On Sunday I ventured out despite bitterly cold weather and overnight winter storms (a mix of ice and snow, but nothing much) to get brunch. It’d been awhile since I’d brunched and even longer since I hit up Urban Table, a fantastic little place with good coffee and interesting food. I had my heart set on a cup of Intelligentsia coffee and a chicken sandwich called the Odessa. I was damn near salivating.
When I got to the restaurant, though, I discovered that quite a bit had changed since I was there last. The entire place was set up differently for starters, but the real shock came when I looked at the menu. They no longer served Intelligentsia coffee, opting for an even closer regional brand, Kaldi’s, instead. They also didn’t have the Odessa printed on the menu. Sigh. But I was hungry and I was not about to go back out into the cold without some coffee-related fortification so I gave the menu another look.
Chilaquiles. I’d only heard of chilaquiles once, mentioned in passing on an episode of Heroes (season 2, episode 11 if my memory serves). I had no idea what it was, but it sounded interesting and somewhat complicated. I sort of filed the information in the back of my head, but when I saw it on the menu I decided I had to try it. Satisfy that mutiple-year-old curiosity and wash it down with that cup of Kaldi’s.
It was heaven. It was quite possibly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever consumed. I have no doubt that the dish wasn’t precisely authentic, but it was fabulously tasty and it got me to thinking: could I do this at home? I did a little basic research on the internet. Chilaquiles, like pretty much any dish, has regional and cultural variations. Some had chicken, some just eggs, some were made with salsa and some with mole. There were versions where the tortillas were left somewhat crispy and others where they were cooked until soft and the whole dish thick. I had some chicken. I had eggs. I was confident I could fry up some tortillas. This could happen. So last night? I had chilaquiles for dinner.
There are a few things I would do differently. I’d probably use a combination of mole and enchilada sauce and I’d probably throw the whole pan in the broiler for a moment to make the cheese bubble, but all in all my home version was pretty great. I’m finding myself more willing and more confident to take culinary chances on cuisine that is unfamiliar. Up next? I think I may try arepas. After more chilaquiles, of course.