Before working in the US, I used to not care for Mexican food. Then suddenly, I was introduced to a dizzy new array of Mexican dishes that keep influencing our choice for good, delicious food. We had a HVAC guy come in to adjust our thermostat and furnace. Being from Mexico, I thought I would strike up a conversation about my favourite subject – food. I asked about Mariscos, namely pulpos and whether or not he eats it. He replied ‘Si Senor, I love it too!’. You can’t never be sure what the reaction will be when you ask someone whether they eat octopus or not. I know my friend Brent from Simi Valley would grimace if I asked him. It is an acquired taste for sure. Some people don’t like the texture but I liking tako sushi, I love octopus braised in whatever sauce there is. Fernando told me the best Mexican restaurant he and his family goes to, is El Campanario in Indio.
His directions to me was to drive down Fred Waring (ie. eastward) towards Indio. After Hoover, Fred Waring becomes 44th Avenue. Before the overpass (which is Monroe St), make a left turn on 44th Avenue. If you go straight and reach Monroe, you have gone past it. On 44th Avenue, follow the street towards the overpass. Make a right into the parking lot and El Campanario is right there.
My favourite dish is called the molcajete which really translates into the container to which the dish comes in. When served, it is like eating a stew out of a mortar and pestle material bowl. The one I really enjoy is called ‘mar y tierra‘ and it contains large prawns, asada meat, ranchero cheese, nopal asado (or cactus leaf) and stalks of scallions. There are a number of other combinations such as the one with quail. My wife really took to the ranchero cheese, later finding out from the waiter that they substituted the cheese with Queso Fresco, a Mexican cheese that you can find in places like Gardenas. My wife compared the texture to tofu and you know, it does have the same consistency when you soak it in a stew.
I enjoy the sauce which is like a thick, (temperature) hot salsa with flavours of roasted tomatoes, chilies, cilantro and spices. It truly is mouthwatering and satisfying for the hungry man and woman who is looking for a hearty meal and taste. We have since returned to El Campanario to enjoy their menu. I haven’t found the need to try something else but I will and will return to tell you all about it.
Have you tried molcajete in your neck of the woods? If so, I would love to hear about it. And if any of you know how to make the sauce, please share it with me.