20 June 2010

First meal in Mexico

After 15 hours or so of travelling by plane, car, and bus, I finally arrived in Puebla, Mexico. Everything was pretty excellent and smooth except for a headache, which I think was due mainly to the altitude - Mexico City is at 7,200 ft above sea level. So the whole thing left me a bit breathless, literally, but otherwise quite excited to see it all.

The first meal of the trip was actually BBQ in the airport in Houston, which wasn't too bad. The sliced brisket was a bit salty but still better than anything available in Toronto! The potato salad had not too much mayo and a hint of mustard and the place, Pappas Bar-B-Q, also had a great cucumber salad which is unusual for a BBQ joint and was perhaps my favourite part of the meal. Topped it all off with sweet tea and I was good to go for the rest of the day.

By the time I arrived in Puebla, some six or eight hours later, I was ready for my first Mexican meal. I had sussed out some restaurants before leaving Toronto and was glad of it as I was tired and pleased to already have my destination picked out so I wasn't messing around trying to figure out where to eat. Mesones Sacristia was one of the places where I'd been looking at going to cooking school but decided against. However, I was intrigued by their menu, so made it my first stop for a Mexican meal. I arrived at about 8:30, which is apparently quite early for dinner and was the lone diner in the pink courtyard (which has hotel rooms above it).
No worries, everyone was very nice and I stumbled through with my not-so-excellent Spanish. As it caters to tourists, though, the restaurant thankfully had a menu in English, so I didn't have to sit there like a dweeb with my dictionary figuring out what everything was. So I started off with quesadillas with Oaxan cheese and squash blossoms because I just wanted to eat squash blossoms and that was the menu choice. They were fantastic. Came with a little bowl of guacamole as well as the fresh and tomatillo salsas that come to the table. Alone they were excellent. Smothered in the guac and tomatillo salsa, even better. Not much too look at but really great.
Puebla is the home of mole poblano, the complex sauce made with chocolate and served usually over chicken. I was keen to try it but there were also a few other moles on the menu, one a speciality of the house made with chipotles (oh how I adore thee) and red and green pipian which are nut-baseed. I wanted to try them all and luckily for me, they had a combo platter.

No vegetables in sight (well there were two slices of radish) but a good helping of all four. I found that, not surprisingly, I enjoyed the house special chipotle-based mole the best. I thought the mole poblano would be bitter but it was actually quite sweet and I found it a bit too cloying and heavy even in the small portion that I had. Enjoyed both the green and red pipian. None of them were particularly spicy so tried a few in the hot, fresh corn tortillas that came with it sprinkled with some of the salsas, also very tasty but I really couldn't eat too many tortillas, it was just too much.

There was no room for dessert, so no report on that end. Overall, not sure how I'm feeling about moles. I do hope we'll learn to make one while at the cooking school but they seem to be very complex to create without the taste punch that I would have expected.

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