Every now and then you come across a place that finds its way into your heart. For me, that place is Catrinas Cocina Y Galeria in South Tampa. On my first visit I was won over by their truly authentic cuisine and the fact that I was able to order “huitlacoche” (corn smut), which was something I had been unable to find since moving to Tampa from California. In the few times I have been back, each visit has been special. Not only do I constantly discover new dishes that rock my world, I have gotten to know the wonderful staff and they treat me like family. This past weekend I went in with my kids to sample a dish that I had been wanting to try since I saw pictures of it on their facebook page.
As we were seated, I was offered a Mimosa (the really DO know me) and it was more than just a Mimosa, it was their Mimosa Especial. A delightful blend of champagne, orange juice and Guanabana juice, it is a light and refreshing beverage.
I was very excited about the dish I was going to be having and had been thinking about it all week. This gorgeous dish is Chiles en Nogada, which consists of poblano chiles filled with picadillo (a mixture of meat, nuts, fruits and spices) then covered with a walnut cream sauce, called nogada, and then dazzled with gorgeous pomegranate seeds. The green chiles, the white cream sauce and the red pomegranate seeds reflect the colors of the Mexican flag.
Perfect for fall, this dish has an amazing blend of flavors and spices. Words can’t express how much I enjoyed this authentic masterpiece which originates from Puebla. I read up on the history of this dish and learned that it is tied to the independence of Mexico since, according to Wilkepedia, “they were prepared for the first time to entertain the emperor Agustín de Iturbide when he came to the city after his naming as Agustín I. This dish is a source of pride for the inhabitants of the state of Puebla. Some Mexican historians believe the inventors of this dish were the Monjas Clarisas, although others think they were the Madres Contemplativas Agustinas of the convent of Santa Monica, Puebla.”
There is nothing I love more than learning about the history behind authentic Mexican dishes. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, an in this case, the flavor of Chiles en Nogada speaks volumes. As I enjoyed my meal, I closed my eyes and thought about the history of Puebla and it made my dining experience even more spectacular.
Each visit to Catrinas Cocina Y Galeria is like a delicious lesson in history paired with extraordinary service. My two children had a wonderful time and are anxious to return. In the words of my six year old son Rocco, he can’t wait to go back to “the colorful restaurant with beautiful food.”
Until next time, adios!
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