Published: July 29, 2014
The notion of selling tickets to a restaurant as though it were a night at the theater has been taken up in San Antonio by a duo of young chefs embarking on their first, stand-alone venture. In a railroad car. For a maximum of 12 people. At $85 a pop including service and selected beverages.
Mixtli, which means cloud in Nahuatl, is the name chosen for the enterprise by chefs and caterers Rico Torres and Diego Galicia, and it serves as a kind of muse, floating from one regional Mexican cuisine to another. For those willing to let their feelings about the country’s cuisine be upended, silver linings abound. Mixtli’s themes change every 45 days; the inaugural one centered on Oaxaca. The menu, at this writing, investigates the foods of Mexico City’s varied subway stops.
The following synopsis of Oaxaca can accordingly only be a symbolic weather forecast. That 12-course meal began with an agua fresca of green cactus fruit, accented with ginger and lime, in which floated a single lime blossom. Next arrived a Platonic chochoyte, a masa dumpling usually served in broth.
But, there being none in sight, the dumpling’s typical indentation served to cradle a tiny cube of panela cheese.
The first “main” to appear was a single, impressive shrimp, with garlic foam, on a brushstroke of chileajo, a paste made from guajillo chiles—ethereal but effective. A mole negro adorning duck on a blue corn tortilla was enlivened by several well-toasted pods. Oaxaca, being almost as known for its varied moles as Puebla, a yellow rendition next made an appearance, cradling a sous-vide cooked Texas quail … and so it went until dessert, when a drink of light yet intense cacao (the guys roast and grind their own chocolate) and honey followed as a companion to a corn and roasted fig pudding. We sigh as abuela spins.