Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas Mole - from the Blue Tortilla, New Hope, PA

The implications of dining out in the information age hit home this week. We had a day out to take our kids, and  our niece and nephew out to wander around New Hope, PA, see a few sights, and take the kids on a holiday-themed train ride on the town's old-style historic railroad. Afterwards, we were hungry, and looking for something a little more interesting than pizza and fish sticks to eat. We found our way to a cozy little Mexican restaurant named "the Blue Tortilla" that seemed to have promise...

As the sign promised, this was the place to go for authentic Mexican food. Service was quick and friendly, and the staff took it in stride when we walked in with a large party with several children. They did the right thing, and took the kids food order immediately along with the drinks- and the kids food arrived nice and early, so we didn't have any serious public meltdowns. The menu was focused and just about the right length. There was enough variety for everyone, but not a bewildering array of choices. It was clear they knew what their specialties were, and how to highlight them.

The real question was what to order. While we debated (everything looked good on paper). That's when a random diner decided to have a conversation with the host a few feet away from me. This random diner felt that he absolutely had to tell the staff that the Mole sauce was the best he's had, and also made it a point that he's tried a lot of Mole all over the state... I caught part of the host's response- the Mole was their own original recipe and they were apparently very proud of it. This got my attention, so out came the smartphone, and I checked out what people were saying on yelp... nearly everyone agreed that the Mole was great, and so was their guacamole... so that pretty much said it all, I ordered a plate of chicken enchiladas smothered in the Blue Tortilla's private Mole sauce.

I was not disappointed, the mole sauce was a complex brew, with smoky notes, a good dose of heat that sneaks up on you, and the right amount of chocolate to bring it all together. It really wouldn't matter what was on that plate - as long as it was drenched in that deep, dark, earthy sauce. Mexican food is supposed to be about simple, quality, fresh ingredients served simply with a great sauce. Blue Tortilla truly delivered.

The whole experience didn't just turn me on to a place that knows how to make a killer Mole- it highlighted something that I, strangely considering what I do for both a day job and for a hobby, have not fully embraced yet- the role of the internet in the dining experience. Choosing a restaurant can now be a fully interactive experience- that really hit home this week. We've all seen food shows where a blogger has a shot at determining a new restaurant's fate- blogging from their table in real time to potentially thousands of followers. Mobile technology (smartphones) has really turned dining and food blogging into a true interactive experience. It's something I've known for a long time, but never really appreciated the impact until now- a matter of seconds and I was able to home in on the house specialty without even asking anyone- had I chosen to, I could've been writing and publishing a review before the table was bussed. It's a very different world than it was even 10 years ago.

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