I enjoyed most of it, with very few problems. But a frequent challenge is getting suggestions from the group as to the next week's restaurant venue. Many members ( I use the term members loosely, as we don't have by-laws, memberships, officers or dues) are reluctant to make suggestions.
After several years as an informal member, and a year of co-ordinating, I have devised an acid test which helps me decide if we should return to a restaurant. This test may be applied generally to eating out in Mexico, not just geriatric breakfasts.
It's based on several factors, but the main one is salsa, or salsa, if you prefer.
Who ever heard of a Mexican Mexican restaurant (that is, in Mexico) that didn't serve its guests salsas without having to request it?* We have, on several occasions.
Picture this scene: a plush dining room in an expensive, deluxe hotel in Pátzcuaro. Let's call it La Mansíon de Peluche. Tablecloths, uniformed waiters, chandeliers, warm croissants, butter curls, but no salsa, for God's sake. That was a warning clue that the buffet breakfast that would follow would follow the path of insipidity. The presence of sliced hot dogs in their innocent, undisguised nudity, was more evidence that it was a kitchen that did not care.
A request for salsa brought a heedlessly improvised dish of it after a short wait. Someone in the kitchen should have thought of this beforehand. This kind of plush service does not come cheaply, either. I'd rather pay for good food than for pretentious plushness.
Last Tuesday we breakfasted at a new restaurant, "La Vista Incomparable", on the hill overlooking Pátzcuaro. The coffee was decent, the food wasn't bad, although not great. The fruit plate was unusually good and distinctive. Points! On the other hand, the bread was dreadful. And there was no salsa. Again, $80 (these prices include or voluntary tip.)
Let's turn now to the positive side. Here is the Pátzcuaro Salsa Hall of Fame
• Fonda Mamá Lupe. A intense, brick-red sauce is on the table. No asking necessary. It has kick and good flavor. Try it on Hot Cakes instead of syrup. (Just foolin') Sorry, I don't find a photo, but I'll soon remedy that.
I just picked up the print from the drugstore; here:
• Patio Las Brisas. Three salsas, in varying styles and strengths. You may have to ask for the dark, oily extra picante salsa.
|Serious salsa, not for the fainthearted, at Las Brisas|
|Cooked Table Sauce, Patio Las Brisas|
• La Surtidora. Damn fine salsa. You don't need to start a petition to get some.
|A *free* amuse bouche of molletes at La Surtidora. Salsa cruda in center.|
Listen, do I need to start bringing my own salsa to the plush but negligent restaurants? Would they care?
Over in Morelia, even lowly Hamburguesas Richards offers decent salsas for its food, particularly its tacos al pastor.
Do I need to bring my own salsa to the restaurants that don't provide it? I don't think they'd give a whit, but
here's a recipe for my Salsa Verde. It's not unique, but it's good.
Peel then wash a kilogram of tomates verdes, also known as tomatillos. Cook in simmering, lightly salted water until just starting to turn tender and translucent. Do Not Overcook. Drain in a colander and cool.
Roast, then sweat 6 medium to large chiles Poblanos. After 30 minutes of sweating, peel and seed. You may add 1 chile Jalapeño or 2 or more chiles serranos to the mix if you like the salsa muy picante.
Also partially roast half of a peeled white onion.
Wash and disinfect a good handful of cilantro. Blot dry in paper towelling
Wash, disinfect a good handful of cilantro, and remove any large, coarse stems. Blot dry with a paper towel.
Place the peeled roasted chiles and the cut up onion in a food processor outfitted with the steel S-shaped blade. Pulse until a coarse consistency is reached. Add the cooled tomatillos along with a teaspoon of salt. Add the cilantro. Pulse to combine. Add some pure water to thin the salsa to desired consistency. Taste for salt.
You are done. This freezes well in small containers. There's little excuse for being out of salsa verde.
*There's a bargain breakfast buffet restaurant, in a non-elegant hotel. It does serve salsa but it serves neither bread or tortillas. In all fairness, I have to say that they do not normally serve breakfast but open specially for our group. The key to its popularity is that the food is both abundant and cheap.
(I see some bugs in this blogpost, but I can't correct them now. Hasta pronto.)
Salsa Update: On Sunday, May 23, we were at the restaurant El Gorjeo de Las Aves En Las Mañanas de Abril at Ziracuarétiro. They served one of the best table salsas ever made. Here is a photo. Among other things, it contains nopalitos.