fish tacos

Modern Taco

by Anne Maxfield on January 11, 2016

Accidental Locavore Modern Taco TacosAlways on the prowl for good Mexican food, the Accidental Locavore was quick to pick up on the rumors that there was a good new one, Modern Taco, in nearby Red Hook (Rhinebeck’s shyer sister). An added bonus was that we knew the chef/owner Mark Brocchetti, the chef from our golf course dining room, back when the food was enjoyable, interesting and made by someone who cared.

With my friend Laura in tow, we arrived one Saturday night to check it out. It’s a charming room, with Mexican touches, that reflect Mark and his partner’s take on Mexican food. Luckily he has no fear of venturing off the taco, burrito and enchilada trail that is actually more TexMex than anything you might actually eat south of the border. No gloppy refried beans here. When beans appear they’re in a slightly spicy black bean soup with crema drizzled on the top that’s better than any other black bean soup I’ve had in a long time.

Accidental Locavore Rabbit QuesidillaThat night the special – a rabbit quesadilla with a mole sauce – was right up my alley. The rabbit was nice and tender and the mole sauce was good. A little bit more of the sauce would have been nice, and it could have taken a bit more heat (however, if you’re not a spicy person, this is one of the milder dishes).

Another special was what Mark calls Mexican breakfast. If it’s not on the menu when you’re there, beg. It’s a great mix of chorizo, potatoes and caramelized onions with a fried egg on top, served in a cute little cast iron skillet.

Accidental Locavore Mexican BreakfastLaura was thrilled with the stuffed poblano with quinoa, tomato and corn, resting in a great poblano cream sauce. It’s a great vegetarian option.

Working his way through the taco menu, Frank chose the fish taco and a fried avocado taco (because we were all curious about the fried avocado). These are soft tacos, crammed with filling, just like you would get in any taqueria in Mexico. The fish was really good, but the fried avocado wasn’t my favorite. In fairness to Mark, it may just be that I don’t love cooked avocado – I’ve grilled them and don’t think it’s worth the effort.

Accidental Locavore Stuffed PepperEven though we were stuffed to the gills, Frank and I happily worked our way through the chocolate pot de crème, spiked with habanero. If you’re not familiar with pot de crème, it’s essentially a cousin of chocolate mousse. Creamy and rich, this had a subtle kick from the habanero.

A week later, we were back with two other friends. Once again I opted for the special, that night a duck quesadilla. Our friends went for the steak and the chicken quesadillas so we got to taste all three. Everyone’s favorite was the spice-rubbed duck with the steak a close second.

Frank went for two other tacos, the pulled pork and the shrimp, both of which were really good. If I were choosing from the ones we’ve tried, it would probably be the pulled pork and the fish.

The guacamole is good, but might be weird for Americans used to a chunky version. This one is truer to its taqueria roots, smooth and creamy and good with the freshly fried chips. The roasted salsa is a great choice as is the pico de gallo – fresh with good (I don’t know where he got them in December) tomatoes, cilantro and a touch of lime.

Modern Taco is open Thursday through Monday for dinner only. Lunch is promised for the summer. Enjoy!

 

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Accidental Locavore Marcus Samuelsson

The Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelsson’s newest restaurant was host to a great party last week. When the Accidental Locavore got the invitation from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, I jumped at the chance. How often do you get to try one of New York’s hottest restaurants early on, at a private party or get bankers to feed you? And since I’ve never tasted Marcus Samuelsson’s food, I was curious. Who wouldn’t be? After all, he is the winner of the most recent Top Chef Masters, and you know you wouldn’t turn down the chance for (good) free food, would you?

What I was drinking: Paul Jaboulet Parallele 45 Cote de Rhone. This seems to be the inexpensive Cote de Rhone of the moment, Paula at Fish Tag turned me onto it a few weeks ago.

What I was eating: small chunks of a pretty spicy fried chicken. Pulled pork sliders (am I the only slob in who thinks slider should be banned at cocktail parties? They’re usually too big to eat in one bite, and if you can’t eat them in a single bite. they slide…all over you), what they were calling mac and greens, which was orecchiette pasta with cheese and greens, good, but not mac and cheese. A very nice thin crust pizza, lovely home cured salmon, corn bread which my friend from the South, said was too sweet, and Helga’s meatballs (made with fish too, so kind of a weird surprise).  So what was my favorite? The fish tacos by a landslide. They were on the most amazing tiny corn taco shells, about 4″ in diameter, and so thin you couldn’t imagine how they could make them without breaking them. I’d love to know how they do them, or who they get them from.

Accidental Locavore Clarence JonesWho I was meeting: not Marcus unfortunately, he was busy seeing to the smooth transition of food and wine, and even though he made some remarks and took photos near our table, he was way to busy to work the room. Al, at the bar pointed out several former Knicks, from the glory days when they used to win…Sitting next to me was Clarence Jones, who was Martin Luther King’s lawyer, and helped draft the “I Have a Dream” speech. Strange coincidence, yesterday at a seminar on Design the Life You Love, I saw an old photo of Dr. King and with him was Clarence. Thanks to Sandra Richards head of diversity for Morgan Stanley for putting together a fun event!

What I thought of the Red Rooster: to be fair, a big party is not the way to judge a restaurant. The room is lovely, and it’s really easy to get there by subway (just upstairs from the 2/3 train at 125th St.), however dinner there is currently booked for the month of March. I would go for lunch to meet friends who live uptown, and would wait for it to calm down before I attempted dinner there. In place of a goody bag, we were all given a copy of Marcus’ book New American Table, so check out Friday’s Cook-Along and see what I decided to make from it, OK?

And thanks to my friend Lisa for the helpful edit!

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