This vegan banana chocolate smoothie recipe is a creation I’ve been drinking over and over again for the last few weeks. I love experimenting with Mexican ingredients that aren’t necessarily always in traditional Mexican dishes. Cacao has been harvested and consumed in its raw state by ancient cultures such as the Aztecs and Mayans in Mexico as well as some other Latin American countries for centuries. Today, it’s easy to find a variety of raw cacao powders commercially available and made by different brands; it’s often sold in health food stores and it’s easy and inexpensive to buy online as well. Raw cacao powder has plenty of health benefits in addition to the rich flavor it provides to any dish. It’s packed with antioxidants, and has high amounts of nutrients and minerals such as magnesium, copper and manganese.
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?
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!
Ahi tuna, avocado mousse, chipotle aioli, mango habanero galette…