Saturday, March 03, 2007

It's not easy being (in) green (mole sauce)

Every time we eat at Tu y Yo, I give thanks that we're a five-minute walk from excellent Mexican food. The restaurant makes a concerted, sincere effort to create dishes that are not just damn delicious, but also inventive and unusual.

Their menu includes a special that changes out weekly. February's dishes included chicken breast in a sauce of garlic, guajillo chiles, cumin and melon; and sautéed red snapper, shrimp, crab and octopus in a broth of fish, rice, jalapeño and tomatoes.


(I almost always get the special; it's invariably interesting and saves having to make decisions.)

The standard side dish is rice and beans, the latter having a deep, intense, chocolatey flavor.

A couple of weeks ago, they changed their menu, dropping some dishes and adding others. Thankfully the chicken tinga and the cochinita pibil are still listed--standbys for when the special doesn't appeal. And so, interestingly, are the tacos de chapulines (deep-fried tacos stuffed with crickets and served with avocado sauce); either they're really really popular or they're just too damn curious to be discontinued.

So what's new?

How about "pork cakes in a prehispanic sauce of cactus fruit"?

Or "chopped chayote squash in a pipian of pumpkin seeds, peanuts, cilantro, herbs, ancho and guajillo peppers"?

Or "chicken breast in a red mole made with chocolate, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and ancho, pasilla, mulato and chipotle peppers"?

Good as they all sound, none of these were our final choices. The Boy opted for nopales con longaniza en salsa verde y amaranto (Mexican sausage and chopped cactus smothered in tomatillo sauce and amaranth seeds). I ordered the
ancas de rana.

The frogs' legs tasted, of course, like chicken, but more tender (and requiring extra work to dissect meat from teeny tiny tibiofibular bone).

They came in an appropriately Kermit-green sauce of pumpkin seeds, poblano peppers, tomatillos and amaranth. The sauce was complex, somewhere between sesame and fresh grass--like winter turning into spring. I almost asked for tortillas to mop it up.

The Boy's dish was simpler but still carefully planned, with the vinegar-pickled cactus serving as a bright foil to the pork-fatty goodness of the sausage.

Our waiter said they plan to stay with the menu in its current form for the next two years. Which is good, because I want to try everything on it. And if they keep serving up intruiging specials, it's gonna take a while.

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