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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Praise a bit overdue

While I'm sitting in the back handling more mundane administrative tasks everyone else is cooking up a storm, figuratively speaking. Michael is up to his elbows in buttermilk, breadcrumbs and blue cheese making a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich special. Spicy chicken with a blue cheese sauce and matchstick celery carrots.

Kasey started today's Butternut Squash Soup yesterday by preparing a roasted vegetable stock (which is the secret to many of our vegan/vegetarian soups). We also have Chicken Noodle Soup.

Just off Interstate 81 near Roanoke, Virginia is the best Mexican food I've ever eaten. Now in fairness I should qualify this statement. I've never been a huge fan of what is called Mexican food in the States. I like the idea of beans, chilis, rice, mole, etc. but assumed the only way I'd get good Mexican food was to head southwest towards the Texas/Mexico border. Rumors abound about where to find authentic Mexican cuisine - some say Wisconsin, especially around Madison, is littered with little Mom & Pop eateries, my brother is very fond of a place in Easton, but without an exprience guide, Mexican cuisine is a miss-more-than-hit proposition, in my experience. Which made this an extra special "find".

Tucked into the corner of the most generic strip mall (adjacent to a huge Goodwill Store) is one of three Alejandro's Mexican Grill locations. The original downtown location is standing room only from about 10:30-2:30 and then again in the evening, so I was tickled to find out there was a larger location which is actually a bit closer to home for me.

Alejandro's claim to fame is their fresh salsa bar. The minute we at down a basket of fresh, hot tortilla chips was rushed to our table and the "salad" bar in the corner? More than 12 varieties of salsa made fresh daily (there were 16 at the time of my visit) - green ones, red ones, creamy ones, chunky ones, hot ones and mild ones. It was a lot of fun making several trips to the bar and try out a whole bunch of them (the Pomegranate Margarita I washed them down with was pretty special too!). Beverage choices include beer, soda, aguas frescas and margaritas.

The Plato de Carnitas - chunks of pork served with rice, black beans, pico de gallo and tortillas was fabulous. The pork was tender and moist with a great crunchy exterior and the accompanying sides - far from being obligatory mounds of rice and beans, actually added texture and flavor. There was no room for dessert but flan, xango, churros and tres leche cake are a few of the offerings.

I really can't say enough good things about Alejandro's except that I look forward to many future meals in this delightful, family-style Mexican restuarante.


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