Thursday, August 30, 2007

Smooth, Creamy, Deep and Complex

I leave for Mexico City this coming Monday and while I've been eating up a storm of Mexican, Peruvian and El Salvadorean food, I'm starting to worry that I'll burn out on the food before I get to Mexico and then my visit will be ruined by heated desires for Outback Steak (okay, maybe not).

As I was out and about yesterday in Rosedale at the local Filipino market, I had the hankering for something to eat. Unfortunately, Rosedale isn't exactly the place for quality dining. There's the Route 40 diners/greasy spoon joints, the local cheesesteak and the national chains.

Overall, I've been eating some pretty darn fresh and tasty food for the last month or so and the idea of a greasy, fat-laden cheesesteak from a random subshop wasn't too appetizing. The only option was for this place called "Fiesta Mexicana" sporting a sign that said "Authentic Mexican."

Oh come on, this is Baltimore. "Authentic" doesn't mean too much around here. Especially in a white area like Rosedale (although I think that's changing). Worried that I would burn out on Mexican food, reluctant to go for the cheesesteak and growing insane with hunger, I decided to check out Fiesta Mexicana.

And a good thing too.

It's a small shop with one table and some stools. The owner is there, along with a helper who's doing much of the prep work. After chatting with the owner, I found out that her and her husband are both from Mexico City and were just as excited about me going there as I was. The shop has been open for just over a year and they're planning a celebration on Mexican Independence Day: September 15th. The owners' vision is to bring truly authentic Mexican food to Baltimore (Gracias Senor Dios).

In the back is a fridge featuring not just Coke, but real Coca-Cola from Mexico. What's the difference you ask? Sugar, baby, sugar. There's no HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) in Mexican Coke so it's crisp, clean and refreshing.

Ana's favorite food is enchiladas. Being the American Gringo that I am, I didn't quite understand. Most enchiladas I've seen have looked pretty bland and not so appetizing. You know, a little cheese, a little red sauce, a little time under the broiler - Taco Hell kinda fare. Of course, she's talking about real enchiladas and I'm talking about something resembling enchiladas.

I'm game and while I've been trying enchiladas around Baltimore, I decided to give theirs a try. I ordered the Enchiladas de Mole. Three chicken enchiladas smothered in mole and drizzled with sour cream and queso blanco. How was it? Amazing. Sublime. The mole was deep and complex. Sweet, rich with slight hints of cocoa. When she asked me if I wanted the cheese and sour cream, I almost said "no" thinking about the usual way sour cream is slopped on, but decided to go with it. That was the right choice. The cheese and cream were the perfect balance to the mole. Smooth, creamy - I've been thinking about it ever since.

To start with, I had the Totopos, a nice name for chips and salsa. There's an assortment of things you can order with the chips but I chose a sampling of the salsa roja and salsa verde. The heat isn't bad. It builds up on you until your tongue is on fire. But a good, life-affirming, body-cleansing kind of fire. The one down note were the chips. They were those plain, round kind of tortilla chips you get from the local restaurant supply - just crappy. Especially since I spied a container of real tortilla chips sitting in the kitchen from Tortilleria Sinaloa. They need to use those and not these "chips".

All in all, the food was hellaciously good. So good, I think I might go back tomorrow!

Fiesta Mexicana
8304 Philadelphia Road
Rosedale, MD 21237