East Boston: Perfect Guacamole at Angela's Café
Devoting an entire post to guacamole feels kinda silly. It's such a simple preparation with so few ingredients, you wonder how one version could be so much better than another. And yet, every time I eat the guacamole at Angela's Café, I'm reminded that this dip is one of those five-ingredient, no-cook dishes that can be brilliant.
According to Angela's son, Luis, who manages the restaurant, the main ingredient is "love." Okay, so he was being funny, but as he went into detail about their method, I started to think his joke wasn't so off the mark.
For starters, they store the avocados (always Hass, and imported from Mexico whenever possible) at room temperature wrapped in newspaper—a technique that Luis claims helps ripen the fruit properly and improves their flavor. Hard to say what they'd taste like if they were stored unwrapped—it's the America's Test Kitchen employee in me that thinks this begs for a taste-test—but I'm a believer in whatever method they're using. These avocados are freaking perfect.
Onion is what gives the dip its edge—a hint of sweet-sharp crunch mixed in with all that creamy, buttery goodness. Here, the pieces are pretty finely chopped up, which means their effect is subtle and that they're pretty seamlessly distributed throughout the bowl. However, Luis notes that when they make this dish at home, they add more onion. This ultra-creamy style is more "commercial," he said.
The seasonings, fresh lime juice, cilantro, and kosher salt, are in full force. To me, the big hit of tangy citrus is what really separates this version from most others, where the flavor is either flat or overwhelmed with ad-ins like garlic, cumin, and chiles.
Two superfluous features: First, the tomato garnish is really just a garnish—added for color and maybe a little brightness, though we've still got a couple weeks before tomatoes hit their stride around here. Second, there's the volcanic rock molcajete, a vessel that Luis says improves the flavor. I'm skeptical, but then, I've never made guacamole this good.