Taco Bar Logistics
November 4, 2015 1:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm hosting an all-day TV/movie marathon at my house. Tacos are a requested menu item. Please help me work out how to keep the cold stuff safe.

While we watch Firefly from Serenity --> Serenity, I'd like keep my crew fed. Mr. Motion wants to serve tacos, which seems good in theory but I'm a little worried about logistics.

We have multiple crockpots, so keeping the meat and bean filings at a safe temperature don't seem like it would be too much of a problem. But a proper taco bar should have guacamole, and lettuce, and cheese, and sour cream, and salsa, etc. which are things that I don't think should sit out at room temperature for 14 hours.

I could keep the cold stuff in the fridge, and invite guests to go in there to get what they want but that doesn't seem very party-like. Especially since the fridge is upstairs, and we'll be watching/eating downstairs.

Should I set up some ice-tray contraption (I don't mind refreshing the ice every few hours)?

Should I resign myself to refreshing bowls of cold stuff every hour or two (that seems wasteful)?
posted by sparklemotion to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Put a cooler downstairs and direct guests there instead of the upstairs refrigerator.
posted by desjardins at 1:48 PM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'd go with a cooler or put stuff on ice. You don't have to be too careful; the stuff you listed doesn't really get dangerous as it sits.

(ps. I don't see any reason you couldn't also serve chili.
posted by General Malaise at 1:52 PM on November 4, 2015

Can you pick specific times when you'll be bringing out the main dish and then just keep snacks around the rest of the time?

Personally the only thing I'd really worry about is the sour cream but just to be safe, have a tray of ice and keep the cool stuff sitting in it. It'll all be fine.

Also, can I come?
posted by bondcliff at 1:52 PM on November 4, 2015 [8 favorites]

The only things to kind of worry about are the guacamole and sour cream, and the guac would still be fine to eat, just may not taste as good. I would suggest putting them in small dishes so that they will empty and need to be replenished every hour or so.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:53 PM on November 4, 2015 [6 favorites]

For me I wouldn't worry about keeping any of that cold. That's me.

You could certainly put large portions of sour cream into a stainless bowl on some ice. Even just place the plastic container on ice.

Perhaps you're serving plated thinking beans instead of refried? :-)
posted by humboldt32 at 1:53 PM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yup, just plop the containers down on some ice. Maybe in an open cooler or in a big roasting pan with a towel under it. If you're worried about the presentation, take advantage of the Star Wars sequel and buy yourself a Luke Skywalker action figure to toss in the ice tray, too. Problem solved.
posted by phunniemee at 1:58 PM on November 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

Okay, so maybe you don't want to leave all that stuff out for 14 hours (though it would probably be safe), but you can certainly leave it out for, say, 4-5 hours. You don't have to refresh bowls of cold stuff every hour or two - a couple of times during the marathon should be fine. That's probably what I'd do.
posted by Redstart at 2:29 PM on November 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Should I set up some ice-tray contraption (I don't mind refreshing the ice every few hours)?
You can make one yourself, but a chilled condiment server is pretty cheap. There are also a ton of appetizer servers with ice compartments.

Another option for the sour cream and salsa (assuming a thinner sour cream and a non-chunky salsa) are squeeze bottles. You can put them in bowls of ice or a mini cooler/lunch bag with an ice pack. You can modify the tips to be whatever thickness you need.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:30 PM on November 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Tossing everything every four hours should be fine, and is probably easier. I'd put out fresh lettuce too, if it's starting to look grody.

But I'm not sure I'd want to eat tacos for all 14 hours. You're going to have to start at about 9 in the morning, in order to finish by midnight, no? I'd serve snacks to start, then put out all the taco stuff at an approximate meal time, then snacks, and then order pizza for the second approximate meal time (or more tacos), and have icecream for dessert. People will bring probably bring snacks to share and drinks, won't they?
posted by kjs4 at 3:12 PM on November 4, 2015 [7 favorites]

Why not just put out smaller quantities of the things you're worried about, just enough that they'll be eaten before it's a problem, and top them up as needed?
posted by robcorr at 3:24 PM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Get a few of the aluminum chafing dish trays from a party store. Lay a towel on your table/buffet. Put ice in one tray and top it with another tray. Put condiments in top tray. Poke two holes in another tray. Create loop with twist tie through the holes. Place upside down on top of condiments as a lid. Refresh ice from cooler as necessary. Put prepped back-ups for toppings in fridge. Easy peasy.

People are really only going to eat tacos for so long. You're gonna need other options throughout the day.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:28 PM on November 4, 2015

The only thing on your list that I think actually needs to stay cold is the sour cream.

Why would any of it be sitting out for 14 hours? Just put out at the beginning and most people will eat then. Then put it in the fridge once the flurry of taco-making has subsided and late stranglers and get stuff out from the fridge. If it's time for another group meal later, pull it all out and leave it out again for a bit.

As much as these people may love you and this show, I doubt anyone will be there for a full 14 hours. But if you really expect people to be there all day, my guess is there's going to need to be a different meal anyway. If I had to guess, you're going to end up ordering pizza for dinner.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:43 PM on November 4, 2015

small square inflatable infant tub full of ice works just great for this. put other receptacles in the ice.
posted by koroshiya at 4:14 PM on November 4, 2015

You could just fill a bunch of these with sour cream and guacamole (separately of course) and toss them in a bowl of ice or a small cooler. Everything else should be fine.
posted by jshort at 4:40 PM on November 4, 2015

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