Oaxaca fresh and natural
Since we left December 27 on our trip to Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca, we've been eating unusual quantities of carnes. We do love the pozole, the tacos Árabes, the botana surtida at El Biche Pobre. Yes; we'd had seafood at La Morenita in the Mercado Medellín in Mexico City. But we had growing cravings for a meal of fresh vegetables and especially, salads.
We got further into the mood with a visit to Oaxaca's Mercado "El Pochote", Fridays and Saturdays only, where exquisite organic salad greens, oils, shallots and vanilla beans; sheep's milk cheeses and yogurt, vegetarian pizze, Tibetan momos and specialty licores are sold. I may do a more detailed post on that after another visit to it next week. http://www.planeta.com/ecotravel/mexi...
So, last night we took the plunge into the local branch of the Mexican national chain restaurant, 100% Natural. I had trepidations that this would be typical chain restaurant food: undistinguished, boring, and overpriced.
Our fears were unfounded. 100% Natural is not another VIP's. Although the Oaxaca location is in a converted casona of considerable splendor, the interior is accoutered in a rather cool but somewhat elegant style. The very extensive menu was surprising. It went on for several colorful pages. There's even a separate drinks and dessert menu. The fresh juice combinations and licuados are a specialty. My wife had a jugo "Hierro" of beet, celery and more; I had a "Licuado Refrescante" of pineapple, ginger and another ingredient I don't recall. Good, although the Hierro was more interesting.
We both started with "Sopa Cristalina", a broth based on an onion stock, loaded with onions, setas (which I think are oyster mushrooms), fresh spinach leaves and Asian rice vermicelli. It was served very hot and was tasty. We also noshed from a basket of o.k. whole grain bread covered with sesame seeds. A pair of cruets held seasoned olive oil in one and balsamic vinegar in the other.
There's no salt on the table; instead, there was a shaker of sesame seeds.
There were a couple of dishes of pretty damn spicy salsa verde, and a bowl of very tempting pickled or roasted chiles Jalapeños. Neither of us succumbed to temptation.
My wife ordered Vegetarian Tacos, which were large, attractive, 3 to an order, loaded with cubes of tofu, sprouts, fresh spinach, and I think cheese. She enjoyed one but couldn't finish the remaining two, Looks like they'll be today's lunch.
I had a 100% specialty: "Asado" de verduras, which is listed under ""Ensaladas" but is really a grilled fresh vegetable plate. I recall sweet red peppers, thinly sliced eggplant, setas, zucchini sliced thin, strips of portobello mushrooms; and some sheels of grilled onion. There was a delicious fresh basil dressing in a ramekin to enhance the vegetables, but they were good just with a sprinkle of the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Service was good, and unobtrusive. I passed on dessert, as I was already quite satisfied, and all that was available at the time was chocolate cheesecake. I'm not a fan of cheesecake.
On leaving, I read a promotional sign that offered 5 complete breakfasts, Monday-Friday, for $55 MXN, and comidas for similar prices.
So, 100% Natural offers a good alternative for a change of pace when you are up to your ears in mole and carnitas and carve some fresh verduras y ensaladas.
El Biche Pobre! Do you know what biche means in Oaxaca? That´s how people with green eyes are called and the owner of the place has green eyes....in the north of Mexico they are called "borrados". There´s even a sculpture of the guy with his green eyes right there in the fonda....did you see it? Botana surtida...the tamal filled with black beans and an avocado leaf between the dough and the husk, the aroma when you open it....mmm-----If you like 100 Natural you would also like La Buena Tierra and Los Frutos Prohibidos, Pizza e Amore (meatles Italian small restaurant in Coyoacán) in Mexico City, have you tried them?
Xacinta; in general, I'm not a fan of vegetarian and "natural" food. But the timing was right for a meal such as we had at 100% Natural.
Biche: I thought it meant "little bug", but maybe I'm confused with "bicho". I didn't see the sculpture. I'll look for it next time.
(Today we had comida —seafood— at Marco Polo; algo buena, otra menos, pero en general buena.)
The 100% Natural we ate it (I believe that it's the only one in Oaxaca) is across the street from the south end of Paseo Júarez, also known as "El Lllano"; between Avenidas Pino Súarez and Benito Júarez.
Dr. Liceaga # 115
Mercado El Pochote (Fridays and perhaps Saturdays only—not sure about Saturday), at the west end of Calle García Vigil.
The excellent blog, "One Fork, One Spoon", decribes it here:
Thanks for the recommendation of my blog! I was also very pleasantly surprised by 100% Natural. My absolute favorite thing at El Pochote's market is the tostada that you can customize--I think my favorite combo was half spicy nopales, half hongos with corn, spicy requeson (Mexican ricotta) with salsa and guacamole. Que lastima, I am so sad to be in cold New York right now. I really really miss that tostada.
Be really careful eating fresh salads of any kind. Also, if it is going to be safely edible, it has to be soaked in an iodine solution for 15-20 mins, so this often leaves an off taste in salads. E.Coli in salad, coming to a store near you. My mom almost died from a fruit salad in Oaxaca--literally.
Thanks for the tip, Hank. We practice that, although not always so a long a soak in the Microdyn* (tasteless in solution), not iodine. Maybe 5-10 minutes, after a thorough pre-washing in running tap water.
*Colloidal silver solution
More interesting reading on food safety here: http://maztravel.com/kwiki/FoodSafety
I'll add to my comments on 100 Natural in Oaxaca. We had a light supper there last night, and it was satisfactory, even good. However the room ambiance is somewhat cold and perhaps sterile. Still, it's not enough to keep us from returning from time to time.