The Offal Truth!

May 1, 2011 – April was quite a month at Casa Madera Bed & Breakfast!  We were inundated with family!  Heather’s brother Kevin & family were here for 10 days leaving last Saturday.  It was a hoot.  We got to show them the real Mexico outside of the all-inclusive resorts.  Dinners at taco stands, trips to fruit markets, hot springs, surfing…you name it, we did it!  It was lots of fun with great food, great company & great sun!

Kevin, Laura, Megan, Joshua and us at Las Caletas!

Prior to their arrival Heather’s cousin, twice removed, Danny, was here for 10 days.  To us she is Heather’s aunt.  It was great having her here as it made Heather finally drag the sewing machine out of its purgatory and start to make curtains for our upstairs windows.  This will be a challenge but the material is bought, the sewing machine works, all we need now is curtain rods to span the size of the windows!  That could be fun but hey it’s Mexico, if you cannot find it at Home Depot there is some enterprising soul out there who will make it for you in iron! 

Danny got the same treatment, hot springs, dinners at taco stands, fruit markets and with the sewing angle, lots of visits to the material stores!  Heather quite enjoyed that as the writer’s attention span starts to waver in material stores after about 2 minutes.  So much so, I stayed home the day the two of them went into the big stores in downtown Puerto Vallarta

And then there was the biggest visit of all, my son Brendan came down with his buddy Ray to celebrate his 21st birthday!  21?  Crap!  I am getting old.  It seems just like yesterday he was sitting in a small wooden block trailer….and now he is an underwriter at Peace Hills Insurance!  Where did the time go? 

A 21st birthday only comes once so it needed to be celebrated in style.  Brendan and Ray were the guinea pigs for the family soon to arrive.  We took them to the taco stand we found in Valle Dorado one night after a wine reception Casa Madera catered at Vallarta Escapes

That was the night we met a Westjet flight attendant who is a Mexican married to a Canadian in the Armed Forces but has lots of vacation time and spends a month down here at time.  She was fun to talk to and was very vocal in how good this stand was.  And how right she was!  It was great, but I digress….

There were many things we did with Brendan & Ray but the big event was his birthday.  We needed to do something special.  Not your normal birthday experience.  Everybody can go to Montana’s, the Outback Steakhouse, or Bubba Gumps and wear a funny hat, but only here can you go to Naty’s Cantina!  As luck would have it Brendan’s birthday as on a Thursday, which is pork day at Naty’s. 

Heading into Naty's!

On Thursday’s they roast a whole pig.  Slow roasted, it is delightful but you have to work to get to the real good meat.  We go to Naty’s once a year, generally with Marni and Tony and this year was no exception.  They cleared their schedule to attend the birthday extravaganza!

It was walking into Naty’s this year that reminded me of our first trip to Naty’s in 2009.

February 26, 2009 – We have been in town for three and a half months.  In this short time we have heard about Naty’s Cantina from many people.  They all talk about going on Thursday, pork day.  We had heard about how good the pork was and how much fun the place was.  We had discussed this with Marni and Tony and decided that today was the day.  They had been there before but it had been quite a few years and could not quite remember where it was so we took a taxi.

The taxi dropped us outside of the cantina on a hill in a true Mexican neighbourhood.  It was a little daunting as we looked at the swinging doors, I know Heather and I were a little apprehensive as we approached the doors and pushed them open.  The doors opened up to a large concrete room with the standard plastic Corona tables and chairs.  Juke box playing Mariachi in the corner, we were uncertain whether they still did the pork so we asked.  The waitress said yes and to sit anywhere we liked.

Heather and I at Naty's the first time, note the empties behind us!

After taking our seats she asked what we wanted to drink.  Heather, Tony and I asked for Corona and Marni order a Coke.  The drinks arrived and we set about to taking in the surroundings.  Lots of concrete,  a couple of tv screens, curtains over the bathrooms with the sink outside the curtains.  Interesting place. 

We soon found that we would never go thirsty as the waitress brought our beer to us in a mop bucket filled with ice and 15 Corona complete with its own opener.  As we finished a beer the waitress would take the empties and put them on the table behind us.  

At this point they came around with a raffle that they had.  20 pesos got you into their reverse draw for a good bottle of brandy.  After the 25 tickets were sold, they started pulling numbers, last one in wins.  We were close, but no winner both times we did it.

After we were on our second beer around the table a plate of “offal” showed up.  Pork heart, liver, skin and intestines.  Complete with salsa and tortilla chips.  A plate that Anthony Bourdain would be pleased to see!  Us, not so much.  Sorry Anthony, none of us are big organ meat eaters so we picked over that plate.  However we did eat it so as not to be rude.  I noticed that the Mexicans in the place were not exactly attacking it with gusto either. 

Which "offal" piece would you like?

We had that on the table until we got to beer number 4 which is when the plate of shredded pork, chicharron (deep-fried pork skin and fat), beans and hot tortillas showed up.  It was delightful.  Hot, full of flavor and the chicharron was so good we asked for more which they readily supplied. 

What we really came for! Spectacular!

We had just finished eating when the Mariachi band came in the front door.  After a few minutes of wandering around they parked themselves and played.  Now, I like Mariachi music.  It’s just great.  However, when played in an enclosed concrete space it leaves something to be desired.  It is like being trapped in a car with a car stereo that could fill most stadiums playing the latest hot hip hop cd.  I believe it was louder than when I saw The Who at Northlands in Edmonton in 1976 and trust me that is saying something as my ears hurt for days after that concert.

Anyhow, back to Naty’s.  The beer bucket was empty.  We were full of pork and we were happy.  The food had been excellent but it was time that we wandered off.  We asked for the bill.  18 beer, 3 bottles of coke, big plate of pork, 380 pesos including tip.   A great meal and a great deal. 

Guess we are going to need another empty case....

March 31, 2011 – Brendan’s birthday.  Not much had changed at Naty’s except that they now counted the beer by the person regardless whether they were drinking beer or not.  There were 6 of us so we had to drink 36 beer and also because there were 6 of us we were the lucky recipients of 2, count em, 2 plates of offal.   Needless our cat and dog got extra treats that week.

Brendan & Ray, we have Pacifico where is the pork!

Try as we might, we did not make it to 36 beer.  We were just too full.  We just told them to charge us for the food, however they were good to us probably because we did make it to 26 and only charged us for what we had.  All in all a great afternoon that was complete with the prerequisite Mariachi band who did a lovely interpretation of Happy Birthday for Brendan!