In the first couple months of a wonderful 28+ year conversation about food that I’ve been carrying on with my best friend, we discussed the concept or phenomenon of “involuntary butt wiggles.” This phenomenon occurs when folks whose lives pivot on the creation and consumption of food chance upon something that tastes so exceptionally good that they squirm with un-self conscious and nearly orgasmic delight. It’s not planned, it’s not deliberate, and it can’t be faked, not really.
I give you this expository overview so you grasp how I spent more than an hour of my last night in Mexico. The adverbs “happily,” gleefully,” and “blissfully” do not suffice, but they act as signposts for that indescribable state I occupied. Holy mother of Mole, this was incredible, and the fact I saved it for last constituted a happy accident. I’d previously made a reservation to eat at Nudo Negro several nights ago, but changed it due to post-ambulatory fatigue. I don’t even know if if could have appreciated it adequately that night. At least yesterday, I enjoyed a two hour rest from my peregrinations.
Let’s stop for a minute and examine what I’ve told you. Essentially, I situated pure bliss in the conditional context of having rested before I ate. As an unconditional and ecstatic (if not Dionysian) lover of food, you might expect me to argue that if the food is that good, if it’s intrinsic brilliance shines that brightly, however I’m feeling in that moment should not matter — the food will triumph!
My answer is muddied (or nuanced) by my practical experience. Yes, the food will be that good. Great even. Unequivocally. But this post — and this entire travelogue — chronicles my personal experience of food, of journeys, of art, and history. So, lamentably, I must admit that my contextual State in the moment affects my ability to succumb to involuntary butt wiggles. And that brings me to last night.
Nudo Negro, a Mexican/Asian fusion in Roma Norte, plays excellent blues and old fashioned rock (think Neil Young, Stones, and Santana, but don’t insult them by calling them ‘classic’) in a subdued, but not too-dim-to-read lighting. They have a fine a la carte menu, but I opted for the tasting menu, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did. It was the perfect coda for this fantastic voyage of a birthday celebration.
I do not exaggerate when I State that Nudo Negro numbers among the 3 best restaurants I have ever dined at in my entire life. I will not list or describe everything I ate, but I will touch on a few highlights that floored me.
To begin with, I was asked by my server to step up to the kitchen where, after a very Japanese style rousing exhortation by the line staff, a thirty something woman took a small wooden bowl and a pestle in hand. In the bowl, she mixed a pinch of queso fresco; a spoonful of beef bone marrow; ground achecuade (sp?) Chili pepper, and one or two flavors I couldn’t identify. She gently pounded these into a paste and handed the wooden bowl to me. Neither very spicy nor strong, it nevertheless made my head swim because it was so fucking perfect. Not a little okay.
It was just so fucking perfect.
As she stood there watching me eat her gustatory concerto, I had the funny feeling I had been asked to take my clothes off on stage at the Met while an audience came ready to see La Traviata or Aida. It should say something about this amuse-bouche that I didn’t mind. I could see she was as happy to watch me enjoy her work as I would have been, had the roles been reversed.
Other highlights included oysters on the half shell with sambal sauce, beef marrow, and wasabi. That made my vision grow fuzzy, it was also perfect. But no more so than the lime soup with kaffir lime leaves, ginger, dashi, and Succulent shrimp dumplings.
On a spectacular note, a bone was brought on a grill, sage burning beneath it. In a basket was a single corn tortilla. A separate bowl had a smoky Chili salsa. The server used tongs to hold the bone above the tortilla and use a chopstick to prise loose the reduced beef jus seasoned with thyme, lemon, and Morin vinaigrette before spooning the salsa over it.
I have never had a taco this good. I mean, never. In. My. Life.
The duck dumplings with julienned spring vegetables went head to head with the jerk pork spare-rib for stronger tasting miracles, but the dessert, a green tea flan with lemon balm sorbet was perfectly quiet and light of texture after that parade of sheer gustatory brilliance. I’ve never had a meal like that in my fifty one years on this planet.
You want involuntary butt wiggles?
I had whole body tremors of unrehearsed joy.
The constant flow of limonadas refreshed without spoiling or overloading the palette.
If you’re one of those folks who can afford to get on a plane, fly to another country, just to enjoy one meal, please make it the tasting menu at Nudo Negro. You’ll thank yourself.