frontera grill, chicago

last night we celebrated and ate. We are visiting Chicago for a couple of days en route to Grand Rapids for a 60th anniversary celebration of Z’s grandparents and we celebrated our own 2nd anniversary with dinner at Frontera Grill, whose chef/owner is Rick Bayless of recent Top Chef Masters Fame (he won last summer.) Frontera is a tour of authentic Mexico. He has been a long time and avid cheerleader for real Mexican cuisine with shows on PBS. We were delighted to have a taste of his cooking. The flavors and textures. I could go on. I need to look into the chile and salsas, moles and fire roasting meat. Lovely.

Here is what we ate, small plates.
emelas de Pollo en Mole Amarillo: crispy pinched-rim gorditas topped with coarse shreds of grilled chicken, roasted fennel and Oaxacan yellow mole (scented with hoja santa).
Flautas de Carnitas: crispy rolled tacos filled with Maple Creek pork carnitas and caramelized onions. Roasted tomatillo salsa, avocado-infused crema, “shoots” salad.

and dinner.
he: Especialidad: Braised Lamb Shanks with Oaxacan mole wrapped as a tamale in a banana leaf with densely mashed potatoes and lightly citrus bitter greens.
she: Torta de Elote: savory field corn torta filled with huitlacoche (inky corn mushroom), roasted butternut, poblano chile. Tomatillo-corn sauce, seared corn esquites, sunflower “shoot” salad.

Oh, huitlacoche… A fungus that grows on corn. Very bizarre. I tried it because I know this would be my best shot. Very good. Earthy and creamy and baked in a torta (cake). It is best to be aware but unafraid.

trying to be obscure and take photos without a flash in a busy restaurant even had fairly good results. The picture of my torta is the one in this post. I will post two other photos following.

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