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Eat Nopal & Kare Raisu take on a Block in Napa


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Eat Nopal & Kare Raisu take on a Block in Napa

kare_raisu | Nov 28, 2007 05:40 PM

A bite of the restorative Chileajo de puerco and a swig of cooling agua fresca de pepino is what you need on your next Napa trip - so forget your sip of wine and nibble of crumbly cheese.

That ying-yang of a pair is all I can think of - hours after having had a great lunch at La Mixteca with the incredible Eat Nopal - a restaurant I and others have reported on.

The block we hit is the eastern side of Jefferson - just north of the High School and the town proper.

>>Taqueria Jerezana<<
For our amuse bouche, we hit the newly opened Taqueria Jerezana with out fingers crossed for some specialities from the North-central Mexican Colonial Silver state of Zacatecas.

It was nice to see a completely open kitchen and some interesting things on the simple straight forward menu including pork mole, lengua, Zacatecano Quesadillas (with ham), meneudo, etc. But what caught both our eyes was the Gorditas of Cactus in Red Chile. We both ordered this.

The chips were really good - thick and fried on site. Our cute demure gorditas soon arrived. I had only had a fried masa gordita before - so this griddled puffed masa little bread was a nice change of pace. The dough was delicate but I wished it had been cooked slightly more - as it still carried a slight raw masa taste. The filling - was quite spicy - and was according to EN - guajillo based with perhaps a slight canela component. The Cactus were cubed little pieces -def. not from the jar.

I felt the gordita was good - but both EN and I agreed - there was something missing to lift it. Suggestions included queso anejo or strips of panela and some sort of pickled onions or lime.

>>La Mixteca<<

A stone's throw away is the restaurant which was our destination for the trip: La Mixteca. We entered a restaurant filled with people during the busy lunch crowd. Seated were a couple both dining on some compelling looking chile rellenso baroquely awash in a pool of simple tomato caldillo. Near them were some kids downing the dish recently made famous on CH boards by rworange, duro con ensalada de cueritos. [ ] This was the special of the day.

We ordered:
- Chileajo de puerco (Simple red mole [literal:"Chile-garlic"] with pork spare riblets)
- Two Suadero Tacos (more on this later!)
- The Duro con Ensalada de cueritos (Sandal - shaped Fried wheat crisp topped with salad spiked with pickled pork skin)
- Two Agua frescas de pepino (Cucumber-lime waters)

This was the first time I have had the duro - which I really wanted to try after rworange's post. This is one of those great dishes that I admire for its symphony of contrasting textures and flavors. If you can get beyond the pickled pork skin- and I hope you do - you will be rewarded! Generous slices of avocado, juicy tomato, crisp duro, chewy cuerito, warming jalapeno, rich crema and chopped cabbage.

Suadero Tacos!
First Read this post if you have not already:
'Thank you once again rworange].

On the ride back home - both Eat Nopal and I were confounded! What is suadero! First of all - they are great and I implore you to try it. They are killer little tacos with verde. It is strange because - I was really checking these out - they look like pork tenderloin meat chunks with one crisp side but apparently they are beef. See the bull:
They are really tender and a pleasure to eat.

Chileajo - stunningly good - just order it! If I was alone, I would have licked the plate clean - no joke. You get about 4 riblets awash in this absolutely sexy deep brick red sauce nuanced with clove and peppercorn.

>>Lucy's Panaderia<<

Awesome Panaderia just south of the two restaurants. You are smashed immediately upon passing by the gorgeous smell emanating from this place - if you dont turn around and enter you are possibly cold afflicted. I think possibly slightly better than La Reyna in Windsor.

Get the:
Pumpkin empanda
Apple filled circular-rectangular, powedered sugar dusted flaky croissant (sorry...)
French rolly cruller things (help...)
Small anisey conchas in an empanada shape.

Then follow our lead by high tailing it to a cafe downtown and ordering up some coffees, expressos and chow down...

Awesome day spent with an individual whose knowledge and passion for mexican cuisine is both greately admired and appreciated - could not think of a better person to dine with.

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