Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen

Wouldn’t you order the enchiladas if it is in the restaurant’s name? One would think so, but I am very picky with my enchiladas. I like them very simple, and in Texas they usually have far too much sauce and lack the raw onions. I would almost rather make one of the wonderful recipes in Diana Kennedy‘s book, The Cuisines of Mexico.

Fajitas are another thing I’m particular about. Restaurant fajitas too often taste too strongly of whatever they were marinated in to tenderize them. I don’t mind tough fajitas. I’m demanding about tortilla soup also. I like a soft, clear chicken broth with a few strings of chicken, and plenty of lime, avocado, and tortillas, very simple.

So what did I order and did I like it? I got an appetizer, the white cheese, a block the size of two decks of cards, served on corn tortilla crisps with a little ice cream scoop of guacamole, and another of pico de gallo (tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeño). It was delicious. The cheese had been charred, only slightly melted, for this was how this cheese behaves. It was soft and tender, the perfect foil for the stronger sauces.

This white cheese reminded me of a lunch we had with Rita, Stefano and Claudia the last time we were in Florence. It was in a hidden place not far from the Specola, down an alley, around a corner, up a set of stairs to a back room. The server rattled off the primi from which we chose and one was “cacia” the name for a simple white cheese, served like meat, and a course on its own. I had never heard cheese called that before, and ordered it. Delicious in an understated way.

Back on this side of the Atlantic at Sylvia’s, the others got enchiladas and they looked great. Besides, the tortilla chips were crisp and if you asked they brought a great habanero salsa.

By the way, we sat outside in the hot Houston night air, avoiding the chatter, bright lights, and artificial chill inside.IMG_2544.JPG

My delicious cheese.

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Dave’s more traditional enchiladas.

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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