The café I´m at doesn´t have a USB port, so the pics will have to wait. I haven´t taken a whole lot anyways - Hollis has taken thousands & I´ll just link to his.
Saturday was our last night in Guadalajara, and I wanted to go to Sacromonte. It´s a restaurant in the northwest of the city that has become internationally known for Nueva Cocina, or creating modern and avant-garde food based on the traditional Mexican cuisine. The food in Guadalajara was average at best. We had some good meals, but even more mediocre ones. I was surprised, as I remember the food from the capitol as being among the best of any city I´ve been to.
The tequila, now ... the tequila has been amazing. A four dollar glass is smoky and smooth and complex, and far better than even the hundred dollar bottles that they export to the States. The Jaliscans have been holding out on us.
I was excited about Sacromonte, and Hollis, Ron, & I (still no word from the Aussies)headed out there at 8pm. It´s housed in a villa of a former matador, and we knew right away that we had moved away from the world of rice and beans - the waiters were formally dressed, the music was Mexican without one hint of mariachi, and the art on the walls was real art.
And the food was sublime. I´ll give you a play by play; the chef deserves it. Loosen your belts a bit, ´cause you might put on a few pounds just reading this:
Quesadillas Cybeles - I´d read about this dish before coming. It´s a rose-petal and white cheese quesadilla covered in a strawberry salsa. They were shaped like sausages, and I´m not sure how they were cooked. I´m pretty sure the tortilla was masa, but it didn´t taste fried or grilled. The strawberry sauce was tart and rich - there was no sugar in it beyond what the strawberries brought. The cheese was hot and gooey, while the rose petals added a nice crunch and a hard to pin down flavor. It was absolutely awesome.
Queso - I forget the name of this dish. It was simple, and yet also perfect. The chef took a large plate of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, drizzled them in olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar, covered them in white cheese (goat cheese, I think), and broiled it until the cheese melted over the dish and turned brown on top. The tomatoes were still crispy, not stewed, but the cheese was hot and creamy. Think of a caprese if you took a torch to it. This is perhaps the one dish that I could manage at home.
Tartare - I´m not sure how this was a tartare. It was a terrine of rice and huitlacoche, topped with an avocado cream, and rimmed with a dozen very fresh shrimp. It tasted like there might have been roquefort in there, but that earthiness might have been from using fresh huitlacoche, which I´ve never had before. The dish was good - it was very umami, and I´d bet the Japanese would love it - but not a homerun.
Hollis and Ron passed on soups (wimps) but I blessed myself first and then ordered the Crema de Chicharrones. Buck up, amigos, because you read that right ... it was Cream of Pork Crackling Soup. The chef has earned a privileged place in either heaven or hell for this dish, but I´m not sure which. Possibly both. I gave Ron a taste and he had nightmares about it that night. It was that good, and that horribly evil. The waiter put two pieces of chicharrones in my bowl, a slice of cucmber (poor thing didn´t have a chance), and a drizzle of fresh crema. Then he brought out a pot from the kitchen and labelled the soup in with a smile. And oh damn was it good. The texture was somewhere between cream of potato soup and polenta. Each bite was pure flavor, and I wish I had words to describe it. It might be the single richest thing I have ever eaten.
Hollis went for a Duck Breast in Burnt Rose Petal Sauce. Ron had Bass in an Almond Sauce. Both were quite good. Para mí, I went for Chiles en Nogada. I saw the dish in Frida Kahlo´s book, and it was one of her signature dishes. I tried to make it at home once and it didn´t quite come out. Now I have a model to work from, and I aim to get it down - this dish knocked it out of the park, and it´s actually one I have half a chance at getting right. It´s a poblano chile stuffed with picadillo, roasted, covered in a walnut cream sauce, and then sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. It was pretty and delicious. The picadillo was thick and meaty, more of a stuffing than the ground up picadillos I´m used to. The sauce was divine, and the pomegranate just put it all over the edge. It was the kind of dish that just makes you happy.
I was too full to appreciate the desserts, but the boys ordered a creme brulee, which was fine, and a serving of homemade maize ice cream wrapped in a tortilla. It was interesting. I´d put it up there with green tea ice cream - it was great with the meal, but I don´t know that it´s a stand alone dish.
Well. After all that, a bottle of Chilean cabernet, and two snifters of Pebla Vejo tequila I was beat. We grabbed a taxi, dropped Ron off, and then headed back to the hotel. I wasn´t ready for bed - I had really wanted to make a night of it - but I was having a hard time moving. Then, around 11pm, the phone rang. Sean and Alastair had finally made it to town. I threw on my leather pants and boots (like I said, I wanted to make a night of it), and went out dancing with them until 4am. All in all, it was a perfect Saturday. And Sunday.
The sun is going down now, and I want to catch the sunset at Blue Chairs. I´ve been told that everyone will be there, and I hate to miss a party. I´ll finish up tomorrow morning with info on our adventures in Yelapa, our first day in Puerto Vallarta, and news on whatever trouble I get into tonight. Stay tuned!