It was an assignment not for the weak of stomach: write about the burgeoning Louisville taco scene.
Journalism school taught me that a good reporter must do his or her research, so I embarked on a two-week taco taste test across the city. I documented some lessons learned and some stand-out taquerias in a story I wrote for the WFPL news blog. Here’s an excerpt:
The components of a taco sound simple enough—a tortilla, some meat, a few veggies, a sauce, and a wedge of lime on the side. But the best tacos in the city are thoughtfully crafted by chefs willing to explore flavor combinations that call on tradition yet seem refreshing and new. The tortilla should be soft, warm, made of corn and sturdy. The meat is best when it’s marinated and slow cooked, as evidenced by tender strips that fall apart as you chew your way through. The veggies should be crisp and handled with a light hand to not overwhelm aforementioned tortilla. And the sauce can make or break this little handheld dish—too much, and it’s sloppy and overbearing, too little, and the dish is dry. And don’t forget to squeeze that lime, for it adds a final citrusy pop to make the tastes come alive.
Read the rest of the article here. Gluttony jokes aside, I had a fun time writing this one. Louisville has turned into a great place for tacos.
Got some canned goods? Want to help a local food bank? Do you like cheese dip?
Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurants in Louisville and southern Indiana will collect canned goods for Dare to Care food bank through Sunday, Nov. 20, according to an email I got from the chain restaurant. In exchange for one canned good, customers will receive a free queso upgrade to any entree. In exchange for three canned goods, the restaurant will give you an order of chips and queso.
This sounds like a win-win situation. And if you don’t make it into a Qdoba by the end of the promotion? Donate to Dare to Care anyway.
I’m not a big sports fan, but I can appreciate an event like the Super Bowl. Any event that brings people together and involves food can’t be all bad.
The big event is just a couple of days away. Here’s a few quick dishes that you can whip up if you still haven’t figured out what you’re going to feed the crowd.
Fruit dip – Blend a package of softened strawberry cream cheese and a jar of marshmallow cream. Serve with your favorite fruits. (All Recipes)
Nachos – Heat a jar of picante sauce, a can of nacho cheese soup and some chopped jalapeno peppers on the stove. Stir often. Serve with chips.
Sliders – Mix a package of ground beef with two cap fulls of Mrs. Dash seasoning (or the store-brand equivalent, which is cheaper and tastes the same). Form into small patties. Grill in a medium pan. Top with slices of pepperjack cheese, and serve on King’s Hawaiian Rolls.
Potato wedges – Bake a bag of frozen potato wedges according to package instructions. Right after you take them out of the oven, sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Serve with ketchup spiked with Frank’s Hot Sauce.
Pizza – Top pita bread with pasta sauce, spinach and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
S’mores – Top a graham cracker with a piece of chocolate and marshmallow. Put another graham cracker on top. Repeat with as many times as you like. Heat in microwave for 10 seconds. (Food Network)
And all the folks who have e-mailed, commented or tweeted about El Mundo had a clear message: this Mexican restaurant is the perfect destination for a $10 Challenge.
So I used my birthday and my roommates’ big hearts (and wallets) as excuses to visit the Frankfort Avenue restaurant.
El Mundo isn’t like most Americanized Mexican places that I’m used to visiting. Gone are the bad murals of haciendas and medleys of Spanish singing over the speakers. Same goes for the identical menus and indistinguishable dishes covered in melted cheese. This restaurant takes traditional Mexican dishes and shakes them down Kentucky-style by infusing food with local ingredients and giving the finger to what people expect from a Mexican restaurant.
But for this week’s $10 Challenge, I was determined to fail.
I have operated under the notion that $10 should be enough to receive a decent meal at a local restaurant. But what if you throw in a couple of extra bucks? Will the more-expensive meal be worth blowing off the $10 budget I have imposed upon myself for the last few weeks?
Los Aztecas has been the go-to Mexican place for my buddies and I for years. In high school, I visited the restaurant’s Main Street location about once a week because it was the only eatery open for lunch during my Sunday afternoon shift at the Louisville Science Center. I didn’t fully appreciate the variety Los Aztecas offered back then. Instead, I ordered a chicken quesadilla (the starter entree for anyone new to Mexican food) each time I brought something back to the museum for lunch.
A few years have passed, and I have since been fortunate enough to further explore Los Aztecas’s extensive food and tequila selection. But I’ve gotten into a rut during my last few visits. I have been ordering the quesadilla fajita grande with chicken or the burrito fajita grande with chicken with the reassurance that each of the similar dishes will always come out tasting great.
On my most recent dinner visit, I wanted to flip to a new page in the Los Aztecas menu and try a different entree.
Cinco de Mayo is supposed to be a day to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride (at least, that’s what Wikipedia tells me).
For me, the observance has given me a reason to indulge in large quantities of chips and dip.
Whatever your reason for celebrating Cinco de Mayo, it’s a great day to try a homemade Mexican-inspired recipe. Remember the cheesy chicken nachos?
Tonight, I will make some homemade guacamole using this recipe I found on a fellow foodie’s website called Spicie Foodie. I chose to make guacamole because a) I love me some guac; b) this particular recipe seemed basic and easy; and c) avocados are on sale at Aldi in Louisville for 69 cents each. If that’s not a good reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.
(Side note: I might end up stocking up on Mexican food supplies at my trip to Aldi, because it looks like they have some fantastic Cinco de Mayo sales.)
I’ll post the results of the homemade guac tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some links to more Cinco de Mayo-inspired recipes and deals:
All Recipes has a page dedicated to Cinco de Mayo recipes. I’m tempted to make a grilled version of this fish taco recipe to go with my guac. (site)
Paula Deen, one of my favorite Food Network personalities, has a recipe for Mexican Chicken. It includes one of my favorite cost-saving ingredients — canned soup. (recipe)
If you visit a Louisville-area Qdoba on Cinco de Mayo, you can get chips and salsa for 50 cents. (site)