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Oaxaca on my mind!

5 Oct

Sometimes an idea pops out of the blue, in the middle of the night, and suddenly reinforcements start appearing all over the place. Has this ever happened to you?

A few weeks ago I casually said, “Se me antoja ir a Oaxaca otra vez.” It’s been a while since I last visited.

All of a sudden, Oaxacan culture, food, Mezcal, and colors have begun manifesting (to use a “new agey” term) in my realm of thoughts and materializing in photos and invitations.

Case in point: I was just casually browsing the October issue of Condé Nast Traveler and found it has a beautiful 6 page spread/ article of los mercados de Oaxaca.

It includes photos and tips for the well traveled traveler, someone who appreciates the mundane, the everyday experience en un pais diferente and understands cultures that are not her/his own. (Did I just make an advertisement for the magazine? Les juro que no me pagan, pero es de mis favoritas para soñar con viajes fuera de lo común.)

If you want to take a look online, go to cntraveler.com and it will be under “Mercado Madness.”

"Mercado Madness" is the name of the article by Conde Nast Traveler. (Spanglish spoken here!)

Great photos. Se me antojó una quesadilla de flor de calabaza.

Quiero ir a Oaxaca a comprar textiles, sarapes, arte, color.

Los bordados de Oaxaca y Chiapas, y tips para donde encontrar mercados y artesanías vienen en la revista.

I’m also pleased to hear that Bricia Lopez, the most influential advocate of Mezcal and Oaxacan cuisine in LA (and also one hell of a cool lady) is opening up a new bar at her family’s “Guelaguetza” restaurant in Koreatown. 

I just read this link from Urban Daddy and suggest you do too: “Mezcal of the Wild. A Legit Mezcalería in Koreatown.

So Sign me up to try the Mezcal, Bricia! Mucho éxito!

Mezcal from "La Mezcalería," the new bar at La Guelaguetza. Photo link from UrbanDaddy.com, Photo by Alen Lin.

Anthony Bourdain en Cuba!

1 Jul

The man loves pork. (And I love the man!) Anthony Bourdain in Cuba, July 11.

I ran into this promo today for “No Reservations” with my favorite guy in the world, Anthony Bourdain. (Bourdain Bourdain Bourdain, I just love your last name.)

Needless to say, I will be watching this episode, but also, after watching this clip, I’m about ready to book a trip to La Habana right now!! I would have to go via Mexico of course.

Miren nomas que belleza de fotografías! Y de fotógrafo, Roberto Salas. You can tell this is the kind of interview that gets Bourdain all juiced up, the kind of people he loves to meet in his travels.

All new episodes begin with No Reservations Cuba, which airs July 11 on the Travel Channel.

Buying Guacamole and stuff at Costco

23 Feb

Planning an Oscar Party this weekend? You may want to head over to Costco and browse through the novedoso Mexican inspired pre-made selections available ahorita.

I knew Fish tacos were popular, but these kits blew my socks off. They’re the kind you would eat in Ensenada, Baja California, although there is no comparison of course. Ya vienen todos empacaditos, all the ingredients are ready to heat and serve, and pre-packaged in one convenient box. And they are made by a company called Okami. That just screams mexicano, verdad?

( I admit, I wouldn’t purchase such a kit, because they could never compare to my friend Martha’s mom, Alicia Coronel. She is the master!)

Baja Fish Tacos, conveniently pre-packaged at Costco. Why didn't I think of that!

Pescado empanizado, check. Repollo, check. Tortillas de maiz, check. Nomas le falta la salsita, la cremita y el limoncito.

Of course, no party is a party without chips and dip, and if you like guacamole, but don’t have the time to make it, just grab a “Wholee Guacamolee” box and you’re set. I never know how they can keep the guac from turning brown though, and that kind of  makes me nervous. (Again, I wouldn’t buy pre made guacamole because my grandomother, la Mama Lilia, makes the best. She is the master!)

