I knew enough from my previous attendance at the Bacon Takedown and Chowder Slam that I’d better get to this event early: Guactacular Invitational 2009 was to be a competition among nine avocado-wielding contestants bent on making the best guacamole. The tasting was free to the public, and who can resist free guacamole? Contestants were restaurants as well as private citizens. The event was held at wonderful new rock club Bell House, which teeters on the verge of the Gowanus Canal somewhere near the Kentile sign.
Giving the goo a final stir (click to taste)
By 7:15, the crowd in the barroom of Bell House had begun to swell, just as the first servings were being doled out along the L-shaped table. A cistern of taco chips and pile of white paper plates were your only preliminaries as you dove into the line, which soon extended out the door and into the street. The guacamole makers stood next to the tubs, their eyes pleading, “Pick me. Pick me.”
My tasting plate, which I presciently marked off with pen, to demarcate the nine samples. Hey, who jizzed on my guac? (#2 is at 10 o’clock, #8 is at 2 o’clock.)
There was to be a popular vote, and a vote of the judges, who included Cathy Erway (Not Eating Out in New York, organizer Matt Timms (Chili-Takedown), Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan), Alexis Loinaz (Metromix), and affiliate of sponsoring organization Rachel Anderson (Nachos New York).
Some of the guacs were simple, the way I like ’em, while others were duded up like Top Chef creations. Number 1, for example described itself as “guacamole al pastor,” with “crispy pork” (really, it wasn’t so crispy), pineapple, and chipotle cream. (Dude, go back to cooking school!) My favorite was #2, which was smooth and creamy and simple, making the avocado flavor shine.
The judges I talked to after the judging (but before the winners were announced), seemed to like #8 the best, which was also simple, confining itself to avocado, lime, cilantro, and secret stealth ingredient pomegranate seeds, which ramped up the tartness and added a certain crunch. I had to admit, they made a good choice. Still don’t know why it was called The Clap.
Other entrants added corn, mole poblano, and a dozen other ingredients that don’t belong in guacamole. A side-table offered cupcakes with guacamole frosting. They weren’t bad.