El Camino, Ottawa

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The Sunday evening after the conclusion of the FBC Conference was a poignant one. It was like being at a family reunion and feeling so uplifted from seeing all your family but emotionally tired (from seeing all your family).

My old FBC friend Marlene had moved into my room for the night and we were like old slippers: cozy, comfortable and very, very relaxed. We chatted, spent some time on line, chatted some more and then we were faced with the most daunting decision….where to go out for dinner?  I had gotten some advice from Ottawa resident Vanessa and we got the choices down to a short list. Since we had certainly taken in more than our daily caloric content for the past couple of days, we decided on Mexican food at El Camino which included a nice long walk up and down Elgin to bookend the evening.

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A small group had gathered in front of the restaurant’s front door and we were initially concerned that there was going to be a long wait for dinner. It turned out that they were waiting on a single table to sit them all, so we were able to snag the last deuce available.

Our server had a jaunty accent and I enquired which part of Australia he came from. He replied: “New Zealand”? Oops, my mistake. He was definitely not offended and we were impressed by his jovial service style.

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We were surprised that they did not have a full array of Mexican beer available and settled for Tercate, forgoing the salted edge, but requesting lime wedges. The beverages turned out to be lovely foils to the salty chips and avocado salsa we were enjoying by that time.

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Considering ourselves food aficionados, we wanted to sample as many tastes as possible so we each ordered two tacos, creating four messy, slurp able tastes each. I chose the Japanese eggplant (I choose eggplant every single chance I get) and the cochina pibil. The latter being a favourite while travelling to Isla Mujeres as my husband and I do each year. Because the authentic Yucatan dish takes time to marinate and slow roast, the Isla locales typically share this tasty dish with island visitors on Sunday afternoons. Our server pointed out that the choice meat nuggets were taken from the face of the hog, i.e. cheeks and jowls and I knew that we were in for a treat indeed.

By my reckoning, the eggplant had been lightly dusted in flour and a pinch of sugar, producing a crunchy, moist, sweet surprise. The garnishes sealed the deal.

The meat of the cochinita pibil was packed with flavour from the marinade and the slow melting of the fat, which penetrated the meat to make every bite a delight. In Mexico they go to great lengths to produce the flavour.

Cochinita is a classic example of the fusion of early European Influences with the local Maya foods and cooking techniques. The Mayan name cochinita pibil means baby pig roasted underground. The pork was marinated with sour oranges and achiote, wrapped in banana leaves and roasted on hot stones underground. It is shredded and can be served in corn tortillas as tacos or on bolillos or rolls as sandwiches. Excerpt from the cookbook entitled: Cochina Islena

We also ordered a crispy fish taco and one other which I cannot for the life of me remember the name of. That was because Marlene and I were having such a wonderful visit, like two sisters that lived in different cities.

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When I spotted Churros on the dessert menu, I ordered them as well. One year when we spent Christmas on Isla Mujeres, we had the donut-like churros for dessert. Since they originate in Spain and Portugal, I look forward to tasting them again in an upcoming trip to Algarve in Portugal.

Kath’s quote: “Churros is the answer. Who cares what the question is.” -writer unknown

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Love never fails.

 

 

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One Comment to

“El Camino, Ottawa”

  1. Avatar November 8th, 2017 at 8:25 am Food Bloggers Canada Conference 2017-Part Three - Food Musings | Winnipeg food blog Says:

    […] Monday so good friend and fellow blogger Marlene and I became roomies and decided on supper. See El Camino link […]


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