I get the word play, but I would have added a "Holy" and some angelitos to the design and then it would look more Mexican.

Lest you feel unsatisfied with these antojitos, you can always go for the pork carnitas box, made by our local Cardenas supermarket familia, and their brand Del Real. I hear they’re good!

Pork Carnitas by Del Real made locally by the Cardenas family, aka Cardenas Markets.

 

Lunchtime special…

8 Feb

Not my lunch, but the torta special has a following in Pasadena.

Get it while it’s hot: last week of DINE LA

1 Feb

It only happens once a year, foodie friends.

If you’re in LA, this is the week to enjoy a beautiful meal at the top restaurants in town, for a fraction of the price.

Make your reservations and go enjoy yourself. We made it to February already, for Pete’s sake.

Y Buen Provecho.

Check it out here: DINE LA

(*Thanks to April for the tip. She already made it out to Tres and Bouchon, thank you very much!)

Behold: The last Tamal* of the season.

1 Jan

(* Ojo: puse Tamal y no Tamale, como incorrectamente le dicen los gringous. Even I have to follow some language rules here!)

¿Siguen comiendo? OK, pues ya estuvo bueno de tanto overeating, if you know what I mean. In my case, it was as if there was no tomorrow since before Christmas. Le entré duro! And now I regret it a bit, as I’m sure you can relate. Before you know it, ya te echaste 5 pounds en una semana. WHY? Why is it so hard to not stuff yourself and eat without abandon during the holidays?

Enough is enough. Esta noche, me eché el último tamalito que quedaba de los tamales regalados (los homedame tamales de Mama Lilia volaron como todos los años, but that’s another story.)

I guess no relative of mine remembered there was still a beef tamale (como  les dicen por aquí), Sonora style, in the fridge. But how could they? After the stuffing ourselves with New Year turkey con relleno, glazed ham, cranberry jello, bacalao a la vizcaina, menudo, y de postre: pies de manzana y berry…and all the bread you can think of, ya ni se acordaron. Mucha comida, gracias a Dios. Pero mañana deberia irme a correr 5km según lo decreté en mis “resolutions” y la verdad, pues estoy que no me muevo. I guess it’s the first test to my newfound resolve. Ahi les platico.

Estaba bueno.

Farmer’s Market, Chilango Style

10 Dec

Persimos y ciruelas. I think you call them Persimmons as well?

There isn’t a much better place for finding fresh, organic, real and colorful fruits and veggies than in the local open air markets in Mexico City. Here’s a sample of what you can find any given Sunday.

Grapes, oranges y ciruelas moradas.

Aguacates anybody?

Paletas de hielo: sandia, mango, mamey.

Do you know your cuts of meat? You better, you're dealing wth pro's here.

Servicio a domicilio. The meat market will also make home deliveries upon request!

Chicharrones y chorizos on display.

Las tunas abundan.

For the sweet tooth: Dulces tipicos mexicanos.

Fin de semana con mis Homies

14 Nov

Random shots of the weekend. Time flies cuando te estás divirtiendo.

 

Wurstkuche. Downtown LA. Packed!

Hot dogs like you've never had before at Wurstkuche.

Off the wall!

We caught this show at LATC. "Latina on the Loose" is not be missed. We laughed. We cried. We related. Bravo Mina Olivera! Thanks to Miguel Angel Caballero for the invite. GO SEE IT! http://www.latinaontheloose.com.

After theater drinks at Las Perlas. Super cool.

The menu @LasPerlas. Puros drinks. Nothing here for the lightweights. Photo By Olivia E.

Nunca en la vida had we ever encountered this. Our bartender girl reminded us of the "soup nazi" episode from Seinfeld. You asked her for a drink and she would flat out tell you she would not make it for you because she didn't like it herself. Had an ice cold and unflinching demeanor as she said it. I guess we were all in shock to complain, because she gave us whatever the hell she wanted and we drank it.

