I used to believe that Sundays were designated for rest and relaxation. The one day a week where your excitement comes to a humble stop… but that has all changed! This past Sunday, I attended Death Row Meals’ Taco Throwdown event, co-ordinated by Joel Solish at the trendsetting Rock Lobster Food Co. on the Ossington Strip. This was not only my first time attending a Death Row Meals’ event, it was my first time stepping into Rock Lobster, and boy was it a sexy space!
It has an intimate room with rustic details and a modern nautical theme that reflected the personality of the restaurant. I was shown my seat alongside my food partner in crime, Kyle Blezard, who, just like me, was ready to spice up his Sunday afternoon. I was told that my senses would be dazzled with six unique tacos and six paired drinks… who knew I’d be in for such a treat. I had the pleasure of eating my way through the creations of these great local chefs: Matt Basile from Fidel Gastros, Adam Hynam from El Gastronomo Vagabuno, Andres Marquez from Fonda Lola, Shontelle Pinch from Gourmet Bitches, Rossy Earle from Supi CuCu and last, but not least, Matt Pettit from Rock Lobster Food Co.
Without the knowledge of which chef made which taco, a scoreboard was provided to rate the flavour, appearance and originality of each plate. I felt like I was on Iron Chef, seated right at the judges’ table. The first serving of Rossy Earle’s Taco de Tasajo arrived with a beautiful pairing of Beau’s All Natural Beer. The taco consisted of refried beans (I know Nicki would not be a fan), avocado and crema de queso fresco. The second taco by Matt Basile, named TacoZuna, was an artform in and of itself. Maybe it was just me, but I fell in love with the tempura fried chicken and bahmi slaw taco with wasabi aioli and hoisin sauce. The taste was pure zest and the portion was huge in comparison to the others; also it tasted delish with Vineland Riesling. I felt like I won the taco jackpot with this one.
(From Left to Right – clockwise: Taco de Tasajo, TacoZuna, Late Night Lamb Sandwich, The Dr. Seuss, Tacos al Pastor, The Mystery Machine)
The third opponent in the throwdown was Adam Hynam’s Late Night Lamb Sandwich, paired perfectly with a Vineland Cab Franc. The braised lamb shank was tender and juicy, not to mention it complimented the fried rosemary and chili mint relish like a dream. As for the fourth taco, Matt Pettit’s Dr. Seuss creation humoured my funny bone and delighted my stomach. My name may not be Sam, but I do like green eggs and ham. This taco featured scrambled duck egg, spinach and roasted shallots, crispy maple pork belly and hollandaise. It was complete and utter yum, paired with my favourite drink of the day, the Tequila Tromba cocktail.
A Sailor Jerry cocktail made an appearance with Andres Marquez’s Taco al Pastor, and lastly Shontelle Pinch unveiled the Mystery Machine taco with a glass of Forty Creek (sounds ominous, but the mystery was duck). It was a close runner-up to my favourite…
But, my gut was right, and in the end Matt Basile’s TacoZuna reigned as Taco Throwdown champion!
For more upcoming events hosted by Death Row Meals, please follow DRM co-conspirator Joel Solish.
Rock Lobster | 110 Ossington Ave.