Carlos Salgado is our new culinary partner in Palm Springs. Along with a resume of impressive accolades for his Costa Mesa restaurant Taco María, Carlos has a passion for heirloom corn, woodworking, classical composers and cold, clear desert nights. He believes, like we do, that the way you do anything is the way you do everything, and that cooking food and eating food is a political, symbolic and life-giving act. Plus, his tacos cast every other taco you’ve ever eaten in a rather unflattering light. (We wouldn’t be lying if we said we’ve wept with joy into more than one of his blue corn tortillas).
We caught up with Carlos Salgado to talk about his unique path to the kitchen, his commitment to human connection and the narrative arc of cooking.
Carlos. Welcome to Palm Springs. We heard you have a history with the desert already.
Carlos Salgado: Yes, I grew up in Orange County but never really considered myself a coastal kid. I very much looked the other direction. I fell in love with the desert early on. When I was a teenager, I got into rock climbing and started scrambling on rocks in Rubio. Then eventually I graduated to going out to trips to Joshua Tree. I’ve always had a fondness for it, especially because I really enjoy the cold, clear nights. I’m an astronomy nerd as well. I’m impractically a contemplative thinker, so I’ve always had a fondness for the peace and the natural beauty out there in the desert. So much so, in fact, my wife and I decided to get married out in Joshua Tree. And actually, we stayed the night at Ace the night before our wedding — a year to the day before I signed on to be executive chef here.
Does Clark post farming memes? And if he does is he being serious or ironic? And in your stories what type of farm did the Kents own? (Sorry for all the questions, I grew up on a farm so I love actual farmer Clark Kent)
no one knows how ironic they are
they had a little family farm with chickens and goats and a lot of heirloom varieties of corn. they were really into the classic three sisters combo (because hippies) (they did not actually have any idea what they were doing for a long time and by the time they figured it out they were kinda attached to what they were already doing) (and also martha can’t resist weird heirloom seeds, that woman goes NUTS with seed catalogues hot damn).
and jonathan got really into bonsai trees for a while, but those were more of a long-term investment.
“Glass Gem” corn has been called the most beautiful corn in the world and small wonder. I grew it for the first time this year and I’m amazed by the colors of the oh-so-shiny kernels: green, blue, cream, purple, even orange and pink. Stunning, yes?
one of my best pals has an acre of heirloom corn growing in california and this weekend, my birthday weekend, she is hosting a harvest party wherein she and friends will walk thru the rows and harvest, BY HAND, all the corn, shuck it, and store it in a corn crib that she designed and built from the ground up. look at the precision on that thing! i wish i could be there to help her.
The vibrancy of this yellowish-orange pigment is indicative of high concentrations of beneficial phytonutrients called carotenoids, which make this corn appealing for its nutritional value. And it’s also fairly high in protein.
So why did farmers stop growing this corn? For everything that New England Eight Row Flint corn has going for it in terms of flavor, its big downside is that it doesn’t produce many cobs. It’s a low-yield corn.
“That’s why farmers moved to higher-yield [varieties],” explains Algiere. “They can get more corn per acre at lower quality.” Farmers produce for bulk because they’re paid by the bushel, not by the color or the flavor.
Yesterday it snowed, but Bon Iver was as happy as a spring lamb in his rocking chair with his stack of seed catalogues and a big jar of apple tea. Flakes whomped upon on the old house–the wet, unproductive stuff that bends trees but hardly whitens the pastures. Inside, Bon Iver hummed and rocked and licked at the end of his pencil, filling in the order sheet for sweet peas and heirloom tomatoes, berries and corn.
Today the snow is gone and the sun is warm. Bon Iver sits on a hay bale, planning the garden. I join him for a while, feeling the hot breath of the sun on my neck and shoulders–a pleasure I’d forgotten.
Bon Iver seems to read my mind. ‘Winter makes us forget,’ he says. 'Baby, the joy of spring is rediscovering a warmth you’ve come to believe you’d never feel again.’
“Obviously I can’t be.” Hannah says, kissing Grace’s hand, causing further devastation to them both. An unfortunate turn, Grace feels.
Hannah thinks about doing it. About dropping everything and becoming a translator again. About asking Grace to move back to New York with her and allow her to be the vlogger’s secret girlfriend. Wife? But the only thing she loves more than Grace is Youtube. Her life is essentially perfect, except for that one thing.
Grace blinks and returns to sad blue eyes. “Can you kiss me? Just once more?” Hannah shouldn’t do it. Grace shouldn’t have asked. But Grace did, so Hannah does.
She takes each of Grace’s hands in her own and pulls her to her feet as she jumps out of her own stool. She pushes some curly chocolate hair carefully behind the taller girl’s ear and gently cups Grace’s face, trying to pretend that neither of them have tears welling. Grace’s hands move to Hannah’s back and almost burn her. Even though they’ve been doing this a good long while, the heat doesn’t go away. Maybe it never will.
