Best Chile Sauce - 2004
In the classical canon, there are five mother sauces -- delicate and complex base mixtures from which all other sauces are born. But since this list of mothers was compiled ages ago by the French culinarians, it was weighted heavily in the direction of old Continental classics, and nowhere among the five is there a sauce that, through any miracle of reproduction, could produce a chile like that offered up by Marcela Guerrero and her kitchen at Cielo. This is a travesty of geographic isolationism, because these days, chile sauces belong among those charmed few bases from which all things spring. Cielo's green is a sweet, meaty, thick stew of flavors, primary among them the complex taste of chile as fruit. And the red is a smooth lava of heat mounting on heat, tempered in its upper reaches by a singing touch of honey. These are not just simple chile sauces, but artistic, well-balanced creations that -- in the true style of the mothers -- have been built up from a classic base into something related to, but wholly different from, that which gave them birth. But beyond all that -- and most important -- they're delicious.