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September 02, 2004

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Mezcal Muchacho



I don't get out much to East Charleston anymore....and I venture to say that most of you haven't ever gotten there at all. So since it's been awhile, I thought I'd take in a taco or two at La Taqueria, and I'm happy to report that they're as tasty as ever. The Al Pastors are still cheap, still full of brightly marinated pork with a nice touch of acidic tang, and still likely to paint your fingers with some tasty, chile infused pork fat. Two of these on a crispy flour taco and a large horchata make about the perfect lunch. And at about five bucks for the meal, I couldn't figure out why anyone was standing at Wendy's.

But this perfect pork was only an appetizer on my way to lunch at the new Lindo re-opened for six months after a kitchen fire. Even though it's in the same old place on East Desert Inn, the new and improved Lindo seems bigger, dressier, and brighter. The same friendly staff looks great in their Mexican finery, the beer is cold and the chile Colorado, and birra de chiva (that's roasted goat for you north-of the-border types)- still the stuff to order. Or if you're a bit tied-up trying to say Lengua.... then the good news is you can have your cow tongue and eat it there too.

But the highlight of my daylong Mexican food fiesta was a tequila and mezcal tasting at Diegos the super-sized new eatery in the always-a-pain-to-get-into MGM.

Besides making the best margarita in town, always with fresh squeezed limes, Diego's sports a groovy decor, and the best tequila selection just about anywhere. Tequila is a highly distilled and refined beverage, made by fermenting and distilling the heart of this spikey plant. Mezcal on the other hand is a smokey, much rougher drink that gets its character from baking rather than steaming this core, in stone lined pits. While tequila is smooth, and civilized, three belts of mezcal makes you want to hoist a bandolier and toast the ghost of Pancho Villa. In other words, it is not a drink for the timid.

Those of you in the know know that tequila is made from the maguey or blue agave plant. The agave is not a cactus, and in fact is related to the lilly family and the amaryllis plant. Shouldn't Norm and Angela be teaching you these things. I mean once they run out of how to prune, and the drama of dripsystems, maybe they could spice up Desert Bloom with a dissertation on the perfect corn hybrids for likker distillation, or how to make home-made hooch from all your fallen fruit.....hey guys-it's just some food for thought....or maybe the tequila talkin'....

See discussion rules.


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