A spicy and simply delicious way to start your day
By Ari Weinzweig
I really do love simple flavors most. The newest Texas breakfast taco at the Roadhouse is a great example. In a sense, it’s nothing fancy—you can certainly buy the ingredients and make it at home. I just go to the Roadhouse and let the crew there do the work. The taco is so tasty it makes me want to start eating breakfast. A warm flour tortilla, filled with freshly scrambled eggs, dressed up with some freshly grated Monterey Jack cheese and a bit of that inspiring and amazing IASA Peperoncino from Italy.
About the cheese
What makes it so good? Each of the ingredients is excellent on its own, and they come together in a way that’s delicate, lovely, spicy, and, for me at least, super tasty. The Monterey Jack might be one of the more underappreciated of the great ingredients we work with. We’ve been buying it from Vella Cheese in Sonoma for over 30 years. While probably thousands of dairies make Monterey Jack, to my knowledge, only TWO make it using old-school artisan methods. The cost, of course, is far higher, but the result is radically better. The Roadhouse probably pays 20 times more to get the Vella Cheese than it would to get some standard commercial offering, but man is it good. At every level, our determination and dedication to this special cheese, I believe, is one of the many ways we turn our food philosophy into real-life values. From the time we started buying the cheese in the late ’80s until he passed away a bit over a decade ago, Vella Cheese for me was almost synonymous with the man who ran it. Ignazio Vella was one of those amazing suppliers of the sort I said so much about above. Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Valerie J. Nelson described Ig as:
The elder statesman of artisanal cheeses … He was a gruff straight shooter, and the salvo was his way of warning that success required a willingness to toil for uncertain financial gain. Once that caveat was spelled out, Vella invariably became an unselfish teacher and tireless advocate for small-scale producers of cheese, according to those in the industry.
I would agree. He was, for me, also a friend and a mentor. Ig died in the spring of 2011. He was 82. Since we opened the Deli in ’82, I like to think there’s some sort of spiritual connection, that maybe in a way Ig has passed the artisan torch to us. If we do our work well, I hope that we can carry on Ig’s hard-working, down-to-earth, community-conscious commitment to quality and that each of these tacos, then, is a testament to his good work.
About the Peperoncino
The IASA Peperoncino comes from Italy where Ig’s father Tom Vella was born. It’s an absolutely outstandingly delicious “spread” of spicy red peppers in olive oil. At our house, we buy quart jars and use it almost every day on something! At the Roadhouse, it’s already appeared on a number of specials. It’s also on the menu as an optional condiment option and as a part of the new Bakehouse artisan bread appetizer, and it’s totally terrific on this taco. The eggs, the creaminess of the cheese, and the umami-spice of the IASA all come together on the taco to make for, what I think is a wonderful way to start your day.
If you like a bit of spice, like I do, I think you’ll love it. Writing about it now got me to go in and order one, and I’m really glad I did! I’m thinking about going back tomorrow to get another!