May 092012
 
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On Thursday, March 29th, we took Sasha to get her first chemo treatment.  While waiting, Carlos and I got hungry.   Even though we are trying to eat clean, we bent our rules and decided to check out a place near the Veterinary Hospital.  One place we thought of going was was Chubby’s Tacos, and the other was Munchies Mexican Grill.  We decided to try Munchies.

First let me say, having grown up in a little town called Naco, in Sonora Mexico, my expectations are high (very high) when it comes to Mexican food.   Most of the time, I’m being a Mexican food snob!  But hey, I like what I like =)  So, off we went to eat.  And I was starving.  It had been about 4 hours since we ate, and we usually try to eat every 2-3 hours.

Getting to the restaurant should be simple.  I mean, it is basically just one road right up to the door of the place, but my wonderful husband turns right earlier and we end up going through what I call, a convoluted shopping center.  No biggie.  It’s actually funny that he usually does this kind of thing = )  Gotta love’m, right?!  When we arrive at the restaurant, a woman is power washing the front area.  I thought, more like expected her to stop because a potential customer had just parked on the side of the restaurant, but she did not stop.  We get out of the car and I was sure she would stop then, but she did not stop and we got sprayed.  To this I say to myself, “it’s OK, chill” and I smile…I’ll have you know, I can be impatient and intolerant of certain things, but I AM a very nice person, really!

We head in and it is not the kind of place I imagined; its fine, we are here to try it out.  Patrick, the waiter, asks where we want to sit…we can chose from maybe 10 tables in a smallish area.  I need to let you all know something about Carlos and me.  We can be a bit indecisive when it comes to some things.  OK, we are indecisive about almost every trivial matter.  So, as indecisive as we can be, Carlos selects a table, but I want the next one over, then I change my mind and we sit at the initial table Carlos had chosen.  Follow me?  I hope so.

Patrick brings out the typical chips and salsa offered at most Mexican restaurants.   I ask for the hot salsa, and he makes sure to tell me it’s very hot = )  The chips are always good, I love chips.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think the salsas were anything special.  The mild salsa seemed to be made from a can of tomato sauce with seasoning and some hot pepper, and it was a little chunky, which I do not like.  The hot salsa seemed to be made with tomatillo and though I liked it more than the mild, it was also too chunky for my taste, and it seemed to be lacking in taste, Carlos liked the hot salsa.

For the meal, I ordered the tostada and enchilada plate with shredded beef and Carlos ordered his usual, the chimichanga.  When our food arrived, it looked like the usual food one gets at a Mexican restaurant.  I did notice the enchilada did not have the typical sauce that usually covers the tortilla, and it made me think the cook had given me a burrito covered with some shredded cheese.  The tostada was not completely covered with beans; the meat appeared to be ground beef instead of shredded and the tortilla was soggy, that I had to eat it with a fork.  My food tasted OK.  Carlos was happy with his order and enjoyed it.  However, I do not recall a time when he has not enjoyed food = )  The meat in the chimichanga was shredded and it seemed to have a pepper sauce; it tasted good, I liked it.  What I didn’t like was the cheese sauce poured over the chimi.

I do realize that one dish can be prepared differently in each region of Mexico.  There is no one set way of cooking something; it’s just a matter of what we are used to eating or what we grew up eating.  For example, here in the US, many Mexican restaurants add onion and tomato to all of the meats used in tacos, burritos, etc.  In many restaurants that I have been to in Mexico, they did not do this.  All the meats were prepared very simply, and most of the time, only seasonings such as salt, pepper, and garlic were added.  Many places add seasonings and vegetables to the water in which they boil the meat that is to be prepared for shredding, and used in tacos, burritos, chimichangas, or any of several other Mexican favorites.  This way, the meat is already seasoned, and when you place an order, you mainly get meat, not what I call fillings.

This is more what I’m used to a chimichanga looking like, but longer:

Chimichanga

The color would be a little darker than golden brown, and it would be stuffed with either shredded beef cooked with onions, tomatoes and bell peppers, or just cheese.  When I cook chimis, Carlos likes to have them plain with a side of guacamole and my homemade salsa.  If I were to garnish them, I would smear guacamole on the chimis, then add shredded lettuce and queso fresco (a salty and crumbly cheese known as Mexican farmer’s cheese or fresh cheese – feta would work well as a substitute).  The Mexican farmer’s cheese is similar to cotija cheese, but in my opinion, it is much tastier.

The enchilada I was expecting would look more like this:

Typical enchilada – Enchilada roja

There are many types of enchiladas, but the one I grew up with is nothing like what is found in restaurants in the United States.  My mom used to make patties with maseca, a corn dough.  Then these were fried, and once cooled, they were dipped into a sauce made with chile sauce, known as chile colorado, placed on a plate individually or stacked, they were topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion and queso fresco.  From the research I’ve done, seems these are enchiladas Sonorenses.  However, I have not found many pictures or recipes close to my mother’s, other than this one and this one.  These enchiladas are by far my favorite.  It is without a doubt, because I grew up eating these, but also, their flavor is unique.  I have only cooked these a couple of times, and I should really make some more soon, they are delicious.

Enchiladas Sonorenses

Well, here is my first Raleigh restaurant review.  Probably not a typical review, but a review nonetheless.

If you are in this area, let me know where you end up eating.  Maybe write a guest review?

XO,

~L.

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