Coming home last week, I didn't have too much time to adjust from being the visitor to having a visitor! How I love visitors . . . hint, hint!
My friend, Danyel, lived and volunteered with me for a year at Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos way back in 2004. She's back there working and had to visit the house for the college students in Monterrey last week. Since she was all the way up here, she decided to spend her "weekend" with us here in Saltillo.
In my heart, part of my plan for her visit was to wander around downtown and snack ourselves sick on street food. When I was living in Toluca and she had just returned to NPH, we'd meet up in Coyoacan, on the south side of Mexico City, about once a month. Coyoacan is a lovely, lovely neighborhood, and we'd meander through the neighborhoods filled with huge houses, impressive gates, polished wood doors, cascading bouganvillea. While doing all that walking we'd inevitably work up an appetite, head back to the center of Coyoacan, craving corn-on-a-stick, donuts-on-a-stick (thanks, Cafe El Jarocho), mocha frappes, gorditas de nata, nieve (sherbet) . . . on at least one occasion we both ended up sick afterwards.
But it was so worth it.
I toyed with the idea of introducing Danyel to Elote Real, a popular snack spot downtown that throws a cup of sweet corn kernels in a styrofoam cup and then douses them with mayonnaise, nacho cheese, and chili powder. Amazing. And then we could peruse nachos, in the state where they originated (they come from Piedras Negras on the Texas/Coahuila border). Unfortunately, I haven't seen any jicaleta vendors lately to give our feast a healthy image.
However, Mario bought a newspaper on Sunday and a number of restaurants ran some fairly large ads . . . including three Lebanese restaurants. Middle Eastern food in Mexico? Oh, yes. I believe that in the 1920s, Mexico welcomed large numbers of Lebanese immigrants. One of their lasting contributions to Mexico is the taco arabe in Puebla (more on that another day). And, these excellent restaurants in Saltillo which happily serve me large platterfuls of unidentifiable delicacies. All that I know is that they're all stuffed with lamb and rice. Little squashes stuffed with lamb and rice, grape leaves stuffed with lamb and rice, cabbage leaves stuffed with lamb and rice. Mmm . . . I love that lamb and rice! Eating garbage downtown just had no appeal after considering our lamb-filled options.
However, we did walk off all that rice downtown. And, as we approached the Alameda, we stopped for a frozen yogurt. For 10 pesos, we were served a generous serving of frozen yogurt, fruit on the bottom (raspberries for me), chocolate on top, then garnished with a spoonful of chocolate chips. Yes.
I need to have Danyel visit more often. We eat well together.
Ayamal: Monclova #1419, Col. Republica Pte. 416-8201
Or, Jill-directions: You know the Soriana on Coss? And there's a Banamex in that same Plaza. Right. Roughly across the street from the Banamex (behind Coss, going into Republica) is Banco Inbursa. That's Calle Monclova. So the restaurant just past Inbursa, yep, that's Ayamal. And I don't think it's called that from the signs from the outside. Go figure. They also sell gorditas and other typical norteno dishes, plus Lebanese a la carte. However, I just always go for the buffet-brought-to-your-table as soon as they mention it. It's a good call.