A. J. Rathbun answers the tough questions. ... WATCH THE VIDEO
Don’t be shy about ordering from taco trucks. It’s understandable for a first-timer to be a bit reticent, but it’s really no big deal. Don’t worry about your command (or lack thereof) of Spanish, says Will Owen. “No taco truck to my knowledge is Spanish-only; even if the folks aren’t fluent, they know the English words for anything you might want to order,” he says. Just look over the menu, step up to the window, and tell them what you want. Just state your order, don’t wait to get called on, says streetgourmetla. “In Spanish we say ‘me da dos tacos de ...’ (give me two tacos),” he says. “No pleases, just order straight out.”
What should you order? Tacos! Some common fillings available for your tacos are carne asada (grilled or stewed beef), carnitas (fried pork), lengua (beef tongue), and cabeza (the delectable, sweet meat from beef cheeks). A word about cabeza: The word means “head,” but don’t worry, there are no brains involved (brains are called sesos). Cabeza is the rest of the meat from the head, and it’s “honestly the sweetest, tenderest meat on the whole critter,” says Das Ubergeek. “If you listen to the locals they are usually ordering lengua or cabeza; there is a reason for this,” says burntwater.
Besides tacos, it’s worth seeking out huaraches, says Das Ubergeek. “Huaraches, which literally means ‘sandals,’ are sandal-shaped, large tortilla-like objects that are normally stuffed or spread with bean paste and topped with things,” he says. “They’re very much a Mexico City snack. I love them topped with nopales (cactus leaves) but sometimes you get them with mushrooms or fava beans and they’re good that way too.”
One last thing: At many taco trucks, you’re not expected to pay until you finish eating your food. It’s kind of an honor system. “Order, eat, relax, tell the money handler what you had, pay as you’re leaving,” says streetgourmetla. “There is generally just a high level of trust and cordiality, so they’re fine with you grabbing drinks or whatever else, and then telling them everything you had when you’re ready to pay,” says QualityMart.
Board Link: Teach Me How to Go to a Taco Truck
Burning questions answered by A. J. Rathbun. ... WATCH THE VIDEO
It’s not like brownies are all that hard to make from scratch. But, when you’re feeling too lazy to melt chocolate in a double boiler, there’s always brownie mix. Are there worthwhile brownies that come out of a box?
Many hounds recommend Ghirardelli’s brownie mixes. “There is nothing about it that gives off ‘I’m from a mix’ vibes; delicious,” says Full tummy. “I’ve never seen a brownie so dark. Very rich and moist,” says Kate is always hungry. gansu girl hasn’t been able to improve on them, even from scratch. “I do doctor them up often,” she says. “Add crumbled peppermint patties, a peanut butter swirl on top, perform a rocky-road-fication, etc. People practically fall off their chairs when I tell them they’re not homemade, even when they’re just in their ‘pure’ form, out of the box.”
Trader Joe’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix is the only one coll bothers with; it’s extra good with some Kahlúa or instant espresso added in, though it doesn’t need anything extra to be good. LovelyAsia likes Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge mix, for brownies with a consistency resembling fudge. “I have tried many homemade recipes but they always come out too cake like,” she says. They’re especially good—and can pass for homemade—with some marshmallows, walnuts, or broken pieces of Skor bar added in.
Still not convinced about mixes? Then try CHOW’s Intense Brownies recipe instead.
Board Link: Best brownie mixes? Duncan Hines?
The sudden crisp note in the air must be convincing a lot of hounds to fire up their ovens, judging from the number of posts this week about where to buy unusual flours. Anything can be ordered online, of course, but it can be tricky finding anything smaller than a 25-pound bag this way.
PinchOfSalt is in search of whole kernel dry corn or freshly ground corn because cornbread made from it is “amazingly flavorful.” The bulk pozole (a.k.a. hominy) for sale at many stores won’t work as it’s been treated with lye which “definitely changes the flavor,” says PinchOfSalt. trufflehound has the solution: the Wayside Inn has a working historic grist mill and sells cornmeal, whole wheat flour, and pancake mix in its gift shop in two-pound bags for $5.
seidleroni seeks rye flour and other flours for bread. Many Whole Foods stores have a great bulk flour aisle, say hounds, but BackBayGirl likes the Harvest Co-Op in Cambridge, which has reasonable prices, she says.
Finally, amy_wong wants to make macarons with hazelnut flour instead of almond meal. voodoocheese says that L.A. Burdick Chocolate in Harvard Square sells one-pound bags of hazelnut, almond, and pistachio flour. But voodoocheese should have followed up with a much more important question: When can we come over to try these macarons?
Wayside Inn [MetroWest]
72 Wayside Inn Road, Sudbury
Harvest Co-Op [Cambridge]
581 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
L.A. Burdick Chocolate [Cambridge]
52-D Brattle Street, Cambridge
Joining sauerkraut and beer in the great Oktoberfest triumvirate. READ MORE
Niman Ranch pork loin is more than worth the hype, says alkapal. Succulent, juicy, and fine-fleshed, it has fantastic flavor with zero gaminess. The pork loin has a thin fat cap, and will render out quite a bit of fat, says alkapal. “Despite the amount of fat in the roasting pan, the loin was still juicy and super-tender, but not mushy in any respect,” he says. “Beautiful! It puts other pork loins to shame.”
“This is how pork should be,” says alkapal. “The ‘other’ white meat? Man, I’d venture it’s the ‘only’ white meat that’s worth eating. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.”
Board Link: Niman Ranch Pork Loin -- WOW!
heathermb ordered Toro’s cheeseburger “messy” recently, and three napkins later came up raving “delicious.” Said cheeseburger is ground from shortrib meat and is slathered with the same aoli/pepper/cheese/lime concoction that comes on Toro’s grilled corn. The messy option isn’t on the menu; you have to know to ask for it.
barleywino rhapsodizes that the “soft egg bun and messy aioli” the burger “goes down as smooth as a baby’s bottom,” which is presumably a good thing.
Toro [South End]
1704 Washington Street, Boston
Board Link: Toro’s cheesburger: if you like their corn…
More wacky food news from abroad: Apparently pears can be grown inside hard plastic forms that resemble popular depictions of Buddha, thereby creating edible versions of the Enlightened One. (Not surprisingly, we have the Japanese—developers of the square watermelon—to thank for this innovation.) Buddhists are regarded as being fairly easygoing when it comes to questions of sacrilege, which is fortunate; edible fruit versions of Jesus or Muhammad might be less popular among the faithful.