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Melanie Wong | Oct 28, 200203:04 AM    

Following a verbal lead from chowhounds Louise and Mark B, I cruised Todd Road south of Santa Rosa looking for the phantom tamale vendor out in the boonies. The parking lot at butcher, Carniceria Contreras, had more than 20 cars, which seemed unusually busy for an out of the way market. Bingo! In the back of the lot, two pick-up trucks were side by side with the tailgates down. One was selling fresh vegetables – cilantro, tomatoes, chilis, tomatoes, mangoes, etc. – and the other had several coolers on the flat bed.

I asked if tamales were for sale. Indeed they are, but at 1:30pm on Sunday, only a couple pork and a few cheese/jalapeño remained and were still warm, priced at $1 each or 12/$10. Earlier patrons had left a big pile of discarded corn husks and paper plates. I asked about green corn tamales that Louise had mentioned, but this vendor said she does not make that style. Sometimes chicken tamales are also available.

I bought some of each kind to have for dinner. They were the flattish and elongated type wrapped with only one husk and little sauce inside, like homemade. The masa was firm and tasty, easy to eat out of hand, and spiced with a medium heat.

Also for sale is raspado – Mexican style shaved ice – cut from a big block with a hand grater. The syrup toppings are homemade and the jars had attracted a swarm of bees. The strawberry had a clean, fresh taste. The small size was $1.

Since no paperwork was displayed, normal precautions about unlicensed vendors should be observed. The tamale/raspado truck is here on Saturdays and Sundays in the parking lot of Carniceria Contreras, 1401 Todd Rd. (west of Stony Point Rd.), Santa Rosa.

Missed the volunteer firefighters pancake breakfast Sunday at the annual Fall Colors Festival in Geyserville, where the main drag was blocked off for a vintage car show. I did catch the tail end of the community food booths and announcement of the meet’s winners. Chili and cornbread were marked down to $1 per bowl at the end of the day.

Those who say that beans have no place in chili would have a problem with this version. Not only kidney beans, but garbanzos, corn kernels, green beans, and red and yellow peppers turned this into a healthful, balanced meal. Very tasty though and enough heat to keep things interesting. Catch ‘em next year – last Sunday of October.

Link: http://chowhound.safeshopper.com/21/c...

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