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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mole and Duck

On our first night out, Miguel y Jorgia wanted Mexican--in particular to eat at a place that served fantastic mole sauce. Dahlia, the concierge, recommended "El Arrayan. "El vestido (dress) es muy informal", she said. So after drinks, we jumped into our shorts and tees, agreed to pay the taxi driver eighty four pesos and headed off to town.

Puerto Vallarta es muy encantador, (charming) with narrow, one car only, cobblestone streets lined with casas with brightly colored doors,shutters, thatched or tiled roofs and balconies dripping with lush tropicals. We fell in love. Then we took a left turn.

The structures up the San Francisco steep street were less romantic. I got a bit nervous. "Where the hell was this guy taking us"? Then he stopped in front of one of the houses and said,"This is it." What was it? Then I saw the small, colorful, hand painted sign "El Arrayan". We got out. As the cab drove off up the street, I worried about getting home in the dark.

My worries lifted after we walked through the small door and I saw the Arrayan tree in the center of the small open courtyard the house was built around. It was charming. It was Mexican. It was colorful. On one side of the courtyard was the bar and cocina. Around the other sides, under the protection of the tiled roof, diners sat laughing and talking and drinking. Somewhere someone was strumming a guitar. I relaxed.

The mole sauce was fabulous--so fabulous that Miguel ordered extra. The duck, the specialty of the house, was wonderful too. Not at all fatty. There was a different sauce served with that that Jorgia and I enjoyed, but Honey didn't like the taste. Instead of the sauce being sweet, like you'd expect with duck in the states, this was not. Very interesting. I couldn't guess the ingredients. Maybe a little cumin? --But not enough to make it spicy.

Also interesting were the Mexican rugs decorating the walls. They weren't the ordinary rugs vendors hawk on the streets. They were special. From the symbols, I guessed they told a story.

This story ends back at the hotel when I looked up El Arrayan in
Fodor's Vallarta 2010 and discovered it was starred "Fodor's Choice" for Mexican. I penned my star next to the travel maven's. This restaurant wasn't on either of the lists our friends had given us; it was our discovery. (Mucho gracias to Dahlia).

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