Travel Tuesday: A trip down the canals of Xochimilco

las trajineras

When we were visiting Mexico back in December, it turned out that my dear friend Ana and her family were also visiting at the same time. We were determined to see each other, and after some previously derailed plans thanks to illnesses we finally settled on a date and an activity. We’d check out the Museo Dolores Olmedo (which I’ll write about another day), the floating gardens of Xochimilco and then have lunch together on the day after Christmas.

I was so excited when Ana and her family picked me up – first because I’d be exploring some places I’d never visited before, but also because I was so happy to be able to share in these experiences with someone who I knew cherished them as much as I did. Thank you, Ana, Alan, Camila and Patricia for sharing this special day with me.

(Be sure to check out the video after the jump.)… 

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Wordless Wednesday: Dulces

José returned this past Sunday from his trip to Mexico City for Semana Santa. Among the presents he brought home for me… ¡Dulces! In pretty much any taquería in Mexico, you’ll get some kind of candies delivered with your check. Some of my favorites include the dulces de tamarindo (tamarind and chile-flavored candy) and the paletas picosas (spicy and sweet lollipops) pictured above from El Charco de Las Ranas, El Califa and El Fogoncito.

  • What’s your favorite candy when you visit a taquería?

Wordless Wednesday: Capirotada

Who doesn’t love capirotada? This traditional treat, a bread pudding-like dish often served during Lent, is typically made with toasted bolillo rolls (French bread is an acceptable substitute if you can’t get bolillos), a syrupy piloncillo sauce, raisins and cheese. Everybody has their own version and there’s no one way to make it. This version from El Bajío in Mexico City includes peanuts and queso fresco sprinkled on top, and was enjoyed on our last visit to Mexico City during the winter. I’ll be sharing a recipe here for capirotada just in time for Semana Santa and Easter.

  • How do you like to make your capirotada? What kind of cheese do you use and what kind of garnishes do you like?

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Benito Juárez!

Feliz cumpleaños to one of Mexico’s most famous presidents, Benito Juárez, who was born on this day in 1806. This monument pictured above, gifted to the city of Chicago in 1977 by Mexican president José López Portillo, stands along Michigan Avenue in the Plaza of the Americas next door to the Wrigley Building and across the street from the Chicago Tribune.

Often regarded as Mexico’s greatest and most-loved leader, Juárez died of a heart attack in 1872. If you need to brush up on your Mexican history, read about Benito Juárez and what he did for the Mexican people both before and during his presidency. You might also be surprised to know that he spent a short time living in New Orleans from 1853-1854. Juárez came from a Zapotec family in Oaxaca and served in a variety of political positions during his career. Today, there are numerous monuments and locations dedicated or named in his honor. In Mexico City, the international airport is just one of many, many locations named after Juárez.

Check out some additional photos and details about the Chicago monument on the Public Art in Chicago blog.

  • Do you know of a monument or location dedicated to Benito Juárez? Leave a comment with where it’s located!

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?
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