Berglind Lab’s trip to Mexico City

The highly rigorous Berglind Labs process requires, obviously, food and drink tourism and the needs of the organization brings us this week to Mexico City. Highlights, insights, thoughts and mustations:

  • Chef Jove’s favorite was Quintonil. (Top 5 restaurants of all time – Joe V.) For Jay, it was a close number 2 to Pujol. An amuse bouche of a puffed taco with avocado cilantro and chicatana ants. Favorite thing to eat? Seared Mamey, caviar, honey creme fraiche – amazing. Other playful highlights included an dish camouflaged to look like an avocado and a slimy fresh cactus gelee. (Jove says slimy is an underrated. texture – slimy cocktails?) Drink – activated Charcoal in a  Paloma negro. Activated Charcoal turned the drink pitch black, a trick worth exploring in the future.
  • 50 Mils is a well regarded bar in 4 Seasons. The Billy the Kid cocktail used a fat washed bourbon in an old fashioned. However the atmosphere? Sterile.
  • Licoreria Limantour was our pick for drinks this trip and one of the best cocktail bars I’ve ever been to. Encountered tequila washed in coconut at Licoreria Limantour. Fat washing is a cool trend many bars in Mexico City are using, with terrific results. 
  • On our trip to the archaeological site Teotihuacan – which is amazing – we went to a long time restaurant called La Gruta which has an amazing setting in a cave. Sadly the food?  Boredom punctuated with moments of terror. There we ordered the dish they are famous for called Escamole. This is fermented ant larvae. This was not a good idea. This I cannot recommend.
  • Mole made Pujol famous. Before the Mole (from there, capitalization necessary) the dining was a very good, very expensive and very upper class. It would have been fine but not particularly memorable. The signature dish, however, uses 2 different moles that is simply picked up with a tortilla. The first is earthy and wracked with umami is reserved for more than 1345 days (not a typo) The sense of it is descent; the flavors are complex and mysterious and the longer they lingered on your tongue the more notes were added  and elusive hints of peppers and herbs and seeds seemed to contrapuntal to each other . The second, layered on top, is piquant but light, really fresh, citrus-y, nutty.  Seriously one of the best 3 or 4 things I have ever put in my mouth. A triumph. They could charge $400 per plate for just that and I would pay it. As long as there were seconds.
  • Rokai is based on the concept of using Mexican ingredients  for straight forward sushi. Food great, Server arrogant. Made for part of the experience unpleasant. Would we would return? Yes, the food made persuasion for a second trip.
  • We visited an old favorite: La Onda (Lomas de Chapultepec) where I hadn’t been  in 15 years but still simple, amazingly flavorful tacos. During the trip we also had a street taco in Zona Rosa that was cheese-dominant and as big as my head for 40 pesos.
  • The King Cole bar in the St. Regis was our nightcap spot. Cocktails were traditional but perfectly executed, it also was a perfect place to drink booze straight or rocks, with great liquors like Monkey Shoulder and Zacapa XO all while sitting above the Angel de Independencia.

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