Ignorance is a bitch sometimes. A couple of weeks ago, I spent four days in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for business and had enough extra time to enjoy the beautiful resort town. When my company told me that I was going to Mexico, I wasn’t particularly excited because the media portrayed Mexico as a haven for drug cartels and drug-related violence that often gets innocent bystanders killed. I blame the news for making me apprehensive and fearful for traveling there. First of all, my company would not have sent me to an unsafe area for business, and after doing some research on my own, Puerto Vallarta seemed like a great place to visit since it drew a large amount of tourists annually. I’m glad I was given the opportunity to visit, Puerto Vallarta is a magical place.
Since I had never been to Mexico before, and not being familiar with the cuisine, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find anything good to eat. Living in America for so long, the local Mexican restaurants in the States set a bad precedent on my perspective of Mexican food, but after dining in Puerto Vallarta, it was as if I was introduced to Mexican cuisine for the first time. All I can say is, I can’t wait to go back for more.
On the second, night I decided to splurge on a bit of fancy dining at La Leche. A coworker recommended that I try it before I headed back to Chicago. The entire place is adorned by white shelves holding white paint cans and buckets. It was truly a unique sight to behold.
The daily menu items are written on a large black slab of slate of which the waiter rolled over to my table. After the waiter translated every item on the menu from Spanish to English, it was easy to decide on what I wanted to order. I started with a glass of Syrah, because I freaking love Syrah. By the time the first dish arrived, I had finished the wine…so much for food pairing.
I ordered the Mejillones en Costra (mussels) for an appetizer. While I don’t remember what was exactly in the mussels, they were extremely tasty, especially when paired with the greens that not only served as garnishes, but also as hints of flavor to complement the sauce.
For the main course, I ordered the Cerdo & Cerdo (Pork and Pork). It was made up of thin layers of melt-in-your-mouth pork loin and was topped with a small slab of ribs. The pork had a sweetness to it. I’m not sure if that’s how pork is supposed to taste like, because no pork has ever tasted so delicious back in the US.
On the second night, I took the bus down to the Malecon and walked to Old Vallarta in search of a local joint, El Brujo. I had heard that it was a local favorite, yet when I arrived, it was packed with tourists like me, which meant that I had to wait for a seat. Damn you Internet!!! It was worth the wait though. There I had one of the most amazing dishes ever.
That amazing dish I’m talking about is the Shrimp in Green Aguachile (Chili Water). Basically, it’s a dish of raw shrimp placed in a cold broth of Serrano chili peppers and lime juice. It’s not quite like ceviche, as the shrimp is almost completely raw. I was quite apprehensive of eating raw shrimp, but I figured that it had to be really fresh to be consumed in such a way. I was caught off guard by the large size and the quantity of the shrimp. That dish along would’ve served three people without a problem, and there I was doing my best to eat all of it by myself.
By the time the main meal arrived, I was close to hitting the wall. Placed in front of me was a giant serving of fish stuffed with baby shrimp and super tender octopus. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to completely enjoy it since I was so full from the Shrimp Aguachile.
Even though the trip was only for four days, it was nothing short of amazing.