Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lamb Soup And New Media At R&R Tacqueria

The legend of the R&R Tacqueria on Rte 175 is growing, and it is entirely deserved.  We went back for lamb soup and tacos, and I don't think there is a better bowl of soup in Howard County.

Rich with flavor, generously spiced and outfitted with tender meat.  R&R turns out a perfect soup where the spoonfuls differ as you pull of lamb or vegetables, but the bowl comes together in a strikingly red broth.  The deep broth shows off R&R talent.  There is a combination greater than the parts.  That's the trick that separates a real dish from just stuff simmered together in a pot.

And it's $5 for soup and a taco.  Why aren't you eating lunch at R&R today?

Check out the soup -- along with some other items like huarache and chile relleno that have been talked up in a series of articles sparked by the WSJ mention.  Tyler Cowen posted about all three, calling the huarache the best that he has even eaten -- including in Mexico.  We actually were ordering at R&R when the owner got a copy of the WSJ, and it was really fun to see him excited by the well-deserved attention.

While we're at it, the recent burst of writing about R&R inspires me to remind everyone about Alberto A. Flores.  Recognizing my own immodesty, I believe that Flores was the well-spring of all the recent accolades about the "tacos at the gas station."

In October 2009, Flores wrote a comment on HowChow about R&R's tacos, and I cited his comment when I first wrote about the place the next month.  That's the etiquette of the new media as I have learned.  Hat tips and links are standard where so many people either do this just for fun or make money from visitors, and many people have graciously cited HowChow when they write about R&R.

That's not the way of the Wall Street Journal.  The WSJ wrote a roundup of five "gas station tacos" joints.  Perhaps the WSJ sent the writer on a five-state trip for a five-paragraph item, but I'll assume for the moment that she quite reasonably found on-line references to "gas stations tacos" and re-reported the facts herself.  I certainly re-reported stories when I worked at the Miami Herald, and we religiously gave no credit to other media if we had confirmed the facts ourselves. 

That's a bummer because the WSJ becomes a fire wall.  Tyler Cowen blogged about R&R and cited the WSJ -- even linking to the writer's personal blog. That sparked Gary on Boarding Area to blog and cite Cowen.  And it inspired the fabulous Todd Kliman who cited Cowen as well.  All these folks played fair because they heard about R&R from the WSJ.  They don't read HowChow.

But it drains some of the new media fun to see R&R in blogs that I enjoy and watch them push the discovery back to the WSJ .  Championing R&R has been one of my favorite parts of HowChow, and it would have been nice to be part of the conversation and to have the hat tips flow back here -- and to Alberto A. Flores


Alberto said...

Thanks for the mention. Very interesting second part of your post.

1ltkls said...

I don't think much of the manners or sense of the owners of the WSJ. Unfortunately, neither do I think kindly of R&R's lamb soup. It tastes all... "lamby" I usually despise lamb although when covered in enough sauce (like in some dishes at Akbar) I can tolerate it. However, the broth was great, and, if you like lamb, you should love it.

Still the best thing on the menu is the frijoles refritos (refried beans). I could make a meal of them alone.

HowChow said...

@1ltkls -- Mrs. HowChow is with you on lamb. It's such a great find at halal butchers, but it's hard to make when people don't like that "lamby" flavor.

I actually don't think the WSJ displayed any bad manners -- because they're a newspaper. The culture and manners of newspapers never involved crediting other media. Space is at a premium. Information was gathered from many sources. We were vicious about re-reporting Sun-Sentinel articles to ensure we didn't have to refer to them, and they did the same thing to us.

I was more interested in the phenomena than offended. I really like the new media world.

John Thacker said...

And it's $5 for soup and a taco

Even better-- it's $5 for soup and two tacos. :)

Marcia said...

HowChow - have you tried grilling the lamb? Especially if you marinate it in a good marinade before, the marinade/grill combo often tames the gamey lamb flavor so that even non-lamb eaters love it.

Certainly turned my husband around, and many friends of ours.

Me, I have always liked lamb. And can't wait to tast the R&R soup (does it have any weird lamb parts in it? organ meats or anything like that?)

Anonymous said...

Went there for the first time today at lunch. Got the taco & soup combination with a sprite. Loved it! The owner was very friendly and will definitely be back. Thanks for the suggestion on this place.

Mo said...

Huh, was that lamb soup I had the other day? I wasn't sure. But I thought it was awesome :)

Junior Barnes said...

I see a lot of items (huarache, sopes, milkshakes, etc.) mentioned in this blog and other places that aren't the menu. Is there a secret or Spanish menu? :) How did you find out about these items? What are the items you like that aren't on the menu? Thanks.

HowChow said...

@Junior -- I have always just ordered off a single menu, although that menu has changed. Sometimes there have been signs about a special -- like the ceviche.

I know milkshakes were on the menu when I ordered them. I will look for those other items when I go back next time. I had fallen into a rut of tacos and soup!

Anonymous said...

Aren't you glad you got out of the serious newspapers?

Alberto said...

@Junior: You should consider asking for the owner. He is very helpful in making recommendations of the day. He'll even mention things that may not even be in the menu but are great and quickly done.

Best of luck!

Jason Hsu said...

I have been trying to find a recipe that some resembles the lamb soup. Cause that soup is amazing.

Anyone know of any recipes that would be close to it?

Steve Fine said...

I tried it. It was great. Thanks for educating me Howchow!

Cate in Columbia said...

Ms. HowChow,

Are you ok? No posts in days! I love this blog! Please post again.

mochabeast said...

I just went there tonight for dinner. Great "hole-in-the-wall" kind of place. I got the soup + two taco special ($5). I got the lamb soup (the only choice), a steak taco, a pork shoulder taco (I think. We had a little trouble communicating...) I also got a tamarind drink for $1.25, and got chicken mole to go. ($7 and change.)

After reading the posts about the lamb soup, I was a little nervous. First, it was not at all red like the picture. It was thin and very flavorful: spicy, clean, and exotic with the use of cilantro, chick peas, etc. Definitely not gamey. I would get this again.

The tacos have soft corn shells, with limes and salsa/sauce on the side. You can probably get cheese and other "typical" fixins' - but I got mine with just the meat and the herbs/finely diced onions included. The steak was great. I was not a huge fan of the pork, but I'm glad I tried it.

I had to try the mole when I got home. Great flavor, and very spicy. They used two chicken legs, not the usual chicken breast. The refried beans comes with queso fresco on top, and the rice is very good.

Excellent food and a great bargain to say the least. Thank you for the tip.