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  • The Chopping Blog

Hot Tamales

Posted by Andrea on Apr 6, 2011

One of the cool things about working at The Chopping Block as long as I have is watching people come and go, to later flourish on their own in the food industry. In fact, I often think about writing a "Where are they Now?" kind of feature for our newsletter. It would certainly be interesting to see where some of our past employees have ended up.

Last night, I got to experience the deliciousness of a long-time former employee's new venture. Amber Romo Wojcinski is combining her Mexican heritage and amazing cooking skills to create Las Manas Tamales. She'll be selling tamales featuring local, seasonal & sustainable ingredients at the Green City Market, beginning in May. You can choose from packaged varieties to take home or have a fresh tamale steamed for you on the spot for a snack as you shop the market.

"Las manas" is short for "las hermanas", which means "the sisters", Amber's dad's nickname for all of his three girls. You can meet the proud papa at the farmer's market as he'll be helping selling tamales.

Amber's talent for creating fresh, crisp flavors was evident in her first (and sold out) dinner hosted by Floriole Cafe & Bakery in Lincoln Park last night. The bakery's friendly and attentive staff provided a beautiful atmosphere to match the food.


First course: Spring Vegetable Escabeche. The carrots, asparagus and beets had a nicely balanced vinegary zing to them, topped with a unique savory granola featuring pepitas and puffed millet.

The Masa Dumpling Soup with Pinto Beans and Spring Onions was a ramped up version of Frijoles a la Charra, one of my all-time favorite soups.


The star of the show was a Duck Confit and Roasted Poblano Tamale, topped with Kumquat Tomatillo Salsa. As a friend and frequent dinner party guest of Amber's, I've been lucky enough to taste many of her salsa creations. This one did not disappoint! I was also a big fan of the side salad of Cucumber, Jicama and Pea Shoots tossed in a fresh herb dressing.


A second, sweet tamale made the dessert course memorable: Sweet Mango Tamale with Coconut Creme Anglaise.

Amber will do it all over again tonight for the second dinner in the series at Floriole. To stay up-to-date on Las Manas Tamales, become a fan on Facebook, and don't miss the Las Manas booth at the outdoor Green City Market starting on May 4th. You'll see me in line!

Topics: vegetable, Las Manas Tamales, soup, tomatillo, duck confit, poblano, mango, Mexican, Green City Market, Lincoln Park, salsa, cucumber, spring, fresh herbs

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