There's a strip mall tamale place out my way in Cali. A little too gourmet for me, but good to have nearby when a steamed tamale fix is in great demand. I've also located a tucked away Oaxacan joint on Santa Monica Blvd. that puts shame to mole smothered tamales anywhere in the state of California. Yah, I've found a few more, but, the tamales that I crave all the friggin' time come from a sunny Costa Rican restaurant in a small town in NJ (just around the way from where we filmed "Jerseylicious").
Addictive isn't even the word. The banana leaves practically steam themselves off. The actual tamale biscuit is so soft and has an added touch that I rarely see - RICE. Small strips of peppers add jolts of color. I pick around the meat inside and instead douse the whole mess in lime and spoon it down, leaving nothing but a pile of pork or chicken in my wake.
Everything the busy kitchen churns out is amazing. Empenadas, chicken soup, black beans, seasoned rice - the whole lot of it is a guaranteed smile. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I guess I can't wait to go back...simply for the grub - truly the best Afghan I've ever had, not to mention the most insane veggie Italian sandwich in the world. Who knew NJ was loaded with such glorious food finds?
Man. I thought I was done for a spell. Guess my sake fascination is taking point again soon. Real soon.