Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tacopocalypse Now!

UPDATE: Tacopocalypse no longer operates a stand at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market.
"He's out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct."

Being the last person in the Greater Des Moines area not to have experienced local chef phenom Sam Auen’s [@VegChefDSM]Tacopocalypse”, I was thrilled at the prospect of enjoying his creative, out-of-the-box tacos at the Downtown Farmers' Market.

I had finally found Chef Auen’s taco stand, at the southwest corner of Second & Court, only to find that the county health inspectors had minutes earlier put the kibosh on serving grub until he had a fire extinguisher handy. No doubt for when people anoint themselves in potentially flammable bacon oil after the rush of bacon chorizo sets in.

In no time our intrepid chef returned with device in hand, and was slinging out tacos to the happy few already congregated around the altar of taco.

Acting quickly, I ordered up two each of the bacon and vegan chorizos, dashed one of each with a sampling of the chef’s salsas, some chopped onion, and off I went to find some dark corner where I could indulge in base desires.

After frantically trying to find the best lighting for some food porn pics, I got down and dirty with the bacon chorizo. Meaty, soft, juicy. Subtly bacony, but not intense like bacon that’s been rendered crispy in the skillet. This had all the fat nuances intact. If the drippings from the bacon chorizo were blood, my hand looked like it just went Mola Ram on some poor peasant’s chest cavity. “Kali ma… Kali ma… Kali ma, shakthi bacon!”

Bacon chorizo, left, and vegan chorizo. "Terminate with extreme prejudice."
"The menu... the menu..."

The vegan chorizo was equally moist and flavorful. Like Bandit Burrito, Chef Auen knows how to do meatless right. A never, ending pantheon of loose meat items would be gobbled up happily by the flesh-loving masses if prepared with the texture, flavor, and mouth-feel of his vegan chorizo. If I may be so bold to suggest, I would love to see the Chef tackle a vegan Cincinnati chili. I even have a recipe to try tweaking with [see blog post].

I was very impressed with Chef Auen’s home pressed corn tortillas. Sturdy enough to handle the bacon chorizo without falling apart, but still pliant enough to disassemble with each delicious chew yet still retain mouth-pleasing texture.

More experimentation with the masa could lead to some killer gorditas. And I’m not talking about Taco-fucking-Bell! Something along the lines of what I had from a taco truck in Las Cruces would bring me to tears. I love the simple flavor of masa. If it weren’t for the awesome pupusas served by the women at the El Salvador stand, I would never get that fix on a regular basis. Note: El Salvador has moved to the west side of Third Street, half a block south of Court, due to the spate of road destruction at their usual location.

The fine shreds of cabbage adorning Chef Auen’s tacos were a welcome alternative to drab lettuce. What an extra-awesome thing Tasty Tacos would be with this one, simple tweak as a menu alternative. "Nada Es Imposible."

Equally welcome were the salsas offered. The roja is an approachable sauce for most palates, but the green-hued tomatillo-habanero salsa is the superior in picante. I’d load up gobs of the stuff, if I didn’t give a damn about tasting the well-seasoned, savory fillings.

Long may Tacopocalypse rule this domain. A week without Chef Auen’s tacos is like a week without sun. Considering how fucking drab this spring has been, we need all the tacos and sun we can get.

Simmering away, from left: vegan chorizo, pork tongue, braised pulled pork, and bacon chorizo.

Savory salsas: mild roja and napalm (Tomatillo-Habanero).
Tacopocalypse, located 75 klicks above the Do Lung bridge.
Tacopocalypse at the Farmers' Market on Urbanspoon

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