Thursday, April 09, 2009

It's All About the Masa

Lopez Bakery, in Brooklyn's South Slope, on Fifth Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets, isn't a Mexican bakery, though it's owned and operated by a Mexican family. The specialties are breads and pastries, American-, French- and Jewish-style, all of which look very tempting and none of which I've tasted. I'm not sure if they still do, but for a long time the Lopezes baked for Eli Zabar's besides running their own shop, which used to be closer to the heart of Park Slope.

They've been at this new location for at least a couple of years, but the awning still says "Selena's" while the hand-written sign in the window tells you it's Lopez. Anyway, amidst the breads and cookies and Danish, they do sell a couple of Mexican items: empanadas and tamales, absolutely amazing, ethereal tamales. The tamales are the only things I've had from Lopez, and I've had them quite often. I occasionally stop in during my walks from Park Slope to Sunset Park's Chinatown for a tamale to tide me over. The tamales are rather small, just a few bites, really, and at $1.50 they're not cheap, but they're worth every cent. I've never been a big tamale fan, though I love most things corny. Perhaps I haven't had sufficient tamale exposure, but I've found that tamales are usually too dense and pasty for my taste. Not Lopez's. These are the angel's food of tamales, with the lightest, fluffiest masa I've ever experienced. And it's really all about the masa. They make three kinds: chicken with green sauce or mole, and cheese with red sauce, my personal favorite. They go light on the stuffings, and the sauces ought to be spicier, but, like I said, it's all about the masa.

Lopez Bakery, 645 Fifth Avenue (between 18th & 19th St.), Brooklyn. R train to Prospect Avenue.


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