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What do you do when you get a call from a national publication to write an article? You take it.

The assignment?  Eat tacos and pick your favorites.

I was asked by Food Network Magazine’s Senior Editor Lisa Cericola, to nominate local tacos that showcased the “Best of Maine and New Hampshire.” FNM features “Best of” article in its issues, showcasing road food from each of the fifty states

It was a tough taco call.

Maine and New Hampshire are no strangers to great tacos.  The abundance of seafood and readily available ingredients, make for great New England interpretations of the classic Mexican snack food.

I called my dear friend and photographer, Karen Sigler to help me with the assignment. We made our way to our favorite taco spots– ate a lot of tacos, photographed, took notes, and ate again.

Here were my nominations for the most unusual (and flavorful) tacos:

1.) Puerto Nuevo Lobster Taco*
a.) Zapoteca Restaurante y Tequileria, Portland, Main
b.) House-made grilled corn tortillas filled with 1/2 Maine lobster and Mexican-style street corn, seasoned with crema, lime and chiles.
c.) The lobster is steamed in Mexican beer and is finished in the shell by a quick saute in duck fat. It is then plated (still in the shell) with a drizzle of chipotle butter. The flavors of butter, duck and beer linger when diners pick out the sweet lobster and stuff the tortillas with the corn.
2.) BBQ Pulled Pork Taco
a.) El Rayo Taqueria, Portland, Maine
b.) Slow cooked local pork is served up with green cabbage slaw, cotija cheese and red onion escabeche- all in a corn tortilla.
c.) El Rayo sources it ingredients locally and sustainably. The pork is slow cooked and shredded. It has a sweet and sticky, Asian “dim sum” flavor. This pairs with the heady corn, tangy red onion pickle and cabbage flavors. Served with a side of house pineapple dusted with chile, salt and lime, you get sweet and savory, all-in-one.
 3.) Fish Tacos
a.) Hot Fat, Monhegan Island, Maine
b.) Locally caught (100 yards away) haddock is battered, deep fried and served in a tortilla with a red cabbage slaw and spicy mayonnaise.
c.) Hot Fat is a seasonal food truck at the trail’s end of the Monhegan Island Nature Conservancy. Location and freshness, as well as a dose of “hiker’s hunger” make it a popular spot in summer. The fish is flaky and tender. Two to three of these can disappear quickly.
4.) Carne Asada Tacos
a.) Mixteca, Durham, New Hampshire
b.) Flavorful beef is seasoned with chiles and lime,and served with local mushrooms in a homemade corn tortilla. It is a full-meal in a tortilla.
c.) Mixteca sources local ingredients and make everything from scratch. The mushrooms add an earthy flavor and perfect chew to the tender beef.

Note to the FNM Editor: (*This taco is so insanely delicious that, even though I barely know you, you are cordially invited to stay with me so I can take you there. I would even drive through a blizzard to eat this dish.)


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Food Network had to pair the choices down to one taco for each state. Check out the FNM May 2014 issue to see all the magazine’s top taco choices.


Let us know your favorite tacos. We are always up for eating at new places and hearing your suggestions.


Here are a few of Karen’s best food photography tips:

1.) You can get great shots with your kit camera (basic DSLR) or smartphone.  Lighting is everything with good food photography.  A bright flash can blur food details. Try and go for as natural of a lighting source as possible.  Windows and indirect light (eg. spotlights, lightsticks and candles) are great.  For more advanced photographers, open your aperture and adjust your exposure compensation.

2.) Take the time to talk to the chef.  Most chefs are apt at plating food in a pleasing way. A pretty plate makes a pretty picture. Make sure the setting around the plate makes for a good background too.  Drinks, table settings and napkins complete a good shot.

3.) If you are taking pictures professionally or personally, try and get an unusual shot angle; get overhead or to a side angle.  Straight on shots from your dinner seat can look unprofessional and messy. Close ups look great too – it makes people salivate.

Many shots make for many choices. Many shots make for many choice.


Disclosure:  Karen Sigler and Kristin Fuhrmann-Simmons were assigned an article by Food Network Magazine (May 2014 issue) to cover the best tacos in Maine and New Hampshire.  The duo ate at Zapoteca Restaurante y Tequileria in Portland, Maine, owned by Shannon Beavers Bard, Tom Bard and Sergio Ramos.  Karen and Kristin were provided with complimentary food to photograph at Zapoteca.  The duo bought and paid for the tacos at El Rayo Taqueria.  They ate all the food when they were finished with the interviews and photography.

All photos are work of Karen Sigler.  Screen shots of Food Network Magazine(tm) are of the May 2014 issue, and were executed via Karen Sigler’s smartphone.

#livelovefood. #maine #tacos #kristinfuhrmannsimmons
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