My #ILoveAvocados Live Party with Avocados From Mexico

I recently hosted a fabulous party with Avocados From Mexico and Latina Bloggers Connect at my home. This is a sponsored #ILoveAvocados LBC Live Party post. All opinions and recipes are my own.

It’s no secret that I love avocados, and even if you’ve been reading The Other Side of The Tortilla for just a short time, you’ve probably seen plenty of avocado recipes here. From eating them plain with a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of salt to turning them into a gourmet meal, I love avocados any which way you slice them. That’s why, when I was approached to host a live party at my home with Avocados From Mexico, I jumped at the chance to share some versatile avocado recipes with some of my favorite Latina bloggers. I demonstrated four recipes using avocados (all of them vegan or vegetarian-friendly, by the way) and sent my guests home with a surprise—a jar of my freshly made salsa verde con aguacate.

iloveavocados live party with Avocados From Mexico and Latina Bloggers Connect

Here’s a sneak peek into my party with video, photos and recipes! Enjoy!… 

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Maura meets Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, Gloria Guevara!

Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to a beautiful event by the Mexico Tourism Board in Chicago and there was a very special guest on hand: Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, Gloria Guevara Manzo.

Not only did Secretary Guevara talk about new tourism initiatives, but she also introduced a sneak preview to all the guests of the new documentary, “Mexico: The Royal Tour,” what looks to be an absolutely thrilling journey around Mexico with Peter Greenberg and one of the country’s most distinguished tour guides: President Felipe Calderón.

The trailer brought tears to my eyes when I recognized a few of the places I have been and made my heart ache for Mexico. Thankfully, my next trip is only one month away. The rest of the night was filled with traditional music, excellent food from Mexique and a gallery viewing of simply stunning photographs by world-renowned Spanish photojournalist, César Russ (who, coincidentally, has been living in Chicago since 2006). The photos are incredible and so vibrant, you feel as if you’re really there. The detail is just amazing—have a look for yourself: I took video as I walked through the gallery and captured some of my favorite photos up-close.

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After the video presentation, I had the chance to speak with Secretary Guevara for a few minutes about tourism efforts, how online efforts are helping boost tourism and the Mexico Today program. As the only Mexico Today ambassador located in the Midwest, I was honored to represent my colleagues far and wide and was very proud when Secretary Guevara was able to mention some specific efforts within the program and that she was very pleased with the selection of ambassadors…. 

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Nacimientos: The tradition of the nativity scene

La Navidad has come and gone but Día de Los Reyes is only a few days away and I realized that we’ve never talked about nacimientos, or nativity scenes, here before! And every nativity scene has Los Reyes Magos, the three kings who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus on the Epiphany, 12 days after Christmas.

Displaying a nativity scene at home is a storied tradition in Mexico, but nacimientos actually originated in Italy, thanks to Saint Francis of Assisi.

Here are two nacimientos belonging to our family. The figurines on the left are made from hojas de maiz, or corn husks, and belong to my suegra; the one on the right is made of wood with clay figurines and belongs to our Tía Leda.

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Cooking Combat at the Kenmore Live Studio: Chilaquiles

Back in November, I did a cooking show with a live studio audience at the Kenmore Live Studio in Chicago. It was so much fun, I can’t wait to do another! For those who may have missed the show in person or couldn’t watch the live stream online, Kenmore was kind enough to put the show on YouTube so I could share with all of you.

¡Buen provecho!

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Mexique: Celebrating Mexican Cuisine with a French Twist

A few weeks ago I attended a dinner given by the Mexico Tourism Board and Chef Carlos Gaytan at his restaurant, Mexique, in honor of the recent UNESCO designation of Mexican cuisine as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Tourism Board over the last several weeks has hosted authentic Mexican dinners in a number of major North American cities to celebrate, including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Miami, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, so I was thrilled to receive the invitation.

Did you know that French recipes and cooking techniques during the French occupation of Mexico in the 1860s became an important element in the evolution of modern Mexican gastronomy?

Gaytan’s concept behind Mexique is modern Mexican food with French influence. Hailing from Huitzuco, Guerrero, Gaytan’s love of food helped him rise from pantry cook to executive chef. He trained with French chef Dominique Tougne of Bistro 110 (Gold Coast) and has also spent time in the kitchens at Bistrot Margo (Old Town) and the Union League Club (Loop), all in Chicago. If you live in Chicago or are visiting, I highly recommend you visit Mexique for a meal.

One thing that left an impression on me at the dinner was when Carlos explained why he doesn’t serve mixed drinks in his restaurant: they take away from the palate and so instead, he serves wine and tequila. And God bless him for telling everyone in the dining room that tequila should be sipped. Someone at a table near me chimed in that “only heathens drink tequila shooters,” which caused an eruption of laughter at my table.

And I can’t end without showing you what we ate. It was a lovely four-course tasting meal with excellent wines and ended with tequila. I can’t wait to return to Mexique for another meal!

PRIMERO: Ceviche

Ahi tuna, avocado mousse, chipotle aioli, mango habanero galette… 

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¿Verde de envidia?

This weekend I’ll be off galavanting around Cuernavaca to visit friends with my suegra, but so as not to leave you too verde de envidia (especially if I end up eating at El Faisán before returning to Mexico City on Sunday), I thought I’d give you a few events going on in a few of my favorite U.S. cities that will make you feel like you’re in Mexico – at least for a few hours.

If you know anything about Mexican music from the 1980s, then you know the Mexico City guacarrock band, Botellita de Jerez. True story: we played the Botellita de Jerez song “Abuelita de Batman” at our wedding in Mexico and it was a hit with all our guests! For a blast from the past, watch the music video of the song below.

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Now, there’s a film, “basada en hechos más o menos reales” as they say about the true story of Botellita de Jerez, and it’s called “Naco es Chido.” I’ve been dying to see the film but haven’t had the opportunity to view it yet because I was out of town when it screened in Chicago this summer during the Hola México Film Festival. Botellita de Jerez will be in San Diego and Los Angeles this weekend, with a special screening of the film in Los Angeles followed by a performance by the band…. 

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