The name of this event kind of says it all: Tacos, tacos, tacos… & booze.
On Sunday, 6 amazing chefs gathered at Milagro Cantina to battle for our tastebuds’ love with their tacos. We were given a score card with a description of the 6 tacos we would be eating. Without knowing which chefs made with tacos, we scored each one for flavour, appearance, and originality.
At the end of the afternoon, the scores were tallied, and Nick Liu from Niagara Street Cafe was the winner with his crispy octopus taco with smoked paprika caponata, chorizo bacon, spicy tomato aioli on a jicama “tortilla”, paired with Steamwhistle. This was definitely the most original of all of the tacos. I wasn’t surprised that it scored high across the board for taste, appearance and originality. Definitely a winning combination!
The runner-up was Rossy Earle of SupiCucu. Her taco was a green plantain tortilla with avocado cream, braised & pulled chipotle smoked duck, chayote & tomato pickled slaw, culantro lime cream, duck skin chicharron, paired with Spearhead. Rossy always does an amazing job with making food that is the perfect combination of spicy and smokey without being overpowering. Her taco was actually my favourite of the day in terms of taste. When I ate it, the juices dripped down my wrist, which to me is always an indication of a good taco. The Spearhead was a great choice for a pairing and the pineapple notes in the beer played nicely with her smoked duck.
Steve Gonzalez’ taco: a grilled adobo pork tender, tomatillo and corn relish. roasted garlic and lime crema on a refried bean tortilla, paired with Corona. This was very similar to the taco that he made when he was the guest chef for one of La Carnita’s pop-ups, so even though we weren’t told right away that this was Steve’s taco we figured it out. The refried bean tortilla was unique, and the salsa was perfectly smokey and sweet.
Tom Davis from Stockyards‘ taco: braised beef cheek and smoked beef tongue with avocado crema, pickled red onion, cilantro, and duo of house smoked hot sauces, paired with Trapiche Malbec. This one had me at “house smoked hot sauces” and was another one of my favourites of the day. Though tacos seem to go hand-in-hand with beer and tequila, I thought that the Malbec was a very nice accompaniment and would have gone well with some of the others as well.
Andres Marquez of Charlies Burgers‘ taco: Carne asada of smoked and grilled marinated kobe knuckle, fresh flour tortillas, salsa taquera garnished with grilled scallions, paired with Tequila Tromba Blanco (available soon at the LCBO). Compared to some of the other tacos we had seen that afternoon, this one looked very plain. I didn’t see any of the promised grilled scallions, either. But the beef was well cooked and the fresh flour tortilla was pure simplistic perfection.
Arturo Anhalt of Milagro‘s taco: Longaniza (spicy street style chorizo) with salsa verde, onion and nopales (cactus), paired with with Don Julio Blanco. The chorizo wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was very good.
The man behind the afternoon’s festivities was Joel Solish, a food blogger, local food advocate and all-around amazing guy. He promises that there will be more exciting installments of the Death Row Meals Supper Club soon. The next event will be showcasing some of the city’s best sous-chefs; Sort of like a preview of Toronto’s up and coming stars. Stay tuned to Living.Loving.Local’s Facebook page for information about upcoming dinners.
Photos and Words by Robin