Each time I go back to Mexico City, even before the plane lands, I know there are some formal plans that can never, ever, be messed around with. They are all with my father and they all involve eating in the same places. Each single time.
One of the places is El Bajío. If you know my father, you know he doesn’t let me order. You also know that he knows the Restaurant manager, waiters, bar servers and valet parking attendants by name. And they all know him too.
Continue reading Bossed Around at El Bajío: Plantain Quesadillas
Shrimp tend to be perceived as a treat. That fancy item on a menu.
Think about what happens at a shrimp station on a Sunday buffet. It gets crowded. Even if you didn’t feel like eating shrimp, if there’s a shrimp station, chances are you will eat them. Your mom, your dad, your husband or friends will look at your shrimp-less plate and push some shrimp onto your plate.
Growing up in Mexico City, family Sunday lunches with the dozens and dozens members of our immediate family included giant shrimp from the Mercado de la Viga. There was so much anticipation as to when they would majestically appear on that huge platter carried by my grandmother. Before they got to the table, people started sneaking away some. So my grandmother decided to set a pre-lunch agreement on the number of shrimp per head, to avoid childish grown up wording snaps like “YOU always get the extra shrimp” or sudden door slams.
So when I was asked to develop a Mexican menu for the 2010 RAMMYS Awards I just had to include shrimp. I paired them with some signature Mexican ingredients: smoky and hot Chipotle Chiles in Adobo, tangy and salty Mexican Cream and the iconic Tequila Reposado.
Continue reading Tequila, Mexican Cream and Chipotle Shrimp
The last time I was at the Mexico City Chapultepec Fair was 20 years ago, with my high school friends. Going back last weekend with my own growing monsters, confirmed that it is not an ordinary Fair experience, ever, regardless of one’s age.
Yes, you find the balloons, with a mix of Mexican and American characters, right at the main entrance.
Continue reading Quesadillas at the Mexico City Fair
Every year, just as summer peeks its warm face in Washington DC, I begin to crave fresh fruits and vegetables Mexican street cart style. One of the times when I have enjoyed it the most was last April. We were traveling through the Copper Canyon route, on a week long trip, from Chihuahua to Sinaloa. We had been waiting at the station in the town of Creel to catch the Chepe train to go to the next town.
As the station officer let out a scream that the train was approaching, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the fruit and vegetable cart. It was hot, we were tired and thirsty, and I saw Mr. Fruit Cart Man peeling some ripe and juicy mangoes. I grew weak in my knees.
Continue reading Running to Catch the Fresh Fruit Cart!
4 MAY 2010
The Blair House will be hosting an event called “Taste of Mexico” honoring Mexican culture in advance of the upcoming State Visit by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
Led by Ambassador Capricia Marshall, the US Chief of Protocol, and the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan and his wife, the event will bring together an international DC Youth Group. Together, they will learn about Mexican culture and gastronomy beyond what Americans typically think it to be.
1 MAY 2010
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day — but it does mark the brilliant Mexican military triumph over Napoleon III’s invasion force on May 5th, 1962. The defeat hampered the French to such an extent that they could no longer provide help to the American Confederate cause, which certainly contributed to its downfall the following year. Plenty to celebrate, north and south of the border!
In collaboration with Chef de Cuisine Alfredo Solis, we will demonstrate the preparation of four dishes from the Cinco de Mayo tasting menu.
Memories from growing up in Mexico City revolve around one celebration or another and mostly center on the foods that just had to be there. If there was no holiday, anniversary, birthday or special occasion for a formal celebration, then we celebrated the food itself. Just say the magic words and a get together would spring right up.
Nana made tamales? Fiesta!
Mami made mole? Well, what are you waiting for?
Papi brought real quesadillas potosinas? It is Sunday brunch everyone…
However, as much as I can remember, we didn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo. As kids we reviewed it in passing at school, unless you lived in the state of Puebla. The place, where on a Cinco de Mayo in 1862, a small Mexican militia won an unexpected victory against the large French army. It was a short-lived victory, as the French won right back.
But fast-forward almost a couple centuries later: the French and Spaniards are gone, Mexicans proudly celebrate Independence Day every September 16th, and for a reason no Mexican can explain, Cinco de Mayo has become the most celebrated, joyous and colorful holiday for Mexicans living abroad. It even surpasses the noise we make for Independence Day.
Continue reading Chilorio for Cinco de Mayo!
We came back home exhausted, after being away for a couple weeks in Canada for a big family reunion. Though we had delicious meals, trying all sorts of Canadian fare, as soon as we walked in I was ready to make some comforting, home tasting food.
Few things taste more like home to me, than beans. In Mexico there is always, always, a simmering pot of beans cooking at some point during the week in any kitchen. As beans need to be cooked for a long time, they infuse the kitchen with a moist, earthy and cozy aroma, that remains even after the beans are ready.
Of course one can make more than a thousand things with a batch of Frijoles de Olla, or Beans from the Pot. But one of the things that are the most simple, yet comforting, asides from scooping them with corn tortillas, are Enfrijoladas.
Continue reading Queso Fresco: Enfrijoladas
Yesterday, right after my blog turned 1 year old, I added a new category under Ingredients: Cheese.
This site is a continuous work in progress. As my husband notes, it is very time consuming, but as I always respond, it is immensely rewarding. Truth is, I can’t wait to keep on adding more. One of the things I have loved the most has been getting your requests, so please, keep them coming! Which brings me back to Mexican cheese, a topic I have gotten many requests for.
The first kind I added is the widely available Queso Fresco. A deeply white, mild, fresh, light, barely salty, gently tangy and versatile cheese that crumbles right in your mouth the moment you take a bite. Yet, it also holds its shape beautifully if you dice it or cut it
into sticks. So it lets you play with it in many ways.
Continue reading Queso Fresco: Tri-Color Salad with a Lime-Honey Vinaigrette
Queso Fresco: Tri-Color Salad with a Lime-Honey Vinaigrette
Queso Fresco, which translates to Fresh Cheese, can be found throughout Mexico with slightly different variations. It is also called Queso de Pueblo, Queso de Rancho and sometimes just Queso Blanco. In some small towns it may be found sold wrapped in banana leaves and if you are lucky, in the small baskets where they are sometimes made.
It generally comes in rounds. Though it appears to be firm and can hold its shape nicely when cut into sticks or squares, it is very soft and crumbles easily. It is used in many ways, such as a side to guacamole and salsas, crumbled on top of hundreds of antojos like tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, refried beans and even soups. I also love it diced or crumbled in salads. Possibilities are endless (continue for more information and photo).
Continue reading Queso Fresco