Wordless Wednesday: Cielito Querido Café in Mexico City

Cielito Querido Café Mexico City

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? 

Get my FREE Brunch With Mom recipe ebook for Mother’s Day

I’m excited to share that I’ve co-authored a bilingual recipe ebook, “Brunch With Mom,” that has 11 awesome brunch recipes for Mother’s Day by me and five other food writers. You don’t want to miss out on this cookbook full of drool-worthy photos and easy directions to make the perfect brunch!

I wrote two of the recipes in the book, which are pictured here below. If you make any of the recipes, share them on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #BrunchWithMom so we can see your masterpiece!

Trenza de huevo con chorizo | Egg and chorizo puff pastry braid

This fun and fancy variation on a traditional breakfast dish envelops the huevo con chorizo in a braided puff pastry dough to create a savory breakfast treat.

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Latte Oaxaqueño | Oaxacan Latte

This spin on a regular old cafe latte uses Mexican chocolate for an Oaxacan twist. The secret: You don’t need a fancy coffee machine to make the foam! I teach you how to do it with a glass jar, milk and the microwave. Even your kids will be able to do this one.

oaxacan_latte_brunch_with_mom_ebook_TOSOTT

My recipes and photos appear on pages 10-15 and 44-47. Get the whole ebook for FREE here (you need to create a free account to download or print it):
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Wordless Wednesday: Garabatos

We’ve been talking a lot about guilty pleasures since last week and there have been many great answers about your favorite Mexican guilty pleasures in the comments, on our Facebook fan page and sent to me on Twitter.

But one that nobody has mentioned and I feel is extremely worthy of the title is a little cookie called the garabato. So please forgive me, but we’re about to get a little wordy this Wordless Wednesday because these galletas are worth knowing more about!

They’re made with two shortbread cookies, a smooth dark chocolate fudge center and drizzled with dark chocolate. Paired with a café con leche, it’s like pure cookie bliss. And they come in two sizes, mini and regular. Or, as I like to say: naughty and extra naughty. Why? Because I’m certain these cookies are loaded with butter and sugar, which is why they are such a delicious temptation to begin with. I may actually attempt making them in the Tortilla Test Kitchen later this year – there’s only so long I can go with a craving before I must satisfy it, even if it means experimenting in the kitchen!

The establishment that sells these amazing little treats is, appropriately, called Garabatos, and besides having an array of artisan pastries (I’m also a big fan of the dedo de novia, a tube-shaped sort of baklava) they also have a cafe menu with typical botanas, sandwiches, salads and the like.

On our last trip to Mexico, José was craving garabatos before he even arrived. Since I got there a few days in advance, I picked up a small box with a dozen mini garabatos just for him. I’m not going to incriminate myself here and tell you how many trips we made to Garabatos over the few weeks we were visiting, but let’s just say we had our fair share. On the day we headed back home to Chicago, I found a Garabatos in the airport and I had to have one last fix. As you can see from the photo, I couldn’t even wait to photograph my treat before taking the first (er, and second) bite.

  • Have you had garabatos?

CAFÉ DE OLLA

I vividly remember the first time I really tasted café de olla. It was a sunny summer morning in Mexico City’s upscale Polanco district and I was eating brunch with my then-boyfriend and his parents at a well-known restaurant (side note: I would later marry him). I say “really tasted” because I know that a few times earlier in my life I’d had some bastardized versions—God-knows-where in the Midwest—that just had cinnamon in it and were called “Mexican coffee,” or worse, actually passed off as café de olla by name on the menu.

In terms of food and beverage experiences, this first taste of real café de olla was a pivotal moment in the way that I viewed coffee. It suddenly became more than a morning caffeine fix, laced with milk and sugar. The restaurant, El Bajío, has become one of my all-time-favorite places and is known for its truly traditional Mexican fare. They serve their café de olla in a beautiful tiny earthenware mug that resembles a larger olla. If you’ve never seen one, an olla is a big lead-free clay pot that is glazed on the inside for cooking and typically painted with a folk art design on the outside.

El Bajío also introduced me to many traditional foods that I’d never eaten before and changed the way I felt about Mexican cooking. So, I suppose to say it changed my view of coffee is certainly an understatement. It introduced me to a host of new flavors and ideas; it made me want to learn to cook traditional Mexican food and toss out any Americanized recipe I’d ever made. It is for the above reasons that I chose café de olla as the first recipe to share here.

If you’ve not been to Mexico City, you likely haven’t heard of El Bajío. Founded in 1972 by Raúl Ramírez Degollado and Alfonso Hurtado Morellón, the restaurant is now run by Carmen “Titita” Ramírez Degollado, who took over when her husband passed away in the late 1970s.  El Bajío has six locations: the original, Cuitláhuac, and five others. Of the many times I’ve had the pleasure to eat there, I’ve only ever visited the Polanco location but my husband has been to both the Cuitláhuac and Polanco dining rooms. Usually when we go to El Bajío with family, it’s to the one in Polanco.

To read more about the restaurant and to view their menu, you can visit El Bajío online.

When I returned to Chicago that summer, one of the first things I did was make the trip to a Mexican grocer in Pilsen to find piloncillo and start experimenting. Named for its cone shape, piloncillo is unrefined brown sugar, a result of the cristallization of two types of sugar cane. It’s also known as panela or panocha, though I wouldn’t walk into a store and ask for it using those names; you may get some strange looks due to the slang meanings.

Some people like to flavor their café de olla with whole cloves, aniseed or allspice. I did a bit of research and there are even some weirdos who put semi-sweet chocolate in their café de olla—guacala. (A Spanish expression reserved for a supreme form of icky.) Not me; I like to keep it pretty simple.

Now, every time I drink café de olla, I close my eyes with the first sip and remember the start of my journey into traditional Mexican cooking. I hope you’ll enjoy my recipe below, and please feel free to leave comments with your thoughts, fond memories of café de olla or what you do differently in your recipe.

RECETA:
If you don’t have an olla (and most güeros don’t) you can steep the coffee directly in the saucepan and strain before serving. I often use a 32-ounce French press to avoid spilling while straining the loose coffee grounds and cinnamon sticks from an olla; the instructions below are for steeping with a French press. If you use a saucepan or an olla, it is best to use a fine mesh sieve over a serving carafe to filter out the coffee grounds and cinnamon sticks. If you don’t have a fine mesh sieve, you can use a regular-sized sieve with some cheesecloth to catch the grounds.

  • 3 ¼ cups water
  • ½ cup whole coffee beans
  • 2-3 sticks of cinnamon
  • 3-4 small cones of piloncillo
  • 1 tsp unsulphured molasses (optional, but adds a nice depth)

Boil the water in a medium saucepan. When the water is at a rolling boil, add the cinnamon sticks and piloncillo. Allow it to boil for a few minutes and then reduce to medium heat, stirring until the piloncillo is completely dissolved and you can smell the cinnamon. Remove from heat and let it sit to steep the cinnamon for 3-5 minutes.

Grind the coffee beans to a medium-coarseness (make sure not to grind too fine or you’ll get sludge at the bottom of your cup). It’s important that the coffee is as freshly-ground as possible.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and reserve. Pour the liquid mixture into the French press carafe. Pour coffee grounds over the liquid and push the press down just enough to fully wet the grounds, then pull up so the grounds are released and begin to steep. Allow it to steep for about 5 minutes. Pour into a small coffee cup. If you’d like, add a cinnamon stick to your cup for a little extra cinnamon flavor.

Yields 2 servings if you use big mugs or 4 servings if you use small coffee cups.

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