Martha raved about Danny's "Verdaderos" Tacos, and the truck was conveniently parked outside Las Perlas. These were the choices.

Keeping it real: Tacos de Lengua just as M. likes them.

Mis homies, winding down at 1 am.

Lo más interesting de la semana: Dinner @ the Alibi

12 Nov

What a week! TGIF.

But before it’s over, I have to give a shout out to my dear friend Olivia who remembered I had been wanting to try the famous Kogi Truck Korean Tacos and invited me to go this week.

The original plan was to follow the taco truck according to their twitter feed, but we discovered they were on the other part of town that night. So she thought of taking me to the Alibi in Culver City instead. Great idea!

The Alibi in Culver City. Really cool bar serving Kogi tacos.

She recommended we have the short rib tacos and let me tell you, they are perfection. It’s all in the fusion: an homage to tacos and spices with a sweet and sour twist. Yo no se qué les ponen, pero están buenisimos! See a better photo on their website. I had them with an ice cold Carta Blanca, one of the best Mexican beers, and it made for a wonderful meal with my friend. Thanks O for a lovely evening in the westside.

Short rib taquitos (3) y una Carta Blanca por favor. YUM.

By the way, she’s a blogger too. Check it out here and learn something new. It’s about your money, honey.

 

Vamos!

14 Oct

Thanks to my amiguita Yarel Ramos for alerting us about the new location of Cemitas P’al Cabron in K-Town.

I’m sure Bricia y familia will score another hit with this new place. Keep ‘em coming Bricia!

Meet Rick Bayless this week

28 Sep

Meet Rick Bayless at Macy's Pasadena and Costa Mesa this week. (Photo from web)

Rick Bayless rocks! Not only is he a Top Chef Master and owner of Red-O, Frontera, among others, some call him the “best Mexican Chef in the United States”. Frankly I just like him because he loves Mexico so much and speaks so positively about the country, the food, and the culture. (Debería haber mas americanos así, just saying.)

Even President Obama loves him. He asked Rick to be the guest chef for the state dinner they gave in honor of Mexican President Felipe Calderon a few months ago, and everybody said his mole dish was a hit.

If you’re in LA this week, here’s your chance to meet him.

Rick Bayless will be at Macy’s Pasadena and Costa Mesa this week as part of the Macy’s Culinary Council. He’ll do a cooking demo, sign copies of his new cookbook, “Fiesta at Rick’s”, and share samples with the audience.

Admission to each event is $5 and proceeds will benefit local food banks. For Pasadena proceeds benefit Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. In Costa Mesa, proceeds will benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.

Rick Bayless at Macy’s Pasadena

Weds September 29, 12 noon

Macy’s Pasadena on Lake, Lower Level

401 South Lake Ave Pasadena, CA 91101

Rick Bayless at Macy’s South Coast Plaza

Thursday September 30 at 6:30 PM

Macy’s Home Store, 3333 Bear Street

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

See you there!

So Bad, It’s Good.

7 Sep

Had a craving for junk food today. But I behaved! Had I given in, I would have gone to this place. I heard this song yesterday morning on Morning Becomes Ecclectic (KCRW.com) and can’t get it out of my head.

“I’m at the Pizza Hut. I’m at the Taco Bell. I’m at the combination PizzaHut&TacoBell.”

Could go there just about now and have me some combination PizzaHut&TacoBell.

That’s the only line in this silly, silly song. But right now, seriously craving the 99 cents tacos supreme. Y no se hagan! You know you like them too.

Here’s the song on youtube.

Guilty pleasures

4 Sep

Friday to kick off the Long Weekend. Official end of summer 2010. Time for a light post…

I love working in Pasadena. There’s a dessert bar across the street from my office, so happy hour was in order after a hard day’s night. My friends Martha and Olivia were already there saving me a seat.

