I just came back from a three-week trip to Mexico; I had the chance to stop in Mexico City for a few days on my way to visit my family in the state of Sinaloa. My dearest friends Adriana and José Luis were kind enough to open their home and have me as a guest for that time, since I do not have any family left in the city and, well – because they are awesome! It is amazing all the different activities we were able to jam into less than four days, and I am sure it will take me a while to cover all the material that I have accumulated.
This is my post #200, and I think it is timely to celebrate with the description of one of my first adventures in Mexico City, which was to visit the old neighbourhood of La Condesa.
National Geographic has listed Mexico City as number one on their “2019 best trips.” I was not surprised, because Mexico City is a fascinating place and there are always new and exciting things to do and discover. It was also not surprising that the emphasis was on traditional Mexican food, with so many old-fashioned restaurants, markets and cafés around. What seemed refreshing was that they suggested following a quest for traditional corn tortillas as a “must” this year. One of the places they recommend is “Molino El Pujol” (146-A Benjamín Hill St.):
It opened recently and was a brand-new experience for me; although it is a rather small establishment, with a counter, a few stools, and a couple of small tables on the sidewalk, their food is truly delicious and represents a great effort to bring artisan corn (maize) products and heirloom corn farming back on track. I arrived there around 10:30 am, so I picked a few items from their breakfast menu: tamal de chepil (tamale filled with beans and chepil, one of the many Mexican greens known as quelites), a side of salsa de miltomate (field tomatillo sauce), and a cup of hot atole (made from their yellow corn, ground in site):
After this hearty meal, I went for a walk around the neighbourhood. Growing up, I lived nearby for over a decade, so I was glad to see some of the places I used to frequently visit, such as “Tacos El Tizoncito” (on 122 Tamaulipas Ave.), the self-declared cradle of the taco al pastor:
I have mentioned this restaurant before, picturing it as more of a taco stand, but now it looks very contemporary and trendy; it was too early for tacos al pastor, and I was completely full anyway, so I will keep my old memory for now. The old repertory movie theatre “La Bella Epoca” (202 Tamaulipas Ave.) – “The Beautiful Era”, has also been remodeled, now transformed into a cultural centre, with the addition – amongst other things – of the Rosario Castellanos bookstore, allegedly the largest in Latin America, and featuring a lively cafeteria:
In contrast, one place that has preserved its characteristic façade intact is the iconic “Nevería ROXY” (161 Tamaulipas Ave.), the ice cream parlor many capitalinos (capital-city folks), including myself, frequented with friends and sweethearts in our youth:
Their selection has remained large and almost unchanged, except for the addition of some exotic flavours, such as maracuyá (Passiflora edulis, passion fruit) and macadamia nut. They still serve their classic banana splits and ice cream sodas (floats), but I ordered a portable treat, which is also my all-time favourite: a two-scoop cup with mamey ice cream and chico zapote sorbet (photo below, left). Mamey (Pouteria sapota) and chico zapote (Manilkara zapota) are both fruits from the Sapotaceae family, characterized by dark shinny seeds and custardy flesh; I found fresh mamey in a nearby store, so I bought one to share later with my hosts (photo below, right):
It was way past noon and I decided to go back to El Pujol, for a sample from their lunch menu. I chose their tacos: one wrapped with hoja santa (Piper auritum, also a quelite) and filled with avocado, and the other filled with mixed quelites; the beverage was maize water:
That was a lovely way to conclude my visit to La Condesa, both down memory lane and finding new places. I will come back to talk in more detail about the preparations and especially some of the fresh ingredients shown here, with the month of April practically half-gone, and the planting season here in Southern Ontario entering its full blast stage.