Photo: Allegra Morgado.
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Community Life Service welcomes students back with local comfort food

Although the most important food item of the Community Life Service’s (CLS) annual Snow Festival is traditionally the free BeaverTails—a treat that entails a 20-minute wait in freezing January temperatures—this year they might have just met their match.

The 2016 Winter Comfort Food Festival, running from Jan. 18-20, features a variety of different local vendors from Art is in Bakery to Island Grill, all boasting their yummiest comfort foods to warm people up on these chilly winter days.

Although the wide selection makes it inherently difficult to choose just one meal, I opted for Nacho Cartel’s “Nila’s Chicken” and “Cali-Calui” tacos. Nacho Cartel, a food truck located at 200 Wilbrod Street that is only open during the warmer months, normally serves an array of different nachos and tacos, as well as milkshakes, but for this festival they are only serving these two tacos.

Both soft-shell tacos are dressed with an array of toppings and sauces, including green peppers, fresh tomatoes, radishes, and red cabbage. The “Nila’s Chicken” was the first one I tried, and I was delighted to find a crunchiness to it that I was not expecting from what I believe was fried onions at the bottom of the taco. It had a nice mild spice to it, but even with the hot sauce that I added (the milder of the two they offered at their booth), it was not quite as spicy as I would have liked it to be.

The “Cali-Calui”, a vegetarian taco that replaces meat with cauliflower, was almost as good as its meat-filled counterpart, but lacked the crunchiness that really made the first one stand out to me. Even though it was slightly spicier than the first, it was still too mild for my taste, and I would definitely make sure to add more of their extra hot sauce to spice things up.

Despite the lack of spiciness, there was nothing bland about either taco, as both were packed with flavour from a multitude different sauces, veggies, and spices. Although I was unable to try any of the food from the other booths (they really should have a mixed platter next year for indecisive people like myself), I definitely think I made the right choice with Nacho Cartel.

The two tacos were also pretty filling, and came in at only $4 each, so it was a quick, inexpensive, and flavourful “comfort food” lunch. It was all too easy for me to briefly imagine I was back in the summer, sitting on sunny patios, drinking margaritas, and eating too many tacos to count.

The 2016 Winter Comfort Food Festival runs until Jan. 20, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. each day, and a full vendor list is available here: https://www.facebook.com/events/188107838203437/. For more information about Nacho Cartel, visit their website at http://nachocartel.com/.


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