An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Thirty-Six

san pedro park

Above, San Pedro Park, from Gregg Eckhardt’s

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Thirty-Five

Hedda Burgemeister, October 1912

Mr. Koehler steps forward to help Hedda with her wrap. “You have no idea how grateful Missus Koehler and I are that you were able to substitute for Miss Dumpke today. Missus Koehler kept you here longer than anticipated. You must allow me to drive you to meet the streetcar.”

“I was happy to be of assistance, Mister Koehler. Thank you, though, there is no need for me to inconvenience you. The stop is close, and I enjoy walking.”

“I insist,” Mr. Koehler says. “I’ll get the carriage.”

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Thirty-Six”

Postcard from Oaxaca, Mexico: Settling into La Biznaga

It would be easy to simply blame it on the margaritas. They are a major magnet. We are absolutely convinced La Biznaga shakes up the best ones anywhere, and we begin every meal there with one. It’s the first place we go when we hit town and the last place we go before leaving.

But our love of La Biznaga also lies in its menu. There are so many different dishes to try, and servers don’t mind if all you order is a quesadilla (under $2) or a bowl of soup. A new favorite for the Mister this time was the luscious blackberry mole over turkey breast meat. I confess I stole a little of the mole and drizzled it over seared tuna encrusted with amaranth seeds; it was perfect for it. The light and refreshing mushroom “ceviche” one day left room for us to share the rich coconut flan bathing in a mezcal-infused cajeta sauce.

La Biznaga does have a younger sibling restaurant in town, Cabuche. The menu is entirely different. We enjoyed Cabuche’s fresh ceviche and the unusual Mextlapique, a roasted corn husk stuffed full of smoky wild mushrooms native to Oaxaca.

We thought of returning, but big brother Biznaga does have an unfair advantage, that magnetic margarita served on a spacious sunny patio….

Postcard from Oaxaca: Two upscale restaurants not to miss

My regular followers are probably abandoning me as I obsess about the foods of Oaxaca, but I really want to have posts with photos to help people visiting Oaxaca for a shorter period of time make decisions about where to dine. Besides, we’re about to head home, so this blog will soon resume its San Antonio-centric focus.

We almost skipped Casa Oaxaca El Restaurante this trip. Don’t. Five years ago, we found it a little boring and stuffy compared to newer places. But the rooftop setting is spectacular; the service standards are resort-like; the stuffiness has evaporated; and the overall experience transcends any minor quibbles.

The salsa is made tableside to customize the heat, and the crumbly cheese tostada arriving with it was a perfect accompaniment. Our two salads (read more about Oaxacan salads here) came with diverse cheeses and interesting fresh ingredients. They were, however, horribly over-dressed; definitely ask for the dressing on the side.

Casa Oaxaca’s shrimp tostada was mounded high. The turkey mole was a rather straightforward, traditional presentation – good but not over-the-top memorable. There are more inventive sounding, and more expensive, entrees available. Go for an extremely pleasant, worth-lingering-over experience.

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Things the kitchen turned out in the tiny inner courtyards of Origen amazed me. Cold dollops of beet granita contrasted well with roasted beets and pillowy mounds of foamed goat cheese in one salad. An interesting mixture of celery leaves, squash blossoms and purslane actually grabbed more attention then the tender pulpo topping it. A grilled romaine salad was overpowered a bit by the rich sauce, but every bit disappeared. More lima beans in it next time, please.

A poached egg was perched in a soup bowl before the toasted garbanzo soup was ladled atop it. Another cooling granita, this one with hints of rose, topped a shrimp and fish ceviche. Medallions of smoky pork had been wrapped with lean bacon and hoja santa leaves before a mole colorado was added. Oh, and the the flavors of a huitlacoche risotto ringed with foam were incredibly good. Go to Origen at least twice.

Buen provecho!