Wednesday, August 24, 2011

my beef in the evening

OK.  Enough of the history for a bit.

Let's talk about something I like almost as much -- eating.

It did not take me long to adjust to Mexican eating hours.  I usually have a light breakfast.  And in the late evening I will have something light.  A sandwich.  Leftover enchilada.  Or maybe a taco or two at the local stand.

But the big meal of the day is what my midwestern and southern friends call dinner -- and others call lunch.  That is when I get to fold into a big plate of whatever.  Usually around 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

For a number of reasons that are not very important, I violated that rule on Tuesday evening.  I had not eaten much during the day, so I went looking for a good restaurant.

On my first day here, Felipe had recommended Restaurante d' la Calle Coss Galeria de Arte.  It is well-known for its fixed price meals.  But I was after something different.

The restaurant serves an Argentine-style beef dish -- churrasco con chimichurri.

I have been reluctant to order beef in Mexican restaurants.  Most of the beef here is range-fed with little feeding lot fattening.  As a result, it is very lean.  And very tough.

At least, that has been my experience on the coast.  I may have to change my mind after my dinner.

That is it at the top of this post.  Well, what is left of it by the time I realized I should take a photograph.  Just consider it as part of my
Willem Claeszoon Heda period.  If I had waited much longer, it would have been from my Clean Plate Club period.

The steak was cut thickener than most beef in Mexico.  To its benefit.  It was, without doubt, the tenderest piece of meat I have had here.  Not quite Morton's standard, but close.

And the chimichurri sauce (made of parsley, garlic, and oil) was a perfect complement.  Subtle enough to add flavor, but not overwhelming the beef's natural flavor.  It was good enough on its own that I did not touch either of the two salsas offered.

The fact that it came with a real salad of leaf lettuce (instead of the usual wilted iceberg) helped make it a very special meal.

I should have stopped there.  Enough is enough.  But I gave in to the dessert demon.

In this case a rather unremarkable flan.  But it was accompanied by one of Mexico's supreme gifts to the rest of the world -- hot chocolate with a slight twist of cinnamon.

During the month I have been here, it is not uncommon for me to be the sole guest in the dining room if I eat late.  And it does not matter whether I dine at 6 or 9.

Most of the restaurants have been quite good.  I hope that there main business is in the afternoon.  If not, I am not certain how they stay in business.


Don Cuevas said...

Thanks for the report, Steve. That place was until recently called Mistongo. We haven't tried it under the new ownership.

Saludos, Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

I thought I was going to Mistongo.  But, I guess that was part of my point.  Eateries open and close in fast succession.

Felipe Zapata said...

Has Mistongo changed its name? If so, it happened quite recently. Since the dish you ordered is what I always order there, I can see it's the very same. Perhaps you got this name from somewhere odd.

Not ordering beef in a Mexican restaurant is often wise, but this is an Argentine restaurant, not Mexican, and Argentines know their beef.

You have answered a question for me. My lovely wife and I always eat there for lunch, never at night. At lunch it is always deserted too. I always assumed the business came at night, mostly from the Gringos. So, nobody at night either. Interesting, and not a good sign.

By the way, young fellow, Southerners do not call the midday meal supper. We call it dinner. Supper is at night. However, I have not heard the midday meal called anything but lunch in decades, so maybe that habit has vanished.

Steve Cotton said...

Yup.  I slipped up on the dinner-supper flip.  I grew up with lunch and dinner.  Supper was an unknown until I joined the Air Force.  (I am going to fix it in the post.)

The name of the restaurant on the menu and on the wall has the different name.

Cking said...

I think you have southern meals mixed up. The big meals always called dinner, regardless of the hour. The less one might be a lunch or a supper, depending on whether it is the second or last meal of the day. I love the Mexican way, too, but still have a hard time waiting until 2 or 3 when I am only there for a few weeks or months at a time.

Steve Cotton said...

It took me about a month to adjust.

jennifer rose said...

Tuesdays are generally pretty slow days at Michoacan-area restaurants.

Now, let's talk about beef. Sonora is known for producing some of the best beef in the world. And there are feedlots. The beef you might see for sale at the mercado or the small *popular* carniceria was likely killed that morning, because many Mexicans prize freshness over the stink of aged meat. And most of those places do not have room to age meat -- and customers willing to pay the premium for meat that shrinks during the aging process. 

A restaurant like the one you went to likely buys its meat from SuSazon, Costco or a vendor to the trade.. Mega and Walmart also sell good meat.  It doesn't buy its meat from the mercado. 

Eat around. I think you'll find a goodly number of restaurants serving excellent beef in this area. 

Steve Cotton said...

This was actually my third good experience with beef.  I had a nice steak in San Miguel and a good skirt steak in Patzcuaro.  In general, I would say the food and the restaurants in the highlands are better than in my little fishing village.

leftedge said...

is the Morton you refer to Morton's Bistro? did you know it closed up shop?
dave nichols

tancho said...

If you want to purchase some good beef, probably like you had at the Old Mistongo which closed up after years of being around, and got resurrected as an Argentinean Beef house, there is the Susazon outlet, 30 meters up from the big plaza towards the hill on the left side of the street.
Restaurants in Patzcuaro have poor management and marketing skills and sadly come and go like tourists. 

Your live in house does provide you a parilla doesn't it?

Don Cuevas said...

Susie Santiago, the former Mistongo dueña, used to host cultural events at the restaurant, and the gringos flocked to those.

Saludos, Don Cuevas

Felipe Zapata said...

I passed by the restaurant this afternoon. Two things have changed. The owner and the name of the restaurant. Nothing more. Same cute waitress. Same cook. Same menu. The new owner is a Mexican woman. The Argentine woman who owned the place so long has returned to Argentina, according to the waitress.

Steve Cotton said...

I hadn't heard about Morton's Bistro closing, Dave.  That's too bad.  John and I would hang out there quote often and dissect Aristotle.  But I was referring to Morton's Steak House.  One of my favorite beef places.  After El Gaucho.

Steve Cotton said...

No grill here.  But I came to eat, not to cook.

Don Cuevas said...

A technical question: why do the font sizes change, unbidden? I often have this problem on my blog.

(One of my theories is that it comes when a photo image is inserted within an occupied field. Or a caption is pasted into the caption field instead of being diligently retyped. But I see your pics don't have embedded captions.)

Saludos, Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

Now and then when I backspace, the default font will re-emerge. But I usually catch it in the editing process.