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We Need More Napkins

I eat, drink, cook and pour gnarly things, then share with the world.

By Justin Ludwig.

There is nothing like a really great mole. Even though this Tucson spot looked really dead compared to some of the other Mexican joints in the area, the sign out front promising authentic Pueblo mole was enough to lure us in. The owner was this really friendly, jovial Mexican who’s been a restaurant man for decades, and has a menu full of personal secrets and dishes honed from years of home-style cooking.

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I started with an avocado margarita, a recipe he said he invented 20 years ago, and it was amazing, a perfect blend of sour, salty, sweet and boozy (there must have been 3 ounces of liquor in it.) I ordered the mole, obviously, and the meal started with a really delicious tortilla soup, which was perfectly simple and savoury. The broth was so rich and full of flavour, and was really the focus, which was nice given that tortilla soups are often bastardized with dozens of competing ingredients.

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Then there was the mole. I’m not a man of God, but this was as close to a religious experience as I had on this trip. A perfect mole is about as balanced and exciting a flavour profile as you can imagine. The plate was smothered in the thick dark sauce, with the beautifully cooked and seasoned and chicken breast underneath almost an afterthought. I’ve made mole before, and it’s always been a lengthy process of toasting and re-hydrating peppers and then stewing, blending and straining a myriad of ingredients, but Don Carlos (I’m assuming that’s his name…) let me in the on the secret, and I was shocked to discover that it’s once again all about the simplicity. “I can make perfect mole in three minutes” he boasted, and revealed the five basic ingredients that go into his sauce: Mexican dark chocolate, a very specific red chile pepper, peanut butter, tortillas and water. It blew my mind.

Casa Don Carlos on Urbanspoon

3 years ago