mmm-yoso guest blogger mizducky hasn't been heard from for a little while, but here she resurfaces to contribute once again to mmm-yoso-hood.
I've been so busy with other projects these past few months that my foodie-oriented activity had dropped to zero--a sad state of affairs indeed. So it was with especial enthusiasm that I welcomed a visit from my new New York-based foodie-friend Andrea as a perfect excuse to engage in the kind of Extreme Food Adventure one can only do with other food maniacs. For example: how about a whole barbecued lamb head, chopped while-u-wait? This is exactly what Candice suggested to our merry crew, and we all went wild at the idea.
The venue for this extreme lamb head action is a little strip-mall mom-n-pop in Chula Vista called Aqui Es Texcoco, and it's the newest outpost of an enterprise that's been going strong in Tijuana for close to 20 years. As the name implies, Aqui Es Texcoco specializes in barbacoa de borrego en el estilo de Texcoco, lamb barbecue in the style of Texcoco, a community a little to the east of Mexico City. I'd already had a taste of this style of cooking at El Borrego in City Heights (itself the subject of this post by Mr. mmm-yoso himself). But the raves about this Chula Vista joint from the Chowhound crew really got my juices flowing, so a recent Sunday afternoon saw a crew including Candice, Doug, Dale, Andrea, and myself descending on the place.
The place is really easy to find--except when the driver is having too damn much fun yakking with her passenger! So after getting turned around and backtracking a bit, Andrea and I arrived about ten minutes after the others--but I spaced getting a photo of the exterior. Sorry! It really is a tiny little place, but their corner space in the strip mall makes it seem a little roomier than it is--plus it's brand-spanking new and spic-and-span. Families with small kids--including that of one of the managers--were enjoying hanging out.
While some of us pored over the menu, others lined up a nice shot of the table condiments on offer:
From right to left, to the best of my memory: chopped onions, quartered limes, red and green hot sauces, a sweeter brown sauce (?), some funky red peppercorns way too big to pass through the holes of their little salt-shaker container, and an actual salt shaker.
Of course we had to get the whole lamb head. I was only slightly bummed that they do not serve the head intact--a skillful guy behind the counter chops all the meat off for you:
It arrives thusly, with all the meat (head, cheek, tongue, brain, etc.) all mixed together, and a big wad of tortillas on the side:
This was some serious lamb action--unapologetically rich and fatty, and thank goodness, it actually tasted like lamb! As a true lamb lover, I have been driven to distraction by lamb that has had all the gamy lamb character either bred or cooked out of it--I mean, what's the point then? This stuff, however, was real through and through. (Admittedly, its realness included the occasional stray piece of bone or tooth. I considered that a small price to pay for authenticity.)
And some huitlacoche quesadillas:
Now huitlacoche is some really wild stuff. It helps to remember that it's really in the same family of living things as mushrooms, truffles and other such fungi ... only in this case, the fungus grows on developing ears of corn. Okay, let's be honest: huitlacoche is not a very attractive looking substance. So don't look at it--just eat it, it's yummy. Especially to the shroom lovers among us. The squash blossoms, to my taste, were so mild that eating them was more of a textural thing--hey, they're blossoms of a summer squash similar to zucchini so you know they're not going to have a huge flavor profile. But eating both them and the shrooms in gobs of melty mild Mexican cheese was exceedingly pleasant.
Not pictured: the delicious consome (lamb broth) and flan the manager comped us to thank us for our enthusiastic enjoyment of their food. These guys were super-friendly and accommodating--even when one of our party accidentally knocked his big cup of horchata over and it spilled seemingly everywhere.
It may be awhile before I order another whole lamb head from these folks--that's enough food for three or four people, and frankly I can't get away with eating that way very often. But I am working on some dandy
excuses, erm, reasons to head down to Chula Vista again real soon, for some more extreme taco and quesadilla action. And we completely forgot to get the ensalada de nopales! An oversight which must be corrected forthwith! Okay, that's my excuse--and I'm sticking to it.
Aqui Es Texcoco
1043 Broadway, Ste 108, Chula Vista