Wednesday, October 22, 2008

UPDATE: Rocio No Longer at this Restaurant: The art of Rocio Camacho at Moles La Tia

Update: Rocio Camacho is no longer at Moles la Tia******as of September 2009***

The ancho chile flan
India Paxcana, nopales with panela cheese

Pistachio mole at La Tia

The pride of the Mixteca region, mancha manteles(table-cloth stainer mole)

Tortillas de maiz, made with the hands of Rocio Camacho

I first read about Moles La Tia here by a poster who steered me to Javier's blog, a Pleasure Palate member known as the Teenage Glutster.Then Abby went down with her Pleasure Palate group and did an excellent right up, which I also kept in my head.When Javier mentioned mancha manteles(table-cloth stainer) was served at La Tia,one of the 7 sacred moles of Oaxaca and of the Mixteca region. I had to come ASAP and tonight I got my chance.Thanks Javier and Abby for the find and the reporting.

I brought a group out tonight for a taste of La Tia.Rocio Camacho is Mixteca, a native group that ruled areas of Puebla, Guerrero, and the highlands of Oaxaca.A fierce and independent people that resisted the Mexica ruled Aztec empire, and later held off the Spaniards until they got help to brutally put down the Mixtecas.These proud and artful people recently were behind the teacher uprising in Oaxaca and have given us Lila Downs.True to her Mixteca blood, Rocio is independent, artistic, soulful, and deeply rooted in her heritage.

Above all, Rocio is dedicated to cooking with real ingredients and evokes profound flavor from all she touches.Mixteca is about chiles and grains, says Rocio.She considers mole the first food of Mexico, when the native ingredients and traditions blended with those of the Spanish, realized in a convent in Puebla, the birthplace of mole poblano.

We started with a tasting of the moles available today, she is always changing.
Traditional moles:moles found in different parts of Mexico, but with Rocio's own take.
Mole Principal ingredients
Vela de Novia-white chile, white wine,and pine nuts
Pipian Rojo-pumpkin seed in red chile mole
Pipian Verde-pumpkin seeds in green chile mole
Rocio's originalsTequila-Lime
Espina de Rosa-beet, red wine, and jamaica
Frutas Dulces-passionfruit

The aguas frescas of the day were pepino(cucumber) and horchata(rice), both all natural and among the best I've had either side or the border.Rocio's flavor shines in every aspect of her food from agua fresca to moles.A pure of chayote was the starter, a soup with chayote flavors so profound and perfectly seasoned.I love the chayote and have had it many ways, but this is an all time best.Each mole we tasted was inventive and unique in flavoring, I adored them all, but mancha manteles was on the mind.

I ordered a nopales salad with grilled panela to start, the India Paxcana, a cool cactus salad with a light vinagrete, and the elegant panela to make the perfect salad.Rocio left a little of the natural texture of the nopal to give it extra sheen and a pulque like sensation in texture.Then, the mancha manteles, imported chihuasqle chiles from Oaxaca, with smoky, dense flavors I've not encountered in these parts, served with rice , pineapple, and plantain, as tradition beseeches.This dish is off the charts.Additionally, a friend ordered the mole poblano, Rocio's nod to the original mole of Mexico.

The presentation was beautiful, everyone loved this place, and Rocio has the warmth and passion to match her incredible gift.On another note, oh, she just makes the best corn tortillas in town, from scratch.I haven't seen a bright yellow corn tortilla ever in LA, only when I go to Mexico.You can eat these things by themselves, the only reason you don't is because the food is too good.These tortillas are so good that if I brought them to my Mexican grandmother she'd slap me.

The dessert! Flan infused with ancho chile, just tingles the tongue with the subtle flavor of ancho chile beneath the delicious sweetness of a crafted flan.The flan de cafe was excellent, too.
Rocio told me that she is making a special mole for Dia de Los Muertos, and in two weeks, a mole made with huitlacoche!!!!! I will be back for this.I will be back for the mancha manteles, the tortillas, the sabor mixteca, and the skill and magic of Rocio Camacho.This is the best Oaxacan restaurant in LA, this is alta cocina, this is your mole dreams come true.The art of Oaxacan and Mixteca cuisine has a champion in Rocio, and if the other Oaxacan chefs in LA come by for a visit they will either retreat in shame, or be inspired to raise their standards.

Moles La Tia
4619 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90022
Tel. 323 263-7tia(842)
Fax. 323 263-5308
Open from 8:00am to 8:30pm

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