Hannah leans in slowly, savoring the saddest goodbye. She breathes in through her nose and exhales gently, not wanting to forget how Grace smells. Finally soft lips meet and remain glued to each other a lot longer than either of them intended. Grace is running her hands up and down Hannah’s body, while Hannah’s hands are beginning to creep under Grace’s shirt. It’s a complete accident, but god, she needs her.
Grace abruptly pushes her away. It’s not aggressive or rude, just out of necessity. Nonetheless, the shorter girl is sad again, staring expectantly at her best friend. “Hannah if we kept going, you’d have made love to me in a kitchen again.” You bet your ass I would’ve, dilated pupils seem to say.
“And I don’t think I could let this end, if that happened.”
Why are they letting it end at all?
Because they have to.
Mamrie brings Hannah some red wine, at eleven in the morning. It had been a while since they hung out, just Hart to Hart. Hannah loves it when they do because no one makes her laugh like Mamrie. God knows she needs the pick me up. In fact, that’s probably why Mamrie invited her. Because Grace told her what happened. That last kiss definitely didn’t help with anyone’s feelings. It just brought the terrifying truth crashing down on top of them.
“So Grace hasn’t talked to me since that night. At least, not outside of YDAD.” “Which night?” Hannah hoped it was yesterday in her kitchen, because the idea of Grace not talking to Mamrie for several days is just sad.
“The night you sent the text.”
She remembers it vividly. She stood by a huge fountain in Vegas, typing with Sarah over her shoulder, having pulled her into a backwards hug. A sweet, honest hug because even though Sarah was making Hannah end it, she knew how hard this was, and she was sorry. That’s exactly what Hannah had texted. Two words, unceremoniously. ‘I’m sorry.’
“She was here you know.” Mamrie says after pouring herself a second glass of pinot. “She tried to bolt from my house the second it happened.” Hannah feels just pathetically sick to her stomach, but drinks another sip of wine regardless. “I had to force her to sleepover because after that text we drank all of the gin in LA together.” Hannah sighs.
“I can’t believe my actions forced Grace Helbig onto your couch,” the awful feeling continues to build. “The second time, Hannah.” She thinks love must be the kind of game where everyone loses. Without Grace, I am lost.
When Hannah gets home that afternoon, she finds a text from Swike. “You didn’t upload a kitchen. I’m coming over.” She hears a knock on the door, but doesn’t answer, because Sarah will let herself in. She does.
Hannah grabs her iPad. She wants to put a layer between Sarah and her. She was not in the mood for this conversation, not at all. Sarah joins her on the couch, wordlessly. Hannah opens tumblr.
“I’d ask you what’s wrong…”
“But you already know.”
Hannah speaks quietly and lowly, unable to locate the confidence for normal speech. She scratches her little blonde head, trying to avoid the somber reality. The reality is that you can’t be with Grace.
“You can’t let heartbreak get in the way of your creative work, Hannah.” Sarah sighs, recalling the time this happened before. The time in London where she and Hannah had far too much to drink and kissed passionately in a bar bathroom, walking out to find Mamrie smirking next to another, untouched, round. Sarah shut it down immediately, but Hannah still spent a couple days moping about.
Sarah wishes that Grace and Hannah had only been together one night. But they’re fucking in love. “Sarah,” Hannah slowly pushes large frames up from her nose, “I wish I could. I really do. The problem is not for lack of trying.” Hannah huffs anxiously, “Because I’ve never tried so hard in my life,” she gulps, “than trying to not be in love with Grace Helbig.” She never said love out loud before. Her own voice burns her ears.
“Except for when you tried to get her,” Swike blinks slowly, “to love you.” Hannah shakes her head immediately. No I did not. Grace falling for Hannah was entirely an accident. Unexpected, unparalleled, and undeniable. “Sarah, I fought so hard against it. I swear.” The taller blonde thinks that may have just been an element of Hannah’s game, because obviously, it worked. She doesn’t say that though because tears are already welling in that pair of blue eyes. The ones with the freckle. So fragile.
Hannah taps away at nothing, trying to busy herself. Sarah bites her lip repeatedly, thinking. She reaches over and touches Hannah’s shoulder, caringly, hoping to soothe her. The shorter girl continues to hold back tears, fighting the feelings as hard as possible. not hard enough. Hannah’s eyes pop up over the screen as if to say ‘thanks for trying.’
It is that moment, looking at the crumpled woman behind a screen, that Sarah gives in.
Hannah is making a chicken. A whole chicken, something Mamrie taught her when she still ate meat. She stuffs it with rosemary and surrounds it with freshly cut potatoes and a few carrots. She pulls out a bottle of artisan olive oil and drizzles it over everything, watching the translucent golden liquid sparkle a little in the low light. The dimness is thanks to a million tea candles, which Hannah regrets lighting because Grace is always late.
