Taste memory of Loreto: pineapple and jalapeño salsa

“If we’re in Mexico, does the menu really have to say Mexican food?” This from my very astute Kid Two while reading the offerings at Loreto’s La Palapa, a tourist destination-type restaurant conveniently situated between the ocean and the town square. I had a few menu questions of my own, like why are the chicken fajitas and chicken in mole sauce listed under “Fowls” instead of included with the Mexican offerings? And in that spirit, shouldn’t the beef shish kabob have been more properly labeled as “Turkish” instead of under “Meats?” And why didn’t they get someone to spell-check the English translations? – “garlinc” “snaper” and “chesse” all snuck by, preserved forever under laminating paper.   La Palapa was highly recommended by the expat sitting next to me on the plane, a golf-playing blonde of a certain age on her way back from taking care of some business back in Portland. I can picture her there – sunburned nose on a hot summer night, a table with a pitcher of margaritas and her three best friends – a reliable spot to laugh a lot and sing a little, a place to start the night with fresh ceviche and guacamole and end it with a couple of tacos and a plate of fries to soak up the booze. Anyway . . . I’m being a little snarky, but I get why people like the place. It’s got energy – mariachi music, splashed with color, and an awesome kitschy thatched palm roof – and the food was fresh and perfectly fine. It has to be tricky, trying to stay in business by catering to the whims...
Corn and Poblano Chowder Recipe

Corn and Poblano Chowder Recipe

“Rich, rich, rich, pale green with teeny tiny flecks of carrot and a perfect corn, cream, poblano balance” – that’s what I jotted down about el Papagayo’s crema de elote y poblano – cream of corn and poblano. Of all the wonderful food we ate in Loreto, this is the one I was most interested in recreating as a family meal. It was served topped with fresh diced tomato and had a few discernible corn kernels, but was mostly a lovely, velvety, pureed soup.   I thought it would be nice to recreate as a chowder, but my first try was much more hot mess than chowdery goodness. The first mistake: cutting my carrots and potatoes into stew-size chunks instead of soup-sized nibbles. The biggest mistake: simmering corn on the cob with seeded poblano peppers to make what I thought would be a tasty green pepper-infused corn stock. Fail. Big time. Since I didn’t char the poblano first, the broth was WAY too spicy, and not in a “good burn after the bite” sort of way, just in a “I just bit into a poblano” bitter spice sort of way. Because of the strong raw pepper taste, the corn was lost along with any depth of flavor. Plus, it still wasn’t green. Sadly, though, I’d already added two cups of the mixture to a sautéed onion, celery, and carrot base, so I carried on, simmering the corn cobs in the soup to boost the corn flavor. Then the cobs started to disintegrate, leaving tiny corn kernel casings in the soup. Grrr. I gave up on trying to infuse any more corn taste...
Mita Gourmet

Mita Gourmet

When you land in Loreto, Baja California Sur, once you get through customs and settled into your casita or cabana, it will be time to get your bearings over a bit of dinner. Mita Gourmet is an excellent place to start. Located at the eastern edge of the historic plaza, it’s easy walking distance from anywhere you may be staying in town. Sit outside, take in the activities on the square, and sip your first margarita. Hopefully, guitarist Herzon Rivera will be there too, picking his way through a set that ranges from “My Way to “Wish You Were Here” to “Hotel California.” He’s awesome – make sure you have an extra 200 pesos to buy his CD. Be sure to order a bowl of crema de almejas with a side of flour tortillas. Chef Juan Carlos makes the luscious, velvety clam chowder with béchamel and chocolate clams, a local specialty named for the color of their shell, not the taste: The menu is quite extensive if you’re still hungry; it’s very old-school steakhouse with a Mexican flair and as much heat as you can handle. LL’s fresh halibut Veracruz, packed with chocolate clams, shrimp, olives, onion, and pepper in a zesty tomato sauce topped with a scoop of rice, was also quite tasty. Sadly, the photo doesn’t do it much justice: Mita Gourmet, like most of the restaurants in Loreto, does not take credit cards. No worries, though; there is an ATM on the opposite side of the square where you can get pesos from your credit or debit...