La Casita Mexicana – Chiles en Nogada

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You know you’re in a serious Mexican restaurant when you see Chiles en Nogada on the menu… and La Casita Mexicana is most certainly a serious Mexican restaurant.

Many cuisines include stuffed peppers on their play-list, but this is by far the most interesting I have ever encountered. It is a poblana pepper, stuffed with a wonderful mixture of ground meats, fruits and spices, smothered in a walnut cream sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

The dish has its roots in the historic Puebla region of Mexico, and intentionally includes the red, green and white of the Mexican flag. A seasonal dish, Chiles en Nogada is typically served in September, so we just made it in time this year.

Chiles en Nogada isn’t the most common dish, certainly not in Southern California, but I’ve learned to always order it when I have the opportunity. And I’ve never been disappointed… well, yes, I once had it served in peppers that were painfully spicy, but even then, it was better than missing out.

That said, I think the version I had last night at La Casita Mexicana is the best I’ve had. The balance of sweet and savory flavors overlaid on the earthy green chile and the rich, nutty cream sauce was just perfect… and the occasional burst of pomegranate was a lovely surprise every time.

Here’s the website: http://casitamex.com/

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Cinco de Mayo Isn’t Mexico’s Independence Day

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Not only is Cinco de Mayo not Mexican Independece Day, but it isn’t even celebrated in most of Mexico.

This NPR piece explains it well: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/05/02/308624630/cinco-de-mayo-whose-holiday-is-it-anyway?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20140502

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On a less serious note, here’s a list of Cinco de Mayo Do’s and Don’ts from Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/adriancarrasquillo/20-dos-and-donts-of-cinco-de-mayo

Popocateptl

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I’ll admit it – I’m fascinated by the huge volcano 40 kilometers from Mexico City airport, near Puebla. In this video, a father and son team climbed to the lip of the volcano to film it.

Here’s the link to El Universal’s website: http://www.eluniversaltv.com.mx/videos/v_8f5d06cc000f4d098d485440f627aeac.html

Popocatéptl Frighteningly Active

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The famous volcano near Mexico City and Puebla has been increasingly active for several months, including throwing massive amounts of ash into the air. Mexico City airport – 40 kilometers away, was shut down briefly earlier this week because of ash. The alert level is just one step short of calling for evacuation. Here’s the link to El Universal newspaper.
http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/estados/2013/emitio-popocatepetl-39-exhalaciones-ultimas-24-horas-935175.html