Grace, who has no idea why Hannah has invited her, and is probably just minutes from her home. Hannah takes a sip of her cooking wine, anxious, White wine is vile. She adds a little to the roasting pan and reaches for salt and pepper. If she had twenty four hours, she would’ve treated the chicken to a salt bath, because brining the bird is important. But Hannah can’t wait twenty four hours. Only four. Because that’s what time Hannah texted Grace: “be over at eight.” Not subtle and not a question. She quickly sends a second one “Don’t eat anything.” After that, Hannah went out for supplies. She had an excellent time running errands for once.
Hannah loves going to the co-op. There’s a lot of samples and a lot of happy people. Today she had paused at the rotisserie chickens, noting that they looked incredible. Also easy. But Hannah wanted to be romantic tonight. She wanted to cook. She went over to the vegetables and grabbed a bunch of fresh asparagus. She also tossed in some already done up fruit salad because she definitely was going to cook but let’s not push it. She picked up a bunch of bananas for the week, but planed to add one to the salad because it’s her favorite.
She felt her stomach rumble and meandered over to the soups, which you are always allowed to sample. She tried heirloom tomato and corn chowder. While at the deli, she picked up vegan cheesecake and doubled back to the fruit section for raspberries. She picked vegan because Grace’s bowels are not going to fuck up this perfect evening. The meal will be grand and gorgeous. Like a certain brunette. Hannah paid for her things and crossed “groceries” off her electronic to do list. There’s at least ten more things, all for tonight.
Hannah drizzles more olive oil but this time over asparagus. She’s already set out fruit salad, that she did, indeed, dress up with a banana. There’s champagne on ice next to twelve red roses. Okay so I went a little overboard. Hannah doesn’t care at all. Grace is so worth it. Speaking of Grace —
Hannah’s front door bursts open and as she walks in the tidy home, her jaw drops. Firstly, because this is the most romantic thing that has ever happened to her. Secondly, because she knows what that means.
It means Hannah is hers.
“Well shit, Han, I shouldn’t have worn sweatpants.” Hannah laughs as Grace continues. “Thanks for the heads up.” Hannah wants to jump on Grace immediately, but she she doesn’t. Hannah has invented a little game for tonight. One that is going to drive Grace up the wall, until I do later. She smirks at her mental wordplay.
Grace joins Hannah in the kitchen and tries to place a kiss on her lips, but is stopped by a once again smirking Hannah. “Hannah, I thought —“ “You haven’t heard about my game.”
“Well so far, I hate it.”
Already working. “I cooked you an extravagant meal Grace and we’re going to eat it together,” Hannah says quietly, “for a long time. And we are not allowed to touch,” Grace’s breath hitches. Why am I already turned on? How is this fair? “until we’ve enjoyed it.” Grace wanted to eat as fast as possible, but she’ll take it slow, savoring the little blonde’s efforts. She’ll do it for Hannah.
Grace takes in the sight around her. Roses, candles, and oh come on, Hannah knows not to buy expensive champagne. Grace walks over and examines it, gaping at the label. Are we in a rap video? Fucking Christ. She smiles anyway because clearly Hannah devoted her day to this. To all of it.
“Dinner’s going to be ready in,” she glances down at a little ticking tomato, the timer that Mamrie got her, “twenty. Sit and have fruit with me.” Hannah gestures to the chair before hopping over to pull Grace’s out for her. Grace giggles at this and takes a seat. She’s glad she remembered makeup today.
Hannah takes Grace’s plate first and piles fresh fruit on top of it, then her own. Meanwhile, Grace is working her fingers around the top of the champagne and cringes as she prepares to open it. She looks at Hannah mischievously and wiggles her eyebrows. “Don’t you fucking dare,” Hannah says. Grace dares. “Boop Boop,” is simultaneous with a loud pop. “It’s a real shame that I said we can’t touch because you teasing me that hard surely justifies murder.” Grace just laughs. Then Hannah does too.
They sip on champagne and nibble on fruit. No one stops smiling for a second. “We are such nerds,” Hannah notes. “I think it’s mostly you.” Hannah nods, because it is. The timer goes off and Hannah jumps up, donning oven mitts. Grace thinks she looks hilarious because the large gloves are drowning her. Hannah grabs the asparagus and tips it onto fancy china, but leaves the chicken in the pan. It looks pretty there. Grace gasps as Hannah lowers the golden brown bird onto the middle table, having moved the roses aside. She vanishes once more to grab the vegetables and a large carving knife.
She dishes up everything for Grace whose mouth is watering. Hannah cooked and it turned out good? She takes the plate graciously and waits for Hannah to finish plating her own to pick up a carefully laid fork. Hannah smiles back at her. They eat.
