Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Traditional, But Not Spicy. Por Favor.

After my last post, a flashback to last year’s travels to Italy, I am back in real time and I am also back in Mexico.

It was about 7 pm, Monday evening, still around 38 degrees Celsius, when we stepped out, got into the car to go and find a restaurant that serve traditional Mexican food. A colleague’s requirement was: Traditional, but not spicy, por favor. Here in the state of Nuevo Leon, in the north of Mexico it means parrillada. Translated it means different beef cuts and sausages, grilled and cut into small pieces eaten with melted cheese, sautéed onions and guacamole inside a tortilla. The meat is served heap high and piping hot on a hotplate. Think of parrillada as South America’s version of barbeque, whether in Mexico, Argentina or Panama. The meat is never spiced except for salt.

We eventually found a local neighborhood restaurant that serve parrillada, El Castor, the Beaver, on the western side of town just as the sun was disappearing behind one of the many mountain peaks. Hopefully it would cool down it bit. I have found over the years that a neighborhood restaurant, like El Castor, a place frequented by locals and where whole families can enjoy simple meals, provides the best atmosphere for big groups (and eventually we were ten people together at the table), and some of the best food. Going to one of these “holes in the wall”, and I don’t mean it in any way derogatory or condescending, it’s just that these restaurants have simple décor and a limited menu, mostly turn out to be some of the best dining experiences I have had in Mexico. I can also suggest Fresnos in Apodaca as another good traditional restaurant in greater Monterrey area.

After dinner, 4 of us went to park the car in the Barrio Antigua area and walked to the origin of the Paseo Santa Lucia, next to the National Historical Museum. Since I last been there, before the 2007 Universal Forum of Cultures they had here in Monterrey, many changes took place. I discovered they built an extension to the current National Historical Museum. The new part currently exhibits Spanish Civilizations. I will have to make some time to get to see a bit more about it on this trip. They also made several other, well needed, improvements to the walkways all along the river. Really beautify the whole area. It was actually very nice to walk around there at night time. Just a pity it was so damn hot.

On our way to El Castor I noticed this wrought iron artwork next to the highway of the Nuestra Senora de Guadalope, also known as La virgen Maria.

Entrance to El Rey Del Cabrito, the Goat King, one of Monterrey's famous restaurants, specialist in the local speciality, cabrito, young goat meat.

El Castor's walls are covered with pictures of Mexican actors, some famous, some not. It is an old establishment that goes back many years.

The new extension to the National Historical Museum (on the right) and the new waterfall (in front) that was built for the Universal Forum.

Another new feature at the museum is the La Lagartera, the Aligator pit, by Mexican contempory artist Francisco Toledo. This huge art piece of steel and plaster was unveiled just a week ago, and is located in a pool in front of the museum.

The balloon seller. I like the image because it looked like he was holding a magic shield and wielding lighted swords.

A multi-colored reflecting pool with the Palace of Government in the background.

The Palacio de Gobierno, the Palace of Government, built in 1908 in the neoclassical style and today, among other things, where the office of the state governor is located.

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