Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Taco Crawl (Part 4) La Mezcaleria

The next stop on our taco crawl adventure took us east, to Commercial Drive to La Mezcaleria for:

TOSTADAS DE PATO; Fraser Valley duck confit, guava, fruit mole sauce (manchamanteles), chayote squash and radish- $10 for 2 ….BUT the key question was heading into this establishment was… could a tostado qualify as a taco?

La Mezcaleria on Urbanspoon

The Food Crawl basics:
Four participants. Each participant picks a taco joint OR a specific taco dish they've been wanting to try. I drive the taco wagon (aka my Honda Fit) and come up with logistics, scheduling, route that makes sense. At each stop, we either have done our research and picked a taco OR ask our server for their most popular taco/ their recommendation. One taco per crawler per venue.
Let the adventure continue!

Another place in my neighbourhood and this is a spot that I have been to a handful of times and really like. See previous posts here, here, here.
This was the bad jew’s pick and he knew exactly what he wanted to order. There was a real debate over ____ but let’s face it, none of us are really experts enough to weigh in.
The Glib asked our server who immediately told us that she lived in Mexico for 5 years and said ABSOLUTELY NOT. As if that wasn’t enough to end the debate, she then brought over the owner/manager and asked him to weigh in on the matter. I vividly remember laughing hysterically at his over-the-top reaction. He threw down his bar rag in disgust and horror and proceeded to educated us on the long list of reason why a tostada is not a taco. Awesome.
After being shamed by the staff (ha ha), The Bad Jew, pulled an un-anticipate move and asked the server if we could be served the tostada on corn tortillas, transforming the dish into a taco. She agreed on the move but informed TBJ that there would be a slight pricing adjustment. The texture of the duck is excellent, shredded and tender, like a pulled pork and the fruit mole sauce gives this dish a very unique flavour with a hint of citrus and sweetness. The shredded chayote squash and radish added a nice crunch and contrast to the shredded meat and creamy avocado sauce base. Really tasty tostada-turned-taco at one of my favourite neighbourhood spots….and a special shout out to their awesome live mariachi duo that was playing that evening of our crawl (it turns out they have live mariachi every Weds).

The Leggy Redhead:

Duck confit tostada as a taco--The Bad Jew's request to make this as a taco instead of a tostada (to keep with our crawl theme) threw the server & owner for a loop.  A pretty funny debate ensued, but they were glad to accommodate us.  Although we bastardized the tostada, it was well worth it...the duck confit was awesome.  A little small, but great.  This was a very strong 2nd place winner for me.

For the Leggy Redhead...The Tacofino Chicken Karage taco was the surprise winner of the evening!


Final stop of the night – newish place on the drive that The Bad Jew has been jonesing to visit.  Obviously, this joint was my pick of the evening.  Remember that bit about whether a tostada counts as a taco – that was all because I wanted to order the duck confit tostada at La Mezcaleria. 
Of course, my fellow Crawlies couldn’t help themselves on soliciting another, better informed opinion on the taco/tostada controversy.  We asked our non-Mexican server to clarify – she wasn’t sure and asked both the chef and then the manager.  Survey says – a tostada isn’t a taco.  Boooo!  I blame Mexican conservatism.  Eventually the owner arrived who was infuriated at the concept and punctuated his contempt with a dramatic throwing of his serving towel onto the floor.  Loved the theatrics.  So I made a serious substitution and had the tostadas served instead on soft flour tortillas.  The crafty Bad Jew can not be beat at this game!
The post-op tostadas (postadas?) arrived at our table looking pretty despite the kitchen staff’s snickers – surprising for this LGBT friendly neighbourhood.  Embrace diversity, people!  Filled with abundant juiciness the duck confit was a flavour sensation covered in a delicious mole sauce!  What a perfect combo.  Guacamole was outstanding and the side of pickled onion was a stand out.  Make sure to order extra pickled onion.  Either that or visit with dining companions more proficient at sharing. 

We visited when there was a mariachi duo providing live entertainment.  Was a blast to watch the owner join in to sing a number.  Kudos for his entertaining prowess.  We ordered the banderitas to accompany – a three part shot beverage combo consisting of sangrita, mezcal and lime juice.  Sangrita is a non-alcoholic tomato/orange based mixture sometimes referred to as “Little Blood”.  On special for $6 on Wednesdays ($5 for Tequlia).  Thankfully La Mezcaleria served the banderitas on a board clearly marked for drinking order:

The Glib:

The Cloth Has Been Thrown Down

The Bad Jew took us to Commercial Drive for the evenings closer, where we would seek an answer to that existential question: “Is a tostado a taco?”  The simple asking of this question to a proud restauranteur was greeted with dismay, and the exaggeratedly fierce hurling of a napkin to the floor. So, that’d be a no then.

Taking note of the “no substitutions” rule, it was evident the Bad Jew would have to work his charm, and charm he did. Having lost the tostada vs taco battle, he remained determined to have us eat duck confit. Tensions rose with the Mariachi band playing ever louder and louder, in anticipation of the next question. Could we have the the duck confit tostada as a taco? Seconds past, they turned into more seconds, and still more seconds after that, as guitars strummed loudly. Yes. Yes we could, but we were warned. It won’t be very big. By this point, I should note, I had consumed a healthy portion of mescal.

The warned of small size was no impediment to the Bad Jew, or any of us, for that matter - this being our fourth taco of the night. And it was well chosen. Buttery, smoky, rich confit married with a creamy dollop of avocado deliciousness and a side of damn hot pickles. Was this taco Nirvana? Nope, but it was damn good. Would popcorn have made it better? Maybe. Would breading it in panko crumbs and deep-frying have made it better? Definitely.

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