Monday, August 03, 2009

Authentic Mexican, Revisited

We have friends who love hot weather. Nothing suits them better than temps in the 90s with a haze of sweat cooling their brows. They strip down, grab a cool drink and embrace the heat.

This is a margarita to beat the heat.

But for a lot of Oregonians, every degree over 85 ratchets up the whining, the pouting and the scowling, as if the gods were punishing us personally for some transgression or other. So you can imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth that accompanied last week's 100-plus degree heat wave. Like pouty little babies, we sat in our sweltering houses, most devoid of air conditioning ("You only need it a few days a year, so why spend the money?"), and cursed Satan's handmaiden, aka the TV weatherman.

Try as I might to maintain my new mantra to "be here now," one day I just couldn't face another salad for dinner and called my brother and his lovely bride to see if they'd like to join us at Autentica for a margarita and dinner. Facing spending the evening in a house that may have been even hotter than ours, they quickly agreed after being assured the place had AC.

Octopus salad.

When we got there the air conditioner was having trouble keeping up with the heat generated by the crowd packing the place, like us looking for a respite from their overheated lives. It wasn't unmanageable, though, and once we had a round of excellent margaritas in hand, not to mention flowing down our throats, the evening was looking much more promising.

The thick blue corn tortillas and three house salsas were a good beginning, but an appetizer of their wonderful guacamole and a cold pulpo (octopus) salad spiked with lime soothed any prickly tendencies that remained. And like the lunch I enjoyed earlier, all of the flavors in our entrées had memories washing over us from our trips to Mexico's west coast.

Pescado con hueso.

My barbacoa de res (top), a traditional slow cooked marinated beef served with pinto beans fried with chorizo and cotija cheese, was not only gorgeous sitting on its corn husk wrapper, but was fall-apart tender and rich. And the chuleta de puerco, a pan-fried Carlton farm pork chop with garlic and onions, was served over a mouthwatering mole pobre sauce with a side of green beans braised with tomatoes. The mole itself, while noticeably chocolately, also had enough bite and depth from the chiles to balance out any sweetness, a difficult act to pull off.

The pescado con hueso, a roasted fish steak with garlic, was served over a spicy avocado and tomatillo sauce with white rice. Moist and perfectly cooked till just tender and served under a shower of cilantro and red onion, it was a lovely light touch among our other hefty choices. Somewhat cooled off and very full, we opted out of dessert and hit the street just as a nice breeze was picking up, another nice echo of our Mexican trip. We'll definitely have to go back.

Details: Autentica, 5507 NE 30th, just north of Killingsworth. Phone 503-287-7555.


The LaVya Initiative said...

I'm salivating from Atlanta! This is definitely on my list for the next trip home. Do they do mole?

Kathleen Bauer said...

They do a couple of moles, both in the Oaxacan style. Delicious! Let me know when you get in town!