Last Saturday afternoon, L and I were shopping at Kingsland Market. I bumped into Darren MacLean and Cody Willis at the Broxburn Farm stall. I asked MacLean if he was shopping for his own groceries. He replied no, he was organizing a pop up restaurant, along with fellow chefs Cody Willis, Emilio Benivides and Garth Brown of Brix and Morsel. Vine Arts and Spirits were supplying the party favors and mixing the cocktails. The theme of the pop up event was kick ass tacos, held at Taste Restaurant.
L loves a good taco, and I was feeling too lazy to cook, so off we were to Taste. We arrived shortly after 6:00pm, but much to our dismay, every single table was filled. Lucky for us – there was one table available on the patio.
L ordered a Red Pig ($5.00), a Mexican ale. I asked Cody which of the alcoholic drinks was the healthiest choice. He laughed and then realized I was serious. I don’t joke about my booze. Cody recommended the lime margarita ($5.00). Good advice – I thoroughly enjoyed my drink. The margarita wasn’t overly sweet and it had a good bite from the alcohol.
Shortly after receiving our drinks, the Chips and Pico ($5.00) were brought to our table. The chips were really crunchy – it looked like they were quartered and fried tortillas. In any case, the chips were far superior to any commercial brand. The salsa was lovely – light and refreshing with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and pea shoots.
L and I each ordered a set of tacos ($15.00): oyster po’boy; pork confit; braised beef cheek and fried duck tongue tacos. The oyster po’boy and the beef cheek and fried duck tongue tied for our favourite. The breaded exterior of the fat Bay oyster was crusty, a great contrast to the meatiness of the oyster and the softness of the tortilla. The oyster was topped with buttermilk slaw, cucumber radish, brussel sprouts and aioli. I loved the spiciness of the salsa and the addition of the pumpkin seeds.
The 12 braised beef veal cheeks and fried duck tongue was so rich and flavourful. The meat was garnished with salsa verde, tomatillos, japapenos, cilantro and avocados. This taco seriously kicked some ass. I could detect a little garlic and lime in the salsa.
The pork confit taco was the most traditional of the trio. The pork shoulder was soft and juicy. I learned that the wet rub consisted of various spices as well as tequila and Corona. We really enjoyed the topping – an airy pork rind that melted in your mouth, a dollop of crème fraîche and salsa.
L thought these tacos kick all the other tacos in the nuts. I have to agree. Cody Willis and Darren MacLean’s unique recipes was brilliant and perfectly executed. Hopefully, their taco party will pop up again in the future.