Venezuelan holiday tamales
I got my first taste of hallacas last year with a sample from the El Punto Criollo cart on Beechnut at Highway 6. Of the various nacatamales I've had (Colombian, Guatemalan) I liked it best and went back to get a few more to tide me through the year. I've been hoarding my stash up until a couple of months ago when I finished off the last one, buoyed by the expectation that this year I'd be collecting specimens from the other Venezuelan places around the area.
This year I found three (in order below) - from El Punto Criollo, Tuttopane on Westheimer, and Deli's Cafe in Katy. I called Budare, also in Katy, and the Sabor Venolozano truck on Westheimer and learned they don't have them (or maybe just didn't have them the day I called? - we didn't speak each other's language so I wasn't entirely sure).
None of the samples so far this year were as impressive looking as what I had last year and I'd have to say they weren't quite as tasty, but they still were good. I like my tamales very moist and was a little disappointed in the texture of the masa in the Tuttopane and El Punto Criollo samples and decided to simmer the one from Deli's instead of steaming it. That gave it a little edge over the others, at least for me. All had diced meats (beef, pork, chicken) as opposed to the larger chunks of last year's sample. Besides the meats there are potatoes, onions, pimento, raisins and olives. The potatoes in Deli's were mashed instead of in chunks; I initially didn't think I'd like the mush-like filling but that one did end up my pick of these three while the meat-intensive sample from Tuttopane was my least favorite.
The were all about the same size; prices ranged from $7 to $7.75 with the one from Tuttopane the priciest one. They should be available until year's end or so. I'll probably be going back to get more of each.
(The h is silent in hallacas - ayacas).
Deli's and Tuttopane review on this blog.
The Deli's website is down but here is Tuttopane.
El Punto Criollo review