Too Much Mole?

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Those looking for a change of pace from Oaxaca’s (delicious) traditional food might consider heading to Gourmand Delicatessen, located at the corner of Allende and Porfirio Diaz. Dick Rothschild offers his review of Gourmand below.

Oaxacan cuisine is extraordinary, verdad! But after you’ve indulged yourself in delicious moles,  tlayudas, tamales, and Oaxacan string cheese for a while you may get a craving for good old, back- home deli. When you do, it’s time to head for Gourmand, as close as you’ll get to your hometown delicatessen in Oaxaca.  Though getting there is pretty easy from Santo Domingo – only a couple of blocks away, Gourmand can be tricky to find because it has no sign outside. Go west on Allende two blocks to its intersection with Porfirio Diaz. Gourmand is on the southeast corner of the intersection. The address is Allende 215D. And don’t worry about getting there too late because it’s open Monday to Saturday from 9 AM until 1 AM.

Inside you’ll find a deli on steroids: a cool white interior of connected rooms with high ceilings, clever wall decorations and lighting fixtures and, of course, refrigerated glass cases displaying meats, cheeses, and salads. If you are in a group you can settle in at one of the long wooden tables, but if you stroll in on your own you might prefer to cozy up to one of the wall-mounted sliced tree trunks which serve as small tables. It won’t be long before one of the welcoming staff offers you a menu so you can explore Gourmand’s offerings.

You’ll find lots of familiar items such as a Reuben, Roast Beef, Ham and Swiss, Melted Cheese or Chicken Salad Sandwich. There are also Bagels with Cream Cheese, Salami or Prosciutto, soups and salads.  Some offerings you wouldn’t be likely to find your local deli back home include: wines, beers, Ginger Beer and a non-alcoholic Mojito (the very thought might make Ernest Hemingway roll over in his grave). Prices are modest considering the quality. I settled for a bagel with cream cheese and (gravlax) salmon, garnished with capers and onion for 60 pesos and a glass of Ginger Beer, an additional 25 pesos. Delicioso!  My wife opted for a plate of tapas consisting of cheeses and meats served hot on herbal bread and a bottle of Jabali artisanal beer with a menacing bull on the label.

Gourmand was opened six years ago by Nicole Woodward, and her lifetime and business partner, Rodrigo Olivo. They met in Oaxaca in 2005 when Nicole, who was then attending the University of Wisconsin, came to Oaxaca for a year to study Spanish. The Delicatessen is an Olivo family enterprise involving both of Rodrigo’s parents. They cure their own meats, make their own serrano hams and sausages, and brine their own pickles. Not long ago, Rodrigo and Nicole started up a nano brewery next door called La Santisima Flor De Lupo,  which has proven very popular with locals and gringos alike. Brews are available in the deli on tap and in bottles to take home.

And here’s a final tip. After you leave Gourmand, continue south on the east side of Porfirio Diaz just past its intersection with Matamoros to Boulenc (Porfirio Diaz 222-A). There you’ll find a tiny but extraordinary bakery. Out of its ovens come delicious artisanal sourdough breads, croissants, baguettes, brioche, ciabatta and pan au chocolat – as well as sandwiches and more, but I am going to leave that for you to discover.

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