Don Day had lunch with Don Day’s Wife today. There was just the two of them so it was all about what and where they wanted to eat. Don Day wanted tongue, a dish that is generally only available as street food. Don Day’s Wife wanted asparagus, a dish that is generally only available from late January on.
Don Day felt an argument…sorry, discussion…coming on. Don Day’s Wife felt a compromise…sorry, solution…coming on and said, “Let’s go to La Posadita. They’ll definitely have tongue and they might just have the first asparagus of the year.”
As always (except when it comes to directions), Don Day’s Wife was right. La Posadita had tongue tacos and they had their signature dish, Asparagus Posadita.
La Posadita is one of the San Miguel restaurants that Don Day thinks deserves much more traffic than it gets and was going to write about the lunch but remembered that he’d written a piece about asparagus and the restaurant before and because it wasn’t published anywhere, he simply copied and pasted it in below.
We used to count the days when I was kid. When each of the first fresh fruits and vegetables would arrive in our local market. When peas would come out of pods instead of Bird’s Eye boxes. When peaches didn’t require a can opener. When tomatoes weren’t only available three to a pack in green plastic trays wrapped in cellophane. And when fresher was always better.
Then so called improvements were made. Advancements in transportation, storage, hydroponic and hothouse growing, ripening techniques, and in the very fruits and vegetables themselves allowed more and more product to be available more of the time. Today, in Canada, where Don Day eats most of his meals, I can’t think of a single fruit or vegetable that you can’t get every day of the year.
Lately we’ve had a trend back towards fresh and local. The 100 mile movement, where people only consume regional produce, has had a significant effect on restaurants but I haven’t seen the average joe or the average Don Day, for that matter, jump on the bandwagon. Celebrity chefs have been preaching the benefits on television with Gordon Ramsey even suggesting levying a fine to restaurants who serve food that’s out of season. Yet I can still find a fig any day of the year in Toronto.
But not so in Mexico. When Don Day arrives in San Miguel de Allende, just after Christmas, there are no figs to be found, no parsnips, no squash blossoms, no asparagus. Feeling like Columbus, searching for that elusive pepper plant, each year around the 15th of January, I start my search for asparagus, strolling from stall to stall in the Ignacio Ramirez market making sure there aren’t one or two bundles tucked away behind some big lettuces. The first few spears of asparagus are precious cargo and vendors don’t like to tie up a lot of cash in something with only a few days of shelf life.
It had been about ten days that I’d been searching in vain this year so, like a junkie looking for a fix, I expanded my horizons westward. On the way to dinner at our friend’s Richard and Lorain, Don Day stopped in at all of the fruit and vegetable shops on the way. All in vain.
So there I was, now crying into a glass of red wine, telling my tale of woe, when Lorain walked out of the kitchen carrying two bouquets of those magical spears. Richard had found them that afternoon in front of Espino’s where there’s always a small but interesting selection of some of the freshest produce in town. I hadn’t quite made it that far on my trip across town.
Time to start boiling the chicken for the asparagus soup base. Time to pick up some seranno ham ready for roll-ups. Time to make sure there’s enough butter for a hollandaise. And time to plan a visit to La Posadita.
La Posadita is one of San Miguel de Allende’s most neglected restaurants. People neglect it for the same reason that people neglect Don Day. They just don’t understand it.
Locals think La Posadita is a tourist restaurant. There it is right off the main square. The entire restaurant al fresco. With views one way of the Parroquia, absolutely one of the world’s most beautiful churches, and views the other way of not too shabby San Miguel sunsets. With elegantly attired and eloquently prepared servers who even know obscure little restaurant tricks as putting salt in a wine cooler reduces the temperature. And with that oversized menu; who, other than tourists, need six pages of dishes to confuse them.
The people who think La Posadita is a tourist restaurant are correct. Tourists love it. It’s the reason why, when Don Day’s friends have to get the hell out of Dodge and escape the bone-chilling north for a week, he sends them there within a day or two of arrival. And why, usually, Don Day accompanies them. La Posadita has more of the classic Mexican dishes on its menu than any other San Miguel restaurant and prepares all of them exceptionally well.
The menu reads like a what’s what of celebrated Mexican cuisine (and I apologize that some readers who aren’t quite as crazy about good Mexican as Don Day will be going what’s that): Lomo de cerdo a los tres chiles, chiles rellenos, Guerrero style green pozole, cochinita pobil (a Don Day favorite and the one in the photo above), enchiladas del portal, enchildas verde with chicken, pollo con mole Guanajuato, escamoles al epazote, tacos de lengua, camarones zarandeados, and chiles en nogada (but not at this time of year because pomegranates aren’t in season).
And then there’s that great asparagus dish. It’s not a dish that Don Day recognizes as Mexican. In fact the name the restaurant has given it suggests it’s their own creation. Whoever created it should have a blue ribbon pinned to their chef’s jacket. Asparagus Posadita is absolutely one of the very best things anywhere in San Miguel de Allende. It’s remarkably simple. Grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon accompanied by grilled tomato and onion. There are no fancy seasonings; salt and pepper are the only things Don Day recognizes. There’s no fancy sauce to dip it in. Asparagus Posadita can stand on its own two feet. Perfect ingredients, perfectly prepared.
We’d rushed our first visit to La Posadita this year. We ordered four helpings of Asparagus Posadita only to have the waiter return from the kitchen with a my dog died look on his face. Unfortunately, the chef had only been able to find enough asparagus for two helpings. Don Day suggested he have one helping and the other three split the other helping. The other three suggested that the two helpings be split between the four of us. Hard to beat three to one odds; impossible when the other three are women.
It’s hard to say why Asparagus Posadita is so damn good. Don Day’s Wife says it’s because La Posadita respects the freshness not only of the asparagus but does the same with the onions and tomatoes. Don Day’s Wife knows how to cook asparagus perfectly. She places them in boiling water for two minutes, plunges them in ice water and then grills them at a high heat for three minutes, rolling them once half way through.
Ah the joy of eating fresh asparagus again!
La Posadita is located at Cuna de Allende #13 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. They’re open from 12:00 Noon to 10:00 pm, closed Wednesdays.