Eating Up The Last Two Weeks of Tasty Thursdays! Cornbread, Pulled Pork, and Cornmeal Mashed Potatoes

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I can’t say this summer has been the most comfortable for me.  My favourite season growing up was always summer, but I have to say, I must be getting wussier in my “old” age when it comes to the heat because over the course of the last few months I have been constantly ducking under trees, storefront awnings, and every cool, shady spot imaginable.  I have only gone hatless one day this summer and I have come home in a gross, sticky mess almost every day. 

Even though my body is begging for the cooler fall temperatures, I have to admit that this has been one very fun foodie summer.  I’ve been able to tuck away over 10 farmers’ markets under my belt, I’ve been able to take some beautiful photos around the city sans the snow slush, and I’m really proud that I took advantage of my time post-graduation to make this summer mine.  I haven’t had a summer to myself in the last seven years and it has felt amazing doing so many of the things I set out to do before the summer started.

With the temperatures as sizzling as they are, summer is far from over but it’s worth taking note that Nathan Phillips Square’s Tasty Thursday outdoor food fests are coming to a close on September 1st.  This leaves us with two more weeks of hot-off-the-grill food for lunch in the heart of the downtown core.  We have two more weeks to savour the flavours of seafood ceviche, jerk chicken, Peruvian rice, vegetarian pad thai, Indian dishes bursting with chickpeas, and plenty of others. 

Last week Tasty Thursdays switched things up a little and we saw the introduction of Big Daddy’s Bourbon Street Bistro and Oyster Bar, Lone Star Texas Grill, and several others.  You know what that means – new photos!  My mum took advantage of the Southern cajun style catfish and creole rice with her fish and rice dish, and I ogled the cornbread for what seemed like eons before deciding that I would pass solely based on price.  The cornbread looked fantastic, but since I wanted more than just the cornbread without wanting to go over the $5 budget threshold, I sadly walked away last week.  Trust that if it comes back this week I just might cave and get me some!  What my brother and I ordered for lunch that day came from La Fiesta Catering: pulled pork with mashed potatoes, rice, and salad.

If you’ve read my Tequila Sunrise post, you know that pulled pork is a bit of a weakness of mine.  So as I soon as I saw the $5 meal posted on the menu board at Tasty Thursday last week, I was all over it.  The slow-cooked shredded tenderness of the pulled pork drove that weakness of mine crazy, and they had this great sauce to go along with the meal as well.  And you all know how I feel about sauce!  Cue Homer Simpson-like drooling here.  Even though I love the pulled pork at Tequila Sunrise best, the pulled pork I had last week was great too, and the salad that came with the meal had this nice sweet tang from some of the pickled vegetables. 

If you can believe it, the mashed potatoes were FABULOUS!  This is not your typical lump of mashed potatoes.  For one thing, they have this pretty light yellow colour.  And for another they have this ultra smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture that can only be described as the love child between potatoes and corn meal.  These mashed potatoes were scooped into large round domes and placed on a super hot grill to get that warm golden brown colour on the underside, as well as that little bit of crispiness.  Looking at these photos now, I would seriously go back and grab a whole box full of scooped cornmeal-like potatoes and have myself a field day.

*****

Nathan Phillips Square is located at 100 Queen St. West at the intersection of Queen and Bay St.  Tasty Thursdays takes place every Thursday from 11am-2pm from July 14th-September 1st, 2011.  All food items are $7 or less.  For more information on which restaurants and vendors are participating this summer, click here.

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Walking Into a Tex-Mex Saloon – Pulled Pork Taquitos at Tequila Sunrise

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I have a weakness and its names are Tex-Mex and Mexican.  Fajitas, corn tortillas, and empanadas stuffed with the most savoury meats and served with refried beans, rice, sour cream, cheese, and guacamole??  OH.MY.GOD.  Insert hungry rumbling noises from my stomach right here.  We all have our “naughty” foods, things we know are bad for us but are just so damn good.  Things we eat when we allow ourselves that one indulgent day or meal out of our otherwise healthy week.  I LOVE Tex-Mex and when I want to be bad, THIS is my indulgence that satisfies me from top to bottom.  Tequila Sunrise was an unplanned, accidental outing in my foodie repertoire and am I ever ecstatic that I ate here over a month ago!  This meal was delicious, so satisfying, and such a sweet surprise.

