Today I had what may have been the best torta de lechón I can recall ever having in Merida. Maybe it was because I was hungry, although I suspect not as I don’t remember having that ravenous feeling in the pit of stomach that would make even the most sawdust-flavored of sandwiches taste good.
The torta, presented to me in the usual way – on a faded red plastic non-disposable plate -at the Chuburná public market at 10 AM on a Saturday morning showed no signs of being better or worse than any I have eaten elsewhere. The roast pork filled the bread nicely and a strip of crunchy pork skin peeked out at me.
The first bite, however, was the beginning of a bliss-filled, three minute mouthgasm that transcended belief and defies description although I will make an effort.
The bread, was soft and warm; it’s outermost layer slightly crispy so that there was a soft but noticeable “crunch” as my teeth bit into it. The meat inside was moist, extremely flavorful and upon tasting it, my eyes rolled back in my head. The next bite included a bit of the crunchy roasted pork skin alluded to earlier and the citrical (yes I made that up) tang of the onion. Unbelievable. I finished the glorious torta without noticing who or what was around me or where I was. Total oblivion.
Chuburná market, Saturday AM.
Along with the great restaurants mentioned in the previous Toronto post, there was a disappointment or two. One of these was the Chinese (Cantonese) restaurant Lai Wah Heen (http://www.laiwahheen.com/) supposedly one of the better Cantonese restaurants this side of the orient. Um, no. The service was almost Yucatecan and there was really nothing seriously wonderful about the food which was tasty of course, but it was not the gourmet experience the Critic was hoping for and had experienced at upscale Chinese restaurants in Vancouver.
Another restaurant with a great reputation which left the Critic cold was the Quanto Basta restaurant on Yonge Street (http://www.quantobasta.ca/home). The service was fine, actually very good but not quite at the level of Splendido but this was probably because Quanto Basta is a little more casual. The food was good but nothing really stood out. There are no photos of this place as a) it was very dark inside; b) the Critic didn’t bring his camera and c) a lot of wine was being drunk, so you will have to visit their website, dear reader!
On a recent trip to eastern Canada; specifically Toronto, the Critic was able to sample some of the city’s restaurants. Here are some mini-reviews for your enjoyment.
Apparently this is a popular place for breakfast, according to some websites that know about such things. A lineup was waiting for Better Half and the Critic on sunny Toronto morning but the wait (about 5 minutes) was well worth it. Quick service, great food and big portions will ensure you are not starving when out and about (said in a Canadian accent) in the city during the rest of the day. The eggs benny are varied and fantastic. Critic and Half visited the downtown location on Wellington street in the “entertainment district” but they are all over the place.
There are several locations of the BierMarkt restaurants (http://www.thebiermarkt.com/index.php) and beer lovers
will love the ability to try several beers from around the world. In the photos, a selection of Belgian beers that one can order. Again, great place, and the Smoked Meat Poutine (the meat is smoked in house or so one is told) is To Die For. Honest. The Critic has tried just a few poutines but this one is a winner!
It’s espléndido just like the name says. This was probably the highlight of the trip, restaurant-wise (http://splendido.ca/welcome/) Amazing room, unbelievably delicious and inventive food and the service was top-notch. Look at this fried egg appetizer with greens, garlic and your very own hen egg to prepare.
The result is scumptious and the smell of the sauteeing garlic is sublime. Almost as sublime as the main dish ordered by the Critic; Yorkshire Pig aka Pork Belly, Pancetta Wrapped Tenderloin & Boudin Noir Smoked Shoulder Baked Beans, Sweet Potato & Cranberry (copy pasted directly from their menu). Look at the photos!
Is it just me or does anyone else out there think that the ham and cheese folks in the super markets look absolutely ridiculous with their mouth and nose covering masks? I mean, I don’t see this in the US and Canada where presumably people are also salivating on the merchandise before wrapping it and handing it to the customer. Or is it that the authorities have identified Mexicans as carriers of some rare disease that can be spread by breathing on ham? Perhaps the supermarkets are hiring people that are inadvertently discovering they are allergic to the smell of nitrates and since it is a pain to fire them, the mouth and nose coverings are the solution. Or the powers that be have discovered that people are eating too much of the ham and cheese and therefore profits are being affected and so…. a physical barrier to mid-shift Serrano ham snacking.
De veras, this country gets more and more ridiculous every day, trying to emulate other more advanced nations with policies that are completely and ludicrously out of touch with reality. What a ridiculous measure by the so-called health “authorities” who spend their time screwing over the established businesses; easy marks for the rules they invent in some office where they download health manuals from Swedish websites and decide that these will be perfect for Mexico.
Meanwhile, there are potentially hepatitis-infused tacos on the street, partially-cooked grilled chicken sold out of a garage, the eggs covered in chicken excrement and transported in open pickup trucks in the hot Yucatan sun with their potential for salmonella poisoning, the slices of bistek laid out on tables in the middle of the supermarkets (because the air conditioning is cool and so that keeps the meat fresh and e-coli free RIGHT?) and the tamales sold street side in filthy aluminum pots filled with dubiously sanitized ingredients in someones hygiene-challenged kitchen are permitted. No problema!
We can’t really go after all those people because there are simply too many and if we hit the supermarkets and mall stores people will think we are really becoming a first world nation.
Know what? People will not think that and what you are doing is a ridiculous waste of time and money and manpower.
This is yet another shining example of government waste in a country that claims it has no money, implementing and enforcing stupid rules on one captive sector of the economy.