Wine, Meet Taco
This weekend is known for one of Penn State’s greatest traditions — the Blue and White game. But after seeing an ad for a wine and taco pairing at the Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery, I smell a new one.
This Friday the 19th at 5:00 p.m., Mount Nittany Vineyard is hosting the El Gringo Taco Truck, a local food truck that specializes in Mexican cuisine. The truck is associated with Gemelli Bakers, a tiny artisan bakery located right off of Calder Way. I was especially ecstatic to hear the news, as I had the privilege to work at Gemelli Bakers last summer. During my four month stint as an employee I baked bread, sold goods at a local farmers market, and got to work with “El Gringo” himself — Ben Stanley (AKA the taco guy).
Ben has Mexican roots, but still considers himself a “white guy trying to cook Mexican food,” hence the name of the truck. Everything Ben makes is handmade, from the salsa to the tamales (I didn’t even know what a tamale was until I met him, so I may be biased but his are the best in town). For the event this Friday the taco guy is whipping up sun dried tomato guacamole, tomatillo salsa, refried beans, jicama salad, mushroom tamales, and marinated pork tacos.
When asked about his particular cooking style, Ben explained, “My cooking is a constant work in progress, always improving and expanding my knowledge base and abilities. Practical experience comes from cooking in restaurants, experimentation from cooking at home, and knowledge from cookbooks and word of mouth. I have a love for the science behind food which I combine with high quality local food ingredients.”
His favorite dish can vary depending on when you talk to him, but right now it’s Cochinita Pibil, which is “a pork dish marinated in this incredible Yucatan marinade.” If that sounds amazing you should make your reservations now, because it’s exactly what he’s making Friday night. Reservations are only $15 per person, and the deadline is today.
If you can’t get into the pairing this Friday, Ben serves up his delicious delicacies at the downtown farmers market every Tuesday, starting after May 1st.