Monday, March 17, 2008

Zora's Mexico!

The Invitation Email:

The Marriage of Fine Handmade Lace Mexican with Girl Next Door German-- think of it as a Mariachi band with a Tuba!

From the Desk of World Renowned Travel Writer and Mexican Food on the Run Expert Zora O'Neill:

While I was eating at this hot Mexico City chef's underwhelming new alta cocina restaurant in Cancun, I got to thinking that I can probably cook fancy Mexican food a lot better. Even though my people don't call it maize...but when has that ever stopped me or Tamara?

This is not chalupa-wrapped-gorditas-in-a-bucket-with-a-side-of-sour-cream. No chihuahuas in sight. This is a real sit-down Mexican meal, featuring the best manchamanteles (shirt-stainers--the term for those dishes that have really rich, oily sauces). It also won't be spicy-hot. Or not much. Just enough to warm you up on a winter night (as it will almost certainly be--sigh). And it will involve a lot of lard, because Rick Bayless tells us so.

So, I think we'll have:

--Assorted antojitos (little snacky bits) to-be-devised, and hopefully involving huitlacoche, aka Mexican truffles, aka corn smut (but that's not so appealing-sounding--unless you have corn fetish?)
--Best. Guac. Ever. (Did you know that, thanks to the stranglehold of the Evil California Avocado Overlords, Mexican avocados can be imported only to the East Coast of the USA, and only at certain times of the year? It's that time of year, to enjoy one of the finest fruits of the republic, straight from the garden state of Michoacan...which, incidentally, is entirely unlike our own fair Garden State, NJ.)'s the return of bring-your-own-soup-bowl! Do just that, for no Mexican meal is complete without a soup:
--Caldo de Pollo con Hongos y Cilantro (fancy name for chicken consomme with mushrooms and cilantro)

--Duck Mole (maybe a peanut mole? hmmm...)
--Wild rice with raisins
--Wilted purslane with queso oaxaqueno and a squeeze of lime
--Buttery steamed chayote

And finally, because fancy Mexican restaurants just can't get enough of the tableside fire show (can you blame them?):
--Bananas flambeed in passionfruit schnapps (which I hauled back from the state of Tabasco) and topped with bitter Mexican-style chocolate. Dude.

Best of all, this will all be accompanied by:
**Spaten beer!** The lovely folks of Spaten North America will be donating their best brews to accent the meal! They were probably expecting it to be served with schnitzel, but why ghettoize?

Really, it makes sense to drink German beer along with our Mexican dinner. In fact, Mexico's excellent breweries were all started by Germans. And those tubas in norteno music? You betcha--Mexicans say danke for that too.

To make your Spaten, Dinkelacker and Franziskaner go down more smoothly, we'll be offering the chelada treatment: salt-rimmed glasses filled with ice and lime juice, ready for you to top off with a cold lager--muy refrescante! If you want a little more heft, make it a michelada: add a dash of Worcestershire, and one of Tabasco--tastes like a pork chop in a glass.

The Breakdown!!

In Truth, I tried to write this last week, but I was sooooo caught up in birthday festivities and work that it never got done. Then Friday afternoon I FINALLY had a quiet moment and spent an hour writing the post, only to have blogger freeze on me and I lost it all. After much cussing I gave up, left work, and went to Zora and Peter's for dinner. (That usually fixes everything)

But then over the weekend, Peter took all of Karl's fabulous pictures and created a little movie-- which is right below. It tells the entire story of the dinner with excellent documentation, and music!

So my only words were that it was deeelicious-- Zora did the heavy lifting and I merely chopped and diced, Spaten helped us out with some beer, the people were mostly old friends and that was gorgeous, you should ALWAYS fry your own chips, and the Best. Guac. Ever. has both roasted AND raw finely chopped chilis.

Oh-- and Duck legs go very well indeed with mole sauce.

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