Whorebivore: More Corn Smut Fun

Written by Walmsley Apricot on . Posted in Eat & Drink, Posts.


Itzocan Bistro

1575 Lexington Ave. (btwn. E. 100 & 101st St.)

212-423-0255





I emerged from the 6-train stop and walked down Lexington Avenue past a taco truck whose aromatic night-frying made the wet air an oniony broth. Once upon a time, I would have stopped off for scrambled pork brains folded inside a tortilla with cilantro, rajas and radishes, but not since I have embarked on my pursuit of vegetarian dining. Passing by, however, I thought about how I miss cesos—not just for their unforgettable chewy texture but because when I ate them I would deliciously ponder what it means to consume the neurons that once set in motion running, squealing, eating, mating and hiding, but that in my gut were just proteins catabolizing so that I may run, squeal, eat, mate and hide.



After passing a couple bodegas, I opened the door of Itzocan Bistro, a little spot decorated with a couple of Frida portraits, a brightly painted clay Tree of Knowledge that one of the owners made as a boy in Puebla and—unlike many of the area’s other Mexican restaurants—just one neon Mexican beer sign in the window.



Itzocan’s also has more vegetarian selections than most places nearby, but it will need to refine its menu listings more before I invite my militant vegetarian comrade, El Yuyo. Or else, blood will be spilled.



More ambitiously than Itzocan Cafe, an older sister restaurant in the East Village, the bistro melds French and Mexican sabores. Unlike some other fused cuisines, none of the dishes here land with a clank. Some even sing.



A mixed greens salad ($5) was enlivened by tangy vinaigrette with crushed guajillo peppers and crisp julienned jicama, which absorbed the spiciness and made for crunchy rewards among so many leaves.



The crepes ($14) rank high among the most successful fusings I’ve had in recent times. More like wanton wrappers than thin pancakes, they sheathed wild mushrooms sautéed with earthy and gently spicy poblano, crema fresca, corn kernels and black pepper. The two tubes lay across each other in a dark, rich and silty puddle of huitalacoche exudation.



For more corn smut fun, I tried huitalacoche soufflé ($9) from the list of daily specials. It looked like an upside-down Hostess cupcake with the middle sucked out. While enjoyable with saffron toast points, I was disappointed that it lacked a liquid center. To me, that’s what makes a soufflé.



And in the case of the Queso de Cabra ($7), something was missing. Lightly seasoned with epazote and jalapeño, this goat cheese flan could have used some sauce to do for it what dulce de leche does for the classic preparation, that is to provide wetness and diversity to what otherwise is just a weighty lump.



While not every item was perfect, the vegetarian fare was generally successful, except that the menu could be clearer and the staff more knowledgeable. For my second trip, I came on a busy Saturday night and sat at a table in a narrow corridor. My entrée was the tamalitos, which were more of a matzo ball soup than mini tamales. At the end of the meal I asked the waiter what ingredients were used and he began ticking them off: semolina, hoja santa, corn, zucchini, tomato, saffron…I was surprised, I said, that it could be so hearty without meat. He chuckled and said the kitchen did in fact use chicken stock. I wondered how there could be no mention of this when the menu listed other ingredients.



I immediately thought of Capitán Segundo Yuyo and what he would have done. I can see him smiling and nodding his head; carrying on with the waiter in Spanish, holding him in place with little jokes while beneath the table he removed from his holster his Izarra pistol and screwed the silencer on. I would wave Yuyo off, but a red splotch would appear on the waiter’s apron and begin to grow like a drip of ink fallen on a page.



“Mata-aves de Mierda,” El Yuyo would say with halts between syllables and the “r” in “mierda” rolled in a way that would seem to finger the wound.



But Yuyo’s balaclava was nowhere to be seen this night. And besides, it had been a pretty good meal and the chicken stock did not hurt the soup (the hen might disagree).



Now sated, I thought of mating.



Read more reviews of vegetarian eats at Whorebivore.com

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