Antojitos Mexicanos’ Squash Blossom Quesadilla is the Best Thing I’ve Had in a While
Well folks, I’m going to try to make Monday Meatless. Why? I love animals… but don’t get me wrong. I really love to eat ‘em. So much, in fact, that for years I almost never had a meal without meat. I now enjoy going meatless for a day each week just to make sure I’ve got variety in my diet. I realized since moving to New York in 2009 that there are some great vegan and vegetarian dishes out there that I could be missing out on. Why limit myself? And I thought, why not Meatless Monday since it seems to be the craze… and I can’t resist phrases that employ alliteration, after all. My first sans-meat trek began with a goal of finding the Cinnamon Snail (which I’ve tried before and loved) in Midtown east. But the line was long and slow-moving, and some girls behind me were having a conversation in preppy, sing-songy voices and they were absolutely doing my head in. Then I remembered I only had 5 bucks in my bag, and definitely did not want to leave the line to get cash only to come back to a line three times longer. I had a “fuck it” moment and decided to abandon Cinnamon Snail and explore.
On 39th and Park I happened upon a little cart on the sidewalk with a short line called Antojitos Mexicanos, a cart that Brian covered earlier in the summer at the same location. I’d never heard the word antojitos before, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. An antojito is a Mexican street snack designed to satisfy a craving. I think it might be my new favorite word.
Most of the options on the menu were meat, and although I would usually opt for something with salty, spicy pork like chorizo, by God I was sticking to my plan. Luckily I saw something that looked wonderful. Flor de Calabaza quesadillas. I knew exactly what that meant — squash blossoms! I had tried them only once before, just a month ago, when I bought some from my farmer’s market, stuffed some smoked cheddar and cream cheese in ‘em, and fried them up. They were amazing… but so is anything stuffed with cheese and fried. I definitely wanted to taste a different recipe.
I was so glad I did. This was definitely the best thing I’ve tasted in a while. The squash blossoms were lightly brined and sauteed on the grill before going in the the tortilla. The tortilla was made out of corn, but was fresher, larger, more pliable, and slightly thinner than any store-bought corn tortilla. You could definitely taste the flavor of corn, and if you prefer corn over flour tortillas it’s a welcome change for your dang quesa-dilla.
The ‘dilla was stuffed with delicious mozzarella cheese that was stretchy and slightly chewy, and the whole thing was topped with both fresh sour cream and cojita. The squash blossoms were soft, and they added extra salinity and moisture to the dish. They included thin strips of iceberg lettuce as well, that in my opinion didn’t add much, but also didn’t ruin it.
A nice, spicy, slightly runny salsa roja is available upon request, but my advice would be to go easy on that hot sauce, especially at first, so you can taste the full flavor of the rest of the dish.
My only warning — some people might think that just one quesadilla is small. But at only $4.00, you can add any other item on the menu, including a torta or cemita sandwich ($5.50 and $6.00 respectively), tacos at $2.50, sopes or gorditas at $3.00, or a hamburger for $6.00, and still keep it under $10.
Oh, Midtown Lunch’ers, you have to try this cart! I really love it based on this first experience. Who else has tried it? How’s the meat?
Antojitos Mexicanos, Currently at 39th and Park