“Taco [tah-koh; Spanish tah-kaw]: noun, an often crisply-fried tortilla folded over and filled, as with seasoned chipped meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese.”

Somehow I knew when I signed-up to photograph the Little Maria pop-up dinner that I wouldn’t be shooting any typical, as-defined-by-the-dictionary tacos, let alone any other ordinary dishes. Especially not when two of Orange County’s most talented & creative culinary minds decide to join forces in the kitchen for a pop-up dinner. Together, Chefs Eric Samaniego of Little Sparrow and Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria can’t help but create magic in the kitchen.


On Tuesday, May 12th, 2015, Eric and Carlos created a unique seven-course meal that combined the best of Eric’s classic French techniques with Carlos’ mastery of Mexican cuisine. Their pop-up dinner, Little Maria, was a truly memorable dining experience that featured the freshest seasonal ingredients and unexpected flavor combinations that personified each of the chefs on a plate. My personal favorite? The Coq au Vin Taco. Talk about France-meets-Mexcio. (See? I told you there wouldn’t be any run-of-the-mill tacos coming out of their kitchen! So unexpected, and so utterly delicious.)

Below is a story-through-photos from the evening, as well as recap of the menu. Be sure to stay tuned to the Little Sparrow and Taco Maria Facebook Pages and Instagram feeds (@thelittlesparrowcafe & @tacomaria) for news coming soon of their next pop-up dinner, rumored to be taking place this Summer. Now that’s something to look forward to.

{Follow Anne Watson Photography on Facebook and on Twitter/Instagram @annewatsonphoto.}

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Amuse | White Asparagus, hibiscus rhubarb granita, black pepper

1st Course | Veal sweetbreads, green tomato chutney, pomelo, green peppercorn

2nd Course | Razor clams, tomato dashi, smashed fava beans, peas, pea tendrils

3rd Course | Artichoke agnolotti, blood orange, cilantro

4th Course | Coq au vin taco

5th Course | Confit pork jowl, poached apricot, charred bitter greens

6th Course | Mulberry jam, cucumber sherbert, verbena soda