On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me: La Condesa pork bel-ly.

Are there certain foods in your life that command strange powers over your thoughts and behavior?

Perhaps chocolate, or certain kinds of cheese?

Because for my husband, it is pork belly.  Out-of-town readers, do you like meat?  Then you will like Austin.  Pork belly — and its pedestrian counterpart, bacon — are kind of having a moment in our fair city right now.  We like it on sandwiches.  We like it plain.  We like it with chocolate.  Not even lying — I’ve tried bacon inside chocolate gelato at our local Whole Foods.  Damn, that was good.

One restaurant that does pork belly particularly well is La Condesa.  I had lunch with a gaggle of food writers at La Condesa yesterday, and oh, how I wish I could have dragged Ross away from work!  He would have been in hog heaven with pork belly.

(Which … now that I think about it.  Is probably “hog hell.”  No?  Because they died to make the dish?  Metaphor failing to serve here?) 

Anyway.  I sort of hope he doesn’t read this blog post.  It’ll be too much pork belly envy.  Here are three of the items I tried today, listed on La Condesa’s just-debuted lunch menu

betabel salad.
Oak-roasted beets, quinoa, toasted pumpkin seeds, shaved cotija, grilled citrus, pomegranate dressing.

cubanita sandwich.
Slow roasted pork belly, smoked Berkshire ham, arugula, Swiss cheese, habanero mustard, pickled jalapeños, toasted garlic.

veracruzana sandwich.
Salsa veracruzana, hard boiled egg, cotija cheese, pickled beets, radish, saffron aioli, greens.

*  *  *

From all the items above, I liked the last one, that sandwich, best. It tasted like a salad squeezed between bread: the beets, the hard-boiled eggs. Why haven’t beets enjoyed a more exalted place in our culinary tradition? And by “our” I guess I mean “the world’s.” Because I’m not sure if any world cultures have celebrated the beet like I think it should be.

I love beets!

Something else to know about La Condesa.  They serve five different kinds of ceviche. Now I realize ceviche isn’t very Fall-y.  And you might be in the mood to eat something heavier, something more suited to the season.  But please, promise me you’ll try one someday?  My favorite is the “hamachi,” made with yellowtail and grilled grapefruit broth.  Doesn’t that sound exciting?  That’s because it is.