“Are you sure you didn’t pay someone to cook this?” Grace asks, piling more tender chicken into her mouth. “Nope,” Hannah says dripping in pride. Grace smiles back at her. I need to have sex with this arrogant, romantic asshole immediately. But Grace has to wait.
She tries to get up to take her empty plate to the kitchen, but Hannah waves her away, taking the plate herself. Hannah comes back with two pieces of cheese cake, both thick with raspberries. Hannah has put chocolate on Grace’s. “Don’t worry Smellbig, it’s vegan.” Put it in my mouth, thinks Grace. It’s delicious. Hannah pours them the remainder of the champagne, Grace beams.
“So can we fuck yet, or?” Hannah laughs as she takes away the desert plates. “Patience. I’ve got a couple things left for you. Go sit on the couch.” Grace sits, finding a box of chocolates next to a giant bottle of Grey Goose. The chocolates are Ghirardelli rather Godiva, because Hannah is from San Francisco. “Someone went overboard.”
“I think you mean ‘thank you.’” She does. Hannah sits next to her holding a tiny white box, sealed with a tiny red ribbon.
“Last one, I swear.”
She hands Grace the box who opens it carefully, curious. It’s a pair of keys, three of them to be exact. “If you tell me these are the keys to your heart, I’m going to leave you.” Hannah laughs. “I realize I’m cheesy, but like, not that cheesy.” Grace smiles and holds up the shiny keys.
“One’s to the house. One’s to the Prius. And one is to the shed out back.” “Hannah, in what world do I need a key to your shed?” “Maybe we’ll be gardening,” Hannah says as though that should clear it all up. “And in what world would we be gardening?” Hannah looks away from Grace for a second to laugh. “Maybe we’ll have a Hartbig garden.” We. Grace smiles, but Hannah isn’t finished. “And then in the process of planting tomato seedlings, you’ll inevitably decide that you like me better without clothes than with them. And you’ll kiss me, hard, all the way to the shed. The shed, which you’ll fuck me in, because I was smart enough to give you a key.”
“You’re an idiot. I love you.”
Grace knows it’s early, and can’t believe she said it first, but she meant it. Plus, is it all that early? She and Hannah had been friends for years now, and more than friends for a while. Hannah’s cheeks burn red with happiness, fuck not touching. She leans into Grace and grabs her tight.
She kisses Grace. First on the lips, then cheek, and pauses after working her way to Grace’s neck to pop up and face Grace. Foreheads touch and Hannah stares into chocolate eyes.
“I love you, Grace.”
Hannah gets off the sofa, much to Grace’s confusion. “What in god’s name are you doing?” “I lied.” Hannah yells back at her, “There’s one more thing.”
Grace takes a long sip of vodka, because what else can Hannah have planned at this point? Grace shakes her head a bit. Over zealous Hannah may be an idiot, but now she is her idiot. Her idiot who spends too much time on tumblr. Her idiot who only wants a dog for Instagram opportunities. Her idiot that devotes way too much time and money on her. She hears her idiot walk up behind her, and place two hands over her eyes.
“I’m doing this to mentally prepare you for my next gift. It’s by far my favorite.“ She kisses her on top of the head. “Keep them closed.” Grace obliges as she hears Hannah walk around the couch and stop before her. “Open.”
Grace’s jaw almost drops to the floor. Hannah is staring at her hungrily from a brand new, matching black lingerie set. She winks and bites her lip.
Grace is absolutely in love. You call the shots, babe, I just want to be yours.
Please like/reblog if you liked it or you want me to write a bonus sex chapter (because I kind of want to). Also askbox is open as always. Thanks for reading this whole thing.With love, A
Everything planned to be planted is planted! 5 raised beds have 6 assorted heirloom tomatoes each, with garlic, shallots, scallions, radishes, heirloom french marigolds, and freesias and sparaxis interplanted; 3 raised beds have assorted herbs; beets; lettuce; peas; cauliflower; short sunflowers, more marigolds, more something else (I can’t recall, but it’s all on paper and labeled); I put a row of heirloom corn and a row of white sunflowers in the giant raised bed area (that I refer to as the “Orchard”); last year I ordered from California and planted two antique apple tree varieties that were both supposed to be hardy to Zone 4, one did not make it (need to get a second tree for pollination (thinking about a dwarf “Honeycrisp”); both the grapes I planted last year died (need to plant more hardy variety - live and learn again); grass is growing like crazy out of the straw bales and I don’t like it - will weed eat as best as possible next week - but all plants are doing great and I have beans sprouting; I have 42 tomato plants all groomed and ready to go in the greenhouse for this Saturday’s Farmer’s Market!; the white wooden basket is my replica of the post I rebloged last week (in its early stages of growth).
Everything is going really really well for Gardener Gal - I even think I lost some lbs. working my ass off here! :-)