Last week I stopped at a Whole Foods in West Los Angeles to pick up a few things for dinner on my way home from work. I always eye the dessert case to see what’s new in case something catches my interest. I was delighted, then, to see this red prickly pear sorbet!
Last week while we were visiting Mexico City, we checked out a new coffee shop we hadn’t seen before called Cielito Querido Café. Not only is the coffee some of the best we’ve tasted in Mexico (even their café de olla passed my test), but I also loved their cute, cheeky to-go cups that poke fun at Starbucks. Like Starbucks, they have the normal assortment of coffees, espresso and frappes, but they have a host of other offerings on the menu that are muy Mexicano, such as chamoyadas (in no less than four flavors), additions to your café con leche that include cajeta and rompope, chocolate caliente con chile and a house-made horchata. The snack offerings didn’t disappoint either, with selections such as muéganos, palanqueta, molletes, panqué, pasteles and galletas.
I was surprised to learn that the quickly-growing Mexican chain has more than 30 locations in Mexico City as of July 2013 and that I hadn’t stumbled upon one before. I went looking for some more information after a friend on Instagram mentioned that the company is looking to expand to the U.S. (and possibly to Los Angeles) and and found this story on NBC Latino with a great slideshow so you can get a feel for the ambience of Cielito Querido Café. We’ll definitely be back again the next time we visit.
- Have you been to Cielito Querido Café? What did you order? If you haven’t been, do you think you’ll try it out next time you’re in Mexico City?
Each time I visit Mexico City, I end up going home with my suitcase full of books that aren’t available in the U.S. Lately, my bookshelves are looking rather full (despite thinning my library when we moved) so I’ve been a bit choosier about which books I take home since I’m running out of places to put them. I always browse the cookbook and culinary history sections for books that are new since my last visit. Yesterday, I made a stop at the bookstore nearby José’s parents’ house. This book caught my eye because there are tons of books in Spanish about Mexican cuisine and using traditional ingredients, but not as many that highlight healthy recipes. It’s the latest acquisition for my extensive collection of books about Mexican cuisine. I can’t wait to cook my way through it!
If you want to try your luck looking for it, the book is called “México Sano” and is written by Pía Quintana Beristain.
- Do you like to buy books in Mexico? What kind of books do you look for that you can’t get in the U.S.?
For many years while living in Chicago, I bought my tortillas each Saturday morning from Tortilleria El Milagro on South Blue Island Avenue in Pilsen. It was also the only place where I would ever buy ensalada de nopales, for which I’d have to wake up extra early because they always ran out quickly. On the back side of the building is this beautiful mural I often stopped to admire when picking up my tortillas. The neighborhood, located on the Lower West Side, is one of the city’s two Mexican enclaves, and is one of the things I most miss about living in Chicago. My weekly trips to the market, tortilleria and panaderia were like briefly stepping out of Chicago and into Mexico for a few hours at a time.
- Does your city have something special that transports you to Mexico?
I don’t have a green thumb by any means—in fact, I’ve been known to accidentally kill hibiscus bushes so many summers in a row that I gave up on having them anymore—but I really love nature and plant life. Especially in Mexico, there are lots of plants that I’ve grown to love that I wasn’t exposed to while growing up in the Midwest. The Reserva Ecológica del Pedregal de San Ángel at UNAM is one of my most-cherished nature spots in Mexico City because of all the wildflowers, wild nopales and cactus fruits known as tunas. As you might recall, bugambilias are one of my favorite plants in Mexico (I’ve shared photos of them in Cuernavaca, Huatulco and other cities).
Another of my favorites is the jacaranda tree, pictured here, which has beautiful bluish-purple hued blooms. They bloom in the spring in Mexico City, so I love going to visit during Semana Santa to see them. My suegro sent me this photo several weeks ago, taken on the UNAM campus, because he knows how much I love to see the trees full of flowers.
In Los Angeles, thanks to the climate, bugambilias are abundant here, and jacarandas too. In fact, the jacarandas have been blooming for several weeks in my neighborhood. Aren’t they beautiful?
- What kind of plants do you love in Mexico?
There’s nothing like the joy when you discover something familiar in a new place. I recently started shopping at a new grocery store where I stumbled upon an entire aisle of Mexican refrescos. What’s your favorite Jarritos flavor? Me… I love toronja, tamarindo and limón.
- Tell me your favorite flavor in the comments below!