Twi harder

The Twi­light Saga: New Moon, teen vam­pire and were­wolf melo­drama, rated PG-13, Re­gal Sta­dium 14, 1.5 chiles

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Lau­rel Glad­den For The New Mex­i­can

IOMG, you guys, New Moon is fi­nally here! The se­quel to last year’s ru­n­away hit Twi­light— and the sec­ond in a se­ries of four planned films based on Stephe­nie Meyer’s best­selling young-adult books— opened Nov. 20. Fans couldn’t wait for the re­turn of RPattz (Robert Pat­tin­son) and KStew (Kris­ten Ste­wart), who play star-crossed lovers Ed­ward Cullen and Bella Swan, in the soggy small town of Forks, Wash­ing­ton. Re­gal Sta­dium 14 of­fered an un­prece­dented five shows at or around mid­night, and sev­eral open­ing-day screen­ings sold out well in ad­vance.

If you’re one of the “Twi-hards” who bought their tick­ets weeks be­fore open­ing day, don’t bother read­ing any fur­ther. Any­thing I say, any weak­nesses I point out in the fol­low­ing para­graphs, won’t mat­ter to you. You’ve al­ready sunk your teeth into New Moon— and prob­a­bly loved ev­ery ex­cru­ci­at­ingly dull, un­in­ten­tion­ally laugh­able minute of it.

New Moon opens on Bella’s 18th birth­day. Her boyfriend, 108-year-old vam­pire Ed­ward Cullen, and his blood-suck­ing “fam­ily” have planned a cel­e­bra­tion for her. They present her with gifts, and every­one’s hav­ing a lovely time un­til Bella gets a cut from some wrap­ping pa­per. The blood sends Ed­ward’s brother Jasper ( Jack­son Rath­bone) into a frenzy. Ed­ward de­fends Bella, but the in­ci­dent con­vinces him that he and his fam­ily are danger­ous to

Over the years, many his­toric build­ings in the Guadalupe District have been trans­formed into restau­rants, shops, and gal­leries. Once a school and con­vent as­so­ci­ated with the San­tu­ario de Guadalupe, the build­ing at 416 Agua Fría St. com­prises a string of small rooms with the wonky plas­ter walls and low-slung ceil­ings char­ac­ter­is­tic of clas­sic Santa Fe adobes.

To­day, the build­ing houses restau­rant space op­er­ated by Mex­ico na­tive Fer­nando Olea, who is renowned for his ded­i­ca­tion to his home­land’s tra­di­tional cuisines. By day, the north­east wing op­er­ates as Bert’s La Taque­ria, and by night, the south­west end be­comes Epa­zote, Olea’s new, higher-end af­fair spe­cial­iz­ing in “in­spired NewWorld cui­sine.”

Epa­zote’s main din­ing room— an ex­cep­tion to Santa Fe co­zi­ness— has a cav­ernous, cathe­dral-like qual­ity. The lighting is gen­er­ally low and warm. Large comfortable chairs and pil­lowed ban­cos pro­vide seat­ing. (I was mo­men­tar­ily grossed out by large off-color blotches on some of the pil­lows. This turned out to be can­dle wax, but still.) In a restau­rant that ad­heres rather strictly and lov­ingly to culi­nary tra­di­tions, I was sur­prised by the overly loud smooth jazz.

Ear­lier that day, I’d read a New York Times list of “100 Things Restau­rant Staffers Should Never Do.” Here’s No. 74, which is more of a “ should do”: “Let the guests know the restau­rant is out of some­thing be­fore the guests read the menu and or­der the miss­ing dish.”

We had been wait­ing for a while when our server re­turned with a co­worker, who took our or­der. That’s when we learned that one of the sig­na­ture ap­pe­tiz­ers, the taquitos de cha­pu­lines (grasshop­pers) was not avail­able. I had been es­pe­cially ea­ger to try them. The dish is sea­sonal, and Novem­ber isn’t ex­actly high time for grasshop­pers, but I wish some­one had in­formed us sooner.

Be­cause Epa­zote’s wine list is lim­ited to three whites and seven reds, I as­sumed the bot­tles had been care­fully cho­sen and would all be in stock. Both the white and the red we se­lected weren’t avail­able, though, and one sug­gested al­ter­na­tive— the crisp, en­joy­able Santa Rita 120 Sau­vi­gnon Blanc— wasn’t on the menu at all.

The kitchen teased us with a plat­ter of small flour-tor­tilla tri­an­gles squig­gled with de­li­cious mole. Oth­er­wise, no food ar­rived at our ta­ble for nearly an hour. But once the dishes be­gan to ar­rive, our com­plaints pretty much ceased.

The Xochim­ilco, asadero and cuit­la­coche (sautéed corn “truf­fle”) over flour tor­tillas; hearty char­broiled beef sir­loin; ten­der slow-cooked lamb in ba­nana leaves; pork, fish, and chicken ta­cos— nearly ev­ery plate was lovely, im­pec­ca­bly sea­soned, and per­fectly cooked. Fights al­most broke out over the Coyoa­can, a tangy-rich shrimp en­chi­lada. The one ex­cep­tion was the beef ten­der­loin (Popocateptl). It made a dra­matic en­trance on a large, sear­ing-hot plat­ter, but the meat was over­cooked and al­most too tough to cut.

Epa­zote tacks a 20 per­cent ser­vice charge onto the tab of par­ties of five or more. The pac­ing of our meal was off, and servers dis­ap­peared for up to 20 min­utes at a time. We ob­jected, and the staff was cor­dial about mak­ing an ad­just­ment.

By day, Olea serves ta­cos and other less-up­mar­ket dishes at Bert’s. Though the dé­cor is warm, cheery, and invit­ing, on the af­ter­noon I vis­ited, the din­ing room was chilly, nearly empty, and al­most si­lent (though af­ter the smooth-jazz tor­ture in the Epa­zote wing, I prob­a­bly shouldn’t com­plain). Ser­vice was much more at­ten­tive and speedy at lunchtime. Ev­ery­thing ar­rived promptly, in­clud­ing a com­pli­men­tary bas­ket of chips and an ir­re­sistible dip made from jalapeños, onions, and sour cream. A bowl of molten queso asado stud­ded with spicy chorizo, sautéed mush­rooms, and pep­per strips made me re­gret the culi­nary “progress” that cre­ated the sim­i­lar-in-name-only Velveeta-based bar snack.

Soft corn tor­tillas lay wait­ing to be folded around gamey, rich, and ten­der lamb; the de­servedly pop­u­lar pineap­ple and spicy-pork combo of pas­tor; salty sautéed mush­rooms, pep­pers, onions, and zuc­chini; and moist, ten­der ti­lapia filets that, with an em­bel­lish­ment of red-cab­bage and snow-pea slaw, took my breath away. Lunch can be a bar­gain, too: only two of the 14 taco selections will set you back more than $6.

On my way out the door, I thought aboutWoody Allen’s film Vicky Cristina Barcelona — in par­tic­u­lar, Pené­lope Cruz’s sexy but un­hinged char­ac­ter, Maria Elena. She’s un­pre­dictable and in­fu­ri­at­ing but also se­duc­tive and ir­re­sistible. Meals at Epa­zote/Bert’s La Taque­ria have a sim­i­larly con­fus­ing and ex­as­per­at­ing qual­ity to them. But as Gael Greene fa­mously said, “Great food is like great sex. The more you have, the more you want.”

Hun­gry like the were­wolf: from left, Robert Pat­tin­son, Kristin Ste­wart, and Tay­lor Laut­ner

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