Pop Champagne and Dessert Bar serves all sorts of exotic desserts but I went directly for the Churros, estilo Mexico DF. They serve them with cajeta, chocolate and some sort of cinnamon spread. Quite nice! We also ordered a few gelatos to share, pero los flavors estaban muy raros. I guess that’s part of the appeal. Pedimos el Basil Lemon, Tamarindo with a twist of pepper and the honey goat cheese. Ni decirles que este de goat cheese estaba muy feo, con un sabor que te recordaba el olor de queso muy apestoso. El de tamarindo parecia dulce de Pulparindo, pero aguado, so I’m not going to recommend that either. To top it off, we had the coconut macaroon soufflé, which took 20 minutes, but it was worth it.  In brief, we really liked this place. It’s very girly and vintage art deco meets brick walls and dark tones. Sat at the bar and made new friends. We met a couple that is from Puerto Rico by way of Guadalajara, so we definitely practiced our Spanglish.

Friday 9/3/10. Clockwise from left: Pop Champagne and Dessert Bar in Pasadena; a vintage clock ticks slowly; our coconut macarroon soufflé that took 20 minutes with Nathanial in the background; goat cheese honey gelato and tamarind pepper gelato (sound better than they taste, definitely not a fan); our new friends Juan Morales and his wife Susan, who told us they were from Puerto Rico, pero vivieron en Guadalajara; M & O planning their next trip to Paris on a beautiful vintage map.

The “Summer of Bricia”

17 Aug

Just a quick link to a great article that came out last week in the LA Times featuring the coolest girl on the planet, Bricia Lopez and her brother Fernando. They are continuing a great family restaurant tradition with their Guelaguetza chain of restaurants, as well as new business ventures and ideas.

I usually reserve my praises for generation Y kids, but these two are something else. They’re 25 and 23 years old and they could teach us older kids a thing or two. They are a force of entrepreneurship, family values, social media connections, foodie passions… y GANAS! Congrats to them and keep it coming. Felicidades Bricia!

Click here to read the LA Times Food section.

From the LA Times article published last week, Fernando and Bricia López, continuing the tradition of La Guelaguetza restaurants. (Photo: Kirk McCoy, LA Times)

¿How about some Chocolate and Chorizo Toasts?

4 Aug

Last Friday I had a chance to shoot some pictures at a fun event. Macy’s South Coast Plaza hosted an evening with Master Chef Sommelier Andrea Robinson. She has written a few books on wine and recipes and is truly a fabulous chef.

Master Chef Sommelier Andrea Robinson, part of the Macy's Culinary Council, at her presentation at Macy's Costa Mesa, CA.

The gathering took place at the beuatiful Macy’s Home Store, which is spacious, grand, and opulent. Over 200 people showed up for the evening, with Andrea teaching all sorts of yummy recipes and recommendations on how to serve and enjoy wine. Bacco the wine god surely was smiling. And I swear, wine lovers are a happy bunch, all of them were friendly and outgoing and super attentive to the presentation.

One of the most interesting things Andrea cooked was Chocolate and Chorizo Toasts. Sounds weird, but it tastes really good.

If you’re so inclined to try, here’s the recipe, you may want to taste it yourself before you serve it. And it goes wonderfully with a pinot noir.

Chocolate and Soy tofu

The chef mixes melted chocolate with soy tofu in the blender.

Chocolate and Chorizo Toast (Recipe by Andrea Robinson)

2 – 2 1/2 bars Lindt Bittersweet Chocolate

8 ounces silken tofu

1 thin baguette or ficelle (about 1 1/2 – 2 inches diameter- not a wide baguette)

To garnish: very coarse salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt

6 ounces fully cooked sliceable Spanish-Style Chorizo (NOT the Mexican kind, ojo!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Break up the chocolate and finely chop it in a blender. Place a microwave safe bowl and microwave on 50% power for about 3 to 4 minutes to melt the chocolate, stirring halfway through the cooking time. Meanwhile, puree the tofu thoroughly in a blender. When the chocolate is melted, stir thoroughly to make it creamy and shiny. Stir in the tofu thoroughly until tjere are no white streaks. Cover the mixture and chill until spreadable like frosting, about 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the baguette on the bias to make long, thin slices like Melba toast. Place on a baking sheet and place in the oven until crisp and toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove and cool. Thinly slice the chorizo on the bias. Spread each slice of baguette with some of the chocolate mixture and sprinkle liberally with the coarse salt. Shingle several slices of the chorizo on top of each. Place crostini on a platter and serve.

