Saturday, December 22, 2012

chicken with a flair

I love food.

Of life's pleasures, it is undoubtedly my favorite.  But you already know that.  Or you could figure it out from the number of words I write on the topic of eating.

You would probably assume then that I an one of those people who moved to Mexico for -- and then gushes about -- The Food.  But you would be wrong.

I like Mexican food.  That includes the meals in The States that passes for Mexican food.  Even though the Mexican food in Melaque is something quite different.  The most obvious example is the taco.

The problem with Mexican food is its uniformity.  After about a week of combining tortillas, chicken, vegetables, and salsa in different combinations, the culinary adventure sours. 

And it doesn't matter which region I am in.  Certainly, the cuisine of Michoacán is more interesting than Jalisco's.  But everything is ruined by repetition.

Until recently, there was only one way to break the tortilla chain.  Cook for yourself at home. And I enjoy doing that.

But we have had some additional choices recently here in the Melaque area.  During the biggest tourist seasons of the year (when the highland Mexicans migrate our way). most of the restaurants serve the usual Mexican fare.

The only exceptions are during the few winter months when flocks of northerners head south.  And need to be fed.

Most of them are looking for a filling meal at a low price. And we have a few restaurants that are essentially Denny's (or Appleee's) knockoffs.

And then there are the good restaurants.  One of my favorites is La Rana.  The eatery around the corner from my house.

The menu there had been somewhat the same since I have been living in Villa Obregon.  Mexican classics mixed in with a few northern favorites.

This year the menu is delightfully different,  The daughter of the owner has been attending chef courses in Manzanillo.  And this year's offerings prove she has learned her stuff well.

The chicken section is proof enough.  Italian chicken.  Marengo chicken.  Chicken piccata.

But my favorite is illustrated at the top of this post.  Chicken jamaica.

A saut
éed chicken breast, stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts, tied with a sprig of lemon grass.  Set off by a tangy hibiscus sauce -- the southern equivalent of a pomegranate reduction.

The tastes are a perfect blend.  The fresh breast has the pungent taste that only fresh chicken can provide.  And the smooth tang of the goat cheese mixes perfectly with the acidic crunchiness of the walnuts.

I could not eat it every night.  But it is certainly a pleasant weekly diversion for the winter months.

At 90 pesos (about $7 US), it is not the least expensive meal in town.  But a similar meal in Salem at a tarted-up hotel coffee shop would run about $25 to $30.  And it would not be as fresh.

It almost makes me wish I could take La Rana with me when I head north on Wednesday.


DonCuevas said...

What? You are leaving again?

Don Cuevas

Joanna said...

After 37 years dedicated to finding, buying and preparing delicious food and the relentless search for good (sometimes great) restaurants in Mexico, I must say that the cuisines of Yucatan and Puebla are the most varied and flavorful ones in the country. Mind you , the really exquisite entrees are not always on the restaurant menus as they are very labor-intensive and pricey to prepare. Certainly there are gems throughout Mexico but the best restaurants are definitely found in DF. I hope you have a Merry Christmas Steve and that it includes a succulent turkey with all the trimmings... a hard feast to improve upon.

John Calypso said...

An International variety of eateries here in Puerto Amigo. No Wolfgang Puck or Anthony Bourdain (and none of their prices), but pretty good variety of food; and you can wear your napkin on your chest - anywhere (no ties and jackets required).

Steve Cotton said...

I still have a lot of work to do on the house before I can put it on the market. But it is getting thee.

Steve Cotton said...

I have been invited to Christmas dinner with friends from Canada. She always creates a bountiful table.

DonCuevas said...

Although we have never been to the Yucatan, we like its style of cuisine. Last Tuesday, we ate at La Romería in Morelia, which specializes in comida Yucateca.

Don Cuevas

barbara eckrote said...

You know I have to chime in and say with 234 restaurants in San Miguel one can dine on any cuisine you can imagine - Lebanese, Italian, Chinese, Sri Lankan,thai, French, International and Mexican. Just to name a few. It is a diner's paradise to me. The only restaurants that are expensive are the ones that cater to the Mexico City crowd. The prices in those restaurants are equal, if not more, then US locals steer clear of them.

Steve Cotton said...

I agree that San Miguel offers a good variety of restaurants. But I have found the quality of most of the food there to be a bit mundane after the novelty of variety wears off. Maybe I just need to keep going back and trying new places..

Steve Cotton said...

And here I was thinking I would need my dinner jacket.

Steve Cotton said...

I have been to Yucatan,and I agree with Joanna. The cuisine is very good. But even it can get repetitious.

Shannon Casey said...

We have a new Yucatan restaurant here in San Miguel. I haven't tried it yet but maybe that will be more to your tastes, next time you are here. Have a very happy Christmas and New Year Steve.

Steve Cotton said...

Try it I will.

jennifer rose said...

A great blog post about a fantastic little restaurant in Mexico's best neighborhood. Cochinita pibil is something I could eat every day of the week.

Tancho said...

Lucky guy, we have about a dozen restaurants in town, only a handful are worth ever returning to, too.
Have a safe journey to Oregon, Have a great Christmas, and a great New Year too!

Steve Cotton said...

Without doubt Melaque in the winter has far many more eatery choices than Patzcuaro during any time of the year.

Steve Cotton said...

You recommended it while I was in Morelia. I need to try it on my next trip.