On that day, I had a hankering for burritos and skipped on over (well, more like bussed, subbed, and then skipped) to Burrito Boyz (blog post to come in the near future!), hoping to sink my teeth into either a veggie and cheese burrito or some form of quesadilla.  Burrito Boyz was packed and although I’m not against taking my food to-go, you know how I am with the pictures and all, so my sweetie and I said to hell with it and contemplated Plan B.  I was hungry, it was 1pm in the afternoon, I didn’t want to go far, and I still had that craving for a burrito!  Enter Tequila Sunrise just down the street!  I was aware of Tequila Sunrise but just hadn’t gotten around to trying them out so when Rich suggested it, I shrugged and thought, “why not?”

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I loved this meal SO much.  The decor and atmosphere were adorable.  Okay, so the disco ball hanging from the ceiling is snicker-worthy, but seriously, I felt like I was eating in an old-time Tex-Mex cowboy saloon out in the desert 😀  I half expected men in chaps to walk right in and tip their hat at me.  But the real winner here is the food.  SO EFFING GOOD!  Their menu has a plenty of choice and there are lots of traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes with Spanish and Columbian influences to choose from: chicken mole, tortilla soup, chimichangas, enchiladas, empanadas, pozole stew, chili con carne, huevos rancheros, tostadas, as well as plenty of guacamole and chirizo, and margaritas, mojitos, sangria, and of course, tequila to wash it all down!  I ordered the taquitos dish with pulled pork: 2 crispy fried corn tortillas in the shape of tubes (or flutes), filled with pulled pork and covered in chipotle sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and guacamole, served with rice, refried beans and corn chips, and salad.

This meal was perfection in so many ways.  The refried beans were so smooth and the meat and dish in general wasn’t salty, greasy, or overly seasoned at all.  The corn tortillas had the most delightful crispy texture and corn flavour and they didn’t collapse or get soggy because of the filling.  They maintained their crunchiness and texture and perfectly complemented the sauces and pork.  The flavour of the pulled pork really shined through and it was soft and juicy and SO delicious.  The flavour was subtle and natural because it wasn’t masked or overshadowed by anything; you knew you were eating pork and it was just slow-cooked so perfectly.  You could taste the leanness of the meat and there wasn’t an ounce of gross fat hanging off of it.  Fat doesn’t equal flavour and Tequila Sunrise got their pulled pork bang on.  Quite possibly the BEST pulled pork I’ve ever had.  I inhaled this and I think I said, “oh my god, this is so good” about four times during my meal!  It’s a dish I can envision myself ordering time and time again.

Tequila Sunrise is a gem.  Wonderfully nice staff, delicious food with plenty of choices to boot, and cute decor to match an equally cute atmosphere.  Prices are very reasonable meal-wise.  They have plenty of $9, $10, and $11 meals as well as platters for multiple people to share (such as fajitas and enchiladas, and combo platters).  So if you’re looking for something simple, you can definitely manage with $10-$12 and if you’re looking to go all out (meal, drink, dessert, the whole nine yards), it’ll probably be a $20 meal.  Well worth it for the fan-freakin’-tastic food 😀  I’m so happy I got the chance to eat here and I’m looking forward to my next noshing!

*****

Tequila Sunrise is located at 212 Adelaide Street West, west of University Ave and situated between Simcoe and Duncan St.  Adelaide St. is north of King, south of Richmond St.  They are open for lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, serving lunch at 11:30am.  Dinner only on Saturday and Sunday is served at 4pm.

Scrapbooking materials used: cobalt blue and buttercup yellow cardstock (Recollections); green patterned cardstock (“Green Tea” stack by DCWV); red and blue alphabet stickers (Recollections); journalling card (“Darcy collection” by Anna Griffin); Mexico stickers (Jolee’s); Mexican embellisment stickers (Recollections).