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Archive for the ‘mole’ Tag

Mas que Tacos Part I   Leave a comment

It might be a cliché, or at least an exaggeration, but it seems as if there’s a taco stand on every corner in Mexico City. While the made-on-the spot, hand-held typical street food is fresh and tasty, there’s much more to the cuisine than what you’d expect. Nonetheless, this post will focus on what comes to mind when thinking of Mexican food – beyond tacos.

Cabrera mole

Mole is one of my favorites and I had it twice. Both were the dark, Oaxacan versions that were rich, smooth and blended the sweet with the savory. However, my preference was for Cabera 7’s rendition. Although, it was beautifully plated, the chicken arrived cold and had to be sent back to the kitchen. When it did arrive with the proper temperature, it was exceptional. House-made, fresh corn tortillas and white rice helped absorb some of the sauce so none of it went uneaten.

cabrera music

The other mole was at Sanborn’s. This ubiquitous chain has everything: clothing, accessories, a pharmacy, shoes, a restaurant and more. The mole here was too sweet; it lacked the balance that’s the hallmark of the dish. It’s a department store, afterall.

Burritos are less common in Mexico than you might think, but Ensalada y Burritos Gourmet demonstrated what many fast-food burrito chains lack: an abundance of flavor. My thick burrito was packed with pibil, a colorful, more savory-than-spicy version of pulled pork, with rice and black beans.

We did venture away from the standards, but that’s for another post.

Cabrera 7
Plaza Luis Cabrera 7, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Norte,
06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Ensalada y Burritos Gourmet
Coahuila 125,Roma Nte.,
06700 Ciudad de México, D.F.,México, Mexico

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The Good, the Great and the Ugly   Leave a comment

The Mexican state of Oaxaca is well- known for its mole: seven types, although there are likely more. San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas doesn’t have as many recognized variations, but certainly holds its own with its interpretations of this traditional dish.

I sampled three versions while in San Cris. Mole (mohlay) doesn’t photograph well. It’s a thick sauce the consistency of pancake batter and usually the color of tree bark: dark, except when it’s not. It can also be green, or red or orange. Green is especially unphotogenic, usually because of its base which can be tomatillos, spinach, pumpkin seeds or some combination of the above.

TierrAdentro mole

TierrAdentro mole

TierrAdentro’s version was bland. Served over chicken with a scoop of rice on the side, it was difficult to discern any distinct flavors.

At Casa Maya across from the main square, I opted for traditional mole. It had all the right nuances, but the problem was this was my third mole meal and followed the exceptionally prepared adaptation at Tierra y Cielo.

Casa Maya Mole

Casa Maya Mole

There, Marta Zepeda, an award-winning chef, puts an upscale spin by serving mole over poached chicken medallions and fried plantains. The depth of flavor was a complicated dance of numerous ingredients somehow following the same rhythm. Chocolate, sesame seeds, chiles, tomatillos, garlic, perhaps cinnamon, and much more contributed to what is now best I’ve ever eaten. Some say cocoa isn’t an ingredient, but we checked with our server just to confirm.

Tierra y Cielo Mole

Tierra y Cielo Mole

I could easily have had mole my entire visit and I know someday I’ll try Oaxacan mole to compare, but for now I am satisfied with Zepeda’s.

Holy Mole’   Leave a comment

lascasitaswasll

Friendly servers can make a meal fun and relaxing; yet, super-outgoing ones run the risk of casting a shadow. This happened at La Casita Mexicana, a vibrant exciting restaurant known for its mole. Our server’s problem was his affability with everyone. He took photos of birthday celebrations, he bantered with a couple waiting for their bill, he visited with busboys, and all the while orders weren’t taken and food wasn’t served.

Eventually we got bowls of soup, which we would have gladly foregone. The menu did indicate that meals came with the house soup, but no further details were provided. We learned it was rice soup, but the faux salmon color was reminiscent of canned tomato soup and the flavor wasn’t much better.

lascasitasmole

Three types of mole are available: poblano, verde and pepian. It’s best to sample all. According to the menu, the poblano is a family recipe with 46 ingredients. Its dark red color and range of flavors includes its namesake chile and pumpkin seeds. The verde combines green chile, tomatillos, cilantro – along with an array of herbs and spices. Ground pistachios and chile are the base for the pepian.

I ordered the pork with tres moles. The meat was tender and moist; a perfect vehicle for the sauces.

lascasitastortillas

Our server gave all appearances of being busy — probably because he moved with such enthusiasm to see who he could socialize with next. Fortunately, once the entrees finally arrived, we forgot the gregarious guy and could focus on the mole.

