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Omnivore - Best meal of the week

My award for Best Meal of the Week goes to Tierra (1425 Piedmont Ave., 404-874-5951). We dined there Thursday night because the restaurant was offering a three-course special menu marking Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16.

Our meal's highlight was, as it is at meals throughout Mexico this time of year, chiles en nogada (above), whose colors replicate the red, white and green of the Mexican flag. The dish is also a celebration of the (red) pomegranate, which comes into season in August and September.

This is one of my favorite dishes on the planet. A roasted (green) poblano pepper, fried lightly in a coating of egg whites and a bit of flour, is stuffed with ground pork and beef seasoned with onions, tomatoes, apples, pears, peaches and almonds. Then it is topped with a (white) creamy walnut sauce and garnished with the pomegranate seeds. It is a magical dish invented by nuns. You may recall the dish is mentioned in Laura Esquivel's book, Like Water for Chocolate, and the 1993 film of it.

First course of the meal was a bowl of caldo tlalpeño, an intense chicken broth seasoned with a chipotle chile, swimming with garbanzos, rice, some juicy chunks of white chicken, diced carrots, green beans and carrots, along with some sliced avocado. Squeeze a bit of lime in it to add a shot of tartness — and eat that damn chipotle pepper. It's short of fiery but adds quiet sizzle to the bowl that explodes briefly when you bite into it.

Dessert (above, right) was an empanada stuffed with rice pudding and served with a mound of whipped cream. That's crispy, creamy, billowy, sweet, slightly chewy all bound together.

This restaurant's chef-owners are Dan and Ticha Krinsky, whose South American cooking has acquired an impassioned following in our city. They alternate the roles of chef and dining room manager every week. It's that increasingly rare venue — a chef-driven neighborhood restaurant with friendly ambiance, great service and moderate prices.

The current special runs only through this Saturday, so make a reservation if you want to try it out. Cost is $28 per person.

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)





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