You'd be surprised. Chocolate and Chorizo (from España, not from México) are a good combo.

The 99C Store goes organic! “Nopaltillas” anyone?

1 Aug

I’ve been raving about the 99Cents store for a while now. Some of you read my little “Ode to the 99Cents store” (click to read again) back in April 2009 when I was unemployed. Even though I am happily working again, I still shop there and I still love it.

Imagine my joy when these little gems showed up in the tortilla section. They are delicious and organic Nopal Tortillas, made in good ol’ Sylmar, California. They’re 50 calories each. Ingredients: Stone white corn kernels, 100% organic nopal, water, lime and vegetable extract. Están riquísimas! And I don’t feel that guilty about eating them. Además, disque tienen 12% dietary fiber, which is good enough for me.

I just hope they are healthier than regular tortillas because I'm replacing them already.

All natural Organic Nopal, que mas quieren?

Ni quiero decirles que ya las probamos y nos hicimos unas quesadillas con Gouda cheese…. ok so not exactly diet food, pero estuverieron perfectas para ver Mad Men tonight.

Hurray for the 99 cents store! Don’t you think? And if you want to contact Nopaltillas directly, you can call them at ” 1-877- MI NOPAL”. Love the hotline!

Is it Friday yet??

28 Jun

Ya. Quiero un long weekend!!

Only Tuesday and I’m not feeling the love this week. Después de la goliza que Argentina le metió a México el domingo, y la derrota de los USA contra Ghana el sábado, no quedaron ganas de mucho. Traigo el autoestima down…además, malas noticias en cuestiones personales para empezar la semana. Time for a break.

So here’s my remedy today. A little indulgence: Cafe del Pain Quotidien plus French bread and delicious hazlenut spread. MMMMH.

It’s the litle things, you know? Sometimes you just need a “quicker picker upper” to keep going. Hope your week is faring better.

This will do for now.

She hates snakes, but Salma loves to eat bugs.

22 Jun

Here’s a cute video of Mrs. Pinault on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday. It’s a far cry from her snake infested press junket that made her lose her cool a few weeks ago.

Say what you will of la dive mexicana, but she really knows how to grab your attention and even makes bugs sound delicious. Don’t be scared, Mexican bugs from Oaxaca are a treat. “Delicatessen” anyone? See up to the end when she says “My French is getting better, but my English…”

Ay Salma, I can totally relate!

In love with… RIVERA.

2 Mar

Have you ever arrived at a restaurant and you just know you’re going to love it? This happened as soon as we walked into RIVERA Restaurant, last Friday night. The mood, the vibe, the people, the design…it all greets you and you just know, this must be the place!

Continuing with our nightly festivities (after this episode) and already pushing towards Cinderella midnight hour (cuando uno empieza a divertirse más en lugar de perder el encanto) Rivera was booming and still going strong with their late night bar and menu.

We were seated at the beautiful Sangre room and took a look at the menu. And how can you not love a menu en español that describes starter plates as PRÓLOGOS (what a beautiful word!) and among their snacks offers tortillas florales, as in FLOWER not flour…and something I have never seen outside Yucatán, mayan names/ingredients like XNIPEK: charred habanero salsa and chips.

But the most favorite aspect was the attention to detail, the way design and good taste are combined with delicious dishes. Very exciting! I especially swooned over the Torta Xocolata (chocolate torte with drunken pineapple…sin palabras) and the crema catalana. And don’t even get me started on the cocktails…buenísimos!

