The pound of ground pork that’s been hanging out in our freezer for a couple of months was put to good use this week. We picked a recipe from this site (“Chorizo Mexicano”), halved it, and added a couple of chopped Scotch bonnets for extra heat. Sadly, we had to omit the extra quarter pound of pork fat since we didn’t have any on hand. We also didn’t have the time to store it for a few days in a crock (nor did we really have a suitable crock). Still, the chorizo came out very well (if a bit leaner than we’re used to), and it was a really quick process – maybe 30 minutes from start to finish.
And I’m excited! I think it might be run by the nice people who had the taco cart by McCarren Park briefly earlier in the year. Lots of good stuff on offer: chilaquiles, tortas, enchiladas, egg sandwiches (I am so getting one tomorrow, avec chorizo!) various meat platters, and of course… tacos. From the menu, it looks like barbacoa and lengua are regular options in addition to the standard fillings – yay! Fingers crossed that the food is good, and that a new business can thrive despite this terrible economy.
Tacos & More, 688 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222 (just past the intersection of Bedford and Manhattan Aves)
We had lunch at this tiny restaurant (which grew out of an insanely popular stand around the corner) over the weekend, as Christmas carols blasted from lamppost-mounted speakers outside on 5th Avenue and the temperature dipped into the ‘teens. To counter the brutal wind, we tried one of the weekend specials: consome y barbacoa. Was it good? Was it ever: a huge bowl of broth, the color of dark brick, rich with chunks of long-stewed goat meat and tendon. A quick stir revealed a generous amount of chickpeas lurking at the bottom. We squeezed in lime juice and added a handful of chopped cilantro, et voila (as my favorite Frenchman would say). Pure bliss. We also tried a couple of chorizo tacos, which came with cubes instead of the loose meat we were expecting. No matter. They were great, with a nice, garlicky flavor and good snap to the sausage, and a generous siding of radishes, chopped onion and cilantro, lime wedges, avocado, and mild, salty green sauce. I suppose we could have stopped there, but restraint isn’t the point (and besides, those tacos are tiny). We couldn’t leave without having a few of the signature item: tamales. We asked for one mole and one salsa verde, but received two of the latter. Oh well. With food this delicious (and cheap!), I’m not complaining about minor mix-ups. The tamales lived up to the hype, with soft, fluffy masa, tender chunks of chicken, and a truly fiery sauce. I could have eaten another two or three, easily. Next time. And oh, how I look forward to it!
La Guera/Ricos Tamales, 4603 5th Avenue, Brooklyn 11220
The Web site: http://www.sunset-park.com/mall/LAGUERA/menu.html
PS – Just read a few negative “reviews” of this place on Yelp, including one from a guy complaining that the tamales seemed “pre-cooked.” No shit. If they weren’t, you’d be waiting a couple of hours for your order.
Coming soon to Manhattan Ave. Hope it lives up to the excitement.
The Greenpoint Taco Man reappeared yesterday (parked on the triangle of concrete between Bedford and Nassau), and I was finally able to try the lengua. The verdict: two greasy thumbs up. The meat was very tender from a combo of boiling and griddling; slightly smoky and slightly sweet with a hint of gaminess. Definitely better than the cecina. I had the avocado sauce this time, which seemed like a mildly spicy guacamole thinned with crema. I hope that GTM sticks around, because a summer spent lazing around McCarren Park while feasting on tacos would be a nice thing indeed.
Not that the neighborhood is entirely bereft without him, though… Another treat that I finally got around to sampling comes from El Encanto, a Mexican grocery with a small menu for take-away. Al and I split a carne enchilda torta, and I can’t remember the last time that half of a sandwich left me so full. The roll failed to hold all of the ingredients, which included several thick planks of cheese, pickled jalapeno strips, a generous number of avocado slices, a few handfuls of iceberg lettuce, and about three-quarters of a pound of spicy, reddish-orange pork. I had to use a fork to eat the thing, and while a stickler would no doubt deduct points for the fact that the bread was rendered unusable by a combination of grease and overstuffing, I still give the sandwich pretty high marks.
El Encanto, 1005 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222
As I was heading up to Manhattan Avenue the other day, I noticed a bright beach umbrella attached to a silver coffee cart parked at the intersection of Bedford, Driggs, and Nassau. I had an immediate gut feeling: tacos. And I was right. A sign on the front of the cart advertised “Tacos: bistec/steak, pollo/chicken, cecina/salt beef, lengua/tongue, alhambre/mixed.” Although I was on my way home for dinner, I couldn’t resist giving one a try. I chose the cecina, which was served with chopped onions and cilantro and optional green sauce. The meat was cut more thickly than I like, and rather chewy as a result, but the sauce was great and overall the whole package (which I gobbled like a savage walking up Manhattan Ave) was quite tasty. Next time: lengua.
*Yes, I’ve been writing A LOT about tacos lately. Oh well.
From left to right: quesadilla with cecina, enchiladas banderas, cecina plate.
The second visit was not disappointing. At the moment, Taco Santana is by far my favorite place in the neighborhood(ish).
Taco Santana, 301 Keap Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211