The pastel colours of the walls around town summed up my dining experiences quite well, some of the walls were bright and inviting, with fresh paint work and a great finish, some of the walls held simple colours, simply finished, and some of the walls, though colourful had seen better days, still attractive just not great.
Food wise, I had some really enjoyable meals that really hit the spot, different enough to the usual fare I’ve been eating and well executed, my favourite was the soups.
The caldero was a simple broth soup of black beans, chorizo, bacon and pork, smoky meaty and surprisingly rich, faint hints of garlic and lime present. It was served accompanied by chicharron (fried pork skin), Chihuahua cheese, avocado, lime and tostadas.
The mole de olla was a better soup, at its base was beef marinated in ancho salsa, this was then simmered with maize, potato, chayote, carrot, pumpkin, green beans and xonocostle (an acidic prickly pear) to create a thick stew like soup with a great depth of flavour. This luscious soup was served accompanied by avocado, onion, lime and tostadas.
I had turned down the option of having tortillas to eat the soup with, thinking the tostadas and refried beans that came with the start of the meal to be more than enough. On the table were also four simple salsas :
green habeneros and diced onion steeped in lime juice, delivering a fire of zingy spice fresh local chillies in salted water, with less heat and more flavour
sweated onions with chilli powder, kinda good, though not browned enough
onions cooked in what tastes like water, soy and beef bouillon, weird, yet moreish
The pollo ala lena with refried beans, rice, salsa picante, and mashed potato was a good example of some simple food done well. The chicken had been spit roasted over coal and the smell eeking from the restaurant into the nearby neighbourhood must have driven the families nearby crazy over the years. I would hate to have lived nearby and had to walk past that delicious aroma every day on the way home. The slightly smoky taste of the chicken was complimented by the lightly salty, garlicky rub that had been applied to the chicken prior to cooking.
Foolishly I had not though the meal would come with either the rice or refried beans so ordered the mash, meaning that when these items showed up I had far too much food, the side of tortillas appeared soon after, making me feel even more foolish for ordering so much.
I’ve not eaten much breakfast food since being in Mexico so though a large late breakfast before getting an afternoon bus was a great idea, in theory it certainly was. The dishes sound pretty good, sadly their execution left me underwhelmed.
Chilaquiles is a dish I had never had before so I googled it to find out what it was, essentially crispy fried chopped tortillas topped with either salsa rojo or verde, cheese, sour cream and onion. Many variations exist and this one was served with torn pork, the problem was that such a simple dish relies on its simple ingredients being super tasty, and sadly the salsa rojo was quite bland, more like a poorly made Italian passata.
This left me with a plate of crisp tortillas rapidly becoming soggy with some underwhelming pork to work my way through, it was incredibly filling so I didn’t feel bad for leaving much of it.
The enchiladas with mole sadly didn’t deliver much in the way of a more enjoyable experience, the mole sauce reminding me of packet chocolate pudding. Once I had that taste idea in my mind there was little I was going to do to un-taste it, with each bite of the chicken filling I felt more perturbed.
The meal wasn’t a complete loss however the side of chicharron (fried pork skin) was a strong redeeming feature, one I used to help me through the sad time the rest of the meal had promised. This meal reminds me once again the value of a good sauce, the whole meal experience would have been better if the cooks had paid a little more heed to the sauces production and quality.