La Condesa - Downtown - Mexican

Menu Selections:  cocktails, hongos y huitlacoch, hoja santa

I selected this establishment because I recently read about one of the top 10 pastry chefs in the nation working here, according to Food and Wine. That, and it was walking distance from my hotel.  I also conveniently made it within the happy hour window (great drink and appetizer prices).  For my liquid appetizer, I ordered the Alma Blanca, then later, the El Cubico, which are drinks that are following the spicy and smoky trend these days.  The Alma Blanca was infused with habanero, which was tolerable when paired with the pineapple juice, complete with a sugary rim.  The El Cubico (number 1 in my book), had a smoky base composed of mescal and tequila infused with tobacco, mixed with grilled pineapple juice to further enhance the smoky taste, all balanced with some vanilla brandy and a picturesque salty rim.  Bravo. 
Moving on to the "entree", I selected the Hongos y Huitlacoche, which is a mushroom lover's ultimate dream.  Similar to a tostada, a rather thick corn tortilla was topped with 3 various forms of mushrooms:  traditional wild mushrooms, the more adventurous huitlacoche (a fungus that grows inside corn stalk that's considered a specialty in Mexico), and the always rich truffle oil.  And some pretty good cheese and grilled corn.  I really did think I died and gone to heaven, briefly. 

Then I realized the purpose of me dining here had yet to come.  The dessert that was referenced in Food and Wine, created by Lara Sawicki,  was the Hoja Santa. It is nothing like I've ever had before.  Ever. A semifreddo looks like a marshmellow and has a similar taste to it, but with a texture that resembles a frozen custard that melts in your mouth.  She enhanced hers with the unique hoja santa herb (from Mexico), which is obviously unique because I've never heard of it and I'm sure you haven't either.  As if this wasn't enough, it was topped with candied granola and brandied cherries.  My new favorite dessert, was all that my mind could comprehend.  Better than bananas foster, better than creme brulee, better than your grandma's incredible apple pie.  And as if the food wasn't enough, the atmosphere was very indicative of Austin.  The walls resembled Mayan ruins but had eclectic, yet chic, lighting and furnishings. The service was stellar-the bartender served me and was more than attentive and friendly. 


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