Friday, January 21, 2011

Around The Way Girl (Las Cazuelas)


   Girard Avenue will not be the new Restaurant Row. The aromas and flavors of Ekta and Tiffin do intoxicate. Quince market still is a favorite of mine for a quick sandwich or some cheese and charcuterie. If I get started on the original Paesano's I will lose track of what I am supposed to be talking about. And the thing I am talking is a Mexican restaurant.
   Las Cazuelas is a restaurant born of the love of two communities. The owner was born in Puebla, Mexico and was raised here in Philadelphia. You can tell the pride he has in his history and accomplishments as soon as you step inside. I always know what type of restaurant I am in when I read anything on the menu described as award winning. The award winner in this case is a Molé Poblano served over chicken enchiladas. The molé was incredibly smooth and had a nice balance to it although I would have liked to have a bit more spice come through. My lunch visit left me with appreciation for another neighborhood place I have often overlooked. This is no frills Mexican cooking that is well executed and served by one of the friendliest (and cutest) servers I have had in a long while. The prices are very reasonable and the guacamole and flan were both pleasant additions to my meal. I look forward to grabbing lunch or dinner here again soon, but I have a lot more molé to eat before the end of January.  

The Skinny Fat Kid

Las Cazuelas
426 W Girard Ave # 28
Philadelphia, PA 19123-1425
(215) 351-9144

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Month of Molé

  I have been meaning to get back to this but the holidays and work have kept me quite busy. To start the new year I decided to focus on molé. My first interest in molé started from working in a Mexican restaurant. It was further piqued by watching Rick Bayliss talk about it before he won Top Chef Masters. My trip last winter to Oaxaca for Day of the Dead was also an inspirational journey. In December I actually made my first to molé sauces at home and then decided it was worth the devotion of a month. For those just joining us here on the blog I offer you a glimpse into my thinking. Each month I focus on one dish to eat and learn about. It is part a journey to eat, which I love to do. It is also a way to get me back to cooking and to develop more of a base understanding that will allow me to experiment with more confidence in the future.
    Molé can be called many things. I prefer to thing of it as a cross between a sauce and a stew. They are incredibly complex in flavor and technique using typically over 20 different ingredients. The blending of these flavors helps to create a dish that is at the same time sweet, spicy. The flavor is quite complex and really difficult to describe or compare to anything else. There are a few places in Mexico that claim to have invented it the most notable being Puebla and Oaxaca (sometimes called the Land of the Seven Moles.) Finding Molé in Philadelphia shouldn't be to difficult because of the large Pueblan population. In am planning to eat out quite a bit. I will also be cooking at home using a variety of recipes and trying to get a few recipes from some of the people I know who are Mexican. I will also taste test a few products that are available on the market for the home cook who does not have the time or doesn't want to dirty the dishes necessary to make it from scratch. During the month I will be also conducting a few interviews with some chefs who are not only doing great Mexican food , but have experience in making molés. I look forward to giving you all a great month of blog post to read and getting ready for a truly gluttonous February.

The Skinny Fat Kid