Tacos and Exploding Ketchup

My trip to Western Mass isn’t completely done. I still have to tell you guys about the great tacos I had, plus the case of the exploding ketchup. But first, tacos.

I was reading this book on Latin American food while Albany John drove over, and by the end of it, I was really jonesing for some tacos. He suggested we take the longer way home to stop at Mi Tierra for a few snacks. Mi Tierra is located on what I consider Hadley’s main strip – 206 Russell St, Hadley MA 01035. It’s in a strip mall across from a motel.

The inside is bright and shiny. It looks really warm. It used to be a grocery store, but they’ve really made the interior nice.I remember the last time we were in here a few years ago this side of the restaurant was partly a store. Now it’s a cute bar, with additional seating.

Hey, Mi Tierra guys, can you come to Albany? Because we would really appreciate you and treat you right. These tacos were exactly what I was craving – pliable, soft corn tortillas encasing chopped bits of well seasoned meat and some accents. The tacos above are beef. It may have been brisket. Stewed well, seasoned, and wonderfully moist.

However, I would have gotten two orders of pork if I knew how good the pork was. Get the pork tacos. Oh my gosh – is this al pastor? I have no idea, but it was a little spicy, and dripping with juice and fat. They were just perfect.
The tacos at Mi Tierra are just what tacos should be – all about the meat (and wonderfully flavored meat, at that) with just a garnishing of misc veggies. In this case it was raw onion and cilantro. None of this lettuce, tomato, onion, cabbage, corn, etc., business that basically turns your taco into a mini burrito. Just pure, simple tacos.
Both came with fresh wedges of lime, and a tomatillo salsa that I was practically drinking.
Prices were insanely fair – 3 tacos for $5. So we spent $10 on taco snacks that really hit the spot.

For dinner Papa Amherst took us to The Harp (163 Sunderland Rd, Amherst, MA) for seafood. At an Irish pub. The staff were really friendly, and we found a booth inside to sit at (they had just done some charity event outside, so outdoor seating was a no-go that night).
It looks kind of dive-y from the interior, but in a good way. Worn with age, and various local jerzees pinned to the ceiling.

I ordered one of the specials of the night – fried clam bellies. All meals come with fries normally, but they were all out, so we got WAFFLE FRIES!!!!! I squeed when I heard our waitress say “waffle fries”.
The bellies were tasty – fried lightly with a soft exterior. Helped showcase the sweet briny flavor in whole clams. I got one funky clam, but I ate through it (hello, it’s fried seafood) and other than that, no problems. It came with tartar sauce and coleslaw. I thought my coleslaw tasted like soap, but Albany John’s was fine. THE WAFFLE FRIES WERE AWESOME. Seasoned with salt and paprika, they were crunchy on the outside, and softly potato-y on the inside, and not greasy. A great example of waffle fries. They stayed crisp throughout the meal.
Papa Amherst got fish & chips. This was also a good one. The fish’s exterior was crunchy on the outside, with a moist fish interior.

Mama Amherst ordered the kielbasa and kraut sandwich, but didn’t taste much kraut. She said the kielbasa was good, though.

Albany John got the broiled scallops. They were larger than bay scallops, and had a nice buttery sauce to accompany them. No complaints there, a solid dish.

And as soon as I took this picture, Papa Amherst opened up the ketchup to squirt on his waffle fries when

The ketchup exploded EVERYWHERE. Papa Amherst was covered in ketchup, and Mama Amherst and I had gotten a decent amount of spray as well. Albany John was untouched since I was taking the picture of his food and covered him from any ketchup rain.

The staff were super apologetic about it, and we couldn’t stop laughing. A bottle of ketchup just exploded on us. When does that ever happen? And it went EV.ER.Y.WHERE.
I went to rinse ketchup off of my arms and shirt in the bathroom, and when I came back out they were wiping down the booth, apologizing like crazy, while Papa Amherst was lamenting wearing an orange shirt and not a white one (because then the ketchup *really* would have shown).
Our waitress told us that it had happened a few weeks ago (I guess heat, plus those plastic ketchup bottles that are oriented so the squeezy part is on the bottom = occasional ketchup explosion) and that we took it really well. The last guy was beyond pissed, but dude, how could you be pissed – WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN? Now you can say you had a bottle of ketchup EXPLODE ON YOU. I don’t even like ketchup, but I still think that’s awesome.
Our meal was entirely comped, too. What?! The bartender told us that while he was wiping the booth. Later on our waitress was like “I just want to let you guys know your meal is free. On us. We’re really sorry. Do you want any more to drink?” (Man, you’ve got to love her, hunh?)
In NY we’d probably get an apology, and maybe Papa Amherst’s dish would be comped or discounted. Or a waitress in NY would have left a receipt of how much your meal would have been, with the not-so-subtle subtext of “I hate comps, you guys better tip me over 20% of this imaginary bill”. But wow, for the entire meal to get comped, and for everyone working to genuinely apologize repeatedly… man, I already had a great time at The Harp and can’t wait to go back again.
I hope I get another exploding ketchup bottle.
  1. Oh my golly! I know where I'm eating on my next Trader Joe's excursion. Yummy yummy tacos!

  2. I am coveting those tacos. Oh man, they look sooo good. Me too. I know where I am eating the next time I am up there. (Up there? down there? over there? I don't know, I am terrible at geography) Trader Joe's-ville…

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