8 a.m. Under normal circumstances, following an evening of indulgences, I seek a simple breakfast of fibrous cereal and fresh fruit. For me, balance is key to resting my taste buds and maximizing the enjoyment of meals taken outside the home.
It was clear from the get-go that the circumstances surrounding the Baja culinary blitz were anything but normal. The morning after stuffing our faces for twelve hours straight, we dug into a meaty heap of lamb and Mexican-style Haggis. It seems that my dear friend Balance was left at the border and would not be retrieved until I returned to American soil. I didn’t miss her one bit!
Victor Emanuel Torres (pictured above) is the proud owner of Barbacoa “Ermita,” the site of our first meal on day two of the Baja culinary blitz. A native of Hidalgo, Torres specializes in barbecue from his home state.
We arrived just in time to see Torres removing the copious layers of masa to reveal mounds of freshly cooked lamb. The meat, which was steamed overnight in an above-ground pit constructed by Torres, smelled overwhelmingly good and whetted our jaded palates nicely.
As we settled into our seats, Torres’ son brought over corn tortillas that he had just heated on the griddle. Serving us in a room adjacent to their home, the father and son duo treated our group of camera-wielding, question-asking Americans just like family.
Freshly prepared salsas awaited us at the table. The selection included a pasilla chile salsa with pulque, a red salsa of beer and chiles de arbol, habanero salsa, and a green salsa of tomatillos. There were also bowls of chopped cilantro and onions, as well as lime wedges to further adorn our lamb tacos. It was way too early in the morning for salsa experimentation, so I mainly stuck with the cilantro, onions, and limes.
Steaming in a pit for 10+ hours will result in some awesomely tender and flavorful meat. So tender, in fact, that the lamb refused to adhere to the bone.
A lamb taco with cilantro, onions, and a squirt of lime. The warm and rustic tortilla was heartier than most and tied the pacakge together well. The tacos were somewhat dry, especially considering the tortilla’s thickness, so we sipped and dipped hot consomme on the side. The rich but mildly flavored broth contained lamb juices and garbanzo beans.
The finale was a pancita rellena—barbecued lamb stomach stuffed with offal and red chili. If it weren’t for the dominating metallic taste of liver, I would’ve been all over this south of the border Haggis.
Ermita No. 807
La Mesa, Tijuana