Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Culinary Adieu

Starting on Friday, we began our Tour de Yum, saying goodbye (for now) to the culinary delights we won't be taking with us to the US. Next time you are in Cancun, you'll know where to go.

Let me start with what I am convinced are the best quesdillas on the planet. You read that right; I said "the planet." We went to this small outdoor restaurant on Av. Bonampak called "K... sadillas Jalisco" that serves insanely delicious quesadillas on freshly made tortillas with fillings like rajas, champiñones, chicharrón prensado, mole, and other things that taste like heaven covered in Oaxaca cheese.  Folded in half, they're about a foot long, maybe a tad less. They're so absolutely unreal, for half a second I considered leaving my husband for the quesdilla guy. Hell, I think my husband considered leaving me for the quesdilla guy!

The mole at this place is extraordinary, made with a home recipe that involves caramel and spices and God only knows what else. Completely addictive. It's one of the tastiest moles in the city, though the very best is the mole negro at Restaurante Lindo Oaxaca -- totally the stuff that dreams are made of. At the same restaurant, they have tangy chapulines, so if you think you can free yourself from culturally ingrained aversions, try them here. They are salty and sour and really good. Oh, and the mezcal is really good here as well. We had an orange flavored version with a salted rim that was delicious.

Tamales colados are just obligatory, and while there are restaurants that serve them, that is not how tamales work in my wold. Nope, for me tamales are bought from an old lady with a big pot just outside the supermarket... or in this case the OXXO. The red sauce is really what makes the local version unique.

Also a corner snack: esquites. There's just something about standing around eating cups of white corn with lime, mayo, cheese, salt, and chili pepper that makes me smile. Not a snack for fans of bland, but for the rest of us, it's definitely worth a stop on the Tour de Yum.

I won't wax rhapsodic over tacos anymore. You people have teased me quite enough for my love affair with the taco. Suffice it to say that nary a taco stand exists in Downtown Cancun or Playa del Carmen that has not been visited by the likes of me. Local faves: cochinita pibil, relleno negro, lengua, suadero, fish, and battered shrimp.

Though it's now very easy to find good beef, seaside towns excel in ocean delights. The best fish we've had was a fried boquinete we devoured in Cozumel. The one we had at Mandingo was fairly excellent, too, as was the mixed ceviche. And on that note, we're finally ready to fly north again.


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