….and not for the lactose intolerant Well that last part does not apply to me. I would die without dairy products, love them. But last night at our latest Cheap Ethnic Eatz outing cheese was definitely a star item on some people’s menu. We had 3 diners with lactose issues but everyone survived just fine…and had a wonderful meal.

We went to a tiny place I found on the outskirts of Monkland Village. This Mexican bistro, Amaranto (5974, Monkland 514-510-1225), is a tight family affair. The head chef, Berenice, works closely with her husband in the open kitchen right in the restaurant. It’s a very basic set-up: a traditional stove as we all have at home and open counter space. You see her prepare each plate individually and with wonderful attention. She is rightfully proud of her talent.

Our first appetizer was one of the best Ceviche I have had served in little taco bowls. Second was a deliciously unusual tortilla soup with a big dollop of cheese. Actually the whole meal was unusual…but in a good way. It really was an ethnic, out-of-the-ordinary meal. The two main traditional dishes offered were Cochinita Pibil (a shredded pork dish served with a mole sauce in a tortilla) and Chili Relleno (a mild pepper stuffed, of course, with cheese). Finally dessert was a…you guessed it…cheese flan. Really nice and firm texture.

Everyone seemed to have had a nice meal. But I think people were a bit disappointed when it came to the spicing. I believe that is because we assume Mexican dishes will be burning with spices. Instead we had a traditional more refined meal that we are less accustomed too. I was quite satisfied, my only remark: the soup and Cochinita could have used a bit of salt just to make the flavours stand out a bit more.

One thing I really do recommend is the homemade Sangria: its kick-ass strong and good with lots of red wine. And the crowd was great. We had lots of new faces and we really had a blast. At least I hope since people stuck around to chat a good hour or hour and a half after the meal. It’s really a blessing for me to have all these participants interact.

Next outing is a back to childhood kitsch Chinese buffet on Aug 9Th. I am also trying to get two friends to guest blog about their food experiences from recent trips: China and Morocco. And pictures to boot should showcase their blogs. If you know who they are help me pressure them will ya!

Hugs and biscuits,