Monday, October 4, 2010

El Marichi Loco, Hammonton

Good Mexican is pretty much a requirement for any trip to America as far as I'm concerned. One time I went to Napa Valley for a business trip, an offsite. I got to the resort about 5 hours before I needed to attend the first event and, reasoning that good Mexican is available anywhere in California, set off on foot to find the nearest one. Only took about 20 minutes before I came upon a place where they didn't speak English and looked at me suspiciously. Happy times.

There was no such drama concerned with the Wacko Mariachi here. It's just that when Mom and Dad and I made the big trip down to Hammonton the week before to go another bluegrass pickin' party, I saw this place from the window, its Grand Opening flags still festively a-flyin', and I thought "Boy, I'd like to go there." As fate would have it, Carson and I drove through on our way to various guitar stores and the obligatory lobster dinner at the shore, and I said "Ohhhhh, we can manage a light lunch."

Personally I think this is a good sign - there are places that do the festive Mexican thing to death, but this is the right mix for me. They're making an effort, but not so much that it looks like they invested their money in native attire and tacky paintings when they could have been roasting the hogs a bit longer.

They're making an effort to stock pretty much the whole fridge with real Mexican beverages, like a full range of Jarrito's. I had the tamarind one, but it just tasted like sugar water.

That may have been because everything in this place tasted so damn good. From the first bite of salsa, we were looking at each other and saying hoo haa.  The red-brown one is chipotle-based, and foo was it good, but you know it's a given that I like anything smoked or smoky-tasting. The green one was spicy-spicy and herby and fresh, and why can't I get salsa to taste like this at home? The chips were even good.

Enchiladas, my friend. Enchiladas. This is the first time I ever had mole that tasted like chocolate. Usually places call it mole (and I hope you're mentally inserting the accent marks here, thanks) and it just tasted brown. This really tasted like chocolate, in the best possible way.

And these boys really tasted like pork, in the best possible way. There's not much point going on about how good this tasted, or how much I loved this place. I couldn't even explain it to the waitress. I was dying to tell her this seemed like the best food I'd ever eaten, but given our prior linguistic difficulties, and those we had also experienced at the deep, deep Mexican store we had wandered into in search of Western shirts (successful, by the way), I was tongue tied. And this wasn't even pork tongue.

I see now that there's no link available. It's on the main street in Hammonton. You won't miss it. Looks just like the picture.

I've already done pictures of lobsters and stuff, so let me just say that we went down to Sunset Beach before dinner to look at the wreckage of the concrete ship. It was blowin' like a Bowen out there.

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