Autumn's Richest Treat: Mole

Several sauce-drenched dishes are on the menu at La Sandia.

Chocolate and late October are a longtime pairing, it's true. But it is a duo that is often portrayed in one way: Halloween candy. Miniature bars and plastic orange pumpkins are the usual way we picture the sweet treat when fall roles around.

But another autumn classic that summons the cocoa spirit deserves its own moment. Or, if you're La Sandia in Santa Monica, several weeks of menu stardom. It's mole we speak of, of course, that good-on-practically-everything sauce that's both savory and a little confection-like, all at once.

And if we didn't describe it as "velvety," well, we wouldn't be keeping in line with practically everything ever written about the autumn-perfect foodstuff. (And, truth: It is velvety.)

La Sandia's third Mole Festival is now up and running and making dishes extra velvety, right through the close of November. This means that a visit to the Santa Monica Place restaurant will present you the chance to sup upon Mole Pipian, Mole Poblano, Mole Rojo, or Mole Negro, over choices such as Grilled Hangar Steak or Pork Carnitas.

We know. Decisions. Plus, when you're a mole-ist, you'll just want 'em all on your plate at once. Best, of course, stick with one, for total flavor immersion. You can get a "tasting plate" of quesadillas that feature the whole deep-flavored quartet.

Prices start at $9.95 for the quesadilla.

Hmm. Now that we think of it, mole sometimes contains pumpkin seeds, too, another symbol of fall we associate with carving a pumpkin. Clearly chocolates and pumpkins should bring mole to all of our minds, from here on out, first and foremost.

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