Monday, June 11, 2007

Authentic Mexican cuisine deserves better than Carta Blanca, et al.

Yesterday the Curmudgeons walked a few short blocks to New Albany’s La Rosita Mexican Grill for what has become a twice (at least) weekly authentic Mexican feast, courtesy of the culinary wizardry of chef and owner Israel Landin.

As Israel and my wife discussed Catholic theology and the phenomenon of Santeria, I noticed a five people at a nearby table that seemed about to collapse from the weight of colorful dishes, and their food made me hungry, except that each was drinking a Mexican beer straight from the bottle, with the redundant lime wedged in the neck.

That part of the scene almost gave me nausea. Such superb examples of Mexican cuisine … and such lackluster Mexican beer to go with them.

Part of it may have been that the last time I dined at La Rosita on the occasion of our recent pub crawl through New Albany, the festive nature of the evening caused me to shed longstanding inhibitions and order a Carta Blanca, sans lime, in an effort to compare the flavor with my 1980’s memories of it. I expected to be disappointed with what I recalled as a pervasive blandness. Instead, I was disgusted by the overpowering essence of corn flakes. No wonder limes are used. It’s the only way to hide the corn.

These ruminations aren’t to be taken as a jab at Israel, who is both a wonderful person and a gifted cook. Rather, they are to reiterate (again) how sad it is that ethnic restaurants so seldom have challenging beer lists. Each time I eat at La Rosita, I imagine the beer that would accompany my food, but it isn’t available, and given Israel’s scale of operation and his personal priorities, it isn’t likely to be any time soon.

A boy can dream, though. Time, perhaps, for the long-awaited cooperative venture between Israel and myself, wherein he produces a multi-course Mexican masterpiece and I find microbrewed beers from America for an intelligent pairing.

Call it the Progressive Mexican-American beer dinner. Anyone out there game?


antzman said...

I'm in! The closest to a decent beer that I can find at times in a Mexican resterant seems to be Negra Modelo, which is not a bad beer considering everything else in the genre that surrounds it on the beer list.

The Original BBC Brewmaster said...

I agree on the Negro Modelo. There was a good mexican joint on Brownsboro just blocks from my house that had a great beer list. The first time I walked over, the bartender asked what I was drinking and I asked for a recommendation; Chimay Blue was his response. Sadly, it changed hands and the beer list was lost.

antzman said...

Chimay Blue at a Mexican resterant.... That's like getting a Rochefort 10 at Busch Stadium....