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Tamales Dulces for Christmas (Salinas)

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My brother took care of this year's run for the tamales, stopping by Sr. Valdez's cart after 4pm. Fresh from the steamer, I had one of the queso ones for dinner, followed by a sweet one for dessert. This year's tamales dulces are especially good. Rather than "dry", I'd describe the texture of the masa as crumbly and almost cake-like with a nice hint of cinnamon and bits of pineapple and raisins.

Tamales for Christmas (2005)

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  1. This sounds especially good. It takes a good hand to make sweet tamales.

    I did the next best shortcut-- cultivated a friendship with a family in nearby Sonoma. The grandma makes tamales, tostadas to die for. We spent Christmas eve with them, sharing awesome pozzole.

    The best Mexican food I have had is with friends. My friends in Modesto (and back home in Chicago) have made many things that didn't compare in resturants.

    Still missing homemade mole.

    1. Stopped by Sr. Valdez's cart this evening on the corner of Ivy and E. Market streets to pick up tamales for Christmas. The queso and chile pepper ones were already sold out, got pork ones and a couple of the tamales dulces. His new license from the city and county stickers are on display. He said that he was able to stay in the same location.

      1. This year I made a point to stop by earlier, arriving at Sr. Valdez's cart just after 6pm. No stock-outs yet. He said that he made 400 tamales for sale tonight --- hope our locals will show up and force to buy some and let him go home early on this cold night. I got a dozen mixed: pork, rajas (cheese and chili peppers), and dulces. The pork ones were really good with lots of meat bathed in a red chili sauce that fall apart into shreds. The dulces (sweet tamales) have a strong scent of cinnamon, light and fluffy masa, and are studded with raisins and mine had one chunk of pineapple. A dozen tamales and one champurrado set us back $13.50. Sr. Valdez assured me he'd take tomorrow off to stay home with family, but also said I could call him if I needed any more. No, no, I insisted, please have a well-deserved rest and enjoy your holiday.

        Valdez Hot Dogs
        East Market St and Ivy St, Salinas, CA

        1. Didn't get over to Sr. Valdez's corner until after 8pm. All was dark. Guess he sold everything and went home. Luckily, we still have some tamales purchased from him last week. Feliz Navidad!

          1. Ooo, ooo, ooo! Tamales in Salinas. Thank you, Melanie. I'm already indebted to you for Gutierrez & Rico, now I'm going to have to try Sr. Valdez' tamales. Are they available year-round? Is there okay truck-and-trailer parking? I usually go to G&R after a day of fun at Laguna Seca.

            1 Reply
            1. re: remrafnad

              Note that this is a street cart. Mr. Valdez's license doesn't let him set up shop on the sidewalk until 6pm but he's often there well after midnight, I'm told. There's street parking on the long blocks of East Market Street, not many driveways, so a trailer shouldn't be a problem.

              Yes, available year-round. During the summer corn season, don't miss the tamles de elote. They're slightly sweet and studded with fresh corn.

              Valdez Hot Dogs
              East Market St and Ivy St, Salinas, CA

            2. Learned my lesson, this year I went to see Sr. Valdez a day early. Six pork tamales and one champurrado came to $12. The pork in red sauce is plentiful with just a thin shell of masa encasing them. Almost wished for more masa. He said that he will be there on Christmas Eve too but might close early

              1. Drove by at 4:30pm today, no cart. Thought I might be too early so swung by again at 6:15pm, nope. No Valdez tamales for us this Christmas Eve, I guess.

                Picked up some this afternoon from El Charrito ($1.70 each in packs of five), pork ones and dulces (with pineapple). But the masa is pretty stiff and my mother says she likes Sr. Valdez's better.

                1. Last month, for the first time in a long time, I stopped by to find out what the word on tamales might be. Indeed, Sr. Valdez has stopped selling tamales and just does hot dogs now. But he also had buñelos for sale, packaged in pretty cellophane. He said his wife makes them. They were excellent, fried on rosette irons, delicately crisp and not greasy. I went back on Wednesday to get more for Christmas, but alas, all gone and no more till next year.

                  BUT, I was able to put in an order for a dozen tamales. Only pork are available, and the latest pick up date is Monday, December 23.