Forget eggnog, presents and the fat man coming down your chimney (ho!); December is all about tamales. And you need not look far to find them—someone is probably selling them in your office, or your neighborhood, or in the parking lot of the closest shopping center.
Then again, tamales out of an ice chest are a bit of a gamble. If it's masa in a corn husk that you crave, plan to head out to Bella Frutta on Sunday. Casa de Tamales will be serving up several kinds at the inaugural Tamale Throwdown, which runs from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.
The event is free to attend, but a ticket to taste will cost you $10, with a portion of the proceeds going to Dan Brown Legacy Fund and Valley Animal Center. The throwdown will feature amateur chefs from around town, but those samples are limited to the panel of judges. Want to compete? The deadline was December 10 has been extended to today. Ahem, today.
The event is the work of Liz Aguilar and her crew at Casa de Tamales, who serve an impressive assortment of tamales year-round (including a blueberry-filled version). Liz showed me how they're made--by hand, starting with the corn, which is cooked, then stone-ground for the masa, then filled with all sorts of goodness before it's wrapped in a corn husk.
Liz says they'll have at least five new flavors to try on Sunday, so head out early—stop in at Bella Frutta while you're there, and pick up a few local items for Christmas gifts!