Ever since I was a child growing up on the shores of Rainy Lake in Ontario I have been obsessed with food. Actually that is not precisely correct, it is more to the point to say that I’ve been obsessed with the idea of food. That is to say how it should taste, what it should look like, the textures and aromas have always captivated me.
As my mother can attest, when ever her back was turned for a few seconds in the kitchen I would be in there grabbing seasonings to add freshness or heat to her spaghetti sauce. Chopping onions for her stew, a handful of herbs here or a pinch of salt and pepper there. It drove her batty.
Growing up in small town Northern Ontario in the 1970’s I was never exposed to grand ideas in food. Meat and potatoes, fresh walleye pike straight from the lake, freshly shot deer and moose hanging to age in the cold fall air from the rafters in the garage were the beginnings of my food existence. Yet somehow I knew that good authentic food didn’t come from a can or a box. Good food should be fresh, alive, vibrant.
Looking for adventure on a cold rainy spring weekend in Winnipeg can often be a chore. More than likely my mind will turn to food for escape and what better way to escape the damp chilly streets than taking a trip for a few hours to the streets of Mexico. The Modern Taco Company at the southern end of the St. James bridge, 612 B Academy Road to be precise offers a surprising choice of authentic Mexican inspired taco truck offerings at a very reasonable price.
When I say authentic Mexican, I mean forget everything you knew about Canadian “classic Mexican” dishes. If you’re looking for orange ground beef covered in cheese and sour cream stuffed into a hard shell “taco” please go to Taco Time because The Modern Taco Company isn’t for you.
What Modern Taco Company does extremely well is deliver simple Mexican tacos. Take two small fresh house made tortillas, fill with your choice of braised meat or fish. Hit it with a dash of onion and cilantro or pico de gallo, maybe a touch of queso fresco or crema mexicana and stop. Simply let the ingredients do the rest.
Taking the first few bites of my lunch, a carne asada taco, the flavors I had just recently experienced in Playa del Carmen, Mexico came flooding back. The coarse texture of the fresh tortilla, tender grilled beef, a touch of heat from the sauce and the tang of fresh squeezed lime. Super yummy fantastic taco awesomeness!
Easy on the pocketbook as well, ordering is made extremely simple with a pick any four of the dozen or so taco varieties for under 12 dollars. Selections include 7 meat tacos (beef, chicken and pork are all represented), 2 fish taco types and even selections for the vegetarians and gluten-free crowd are available.
Between the two of us Darlene and I covered most of the menu options, both of us choosing the pick four taco option. I was particularly impressed with the freshness of the fish tacos, with no heavy cheddar cheese to encumber my palate the brightness of the seafood, cilantro and lime really exploded on my taste-buds.
For dessert we had to try the Chocolate Caliante cookies, a supremely dense mixture of savory dark chocolate accented by a touch of heat from chilli and a pinch of sea salt to really cover all the sweet/salty spectrum. Simply decadent and delicious!
The space is on the smaller side, but not cramped. The owners and staff are eager to explain the menu and engage in conversation. Quality control and guest experience seems to be at the top of the agenda for these young entrepreneurs. Yet they seem to have retained a sense of whimsy, as the servers use comical bobble-head dolls to mark the tables waiting on an order.
So if you are looking for a truly authentically inspired Mexican lunch experience do yourself a favor and skip Taco Bell. The Modern Taco Company on Academy is a place you must check out.
- Modern Taco Company (megustawinnipeg.wordpress.com)