Jackson, MS 39216
That's right, it says Jackson, Mississippi. I've had the
Last week's adventure took me just over 2 miles north of the central capitol complex to an "up-and-coming" neighborhood known as the Fondren District. It's sort of like the Northern Liberties of Jackson, but with nearby residential housing that's more like the Main Line. Think rich, middle-aged women with boutiques driving Lexus SUVs. No doubt their husbands are all doctors working at one of seven nearby hospitals...
And then there's Café Olé. Run by a Venezuelan transplant, it's housed in what looks like an old gas station on the main strip. Come to think of it, a lot of the Fondren establishments seem to be in old gas stations...
The food is authentic and was a welcome change from the standard "southern fried" options that permeate the market down here. I tried the al pastor torta first. Each entree comes with a side of fresh tortilla chips and choice of salsa. I decided to go with the pineapple version, it seemed like the proper match for the chopped, marinated pork.
The sandwiches are all served on Cuban bread, so I guess they're not 'technically' tortas. That said, it was delicious. Hot off the press, it was warm and still fresh with crisp iceberg laced throughout the tender cubes of seasoned pork.
Second lunch included a beef empanada and a barbecue pork tamale.
Definitely the highlight of the meal was the authentic Venezuelan tamale. Filled with a mixture of masa harina (corn meal, think polenta) and tender shreds of a Latin American-style barbecue pork, this was delicious. It was tender, juicy and full of spicy-sweet chipotle flavor.
The empanada's shell was more like an arepa than the (thinner) crisp, flaky wrapper that I'm used to. It was good, but a little too thick and spongy for my liking. Maybe that's just how they do it for real in South America.
The beef was spot on, and the cheese added a mild tang.
Needless to say, while I'm stranded in Jackson for the indefinite work-week future, it's nice to have some authentic Latin American cuisine in the mix.