table.

How long were you a vegetarian for? I can't imagine you lasted that long in a Mexican household.

About four years. Yeah, it sucked. Then I started cooking professionally when I was eighteen, and realized I couldn't be a vegetarian. I was just doing it to be an asshole. In the end, I can't escape how I was raised, who I am. And now I have an insatiable hunger for all the things I didn't eat for years.

What's your after-work hangout?

Cafe Presse or at home with Tony (my fiancee).

Where would you eat if you had just $5? $100?

$5: Ton Kiang for sui kau and bbq duck.

$100: Corson Building, it's been a while and I have wanted to go back. Although I've been meaning to try Bastille...

What would you like to see more of in Seattle from a culinary standpoint?

Non-gimmicky street food. Food carts with street food from Mexico, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Ramen and flautas, where you at?

My uncle has a farm in the lower valley. There are all these workers, and at lunch time someone comes through with tamales for sale, or wrapped tortillas in foil that have meat, eggs, chorizo, beans. I remember going to his house over the summer as a kid and I was always popping their stuff, eating those tamales. I actually picked cherries just to be able to go and have lunch from the person selling that food. That was my initial experience with "street food." And that's all street food should be: cheap, quick, satisfying, great.

 
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