Believe the hype


In First Stop in the New World, in a chapter about eating in Mexico City, I wrote that the best food here is found in stalls on the sidewalk, in markets and cantinas. I still stand behind that statement, although there are exceptions. One of them is Pujol, my favorite white-tablecloth restaurant in town. The young chef, Enrique Olvera, has been written up in food magazines around the world; in my opinion, justifiably so.

For the tenth anniversary of Pujol, Olvera has published a book which includes 100 recipes and various essays, including one by yours truly. For information about how to obtain it, click onto his website and call the restaurant.

The chef tends to dissect and deconstruct time-honored Mexican dishes. For instance, his version of mole de olla -- a traditional soup with meat and vegetables -- is served dry on a plate, its ingredients grilled, sauteed and separated from each other. Squash flowers, instead of being stuffed inside a quesadilla, are served hot and liquefied in a glass, topped with a creamy foam and cinnamon, as "capuccino."

His robalito al pastor is a fancy version of a taco you can find on nearly any street corner for five pesos. The Pujol version is, of course, considerably more expensive. Olvera uses sea bass instead of pork, cured with chile, orange juice, garlic and annato, embellished with a pineapple flavored buerre blanc, and cilantro, chile and lemon ground together in a molcajete.

If you have the money to blow on one expensive meal while you are in Mexico City, this is the place to go. It's at calle Francisco Petrarca, 254, in Polanco.

In the photo above, a bodyguard whose charge is dining inside the restaurant is reticent before the camera.