Wordless Wednesday: Ingredients for La Navidad

I went to the supermercado with my suegra a few days ago and saw these three things next to each other in the produce section. Nothing says La Navidad like guayabas, tejocotes and caña in a little ponche navideño, ¿Verdad? And it’s perfect to keep you warm at any posada.

  • What do you see in the grocery store that makes your mouth water at Christmastime?

Wordless Wednesday: Atole y Coyotas

Last night I ate dinner at Merendera Las Lupitas, one of our favorite spots to eat in Mexico City. My favorite part was what came at the end of the meal: an atole and coyotas, which are a traditional dessert that originated in Sonora. They’re usually made with masa harina de trigo and stuffed with piloncillo. The coyotas at Las Lupitas are the best I’ve ever had. I’ll see if I can’t get my hands on a recipe to share with you soon. For more on atoles, check out my recipe for champurrado, an atole made with chocolate. And if you’re visiting Mexico City, you can find Las Lupitas right off of the Plaza Santa Catarina in the Coyoacán neighborhood.

  • What’s your favorite kind of atole? Have you ever had coyotas?

WARM WINTER MARGARITA

With the holidays on our doorstep, I wanted to share with you a cocktail that’s a fantastic and easy-to-make drink that’ll be sure to please your guests.

A few weeks ago, I attended a Ladies’ Night In party in Chicago with Chef Marcela Valladolid, cookbook author and hostess of the Food Network’s “Mexican Made Easy.” We sipped and sampled numerous Sauza Tequila drinks and had a fantastic time tasting dishes from Marcela’s cookbook, Fresh Mexico.

One of the drinks Marcela showed us how to make was this warm winter margarita, reminiscent of a hot toddy – only way more Mexican! It was an instant hit with the crowd and the perfect way to end the evening.

I admit, I’ve got a hoarding problem when it comes to recording TV shows on my DVR. Right now, I probably have half a dozen episodes each of Marcela’s English-language show, “Mexican Made Easy” on the Food Network, and her Spanish-language show on Discovery en Español, “Relatos con Sabor.” I usually like to watch them once for pleasure and a second time to jot down notes with the recipes if it’s something I don’t already know how to make. José is always asking me if it’s safe to delete them or if I still have to watch my second run. I love Chef Marcela because her mission is a lot like mine: to teach people about authentic Mexican food.

It was so much fun to hang out with her for an intimate evening of cooking tips and getting to taste some of her recipes!

Click on the collage below to see the entire album of photos from the party:

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Wordless Wednesday: Boing de guayaba en vidrio

A few months back, Tortilla reader Nelda was telling me on Twitter how much she loved Boing de Guayaba (guava-flavored fruit juice) in glass bottles but that she couldn’t find any where she lived. She mentioned the only place she’d ever seen it in the glass bottles was in Mexico City. Recently, she sent me a message to let me know she found a new little Chilango-owned changarro in her hometown that carries them. Now, every time I see Boing in glass bottles, I think of my amiga! I was in a Mexican grocery store here in Chicago and saw these on the shelf and couldn’t help but take a photo for her.

This photo was taken with my iPhone 3Gs using the ShakeItPhoto app by Banana Camera Co.

AGUA FRESCA: AGUA DE TUNA ROJA

I still remember the first time I saw tunas growing wild – José and I were visiting Mexico City one warm week at the end of the summer several years ago. One afternoon we were bored, so my suegra suggested that José take me on an official tour of Ciudad Universitaria. Also referred to as CU, it is home to the main campus of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (la UNAM or in English, the National Autonomous University of Mexico), the largest university in Latin America and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2007.

This year on September 22, UNAM celebrated 100 years since its founding as the National University of Mexico as it was conceptualized by Secretary and Minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts, Justo Sierra, and inaugurated in 1910 by President Porfirio Díaz. The university is also the successor to the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico, founded by Spanish Royal Decree in 1551 – technically making UNAM one of the oldest universities in the Americas.

On the campus grounds, besides the historic buildings designed by some of Mexico’s most well-known architects, murals and sculptures by famous Mexican artists, an Olympic stadium that has hosted a Summer Olympic Games (1968) and a World Cup (1986), and an impressive number of students, faculty and staff, there exists a serene, green space that is as close to the original land’s flora and fauna as it might have grown freely during the height of the Aztec empire…. 

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AGUA FRESCA: AGUA DE PIÑA

During my last visit to Mexico City, I was a bit rushed to squeeze in my favorite places to eat since I was only in town for a few days before and after our family trip to Aguascalientes for Abuelita Ana’s birthday.

After visiting the Frida Kahlo museum with my suegra in the late morning and a quick stop at the mercado Coyoacán to pick up a few goodies to take back to Chicago, we headed to El Bajío in Polanco for lunch.

As we pulled up to the restaurant on the corner of Campos Elíseos and Alejandro Dumas, the afternoon sky turned gray and it looked as if it was going to rain. Just as we were seated it began to sprinkle and the dining room, usually bright with sunlight thanks to its large plate glass windows and a few skylights, grew a bit dim. One of the many things I love about Mexico City is how it sometimes rains in the afternoon just for a few hours and then the sun comes out shining again. The afternoon rain somehow always appears just at the right time for a siesta and reminds me to take it easy. It’s like mother nature’s way of telling us to rest and relax; to take respite from the daily grind to refresh our spirits.

Since we were in no hurry, what with the rain and all, we settled in to a cozy little table for two in the back near the beverage bar where they make the coffee and juices. We each decided to have agua de piña to drink, so when it came time to order we asked for a large pitcher to share. The pitchers used at El Bajío, and common all over Mexico, are made of a thick hand-blown glass with a cobalt blue rim. Sometimes there are little bubbles still in the glass – one of those slight imperfections that makes them so beautiful to begin with; a reminder that they’re handmade and each is unique.

My suegra has a set of these cobalt-rimmed drinking glasses as well as little tequila glasses in the liquor cabinet in the living room. I’ve always wanted to bring a set of these glasses home with me, but since my suitcase is usually full of other goodies, I never quite have the room. Someday I’ll reserve a spot in my suitcase for them to travel back with me, but until then I’ll just have to dream about it. And I’ve got many memories to choose from – every place I’ve ever been in Mexico, from Baja California Sur all the way east to Quintana Roo, I’ve been served aguas frescas in a cobalt-rimmed glass…. 

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