Top Chef Cactus

Josh Brusin

September 16 2009 - 9:59 PM

Chicago restaurants are the gifts that keep on giving. Top Chef is the show which reinforces that. Tonight chefs were challenged with cooking cactus. Not only have I f*ed up cactus in the kitchen a few times, (purchased 2 blocks away at the Devon Market for literally 2 bits) but I've had it at several Mexican restaurants, ordered usually by mistake.

I don't know if I really love it but as you've maybe read the post about pulque, I'm always into something different. I was secretly hoping someone would do a cactus-salt shot with tequilla… not quite a dish but what's the worst that would happen? You don't get fifteen grand? Well, okay I guess.

La Oaxaqueña (and you think XOCO is hard to pronounce?) has a good grilled cactus appetizer – nopalitos. I often order it confusing nopalitos, or nopales, with with En Nogadas style relleños… the creamy walnut/pomegranate Mexican Independence Day dish.

In any case I find myself shaking my head. First there was that British food critic who never had mole…? I mean really. It's the best sauce this side of Moghul cooking! But then again have the British been renowned as foodies? They did occupy India and that obviously was for the food so 'I say!' I guess you have Gordon Ramsay but he's always shouting about undercooked wellingtons or overcooked john dory. Simple ingredients is so 1995.

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