La Casita Mexicana
Three-and-a-half Plates Three Plates
4030 E. Gage Ave.
Bell, Calif.

Mole Heaven   2 comments

molerestaurant

Blue Page Special followers know I can’t resist mole. This is either a character flaw or an attribute, but I love the thick paste usually made with nuts, seeds, chile and cocoa. Guelaguetza Restaurant provides not just one mole item, but so many choices, we had to try Festival de Moles: a sampler of four types.

molechips

The large, colorful, Oaxacan restaurant located on the outskirts of Los Angeles’s Koreatown is all things mole. A plate of chips with mole was set on the table soon after we were seated. The sampler featured two reds, one green and one dark mole. A yellow and one of the green moles were not included. Each of the four bowls was filled with shredded chicken and subtle differences in taste, with obvious variations in color. It was impossible to choose a favorite. The dark, Negro Mole, was smoky and the color of fudge. The two reds, Rojo and Coloradito (Little Red), were somewhat sweeter, but each provided a subtle kick — the Rojo more than its misnamed lesser counterpart. The Estofado Mole, something completely new for me, is made with tomatillos and green olives for a tangier flavor and different hue.

moletwo

Three of us shared the sampler. Initially we thought it wasn’t going to be enough. Four small bowls, a little serving of rice and a thin platter-size corn tortilla. We also ordered guacamole (as in holy moly, not molay),it was chunky, fresh and spicy. Before we knew it, we were stuffed and sorry we left a few bites.

Guelaguetza Restaurant

Four-and-a-half Plates
3014 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, Calif.

La Rosa By Any Other Nombre   1 comment

Rosatacos

There’s not much to the small town of Palmer Lake just west of Monument; in fact, there isn’t even a lake – just the imprint of its past existence. Yet, the range of good places to eat is impressive. La Rosa Southwestern Dining is the newest on the scene with fresh takes on standard New Mexican fare.

The restaurant boasts an extensive selection of tequilas and Mexican beer. The house margarita was the perfect blend of sweet and tangy.

The special the night we visited consisted of three tacos filled with chicken, chorizo, pineapple, grilled vegetables and lots of cilantro. It was refreshing and light, a contrast to the heavy, but palate-pleasing Chicken Mole.

Rosamole

When mole is on the menu I lose my sense of taste adventure: I can’t ignore the allure. La Rosa’s mole is a thick blend of spices and chocolate with enough of a kick that I was doubly grateful I had a margarita nearby. The rice and beans, in their simplicity, complimented the flavorful sauce. The only issue with the dish is the difficulty in cutting the chicken, which is a half still on the bone. It also detracted from the overall visual appeal of the dish.

Rosarelleno

The Chile Rellenos and Fish Veracruz were other dishes sampled by our group, and each offered distinct, rich flavors. I’d like to return to try some of the other entrees, but will have to ask for a menu where the mole has been removed. Otherwise, I won’t be able to resist.

La Rosa Southwestern Dining
Four-and-a-half Plates
25 Highway 105
Palmer Lake, Colo.
http://larosasouthwesterndining.com/

Partaking Take-Out   Leave a comment

barraganmenu

A recent trip to Los Angeles to see my mom was a bit different than previous visits. She’d had surgery last month and I had gone to provide some belated help. Mostly I cooked. And cooked some more, filling her freezer until the next time I can return to offer more over-due assistance. Dining at special or new restaurants is one of the many things we usually do when I go to LA, but on this trip circumstances allowed for only one restaurant meal, which we ate at my mom’s. Thank goodness, one of our long-time favorite Mexican restaurants, Barragan’s, has take-out.

It’s practically a tradition for us to dine at Barragan’s when I’m in town. We’ve gone for dinner, lunch and even brunch. We take friends there. We’ve got a thing for Barragan’s because the food is consistently fresh and flavorful. I am glad to know those same qualities carry over when ordering in.

baraganmole

I ordered the Mole Enchiladas which came with a salad, rice and beans. The enchiladas were filled with chunks of chicken slathered in mole thick with an abundance of spices that blend perfectly with one another. The sweet taste of cinnamon was the perfect foil for the hint of bittersweet chocolate. Not only were my taste buds enamored with the entrée, but the rice and beans – especially the beans – were also loaded with flavor. These are no canned variety.

My mom ate very little, but I made up for it relishing my meal – food I didn’t cook.

Barragan’s
Four Plates
814 S. Central Ave.
Glendale, CA