Maybe we're getting in a rut.
This year's seven-course prix-fixe meal included dishes from Mexico City, Veracruz and Oaxaca and went something ... like ... this:
First up, a glass of agua de hierbas frescas, a crisp, subtly sweet blend of celery, parsley and cucumber over ice that was so refreshing, I eschewed the alternative of Dos Equis and stuck with it all night. Yes, that's right: I, Carolyn Grantham, opted for a non-alcoholic beverage.
Next, the first of two appetizers: moist duck breast in a red pipian mole, warm and nutty, with a salad of nopales and queso fresco.
App #2 was ensalada de chicharrón: fist-sized chunks of salty, crispy fried pork skin topped with pico de gallo.
The soup course was cazuela de mariscos a la veracruzana, and was a nice attempt at deconstructing seafood stew:
Both mussel and clam were fresh and meaty, comparable to chicken thigh (the former) and breast (the latter) but with a briny undertone, and the accompanying shot of seafood broth held flavors of fish and shrimp.
The Boy, being allergic to things that wear their skellingtons on the outside, had a lovely, earthy squash-blossom soup, served in a bowl apparently fashioned from the hull of some enormous seed:
And then to the entrees. First, beef in a yellow mole (which I neglected to capture for posterity). The meat itself, while tender and moist, had little flavor--doubtless boiled in water, as for ropa vieja. Combined with the sauce, however, it was fab--not too spicy, but warm enough to get the endorphins going. On the side, a mixed-veggie combo of steamed green beans, zucchini and diced chayote.
Next up, the dish we both liked best: pescado a la talla, a foil-baked fillet of tilapia with onions and ancho peppers and a hint of orange juice:
And then the last main--chicken in a green mole.
This was the only dish that could have been better executed. The roasted, shredded chicken was cold and dry, and the mini corn fritters turned out tough and chewy. Nice sauce, though. And the blackened pepper skins provided a smoky and unusual tone.
And finally, dessert: three sweet corn tamales with a schmear of intense berry sauce and a crème anglaise.
The choco version tasted a lot like chocolate pudding, which was cool. The raisin was somewhere between bread pudding and fruit cake, sweet and rich. But my fave was the pineapple, which was exactly like pineapple upside-down cake, which I haven't had in a decade.
And now to wait for next year's gastronomic celebration ...