Postcards from Bordeaux, France: A sign for ‘Turn back for great meals’

Above, puzzling signage at one end of Rue du Ha

Sidewalk tables at Orta on Rue du Ha

To my English-attuned ears, the name of the street sounds somewhat silly, but I believe the “Ha” came from a 1600s temple nearby that belonged to an order of nuns. The narrow street barely runs three blocks and was about that distance from the apartment we rented in Bordeaux. We were on the prowl and hungry, and I laughed that the reason we settled into the last table available on the sidewalk of Orta was the sign on the corner seemingly forbidding any kind of safe exit from Rue du Ha.

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Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: Try to save room for an affogato

Pouring espresso over gelato for affogatos at Estacion Gelato

We had mourned the loss of Le Midi in Guanajuato, but were pleased to find a tasty newcomer had filled its lofty upstairs quarters – Costal Cultura Cafetera. Place an order for their croquetas while pondering choices. Both the tacos filled with tender octopus and the ceviche tostadas made great starters. The two variations of ancho chiles rellenos were rich in flavor, one filled with a ground beef mixture and the other with corn and cheese. The shrimp topping a salad with mangos were not abundant, but were perfectly cooked, and the chicken breast filled with spinach and goat cheese was flavorful and moist.

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Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: While we spent a year home cooking, chefs did not lose their touch

Above: Tartar de atun en chile viejo at Mestizo

Memories of a great classic margarita and appetizers from the sea drew us back to one of our standbys in Guanajuato – Mestizo. The presentation of tender tuna tartare, crowned by an ancho chile overflowing with more, is stunning. Octopus carpaccio arrives in a bath of the fruit of the nopal and dried chiles, and tostadas topped with shredded duck salpicon were satisfying. Both salmon and bass are cooked to perfection, and even pedestrian-sounding soups provided surprisingly savory, less filling, options.

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