Monday, August 19, 2002

mole oaxaquena & la reina

naturally as a chocolate fanatic, i love it when you can get some of our favorite ingredient in both the entree and the dessert. which is why i'd like to point you all to a little-known regional mexican restaurant in the east village, la palapa.

the two co-owners actually lived in mexico for quite a spell, and are acquainted with the famed doyenne of mexican cooking, diana kennedy. however, only 1 kennedy recipe appears on the menu, chayotes in crema.

naturally, the wonderful menu features a justly praised mole negro from oaxaca, with lots of chocolate, sesame seeds, many spices, at least 5 kinds of chile. . .it's just delicious. while most mole is served over chicken or turkey, here it ladled lovingly over a medium-rare duck breast. just lovely.

for the dessert, do check out the la reina flourless chocolate cake made of callebaut and ground almonds. served chilled and enrobed with a firm ganache, it's just a delight. you'll also enjoy the side scoop of valrhona chocolate ice cream made for la palapa by ciao bella. this dessert is served on a frozen plate decorated with strands of chocolate zig-zagged across the plate. as the plate slowly warms, these zig-zags break off into the ice cream, giving a great contrast of texture. all excellent.

while the hot crepes with cajeta, home-made with organic goat and cow's milk, don't contain any chocolate at all, it also offers a wonderful contrast with the la reina cake for dessert. so go to la palapa, order the chilled la reina and the hot crepes. split them with your dining partner, alternating bites of the bread pudding-like caramel milk cajeta and walnuts with the intense chocolate of the la reina and its almonds. heavenly. . .

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