Mi Tierra, Hadley, MA

I ate the best Mexican food in the world this weekend and now I am scheming. I am scheming to abduct a worker from this restaurant so that they can cook for me. Because I must know the secrets to this restaurant. Erik showed me this restaurant a little while ago and now I simply can’t get enough of it. It’s just incredible, and the food couldn’t be more simple, hearty, or good for its value. And the best part is, it’s in the backwoods of Massachusetts, untouched by the rabid Smithies in Northampton or the drunken UMass kids or rowdy Mt. Holyoke girls or pretentious Amherst College students or granola-munching Hampshire hipsters. So nobody, save a few older people, knows about it.

And now all that will change.

So Mi Tierra is tiny and amazing and wonderful, and we are in love with it. We went there tonight after a healthy workout at the gym and ordered the best thing on the menu- the tacos dorados, mine with potato, Erik’s with cheese.

At the start of every meal, the lovely server, usually Dora, will bring you a massive basket of hot, homemade chips with a fresh salsa verde. The salsa verde is to die for, and I could probably drink gallons of it and not break a sweat. It’s spicy, enough to make you blush but not make you swear (out loud), and the chips are very crispy, bubbly, not oily at all and the perfect size for dipping. I wish they were a little saltier, but they bring out the salsa quite well and balance without one overpowering the other. The salsa is smooth and perfect- no chunks, just the way I like it, and is a wonderful bright green color.
Onto the entrees. We both ordered the tacos dorados, which are four corn tortillas with your choice of filling, (steak, chicken, cheese, or potato) deep fried until golden brown, covered in homemade queso and sour cream, and served with rice and beans. For years, I avoided most Mexican because rice and beans, for me, is just a side dish to be swept aside or given to someone else. It’s too goopy or too dry or too something or not something enough, but this…I’ve never had something like this, where I’ve finished the side dish before I’ve even stared at the entree. The rice is perfectly seasoned, and I usually end up pouring the extra salsa verde on it for a little more kick, and the beans are godly. They are salty and buttery and probably have pure lard in them, but taste amazing. They aren’t mushy, but are tender enough to melt in my mouth.

The tacos themselves were incredible. As I write this, I’m eating the leftovers. They are the size of a large penis, semi-erect, and taste better, too. The potatoes are spiced and crispy on the inside and tender, and the outside is smothered in freshly grated queso and sour cream. They are extremely crispy, and for being deep fried, really not all that greasy. The cheese tacos are amazing. The log of cheese inside is semi-solid and creamy, tastes fresh and has a nice bounce to it when you bite into the crispy taco. The shell stays firm around the entire thing and makes a great pocket to keep the entire thing in.
The portions are also massive. When Erik and I go, we generally order these and, though we try to finish, on an average day when we haven’t had anything else to eat, we generally end up bringing home two to four tacos to snack on later and rave about. If I kill anyone, I want to eat these when I’m brought my last meal, they’re so good. The best part, though, was that our entire meal, with drinks, (the chips are free!) came to under $20. How’s that for entirely awesome?

In short, Mi Tierra is a place where unicorns go to have their children. We’re going to camp out until they let us live there.

Chilean Sweets

Here it is, the cookie that might very well rival the Clairesquare.

I was sent two famous items from the Chilean Sweets company, out of Maine, two traditional Latin American desserts: Dulce de leche and alfajores.

Dulce de leche is that caramel sauce we all know and love. It’s paired excellently with pancakes, ice cream, and, in the case of the alfajores, cookies, but like Nutella, I ate this out of the jaw in spoonfuls. It’s an achingly sweet caramel, almost a large, soft caramel candy than a sauce, with creamy undertones from its milk base.

I made pancakes with these this morning, using the sauce in two different ways. I incorporated the sauce into the pancake batter, as a starter, and then used it as a topper. It was definitely superior as an addition to the batter, but melted nicely on top. In the batter, it caramelized the outside of my pancakes and gave them this complex, buttery, salty flavor that made them perfect without needing any topping at all. They were moister and still maintained a dignified fluffiness.

This particular sauce is so deliciously authentic. It’s a wonderful addition to any dessert, and perhaps a few savory dishes, too. I’m definitely going to use this in a baking project, as it is too good and rich to pass up.

9/10- LOVELY

The real treat in this selection were the alfajores, though. Alfajores, or the singular, alfajor, is a traditional cookie made with two graham or shortbread-like cookies, sandwiched with dulce de leche in the middle, and coated with chocolate or coconut.

These particular alfajores broke my Chilean cherry into the most indulgent and incredible cookies. They were wrapped like those little soaps you get at hotels, in dark green paper, and when I got them, were almost completely melted, but with the richness of the chocolate, peeled off the paper incredibly and just collapsed in my mouth.

Quite simply, they’re one of the most amazing treats.

The cookie base is soft, but holds up to itself, like a graham, as it’s eaten. The chocolate keeps it firm and inside, just before it completely collapses in on itself. The dulche in the middle is perfect, and regardless of the temperature, the cookie melts in your mouth.

The chocolate on the outside is a fine chocolate, that coats the cookie entirely, not a bare spot to be found, and encases it entirely. The dessert is rich and large and can easily be split with two people.

10/10- AMAZING

Chilean Sweets

Wow, two tens in two days. Send me crap, people. I have to keep up my image, here.