A Catholic Review of Mexican Passover

Rosa Mexicano is known for its authentic Mexican food, homemade (literally made in front of your eyes) guacamole, and fun, hip ambience. However, for the past couple of years, the chain has stood out even more with their Flavors of Mexico celebration honoring the eclectic heritage of Mexican Food.

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Considering that I love flavors, Mexico, and celebrations, I figured I would stop by the restaurant to check out their Mexican Passover menu before the menu changes on March 30th.

When it comes down to the dish selection, the Mexican Passover menu aims at fusing traditional Passover dishes, such as matzah and charoset, with contemporary and traditional Mexican ingredients. The whole concept of Mexican Passover was very new to me considering the fact that I am considerably Catholic and not the least bit Mexican, but when it came down to the food, Rosa Mexicano’s menu definitely offers some interesting and delicious dishes. Here are some that stood out to me.

Starters

Haroset Tropical (Tropical Haroset): Matzah served with a blend of dates, coconut, tangerine, pomegranate, almonds, cinnamon, rose apples, and Riesling. The haroset basically falls under the guidelines for traditional haroset with a blend of nuts, fruit, and wine. However, the tangerine gives the blend the tropical pop that its name implies.

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Haroset (served with matzah bread on the side)
Credit: Rosa Mexicano

Higado Picado (Chopped Liver): Before you judge this dish immensely for containing liver, just don’t. This starter is dense and rich with chopped medium-rare liver (cooked with caramelized onions and hardboiled eggs), salsa verde, and tempura scallions on the side to add some crisp to the dish. The liver is served in a ball (similar to the serving style of tuna tartare) and sits atop the salsa verde to add a little bit of zing.

Drink

Kosher Sangría Haroset: Herradura  silver tequila, honey, cinnamon, fresh lemon, cold-pressed apple, and Manischewitz reduction (a Kosher reduction commonly used to make matzo ball soup). When I took a sip, I could mildly taste the tequila, but the lemon and honey had the most prominent taste and blended the rest of the ingredients together to make it smooth and sweet. The Manischewitz reduction did not add or take away from the sweetness of the sangria. Note: save the sangria soaked apples for the end.

Kosher Sangría HarosetCredit: Rosa Mexicano

Kosher Sangría Haroset
Credit: Rosa Mexicano

Appetizers

Matzo Ball Pazole Soup: Matzo balls infused with bone marrow, along with cabbage, jalapeño, onion, hominy, and Pozole soup. The matzo balls were very light and fluffy with an extra hint of richness, thanks to the bone marrow. The Pozole broth was a bit foamy and tasted like liquid chili broth with seasonal spices. The combination was unconventional compared to the traditional chicken broth used at most Passover Seders.

Matzo balls sans broth
Credit: Rosa Mexicano

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Matzo ball soup
Credit: Rosa Mexicano

Tacos de Gribenes y Huevo de Pato (2 Tacos with Sliced Duck Egg): A soft shell taco covered in mustard salsa verde, caramelized onions, sliced duck egg, chicken crackling and jalapeño peppers on top. To be honest, I turned bright red, teared up, and began to bounce up and down a little (not sure why) when I took my first bite because I kind of bit into half of the jalapeño pepper on top. So if you’re like me, just take the jalapeños off before you bite into the taco. Anyway, the egg was hardboiled, soft and fresh which contrasted nicely with the crunchy, flavorful chicken crackling on top (for those of you that have never had chicken crackling, it is crisp, cooked chicken skin). To top it off, the salsa verde added a little extra spice, but not anything unbearable. Just please remove the jalapeños if you think you might end up doing what I did, because trust me, struggling with spice isn’t a good look on anyone.

Credit: Rosa Mexicano

Tacos de gribenes y huevo de pato
Credit: Rosa Mexicano

Entrées

Mixiote de Barbacoa de Res (Banana Leaf-Wrapped Barbecued Beef Brisket): Roasted barbecue beef brisket wrapped in a banana leaf with dried fruit tsimmes, and served with glazed baby carrots. The beef does not have a powerful barbecue flavor, yet the surrounding sauce tastes like a sweet chili. The beef itself is braised, tender, and rich with a texture that melts in the mouth.

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Mixiote de Barbacoa de Res
Credit: Rosa Mexicano

Cordero Asado (Roast Saddle of Lamb): Lamb with quince, pomegranate, jalapeño, and cilantro in a sweet glaze. The lamb was tender and juicy, yet crispy and charred on the outside and the flavor was complimented by the sweetness of the pomegranate, quince, and surrounding sauce. The cilantro also adds an aromatic Mexican kick, and to be honest, I don’t think I ended up getting a bite of jalapeño because my face wasn’t on fire at all. But this dish had the perfect mix of meaty, tender, sweet, and intense flavors and its perfect for anyone who loves some nice, juicy lamb.

Cordero AsadoCredit: Rosa Mexicano

Cordero Asado
Credit: Rosa Mexicano

Desserts

Grandma Shapiro’s Strudel a la Mexicana: A dense chocolate chipotle strudel stuffed with tropical fruit and topped with whipped cream. Instead of being flaky and airy, this strudel was hard on the outside with a dense combination of chocolate and tropical fruit on the inside. In this photo, it is easy to see what the strudel is made of, but when it is served at the restaurant, it is not served in these thin slices but rather in one block with whipped cream on the edges of the plate. Tip: dip the strudel in the whipped cream to soften it up in the palate.

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Grandma Shapiro’s Strudel a la Mexicana
Credit: Rosa Mexicano

Copa de Mango (Mango Cup): A fresh whole mango scooped and filled with diced mango and topped with coconut ice cream and a raspberry sauce. On the side are cinnamon buñuelos (corn chips). This dessert is all around fresh — the mango is juicy, the coconut ice cream is thick and creamy, and the raspberry sauce adds some subtle, fruity pizzaz. You can also use your buñuelos as a tasty spoon — just dip one into your mango cup and scoop up the fruity mix! If you don’t like cinnamon, you should pass on this step.

Like I said, I am considerably Catholic, so I did not really know what this meal would entail. However, it was a great experience to be eating such delicious foods that are tied to such a fascinating religious history. The Mexican Passover menu is served until March 30th, so if you’re a student looking to celebrate Passover with friends in an unconventional way, or even just looking to try a new dining experience, it could be worth your while to stop by.

If you can’t make it to Mexican Passover, check out Rosa Mexicano’s Flavors of Mexico calendar to see the rest of the events.

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