Senora Garcia and the Missing Concha
According to Ana, the Sunday Family Meal is taken at the local Los Bisquets Bisquets Obregon, but every once in a while, they decide to go somewhere else. Today was one of those days and we found ourselves at Bondy Restaurante y Pasteleria Vienesa in Colonia Polanco because Senora Garcia wanted to have their famous Conchas. What are these famous Conchas, I hear you saying? They're a slightly sweet bun covered with a sugar-type coating much unlike anything I've seen in the United States. And when it comes to Conchas, Bondy is supposed to be the best.
Problem is, it seems that Bondy's is already out of Conchas and I think Senora Garcia is getting a bit upset.
Once we arrive, Ana meets with the receptionist to get a table. It's going to be about a twenty minute wait. No problem. Her mom goes to ask about the Conchas at it seems that the only Conchas left are floating around the restaurant on peoples' tables.
From my limited experience eating at Mexican restaurants, it seems that for Desayuno (breakfast) and Cena (dinner), the first course is a course of pan dulce or sweet breads. It's a great way to begin the meal and I've really gotten into it. The breads aren't sweet in the way our danishes and pastries are. They're lightly sweet so as not to overwhelm the palate so early in the meal. Add a cup of coffee or some fresh juice and you're good to go.
Except, Senora Garcia isn't. She's on a mission for Conchas and no one is going to get in her way.
Once we sit, bread and salsa arrives. Unlike the United States, they don't put butter on the table. They put salsa. It's kinda weird to this gringo but the light fluffiness of the bread paired with the zestiness of the salsa are an excellent match. If I wasn't trying to be on my best behaviour, I might have chowed down harder.
Bondy is an interesting place. It's a Viennese restaurant and pastry shop. I make a mental note to check out the pastry shop but forget later. I don't know why, but I'm always surprised to find cuisines from other parts of the world in the cities that I visit. Viennese is a surprise. Good thing the food here is good too. We're seated in the back room. A patio of sorts that's fully enclosed with walls, but with open windows around the perimeter. The deep yellow paint is comforting, or perhaps it's just the woman sitting across from me. I'm not sure which, but at this point, I'm too blind to care.
Our server and the manager comes over because Senora Garcia is none too pleased. This is Bondy dammit and they're supposed to have Conchas. While she's been nothing but wonderfully nice to me this whole week, you know she's a tough lady. Don't get on her bad side or Zwack! You're dead meat.
Unfortuntely for the dynamic duo, they've gotten on her bad side by not having the Conchas ready. They're famous for Conchas and it's unacceptable and inexcusable that they do not have more for us (at least that's the gist of what I'm understanding Senora Garcia telling these two). I'm the new guy on the scene so I don't quite know how to act. I just keep to myself, while part of me wants to start laughing at these two guys being berated by Senora Garcia, and the other part of me is just glad not to be in their shoes.
Somehow and from somewhere, two Conchas show up on our table. A chocolate and a vanilla one. They're two beautifully sculpted pieces of bread topped with a delicate sugar crust. They look divine. I don't know where they came from or how they materialized. Maybe they made them fresh. Maybe they were hiding. Maybe Senora Garcia had them lifted off of someone else's trays. I've come to accept the fact that there are certain things in life I don't have to know. These Conchas are one of them.
Turns out, that after all the heartache spilled upon the staff, the Conchas are for Tia Cristy and myself. Me, because I'm visiting from the United States, and Tia Cristy because she's visiting from Mazatlan and will be going home in a few hours. At first, I'm a bit embarassed. After all that work, I thought Senora Garcia should have it. No, no, no - that's not acceptable, but maybe you should split yours with Tia Cristy, suggests Ana, so that we can have a taste of both. Good idea.
The Conchas are wonderful. Light, airy, puffy and lightly sweet. The sugar topping is delicate, crusty and delicious. It's not overtly sweet, just an overall light sweetness that's perfect with a cup of coffee. I make a mental note to find a Concha place back home and buy regularly.
On my first day in Mexico City, Ana kept telling me about this very seasonal dish called Chile en Nogada. The ones at Gigante Supermercado were okay, but I should wait until we go to place that does it better. Bondy is the place. It's a large poblano chile filled with picadillo- a mixture of meat, aromatics, fruits and spices, that is topped with a nogal(walnut)-based cream sauce and pomegranate seeds. It is served cold and is oddly delicious.
Of course, the chile gives it a light zing, but the rest of this sweet, savory and rich delight. Kinda hard to describe but very tasty. In fact, it's one of the only dishes I've ever had that I thought would pair beautifully with coffee. Put those two together and it would be an absolute sensation.
To my world, all of this is just a little bit odd. I've been here a week and have spent a considerable amount of time with Senora Garcia and Tia Cristy. While I was a bit worried before meeting them, I'm feeling pretty darn welcome by them and I think I get along with them - especially since Tia Cristy (after getting used to my odd penchant of taking pictures of all our food) has started to encourage me by yelling out: "photo, photo!". Of course, there have been some missteps along the way, like my use of the word "tu" instead of "usted." Ana corrects me yesterday on my improper use - of course, I'm horrified. I'm trying to make a good impression but I might as well be yelling out "YO!" Ana assures me that he mom understands and is pleased that I'm trying to speak Spanish, but that very morning upon getting into the Tracker...
"Hola Jay, como estas?", calls out Senora Garcia from the drivers' seat.
"Muy bien Senora, y tu?"
Bloody Hell. Chihuahua. It seems like I can't stop - even though I stop myself immediately after saying it, it's too late. I'm the monger of disrespect. If I wasn't trying to make a good impression, I probably would have blurted out: "Shit!"
Senora Garcia is a gracious lady and readily acknowledges that I'm trying and it's okay too because it seems that the Mexican youth are also losing the respect of using "usted" when speaking with older people. It's a very generous accommodation but I feel dumb nonetheless. And I was trying so hard to remember!
Imagine what the reaction might have been like if I was the one without Conchas - Zwack!!!!
Bondy Restaurante y Pasteleria Vienesa
Mexico City, Mexico
+52 5 281 1818