Cabrito & Topo Chico

Monterrey is navigable and easy to get around. Taxis whiz by every few minutes and chirp like the initial “woop” of a police siren to get your attention. The Metro runs both above and below ground, and is free every Sunday. Rush hour traffic results in creative driving, but somehow the buses, cars and pedestrians all seem to coexist and get to their destinations. Mexican traffic lights do have one advantage over their American counterparts: the green light flashes before it turns yellow. This way everyone knows to speed up and get through before it turns red.

The arc in the photo forces traffic to fork and go either through or around. Buses don’t slow down for this challenge, swerving with impressive speed to avoid a collision with the arch.

Twice we have stumbled into La Siberia for lunch. It has a bustling, cafeteria-like atmosphere. The choices here are tostadas, tacos and chicken soup. For about $2.50 you can get the lunch pictured here: a bowl of soup with your choice of breast or leg with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. The chicken leg in that bowl of soup certainly came from well-exercised (and probably old) chicken. The leg was skinny and the meat was dark, chewy and flavorful, in a way that I’ve never tasted in even free-range, organic chickens in the U.S.

We also enjoyed a chicken tostada with a thick layer of guacamole, shredded chicken breast and crema. (Avoid the taco. It’s the same filling as the tostada, but in a greasy tortilla). Our new favorite beverage is Topo Chico – a sparkling mineral water made in the region. It is especially effervescent, and I’m going to rely on it to avoid a Coca-Cola addiction on my travels.

One thing I like about Mexican restrooms in casual restaurants: the sink for washing your hands is separate from the actual toilet, and often located in public view of the restaurant. You’ll never wonder if someone washed their hands again….

For dinner we took a recommendation from hotel staff for cabrito. Cabrito is a regional specialty, and several restaurants in town such as “El Gran Pastor” and “El Rey de Cabrito” specialize in skewering and roasting an entire baby goat on rebar over open pits. You choose the cut you’d like, and it comes with chips, salsa, tortillas, beans, crispy pita-like tortillas, a bean dip and a salad bar. I was especially excited to see cooked broccoli, cauliflower and beets on a salad bar decorated with illuminated rock crystals. Salad is common here, but I’m still wary of eating uncooked vegetables of unknown origin.

Goat meat has a special flavor and smell. The outermost layer was crispy, the outer bits of meat were dry and chewy, and the inner bits tender and delicious. Perhaps not for everyone but we enjoyed it. We did the math on 8 servings per goat and estimated that it’s possible they go through 8,000 or more goats per year at this large restaurant. A several course meal for two at El Gran Pastor was about $36. After dinner, a trio began playing music to the beat of a drum machine. The view from the highway on our ride home included many soccer games on lit-up fields and a go-kart race track that intrigued John.

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2 Comments

  1. Jeannie said,

    January 25, 2010 at 3:55 am

    So excited ou got there and that you finally are blogging….. can’t wait to hear more!!!
    Love ya both
    Jeannie

  2. Ed said,

    February 7, 2010 at 1:02 am

    HI john and amy,

    you two are lucky you only had two days in a row of rain. It’s been raining in Fort Bragg for weeks without ever having two days in a row that it didn’t rain. For that matter we haven’t had a whole day that it didn’t rain on.

    thanks for sending your blog address to us. I love your photos. Have a safe and happy journey. I think it’s great that you two are able to have such an adventure. Make sure you get to yucatan and see the ruins there.


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