In all honesty, most of us go to Cosmology on the Beach (CotB) for the cosmology part, but one may seriously wonder how the participating number would change if the organizers took out the beach part. (And I said “most” because a few of the conference attenders here bring along children, who will definitely become cosmologists one day if they play at CotB today. ) Now I certainly can live without the beach, the waves are alluring but the sand is not, but I might just punch a baby seal if the free dining were taken out of the package. Yesterday we took full advantage of the room service and Oceana. Today… well the nice thing about eating is that everyday you can start anew.
Four hours of lecture begin at 8:30 am, with plenty of soft drinks, milk, coffee, sweet pastries, no meat however, and bottled water on the tables. When the clock ticks near 1 pm, the brain is saturated with graphs and equations, some of which are secretly disposed in lieu of thoughts for food. Less than 15 minutes after Oliver Zahn gives his concluding line on CMB lensing, the crowd has shifted from Conference Room A to World Cafe.
Supposedly it’s a buffet of international cuisines, but few things are not associated with Mexican food: stir fried noodle, stir fried vegetable in brown sauce, macaroni and cheese, and California rolls. The rest is primarily meat: grilled pork chop, flank steak, fried chicken, et cetera.
The more interesting selection is rather limited, but every one of it is worth the bite. The chicken on a corn flour tortilla-like shell is messy and filling; the simple-looking pastry square tastes like cheese pizza but flaky like a patechaud and has shrimp bits for surprise; a batter-fried bundle made of thin sheets of crab meat is refreshingly succulent; and the flank steak roll with cabbage in the middle is the savoriest of all.
The colorful dessert array has very handsome chunks of chocolate Swiss roll, which I resist in order to try a chocolate chip cupcake-like kolache adorned with a kiwi slice…
“We’ll get some veggie at dinner,” I tell myself. Wishful thinking. I wander alone trying to find the Italian restaurant Portofino, but end up in front of El Patio, a casual dinner spot for Mexican specialties. Two months ago I would have continued on my quest for Portofino, but the scrumptious tacos at Tacubaya have changed Mai; besides, how can I be a proper foodie without trying Mexican food while staying in Mexico?
Likewise, the three authentic grandma’s recipe basket tacos, each with a different filling: chicken, beef, and mash potato, prove themselves worthy of being in the authentic section at a tourist resort. The chicken, sweetened by a chocolate sauce, ranks the best, and the potato comes close in second if you wait until it cools.
The entree, guaranteed by our friendly waiter as “not at all spicy,” jumps out to me as the most authentic and exotic on the menu: veal mixiote – a pit barbecued chunk soaked in Guajillo chile sauce and wrapped in blue agave cactus leaf.
Unfortunately, the veal is rather too salty and the bare meat dish does not match my expectation. feeling bad about leaving half of the veal on plate, I sheepishly ask our waiter to recommend a dessert.
He says with utmost immediacy and certainty: “Creme brulee.” So be it, a creme brulee with lychee and passion fruit. There is no visible passion fruit, but the burn caramel bits give a wonderful accent to the creamy bowl, and like always, I save the lychee for last.
More Puerto Vallarta:
Dreams & Conference – Day 1, dinner at Oceana