October 1, 2015
My apologies; I’ve been living in a whirlwind over the past few days, and I’ve had no time to post the promised notes on two great meals in Mexico City. But I’m sitting on a train, heading to Boston, and Amtrak’s famously fussy internet has finally kicked in. So quickly – before it deserts me – here are notes on my lovely lunch at Quintonil. Should you be interested, it’s an herb, a relative of amaranth, and as far as I can tell quintonil is none other than goosefoot (also known as lamb’s lettuce), my favorite foraged green.
The meal began with the nopales ceviche with dried chiles, above). This was light and refreshing, but what I loved best was the way the chef played with the slightly slimy quality of the cactus paddles. Crisp at first, they They dissolved into a completely different texture as you ate. The dried chiles, and that sprinkling of granita, enhanced the effect.
Salad of herbs, hiding a grilled tomato, with a sprinkle of cotija cheese. This was a salad with character.
Beautiful sardines with purslane, fennel, seaweed. As delicate as any dish I sampled in Japan, and an entirely new take on Mexican cooking.
A crisp little tortilla shell filled with chanterelles and other wild mushrooms glazed in a sweet sauce. But the surprise was escamoles, tender little ant eggs with the texture of marshmallow and a flavor so subtle as to be nonexistent. This was all about texture: a tangle of crisp, soft and chewy that kept your mouth in a constant state of surprise.
Squash blosoms in a huitlacoche sauce. It made me think about squash blossoms in an entirely new way.
Duck in recado negro – a kind of mole sauce, with pickled salsify and pureed kohlrabi. A little bit of yang in all this yin.
Escolar – such an appealing fish – with chile guajillo puree and pineapple pico de gallo. No more than a few satisfying bites.
And to end the afternoon, a couple of extremely pretty desserts, splashed boldly across the plates.