There is much more to say about the amazing experience, made all the more pleasant by the wonderful company of friends, but I’d rather share these images, from the restaurant’s website, and just one by yours truly.

I’d passed this place countless times on my daily commute through the metro blue line and dreamed of living up on one the new and super cool lofts on Flower street, just by LA Live and Staples Center. And now I just wish I could live there so Rivera could be my neighborhood bar and restaurant. And you’d be my guest!

Visit Rivera. It’s defintely a Keeper!

www.riverarestaurant.com

1050 South Flower Street, LA, 90015

You're going to love this place. Rivera Restaurant exterior.

The mood at Rivera.

Every plate is decorated by hand. Maybe the INS will demand their trademark image, but you can't deny this is clever. Caution with the Chile!

Torta Xocolata. Am Speechless...

A few of the signature drinks.

“Provecho”: never going back.

28 Feb

Big thumbs down to Provecho, a “Mexican fusion” restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, which opened about a year ago.

Don’t get me wrong, the place is beautiful, the food is acceptable, our waiter Bryan was very pleasant, but the dinner experience that was going superbly turned into a big disappointment. Let me explain.

My dear friends had invited me to drinks and dinner to celebrate my birthday- again, yes still celebrating!- and they chose this spot on Wilshire and Flower in LA.

Never coming back here.

The evening started nicely at the bar. The cocktails were tangy, well served and original and we were excited about the place. Perfect spanish was spoken, con acento mexicano, y había buenos elementos para el “people watching”.

Two little cocktails sitting at the bar...

Once we were seated at our table, we were informed that there would be a private party at 10pm and we would have to leave by 9:50pm. It was already 8thirtyish…

This did not go over well. My friends had made a reservation two weeks in advance. They did not so much as get a call or confirmation email 24 hours before the reservation, as is typically the case with well run restaurants or establishments.

Obviously we were irritated by this, but since we were already seated, we proceeded to go over the menu. I mean, you’re NOT going to throw us out during dinner, right? Especially if we are ordering appetizers and several big item entreés to share “family style”.

Provecho has a varied menu, seafood ceviche, lamb, prime rib, and a good pork belly appetizer which was one of the highlights. But little did we know that after our main course was hastily served, our waiter had been commissioned to ask us to leave. We were not even halfway into the meal. We then asked for his manager and the chef Gabriel Morales. Only the manager came in, so we voiced our displeasure, stated their poor manners in trying to throw us out and politely requested more time to finish our meal, even at the bar if we had to! It didn’t work, and we didn’t even get compensated for this!

I mean, we were in the $250 plus range  for dinner, one of our friends had brought in two bottles of beautiful wine (A Concha y Toro Terrunya from Chile, thank you very much!) and we didn’t plan on taking a doggie bag home. But they only offered a lame apology: they were sorry that they could not diss the party coming in, which turned out to be a bunch of frat boys from USC (which only made us angrier!) If they thought we were going to be OK in leaving a good meal so a bunch of sorority brats can enjoy this space, then they have another thing coming.

I only have this blog to rant, so here it goes: we will NEVER ever return to Provecho and we will tell everyone we know. Don’t go there! It’s overpriced, adds too much “chilito TAJIN” to spice up the seafood and serves undercooked prime rib. It was pratically served raw by the chef so we could get out of there sooner. This combined with poor courtesy and manners by the managing staff means Provecho LA has a big TACHA (no-no) in our books. And we have big books! And Twitter accounts, and facebook profiles, and friends in HIGH places. (No por ser presumida, pero si es cierto eh!)

Alas they practically threw us out. However, the evening ended on a high note (which will be added later to this blog) when we proceeded to Rivera. But more on that coming soon.

Here are 2 shots from our dinner, previous to our exit:

Some of our appetizers included: ceviche, sashimi and pork belly. They added too much Tajin chile en polvo if you ask me.

Would you leave this meal unfinished? Concha y Toro Terrunya Carmenere, lamb, scallops and prime rib. Practically untouched!

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