I love mole. My grandmother Lupe always made the best. To have that plate of mole, rice and beans placed in front of me was always a special treat. I would carefully squeeze lemon on my mole and take that first chocolatey, spicy and tangy taste. Pure umami and pure bliss. I would sit there and just let the flavors explode on my tongue. There is nothing in terms of food that gets me as excited as a good homemade mole.
My grandmother made other types of mole too. Green, yellow, red, with chocolate, without chocolate, with chicken, with pork, with vegetables…they were all delicious, but my favorite was the chocolatey one with that bright citrus tang. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water.
Recently, Alan Ishii and I were given the opportunity to attend the Feria de los Moles 2015 Press Event. Mole, you say? I’m there, even if I have to take a day off work. We headed down to a little restaurant on Pico, Expresion Oaxaquena and almost as soon as we got there, were hit with an explosion of color as we saw the matachines unloading their costumes from their van.
Inside, there was a table heavily laden with moles of all types and yes, a bowlful of chapulines aka grasshoppers. I was in heaven. Yes, they are bugs and yes they are delicious. Think of spicy, smokey popcorn and you have the taste of those grasshoppers in that bowl. YUM.
Alan and I couldn’t stop taking pictures*…at least until we sat down to eat. Then it was all we could do to remember to photograph the food because it was so beautifully prepared and delicious. We forced ourselves though. We ate vegetarian mole with nopales (cactus) that had a distinctly floral flavor. Chef Jose (Pepe) Cepeda, from Puebla, said that it contained no grease or lard and surprisingly no bread or tortilla to thicken it. “Just a little olive oil”, he said. “Spices, chocolate, nuts (walnuts, peanuts and almonds), sesame seed, chiles and cacao. We had a very rare and seasonal mole – the mole de caderas, which is goat meat in mole and it is slightly reminiscent of birria, another goat dish. We were treated to green mole with chicken, red mole with beef and a dark Oaxacan mole with pork. All of it was delicious and just a small taste of what would be plated at the Feria de los Moles, now in its eighth year held at Olivera Street on October 3-4th.
Another favorite of mine were the tamal y mole cupcakes by DTLA cupcake shop Viva los Cupcakes. They were absolutely delicious. A tamale flavored cake topped with mole frosting and sprinkled with sesame seeds was a perfect end to the meal, though Alan and I could have eaten several. I’m still dreaming of those cupcakes and wishing for rainy days so I could have them with a nice cup of champurrado.
We saw some beautiful jewelry creations too by Monica Duarte. The mole necklace was one that incorporated the ingredients used to make mole made in a clay mold. Each piece of the necklace was hand painted. The other necklace that caught my attention was one showcasing traditional Mexican artisanas (or crafts). There were little ollas and other tools so familiar to me that I loved in instantly. The same type of clay mold was used to make those pieces as well.
If you missed it this year, put it on your calendar now because if what I tasted was any indication, next year’s Feria de los Moles is going to be absolutely delicious.
*Photos were taken by myself and Alan Ishii using the following devices: Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy Edge 6+, iPhone 6+ and an Olympus DSLR camera.