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chef's menus, Mateo's Cocina Latina, Healdsburg.

moto | Nov 22, 2012 02:06 AM

for Thanksgiving, Chef Granados will offer a multi course meal for $50, choice of turkey either in a north american style w. chestnut dressing or Mayan style (turkeys originally domesticated by mesoamericans before the euro invasion) with a mole blanco, and options for the other courses. the chef uses local and organic ingredients wherever possible.

from what we tried last weekend from the menu of chef's specials (didn't order from the regular menu at all), the Thanksgiving meal will be quite a treat. fresh seafoods were prominent in his specials. Marin Miyagi oysters came either raw on the half shell (delicious with just a drop of either of the signature habanero salsas), or perfectly fried in a light cornmeal crust on a salad, which also featured sweet, fresh Dungeness meat. a fried oyster also complemented the delicious soup made from roasted delicata squash (we bought some from the same source, Preston, and it has a unique richness), topped by a light Point Reyes bleu foam. Monkey faced eel (caught by poke pole technique near Half Moon Bay) appeared in two main courses ; what we enjoyed was a stew-like preparation with chorizo, roasted habanero and tomatoes making a smoky, deep, pungent broth and perfectly cooked sea clams (more than two dozen in our bowl) that complemented the pieces of rich eel filet.

fresh Dungeness also appeared in the amuse we had of taquitos (they're served like filled mini- cones), chunks of it in a vibrantly fresh guacamole with a bit of finely diced kiwi for acidity, and in another main course, 'albondigas y fideos', the meatballs actually deep fried fish balls, in a mild guajillo chile broth, clams, and topped with a touch of saffron aioli. the chef's menu also included some lamb entrees -- tried the lamb shank which melted off the bone, its dense meatiness complemented by its opaque glace viande. one ingredient not sourced locally was the delicious rice with the lamb shank, both fluffy and nutty, a specific Spanish variety that the chef bakes with olive oil. we also enjoyed a tasting portion of the white sea bass with heirloom beans entree.

folks who've enjoyed the platos from Chef Granados' mobile kitchens before he had this cocina know his deft hand with seasonal fruits and vegetables. among the ingredients that stood out in these dishes, providing bright or earthy or pungent elements, were watercress, persimmon, pomegranate, wild mushrooms.

the one dessert we tried was simple and perfectly executed, a transformed dessert crepe composed of blue corn meal, filled with vanilla gelato, a dribble of beautifully dark, complex local honey, sprinkle of toasted pepitas and touch of sea salt.

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