This weekend, Jon and I returned to one of our new favourite brunch places, Almond, and for the second time we enjoyed their must-review dish: Antony’s Grandma’s Oaxacan Style Tamales. Antony is actually one of the bussers at Almond and his grandmother hails from Puebla, a region in mexico renowned for some of the best authentic traditional cuisine in all of Mexico.
Before I get into the tamales, however, I want to bring you in on something very personal. Every morning for the past two years, I have had plain oats with no sweetener for breakfast. I love to eat plain noodles, plain sourdough bread, and rice right out of the pot. You will rarely see me adding condiments to a burger [especially ketchup, which the devil created to destroy us], or salting/peppering a meal at a restaurant.
Basically, I love eating things that taste like what they are. And as much as this lacks eloquence, the best part of these homemade corn tamales is how much they taste like, well, homemade corn tamales. This is masa magic only a Mexican grandmother could create [Note: Not based on personal experience – I have a Mimi, not an Abuelita]. Each bite of these tamales filled my mouth with delicious, subtly buttery, whole corn flavor… and that’s just at first. Next came the spices.
Each of the two tamales is different: one a spicy rojo chicken, and the other an even spicier verde chicken [When I say spicy, I actually almost mean it. A Manhattan Mexi-dish actually leaving a nice hint of burn? Consider me impressed]. The spices are baked right into the tamale instead of drizzled on top, leaving the tamales moist, festively colored, and impossibly flavorful. Speaking of moist: did I mention the dish is served with a poached egg and a light drizzle of hollandaise on top? Unlike a few unfortunate tamales I’ve had in my life [yes, they exist, and yes, they’re as devastating as they sound], these babies couldn’t dream of being plain or dry.
I know this French-inspired restaurant isn’t called Almendra, but believe me- you have to try these amazing Mexican tamales. Abuelita insists.