"Is horchata good?" the cute gabacha asked me on Sunday as we waited for our respective orders from Taco María. Before I could answer, she followed up quickly: "What is horchata?"
As someone who has imbibed the rice-water drink his whole life, I always get surprise when people don't know what it is--and even more surprised when people don't like it. I explained it to her, noting some people don't like its saccharine tendencies--but then qualified the statement by declaring Taco María's almond horchata one of the best drinks in Orange County RIGHT NOW.
I had tasted chef Carlos Salgado's latest seasonal agua fresca the previous week, at the mini-clustertruck he and the Soho Taco guys had participated in the previous week at the Fullerton Library--DAMN, SON! It was a bit more watery than the horchata I usually like, but any doubts I might've had about the drink were quickly erased by two interesting ingredients: cilantro seeds and almonds. The seeds left a gorgeous toastiness that you can usually only find in Salvadoran-style horchata.
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And the use of almond imparted a light creaminess that makes almond milk so darn tasty. This was horchata, but modified to make it even sweeter than usual--but not cloyingly so.
I got my horchata and used it to wash down Salgado's buttery esquite. The gabacha ordered the horchata. "Was it good?" I asked. She nodded her head in vigorous agreement. And then I saw that Salgado now has a coffee-flavored atole with Portola Coffee's assistance, and I thanked God anew the cabrón returned to his Orange County homeland.