the restaurants all begin to run together in your memory. Especially in the case of Mexican ones. Sure, some are unforgettable like Red Iguana in Salt Lake City, Barrio Café in Phoenix, and Casa de Pico in La Mesa (CA). And I will be forever looking for “street tacos” like those at La Fortuna in Williams (CA). And this unforgettable list also includes Alebrijes Mexican Bistro in Lodi, CA, that we last visited in 2010.
I also remember that co-owner (with his wife Adi) Reuben Larrazolo was in Mexico at that time studying with Rick Bayless. (In the top photo in this montage, Larrazolo is on the left and Bayless is on the right.)
While studying the extensive menu, we snacked on a basket of crisp tortilla chips served with a cup of smoky salsa that Adi Larrazolo told us was made fresh every day and was almost entirely made of roasted tomatoes.
The menu is extensive with a large number of unique and seldom seen options. “From large burritos to homemade guacamole and vegan options, the menu includes the same customer favorites that were available at the first restaurant. But there are a few new things the Larrazolos are trying with their contemporary Mexican cuisine, including dishes that aren’t just comprised around your basic steak or chicken…
“Visiting a food’s region before he puts it on his menu is something Larrazolo does often, because he likes to know the reasons for cooking an ingredient a certain way. In Oaxaca, he perfected the techniques for seven new moles, which are part of the 45 different sauces Larrazolo uses at Alebrijes” (lodinews.com).
Starters include: Moyetes Capitalinos—a sliced baguette with black bean spread, topped with chorizo, pico de gallo, and melted cheese; Jalapeños Rellenos de queso—sweet stuffed jalapeños with queso fresco topped with pico de Gallo over a black bean sauce (kind of like a Mexican popper); and Cocktail Vuelve a la vida (Back to life)—ceviche cocktail that originated in Veracruz Mexico with shrimp, octopus, oysters, and clams.
But I couldn’t resist ordering the Oaxacan-style mole over chicken breast that I had eaten (this was my first experience with mole) back in 2010. I wanted to see, especially following Larrazolo’s studies with Rick Bayless, whether it was as good or even better than I remembered.
“The most common version of the legend takes place at the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla…. Upon hearing that the archbishop was going to visit, the convent nuns went into a panic because they were poor and had almost nothing to prepare. The nuns prayed and brought together the little bits of what they did have, including chili peppers, spices, day-old bread, nuts, and a little chocolate. They killed an old turkey, cooked it and put the sauce on top; the archbishop loved it” (wikipedia.org).
Chuck selected the Lomo De Purco Con Salsa De Ancho Y Bourbon or pork tenderloin served with an ancho bourbon sauce that, to me at least, tasted slightly of cinnamon.
“Sous vide [soo VEED] French for ‘under vacuum,’…is a food-packaging technique pioneered in Europe whereby fresh ingredients are combined into various dishes, vacuum-packed in individual-portion pouches, cooked under a vacuum to the precise serving temperature then chilled or dried well and quick seared. Sous vide food is used most often by hotels, restaurants and caterers, though it's expected to become increasingly available in supermarkets” (reddit.com).
Although I have seen this done numerous time on Top Chef (it seems to be popular with young chefs), this was my first experience—or the first that I know of—with food prepared using this technique, and while I wouldn’t describe the texture as spongy, it did produce “softer” pieces of meat and one that I didn’t find at all objectionable.
We finished our meal by sharing a slice of Impossible Cake—a chocolate cake with a flan topping.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.