Saturday, December 01, 2007
¡Holey Moley Molcajete!
(Even though they're not my kitchens, I'll be reporting on interesting eating places here.)
Yesterday, Rose Calderone, Susan and I had a pleasant visit with Didi of Posada Espíritu Libre, looking around Quiroga and environs.
Our appetites whetted by the mountain air, we then went to supper at Taquería Los Compadres, on the main street. (Unfortunately, I didn't get the address.)
(A viewer writes: AVENIDA VASCO DE QUIROGA NUMERO 293 COMO REFERENCIA SE ENCUENTRA ENFRENTE DE LA GASOLINERA Y SOBRE LA AVENIDA PRINCIPAL DEL MUNICIPIO.)
This place is a hole in the wall, but its food is first rate. (Note the shapely female silhouette on the sign painted on the facade. I'm not sure of its significance.)
The restroom is placed in an interesting spot under the stairs, which provides for some challenging personal configurations. Men, especially.
I'm of the opinion that places that specialize in one or two dishes, and keep their menus simple, often serve the best food. At Los Compadres, the menu (on wall signs) consists of various combinations of grilled meats, chicken and cheese, served in a variety of ways. At its heart, the ingredients are simple.
The Especialidades de La Casa are its molcajetes. (I have to confess, that before this visit, I thought of the molcajete presentation as a tourist gimmick, something on the order of Curried Chicken Salad served in a pineapple half. But this is a terrific dish; unlike one that Susan had in another, larger restaurant in Morelia, where the molcajete was a sloppy mess of acidic sauce and greasy food. But, enough about that.)
We ordered the Super Molcajete, which is more than enough for 4 hearty eaters. The cooks start by heating a molcajete (volcanic stone grinding bowl), inverted over a gas burner. The owner then throws a few carnes onto la plancha to asar them. Voilá! Carne asada!
These are then cut into fine ribbons and placed over some onion sections and salsa in the now heated molcajete. Strips of cooked chorizos are added, as is pork. There was supposed to be some chicken in it, but I couldn't detect it, and really, didn't miss it.
Word comes from another aficonado of Los Compadres that you can specify the degree of picante in the molcajete. Ours must have been "default", because it was tasty but not very picante. That's easily adjusted with an application of the table salsas.
Nopales are grilled and artistically draped over the sides of the bowl. An avalanche of shredded Queso Oaxaca crowns the creation. The cheese gradually melts due to the retained heat of the stone bowl.
We were presented with this monster molcajete, along with hot tortillas de maíz and a salsa roja and a salsa verde. Both were good, although I gave the edge to the red sauce. As you dig down, various goodies emerge from the depths of the seething crater. The cebollas were especially coveted.
The napkin consumption per person ranged up to 5, and the lime halves usage up to 8, depending on the personal squeezing power of the diner.
There was some leftover food, which they wrapped for us.
With 5 or so soft drinks, our bill was $210 MN for all four of us, plus tip.
If you are still hungry afterwards, you can find pan dulce vendors and candy shops all up and down the street. (You won't be hungry.)
SPECIAL NOTE of MERITORIOUS SERVICE: The plates and utensils were delivered to the table *before* the food came. This is a sign of good service, one not always experienced in other restaurants hereabouts. Quiroga seems like a progressive city, after all.
Footnote: On a walk after the meal, we stopped in at Café Tradicional de Uruapan, located in the inexpensive Hotel Tarasco, and purchased some excellent coffee for brewing at $45 pesos a half-kilo. I brewed some this morning, and what few hairs I have stood at attention.
On the Plaza, a couple were selling musical Christmas lights of different styles, playing different songs; which blended together in a not unpleasant cacophony. It was sort of a musical molcajete for Christmas.