CALL ME SWEET POTATO PRINCESS - I was having dinner with my friend Hunter White the other day, explaining my family tree and he very seriously looked at me and said: “Oh. Yes. I know what...
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Cemitas y Clayudas Pal Cabron:Girls, Girls, Girls!!
If you've ever watched variety shows, gossip shows,talk shows, or sketch comedy on Mexican television before, Cemitas y Clayudas Pal Cabron will put a grin on your face. The menu oozes of Mexican pop culture symbols and comedic representations of the curvaceous latinas from El Gordo y La Flaca, Escandalo TV, Sabado Gigante, Siempre en Domingo, or the catwalk of Muevete.
Pal Cabron specializes in cemitas, the distinguished sandwich from the state of Puebla,and clayudas, the pizzaesque, thin, crispy tortilla covered with various toppings, a typical food of Oaxaca.
The restaurant has more than two dozen cemitas, the most classic being the cemita de milanesa(breaded chicken), known as La Tetanic.
The buxom caricature of La Tetanic on Pal Cabron's wall is a likeness of the real Tetanic, Roxanna Martinez,the bodylicious blonde in this video from La Hora Pico.All her components:pounded thin milanesa,house baked bread, firm avocado, Oaxacan string cheese bikini, perky papalo, and sensual,smoky chipotle.
Other cemitas include La cachonda(nasty girl), the kind of girl you don't take home to meet "la abuela", made with pickled leg of steer,and La Tuya(yo' momma), served any way you like.
I attended the opening of Cemitas y Clayudas owned by young entrepreneurs,siblings Bricia and Fernando Lopez, heirs the Guelaguetza restaurant empire, and proud Oaxaquenos.On that evening we got to try every cemita on their menu, and some savory clayudas.This was a blogger event. I had just met Bricia a short time before, but was completely struck by her passion for culture and drive to make the best cemita on the planet.
Everyday detail and menu item is given its due consideration.Even the micheladas, the Mexican beer cocktails, have a punch of hometown Oaxacan style. Gusano de maguey(the agave caterpillars) is ground up in the mix along with the common Worcestershire, salt, lime, and edgy chile piquin.It's the classic michelada turned up to eleven!So, Salud!And, let's go check out these girls.
Pal Cabron's walls are decorated with the the single "leidys". You already saw La Tetanic(Teta+Titanic),here she is with La Bronca, spicy shredded pork loin.
La Brava, is a cemita of marinated pork, La Chirris(the cherry),fine Oaxacan pork chorizo, and La Mas Cabrona(dumb blonde)is stacked with beef milanesa, head cheese, and a chingo de aguacate(a whole lotta f%$#@ing avocado,vato).
And, Las Reinas,owner Bricia Lopez with Zocalo's Dulce Vasquez on opening night.
Cemitas are popular in Los Angeles, and Angelinos, as folks all over Mexico, know to get their cemitas from genuine Poblanos(people from Puebla),but every now and then there are exceptions to the rule.Most foodies have their favorite cemitas truck, stand, or restaurant already well staked out.Mi compa, Javier Cabral and I were not completely sold on these cemitas when the place first opened, eventhough we had become close friends with the Lopez family.We thought there were some kinks to be worked out, but I had the feeling that Bricia and Fernando weren't going to rest until they had the sandwich they wanted.
I happened to have my first euphoric cemita experience at a market in Puebla this past August, which gave me a new appreciation for this regal sandwich.
Bricia had sent her baker to Puebla to study bread making before the restaurant opened, and tracked down quality, authentic ingredients, a talent that runs in the family.She even donned an apron and experimented with the bread making herself.Recently,Bricia's restless quest found her back in Puebla on a cemita reconaissance mission. Let me tell you, don't let the slender frame fool you, Bricia can put a food crawling blogger to shame by her metabolic prowess.
I was able to check in on her progress last month, after Bricia's genuine efforts to improve her cemitas, and it was obvious when the Pueblan prize arrived at our table that a transformation had occured. I was seeing the presentation and form I had experienced in Puebla. An improved sesame seed bun, offerings of quesillo(Oaxacan string cheese) or panela, chipotle or pickled red jalapeno on the side, and a tasty, thin milanesa, formed by the domestic violence of a heavy rolling pin.
The Lopez family restaurants boast the only legal quesillo in town and Cemitas y Clayudas has house made chipotles in adobo. They are served on the side just like they are in Puebla, but do indulge, it's not everyday that you get to have the real deal. The actual chile flavor is much more pronounced, and complex.
It wouldn't be proper for a Lopez to forget Oaxaca, so along with Puebla's cemitas you get the ultimate Oaxacan party platter, the clayuda. The cluyudas are smeared with asiento(pork lard), and traditionally adorned with black beans,cabbage, quesillo, queso fresco, and the Oaxacan power trio of tasajo(cured beef), cecina enchilada(chile rubbed pork), and plump Oaxacan pork chorizo.Have one, two, or heap all three on to your clayuda.
A purple corn clayuda was available on my last visit, with deep,dark corn flavors. There seems to be a surprize on every visit.
I've watched this restaurant grow up in front of my very eyes since it opened this past summer.The cemitas here are excellent, and the dedication to excellence at Cemitas y Clayudas permeates every aspect of the restaurant. It'a little bit Puebla and a little bit Oaxaca. It's a theme restaurant like you'd find in Mexico City, full of racy humor, but also a nod to Mexican-American culture.
The spirit of Pal Cabron is plastered on the walls and in the teasing bathroom characters, but beind the counter and at the cemita station is a serious restaurant committed to bringing authentic Mexican food to Los Angeles.
Cemitas y Clayudas Pal Cabron
2560 East Gage Avenue
Huntington Park, CA 90255
323 277 9899