I always look for a chocolate shop or two whenever I travel to a new city. On our family trip to L.A. over the holidays, I had no luck getting inspired by the local chocolate scene. The shops I did try to visit were either closed for the holidays or had moved to a new location. You can’t always trust the internet to have accurate information. I decided to switch my focus and try something that I knew I could only find in the southern part of the U.S. or in Mexico-Moles!
I tried 2 different ones in 2 different restaurants. The first one I tried was at Red O in L.A. which is a high end Mexican restaurant that’s somehow connected to Rick Bayless, the famous chef at Topolobampo in Chicago. I had the chicken with Mole sauce. It was good, but I had nothing to compare it to so I really had no idea what I should be looking for. The second one I tried was at a restaurant in San Diego called “El Agave”. This was also a pretty nice restaurant with some pretty nice prices too. They served excellent margaritas though, which made the prices easier to swallow.
The waiter brought me a small dish of the Mole Poblano to have alongside the fish that I had ordered. Mole Poblano is the most typical of Mexican moles and uses chocolate as an ingredient. I tried it with some of my husband’s pork and I instantly fell in love. The beauty of a mole I think(though I’m hardly an expert having only tried it twice in my life) is the complexity of the dish. It contains over 20 ingredients including lots of different spices and chilies. I loved it so much that I started spooning it into my mouth on its own. Then an amazing thing happened. The heat of the chilies started releasing and a slow warming sensation began building inside my mouth. It was the perfect amount of fire and it spread through my entire mouth-not just in my throat or on my tongue. It was a perfectly balanced heat. I had never experienced such a sensation before and I instantly understood that Moles are at the heart of mexican cooking and they are Mexico’s soul food.
Yes Kerstin, I’ve had considerable success with moles-although I must admit I’ve never attempted one from scratch. My most recent ‘mole meal’ was a couple of pork loin chops marinated in the Alley Kat Pumpkin Pie Ale, with a pipian mole sauce. I had bought the-Dona Maria-sauce paste(add soup stock)at Tienda Latina on 99th & Argyll. The pipian variety contains ground pumpkin & sesame seeds as well as ground peanuts. The other memorable one was with chicken breasts, the addition there being that I had ‘boosted’ or fortified the sauce by melting in a couple discs of Taza’s drinking chocolate. I used both the chocolate with salted almond & the one with guajillo chili…a Very rich & flavourful sauce! Which reminds me, I Must get more Taza chocolate, possibly with cinnamon or vanilla.