25 January 2009

Mmm... tapas.

Last year, I mentioned Baru in passing during a time when I was feeling very melancholy about the absence of a working camera in my life. I will remind you that I have nothing but exuberant, grateful feelings toward this restaurant, and it was precisely that attitude that made me feel so glum about the prospect of not being able to include photos in what would inevitably become a novella of tapas raves.

How ironic it is, then, that I returned to Baru wielding a new and high-tech and adorable digital camera, and all I have to say for myself are a few photos that exhibit no sense of aesthetics whatsoever. In any case, that must be better than nothing.

After amusing our bouches over at Sucré, Baru was the perfect place to go. Think about it! Rather than commit ourselves to a single appetizer and/or entrée, we could nibble on some delectable little snackings and decide later on how many tapas we'd need to fill our tummies. On this night, three was the perfect number of dishes for us to split.

First on the lineup was the mazorca:
I first got this on the very same night I was feeling so dreary. At first, I was skeptical: roasted corn, "pink sauce" (what is that anyway?), and potato sticks did not sound as thrilling as, say, the grilled skirt steak with chimichurri. But my brother insisted, and at about the same time it arrived at our table, it disappeared. That's how good it was. We couldn't eat it quickly enough. As it turns out, the roasted corn exuded freshness and commingled happily with pink sauce (made pink with a whisper of tomatoes... duh). Salao cheese, a salty farmers' cheese, adds another dimension of flavor and texture, and potato sticks -- fried bits of goodness, like the ideal French fries if they were shrunken x10 -- completed the mix. Heaven on earth.

Next up were the empanadas:
Normally, these are filled with spiced ground beef, and they are delicious. On this night, though, the waiter informed us that they were improvisationally filled with chicken instead. We were set on the empanadas, so we decided to keep them on the line-up. Unfortunately, they were definitely the low point to the meal. The chicken was ground to a degree that must have humiliated it. What did this mean for us? We bit through the scrumptious corn-cakey outside and arrived at a core of mushy fill that vaguely resembled canned pet food. I hate to be so harsh, since I have faith it could have been good. It just goes to show you that having just one thing off -- in this case, consistency, to which I previously hadn't given much thought -- can ruin a plate. That stuff opposite the empanada was a fruity, sweet-then-spicy salsa.

Last up was the ceviche:
Oh my god. I have gotten this every single time I've been to Baru, and never once have I regretted it. Each time, it has metamorphosed a bit. For example, the first time I got it, it came in a martini glass with slightly different ingredients and crumbly saltine crackers rather than the thick tortilla chips you see here.
Inside the bowl is a serendipitious rendezvous of redfish that breaks apart in one's mouth in the most gratifying way. In case you didn't know, ceviche is raw fish that is "cooked" with citrusy juices (lime and the like). It's worth noting, then, that the fish tasted less fishy than some cooked fish dishes I've had in my life. It was buttery in consistency and full in flavor. There were also chunks of perfectly green, dazzlingly fresh avocado, cut into cubes the same size as the fish (not too big -- good for me, since I don't go wild over giant scoops of mushy avocado). Pickled onion makes another appearance here, and in case you didn't get my point when I mentioned this in my last entry on Sucré, I'll say it again here: I am obsessed with this. They were present here in a completely different context (in an already QUITE tart broth-esque of lime juice rather than atop some velvety crab), but they remained my favorite part of the dish, thoughtful and crisp, eye-squintingly tangy with a lingering hint of the onion's sweetness. I liked to eat this stuff straight on the fork, but it was also yummy scooped up with those chips over on the side.

For the adults out there, if you decide to hightail it over to Baru like we did, you should know that it is, as of right now, BYOB. This didn't matter to us, but it could quite possibly matter to you, and I want to give you fair warning, as I know that the sometimes-justifiable anger that would ensue at the lack of a wine menu would unfairly spoil what could be a delightful dining experience!

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