May 11, 2008
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We had Linda's late birthday dinner at Toplolobampo last week, as we were in Chicago for my mother's 80th. I had the mole tasting menu, which is inspired by the writings of Martha Chapa. I don't know Martha Chapa; I should. These days, menus come with footnotes.

The appetizer was a very pretty dish of two square blocks of fire-roasted poblano, serving as bookends for a 45-minute egg. As I understand it, the egg is some sort of sous vide preparation; it was a nice egg, but I'm not entirely sure what I was looking for. It was all nestled in mashed peas, which make a handy springtime sauce.

The soup was oxtail, from happy, educated oxen who had been fed tall grass. Tall grass must be handy, if you are of the bovine ilk. The soup had grilled ramps and xoconostle jellies. Xoconostle is a cactus; I bet you knew that. All the foodies love ramps, especially grilled. I like them a lot, too.

The squab came with "Guanajuato-style mole Francachela". You not only need footnotes, you need a scorecard. (At the time, I was busy enjoying the tasty poultry in its complex sauce. But you could have looked it up. I did later. No dice: I guess I need a Mexican Larousse. Or Ms. Chapa!)

The star course was a delicious piece of roasted goat, with a remarkable hot and sweet mole with ancho, pasilla, guajillo, almonds, raisins, pecans, sesame, chocolate, and more. The dessert (tres leches cake) had just a touch of ancho and pasilla too.