The little town of Cuetzalan, tucked away in the mountains of the state of Puebla, would never be considered a gastronomic center. However, we ate surprisingly well there.
On our first afternoon there we stopped in a little restaurant near the main church. There we both ordered the specialty of the region, something called “tlayoyos”.
“Tlayoyos” are a local variation of “tlacoyos”, a patty of corn meal stuffed with a filling and deep fried. The “tlayoyos” were served with a slice of “cecina’, salted, marinated and dried meat. The meal was very tasty.
Later that afternoon we stopped in a little bakery and bought a couple of yummy pastries.
Breakfast was included in the price of our hotel. However, the hotel did not have its own restaurant. We were given a voucher to go to a little place down the street and around the corner. The food wasn’t fancy, just typical, hearty, Mexican breakfast fare.
Behind Alejandro you can see a musician who had come in off the street to serenade the restaurant patrons. (Of course, it is expected that you give him a coin after he plays.) The fellow was playing simultaneously the guitar and panpipes. He was quite talented.
After he left, another pair of musicians came in. The guy who played the violin was atrocious; it was painful to listen to him. I joked with Alejandro, “Aren’t you glad that Ezra (his nephew) didn’t choose the violin as his instrument at school!”
At this restaurant, as well as at the place where we ate the day before, I would occasionally get a whiff of a lovely scent. At both places I realized that there was a bouquet of gardenias near us.
As I mentioned previously, the area around Cuetzalan is an important coffee growing region. So it makes sense that the town has a number of coffee houses. We went to one of them a couple of times for a bite. Alejandro said the coffee was very good. I had hot chocolate, and it too was excellent. (The place was decorated with balloons for Children’s Day.)
On one visit I had a slice of honey cheesecake. Scrumptious! (“Lindo día” means “Lovely day”.)
Late Saturday afternoon we went to a restaurant called “La Peña”. It was listed as the best in town according to TripAdvisor.
When we arrived, we were the only ones there, but before we left the place was filling up.
A cook at the “comal” (grill) prepared our appetizer of “queso fundido” (melted cheese with sausage served with hot tortillas).
Along with the appetizer we had Tarascan soup, a hearty bean soup with slices of avocado, cream and chunks of cheese. To drink we ordered a pitcher of “jamaica” (iced hibiscus tea) flavored with anise. It was exceptionally good.
For his main course, Alejandro ordered something that I would never order… Basque-style octopus. He said it was excellent.
I ordered the confit of pork rib served with peanut “mole”. It was delicious.
For dessert we shared a brownie with ice cream. The brownie was VERY chocolatey!
It was a superb gourmet meal! For the two of us, the price was around fifty U.S. dollars, which is very expensive for small-town Mexico. But a meal like that would have cost much more in the U.S. or even in Mexico City.
It’s a good thing that we got of lot of exercise walking uphill and down on the cobblestone streets of Cuetzalan!