Monday, April 27, 2009

A Masa Amount of People at Taste of Tamales

I got my fill of tamales yesterday afternoon at the Third Annual Taste of Tamales by the Bay at San Francisco’s Fort Mason. A variety of tamales was served up by local restaurants, and it was a good thing I got there early because, as usual, these tasting events get crowded by the minute.

I don’t generally eat Mexican food, but I do love tamales—what I consider Mexican comfort food. It’s made with a corn meal called masa and often filled with meats or vegetables like sweet corn (my favorite), and steamed inside a corn husk.

The restaurants that turned out to showcase their tamales varied from the really fancy restaurants to caterers. My favorite tamales came from Cocina Poblana from Oakland’s Jack London Square. They actually made unfilled tamales and then served tender pork on top with sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. I’ve never had tamales served this way, but it was great.

There were some odd tamales, like one stand that was selling sweet tamales. Now, earlier I had a tamale from La Espiga de Oro from the Mission District that was made of sweet corn and it could have passed for dessert. But at this other stand, they had tamales made with strawberries, chocolate and peaches. Thing is, you didn’t actually get the bits of fruits, but instead just got a tamale flavored with fruit-flavored syrup. I wasn’t a fan.

It wasn’t a big event, but as people munched away at their tamales, they listened to Mexican music and you could stroll and check out some craft booths selling Latin-inspired jewelry or cookbooks. I checked out the tequila booth from Partida and they had three versions of their tequila that varied depending on how long they were aged. The girl there was so funny because she kept pouring tasting cups that were like shots. (Not really, but pretty close.) So I felt a bit drunk by the end of the day.

There was also a section where they taught people how to make their own tamales. It really looked a bit messy to make, so I just stuck with standing in line for the ready-made tamales.

A fun and entertaining part of the event was “Margaritas Rock!”, which was a competition for the best margarita. Amateur and professional bartenders competed in several rounds. I don’t know who won because I didn’t stay till the end, but I caught the first round and watched these guys make up their own signature margaritas with ingredients like cantaloupe, Midori liqueur and Fresca. I tried one afterwards and it had sooo much alcohol.

I didn’t realize there were so many tamale lovers, but it’s nice to see this Latin classic get an event all to itself.


foodhoe said...

I've been wanting to go to this, so I'm glad to hear your report. The first one you described from Cocina Poblana sounds delicious, I wonder if you can get it at the Jack London location? No chocolate tamales? Sounds like a fun day.

Unknown said...

the fourth annual event is coming up, Sunday, April 18 at our favorite spot, Fort Mason. More tamales, more tequilas, more fun. Hope to see you there Foodhoe