Azul Histórico, a star of the constellation of three restaurants that make up Ricardo Muñoz Zurita's Grupo Azul, has become one of Mexico Cooks!' favorite destinations for comida (Mexico's midday main meal). Nestled under a canopy of trees in the patio of a 17th century Mexican palace, the restaurant is among the most beautiful--and most delicious--in Mexico's capital city.
We recently insisted that a dear friend visiting from Texas accompany us to experience the once-a-year delight of chiles en nogada (poblano chiles, stuffed with a special picadillo (meat, fruit, and vegetable hash) and then bathed with walnut sauce, as presented and served at Azul Histórico. In last week's article, we shared a terrific recipe for chiles en nogada with you. Today, we'll see the chiles, considered to be the king of Mexico's cuisine, honored at table in the restaurant.
Our friend, who serves sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup) in his own restaurant, wanted to try the version served at Azul Histórico.
Four of us shared a small order of mildly spicy, delicious salpicón de venado (venison, cooked, seasoned with onion, pepper, vinegar, oil, and salt, and shredded).
Once we finished our appetizers, two of our extremely competent wait staff laid the table with a long black linen tablecloth, plus colorful appliquéd individual placemats and extra candles, all in honor of the king of chiles. The plates, also in special use for chiles en nogada, are talavera pottery from Puebla, where chiles en nogada originated.
The serving platter of chiles. Each color ribbon indicates the type stuffing in each chile. The choices are:
- red ribbons from Atlixco, Puebla. The filling is composed of a complex picadillo with quite a lot of fruit.
- green ribbons from Coxcatlán, Puebla. The filling is shredded pork, with more spices and less fruit than the first.
- grey ribbons from Puebla de los Ángeles, Puebla. The filling is beef with fruits and spices, for those who prefer not to eat pork.
I chose the chile from Atlixco, Puebla. At the Azul restaurants and at most others, the chile is roasted, peeled, and seeded prior to stuffing, but is not coated with a stiffly beaten egg coating. The significance of the colors of the chile en nogada is the vision of the Mexican flag on your plate: green, white, and red. Were it coated and fried, the green would not be visible. The chile's red ribbon (and yellow flower) are removable. The blue and white sphere with the red ribbon are part of the table decor that honors the chile.
Once the chile is on your plate, the waiter serves the nogada (walnut sauce). At the Azul restaurants, the diner may choose savory or sweet nogada, or a combination of the two. I chose the combination. The waiter poured the thicker nogada salada (savory) onto the half of the chile near the tip; he then poured nogada dulce (sweet) onto the half closer to the stem. In the photo, you can easily see the dividing line between the two nogadas.
After the waiter bathes the chile with its walnut sauce(s), he garnishes it first with seasonal pomegranate seeds and then with a sprig of parsley. Voilà, presenting Su Majestad el Chile en Nogada!
You can see the rich filling inside the chile. Last week's Mexico Cooks! article gives you an excellent recipe to make your own chiles en nogada. If you try it, please let us know how delicious it was!
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