Lunch at Xanat Bistro and Terrace in Mexico City

Xanat Bistro and Terrace is the upscale contemporary Mexican restaurant in the recently renovated five-star JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City.

The hotel, located in the Polanco neighborhood, is steps from Paseo de la Reforma, the Auditorio Nacional, Chapultepec and the Museo Nacional de Antropología. Xanat opened in October 2014.

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On our recent visit to Mexico in December 2014, I had a chance to dine there for lunch with my cuñada. The hotel’s executive chef, Ciro Mejia, came up with the concept for Xanat (pronounced “shah-naht”). The restaurant’s name is an ancient Totonaca word that means “vanilla flower.” In Totonaca mythology, the vanilla orchid was born when the princess Xanat, who had an affair with a mortal man, ran away to the forest with her lover. The two were captured and beheaded for their offense to the gods, and in the place where their blood seeped into the soil, the first vanilla orchid grew.

The Totonacas were the first to cultivate the vanilla orchid, and Mexico is considered the birthplace of vanilla. Xanat is still used today as a girl’s name in Papantla, Veracruz, where most of Mexico’s vanilla is cultivated. Mexican vanilla beans have a signature creamy flavor and a unique woody spice profile different from other kinds of vanilla.

RELATED RECIPE: Atole de vainilla

At Xanat Bistro and Terrace, many items on the menu have a touch of vanilla incorporated, both in sweet and savory dishes, paying unique homage to this truly Mexican ingredient. I liked that they also focus on using local and national Mexican ingredients to elevate traditional Mexican dishes with a modern spin.
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Mexican snacks for Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, and whether you’re throwing your own fiesta or heading to someone else’s, you probably need to make at least one dish to share with everyone! Why not feed your crowd with an assortment of Mexican snacks?

Here’s my list of 20 Super Bowl-approved snacks — easy Mexican recipes that can either be prepared a day ahead of time or quickly before you head out to watch the big game on someone else’s couch.

Quick and easy Mexican recipes perfect for your Super Bowl party! Get all the recipes on theothersideofthetortilla.com

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BLT guacamole

How to make BLT guacamole. Recipe via theothersideofthetortilla.com

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Farmland® and Latina Bloggers Connect. All opinions and the recipe here are my own.

BLT guacamole is a mashup of two of my favorite things: A classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and avocado. Whenever I make a BLT sandwich, I usually like to add a little sliced avocado and some homemade chipotle mayo.

This recipe is a lot like a BLT — the only thing missing is the bread. (Although you could eat this guacamole on toast as an open-faced sandwich, too.)

RELATED TIP: How to keep guacamole fresh and green… 

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How to make chipotle mayo

Chipotle mayo is a condiment that you can easily make at home — so you can make it as mild or as spicy as you want! You probably already have all the ingredients at home, too.

How to make chipotle mayo. Directions via theothersideofthetortilla.com

Some condiments that are commonplace in Mexico, such as chipotle mayo, can be tough to find in mainstream grocery stores in the United States. Although I’ve always lived in cities where I had access to a Mexican grocery store, not all of them carry the brands I like, so I began making my own at home because I always have the ingredients handy anyhow. And considering it takes less than 10 minutes to whip up, I love that I can adjust how spicy it is with ease depending on my mood or what I plan to spread my chipotle mayo on…. 

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Roasted jalapeño hummus and the 2015 Flavor Forecast

This post is part of a compensated campaign with McCormick Spices. All opinions and the recipe here are my own.

Roasted jalapeño hummus is a quick, easy, healthy snack you can make at home in about 15 minutes.

While this might look like any old regular hummus, the roasted jalapeño, garlic and cumin give it a mellowed, spicy kick for a different flavor than traditional, plain hummus. This anything-but-typical dip is great served with pita bread, pita chips, or tortilla. chips. And in 2015, this snack — which is a fusion of Middle Eastern and Mexican flavors — is actually trendy! Middle Eastern dips and spreads are one of the global food trends in this year’s Flavor Forecast from McCormick Spices.

Roasted jalapeño hummus recipe via theothersideofthetortilla.com

It’s quite easy to work most of these trends into your daily cooking routines, but I challenge you to try to incorporate at least one trend per week. Chances are, if you’re a Mexican food enthusiast, you may already be cooking according to some of these trends — in which case, congratulations for being accidentally cool!

Check out the full McCormick Flavor Forecast 2015 and get inspired to get cooking with recipe suggestions galore.

There are eight flavor trends to watch in the 15th annual McCormick Flavor Forecast, and here, I’m sharing my five favorites and how you can apply them with Mexican cuisine in your own kitchen.

RELATED: 2013 McCormick Flavor Forecast gives Mexican food a global twist

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Cotija and chile-spiced palomitas

How to make cheesy, spicy popcorn with queso cotija, chile powder, butter and lime juice. Recipe via theothersideofthetortilla.com.

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Cacique and Latina Bloggers Connect. All opinions and the recipe here are my own.

Winter and family movie nights seem to go hand in hand, and you can’t have a movie night without a great snack! I love making up my own popcorn flavors, so this cheesy chile-spiced palomitas recipe is just what I want for a night in with the family and my Netflix account.

When I got an air popper several years ago, I stopped buying microwave popcorn. The beauty of freshly popped popcorn made with an air popper is that you can make as little (or as much) as you want, and you can dress it up differently each time you make popcorn! And you’re not getting any chemical additives either, so you won’t feel unhealthy eating it. If you don’t have an air popper, you can also easily make the popcorn on the stovetop without any oil.

I love to mix and match flavors all the time, but one of my favorite combinations is melted butter, chile powder, queso cotija and a little squeeze of fresh lime juice. Sometimes, I substitute the chile powder for a liquid hot sauce such as salsa Búfalo or Tapatío. If I’m feeling like something really spicy, I might even use a habanero salsa!

Popcorn (also known as palomitas) is also an awesome street food treat in Mexico, so I love recreating street palomitas at home…. 

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