At the tender age of just seven, Alicia Hernandez was learning to take control of the family meals while growing up in Mexico City. Little did she know her cooking skills would become the basis of four family restaurants, the latest of which opened here on July 2.
In the wake of her grandmother’s apron, Alicia couldn’t have dreamt what she was learning then would be transported to Manitoba and into British Columbia. On Tuesday Portage la Prairie diners had their first chance to taste her authentic Mexican cuisine as Mole Guacamole opened its doors.
The happy sounds of Spanish coming from the tiny kitchen at the newly decorated Midtown Motor Inn restaurant tells you something about who is cooking your food. A steady stream of lunchtime business on the first day open tells you there is an appetite here for authentic Mexican fare.
Hernandez Garcia and his wife, Alicia, opened Mole Guacamole to little fanfare, but the people are coming. The family now boasts four Mexican restaurants serving food based on Alicia’s family recipes. In Winkler, there is Flavours of Mexico and in Canal Flats and Chilliwack, B.C., all owned by close family members.
“Alicia creates all the recipes and does all of the cooking here,” says her daughter Madeline
“This is not just authentic Mexican food, but very unique: my mom is the creator of all her recipes. She’s been cooking since she was seven-years-old. Her mom was a widow and she had to go to work. My mom learned to cook from her grandmother. She was in charge of cooking for the whole family since she was seven,” Madeline explained.
“She creates recipes based upon our favourite dishes as kids,” she said. “She just passed that on to us. That’s her gift to us from her.”
Selected meats, authentic Mexican spices and preparation are what sets Mole Guacamole apart from the cookie box cutter Mexican food outlets.
“What you can get somewhere else is going to look similar, but it’s not going to taste anything near like what we serve. The meat that you are eating has been marinated in real Mexican spices that are imported from Mexico — so the true flavour of Mexico, plus she puts a twist to it. It’s going to be marinated in a very different way than what you would get from taco seasoning that anyone can get from the grocery store. We put an authentic flavour into the chimichanga. We try to put things that are familiar with the Mexican food culture, but at the same time you will taste the difference when you bite into it.”
Why is it called Mole Guacamole?
Mole Guacamole is named after its signature dish, the Mole Guacamole enchilada. “The mole is actually a really ancient recipe dating to the Aztecs. It has all kinds of spices, nuts, peanuts – it even has dark chocolate in it – it’s a specialty. My mom makes it from scratch. In Mexico, you grind every grain and every nut. It’s a lot of work and it takes up to three to four days to just make the sauce. Just the sauce that goes on top of the enchilada. It’s very unique.”
The Midland Motor Inn is located at 177 Saskatchewan Ave. W. Mole Guacamole is opened Tuesday through Saturdays and opens at 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursdays and stays open until 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.