Posts Tagged ‘restaurant’|
Saturday, July 16th, 2011
Chiles en nogada are so important to Puebla’s gastronomy that their arrival each year draws an impressive crowd. The official 2011 season kickoff, held July 14 by the national restaurant association at Hotel Camino Real, attracted scores of restaurateurs and various dignitaries, including Mayor Eduardo Rivera Pérez, celebrity chef Patricia Quintana, and a Mexican archbishop (the dish was invented by nuns). Nineteen different restaurants served their takes on the traditional recipe, sales of which are expected to bring in 10 to 20 percent more patrons into dining rooms statewide between now and the end of September. The state secretary of tourism says Puebla is allocating 7 million pesos for the promotion of regional cuisine.
It’s been a tough year for cultivating two of the dish’s key ingredients, walnuts and Poblano chile peppers, in the state of Puebla. Bad weather (hail, frost, landslides) and competition from importers have cut supplies and driven up prices. However, purists continue to use only local products, and restaurateurs remain optimistic and anticipate diners will consume some 3 million chiles en nogada, or 25 percent more than they did in 2010.
Visitors to Puebla can sample chiles en nogaga at eateries all around the state and its capital city, including these official purveyors promoted by the restaurant association. Expect to pay 100 to 350 pesos per plate. In addition, at least two festivals that celebrate the nearly 200-year-old dish are scheduled to take place in the neighboring towns of San Andrés Calpan (August 12 to 14) and San Nicolás de los Ranchos (August 6 to 29). To learn more about the history and preparation of chiles en nogada, check out All About Puebla’s previous post, “Puebla’s Patriotic Dish: Chiles en Nogada.”
Sunday, August 15th, 2010
From late July to early October, all forks in Puebla seem to point toward one entree: chiles en nogada. This labor-intensive dish, an icon of local gastronomy, consists of a poblano pepper that’s stuffed with ground pork and dried or fresh fruit, batter-fried, and then covered with a walnut cream sauce, pomegranate seeds, and parsley leaves.
The first recipe for chiles en nogada was developed at the Santa Monica convent by Augustinian nuns (although some historians credit the Claristas). Whatever their religious leanings may have been, the sisters got caught up in the fervor surrounding the Mexico’s independence in 1821. When Agustín de Iturbide — the liberator who co-wrote the peace treaties signed by Spain and later became Mexico’s emperor — passed through Puebla, a huge banquet was held. The nuns, seeking to demonstrate their national pride, presented Iturbide with an entree they’d concocted to display the red, white, and green colors of the new national flag.
“It is a very patriotic dish, because it has the three colors of the Mexican flag: green from the chile [and the parsley], white from the walnut sauce, and red from the pomegranate,” Luis Alberto Martínez Álvarez writes on the state’s website. “August arrives, and with it the typical chiles en nogada, which each year you can find in every home in Puebla.”
Chiles en nogada means peppers in walnut sauce. The word “nogada” comes from “nogal,” or “walnut.”
Although some people serve the rich, sweet-and-savory dish served at other times of the year, most chefs prepare it when its key ingredients — apples, pears, peaches, walnuts, and pomengranates — are at their peaks. In Puebla, both seasons coincide with el mes patrio, or the patriotic month, here in Mexico. Independence Day is Sept. 16 and, with the nation celebrating its bicentennial this year, kitchens all over Puebla are churning out chiles en nogada in epic proportions.
Of course, most locals will tell you that the best chiles en nogada they’ve ever eaten were made by one of their family members. Tip: They’re always right. But you’ll also find tasty renditions at nearly every traditional eatery in town. Try chiles en nogada at Mi Ciudad (Av. Juárez #2507, La Paz), Fonda La Mexicana (16 de Septiembre #706-A, El Centro), or any of these 13 local restaurants, which have devoted a website to the dish.
Monday, June 28th, 2010
Legend has it — and nearly everything in Mexico has a legend — that the rich, savory mole poblano for which Puebla is famous dates back to the 18th century, when nuns at the Santa Rosa convent prepared it for a visiting archbishop. The savvy sisters combined no fewer than 20 indigenous and imported ingredients, including chocolate, garlic, and various peppers, to make the sauce, which they then poured over cooked meat (probably turkey). The result was delicious, and the dish helped to establish Puebla as a destination for good eats.
Fast-forward 300 years, and nearly every cook in the state has developed his or her own recipe. Some moles are made from scratch; others are based on a paste purchased in a market. Their flavors vary wildly. In the mountains, more chiles tend to be used, intensifying the mole’s heat, whereas in lower-lying areas, more fruits are added, making the sauce sweeter, says Alonzo Hernández, executive chef for Mesones Sacristía, a trio of boutique hotels in the city’s Colonial center. Hernandez offers semi-private classes in his kitchen and inspired regional fare in his restaurants. “We want to change, to do what is practical, but it’s also necessary to save the original recipes,” he says. His mole poblano ranks among the best — a thick, mild, slightly fruity version that’s served over chicken breast or thigh and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Many of Hernandez’s dishes, including his signature cazuelita poblana, arrive at the table in traditional clay pots.
“If I couldn’t eat in my restaurant, I’d eat at Meson Sacristía de la Compañía, because it has good food and good moles,” says Luis Javier Cué de la Fuente, who runs El Mural de los Poblanos (16 de Septiembre #506), a cozy restaurant just two blocks from the zócalo. He suggests that travelers who’d like to compare mole poblano with pipian rojo and pipian verde sauces order the three-mole enchiladas at El Mural. The dish is typically prepared with chicken, but vegetarians may substitute fresh cheese. Adventurous diners will also find seasonal local delicacies, including escamoles (ant eggs) and huasmole (goat bone stew), on the menu.