Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mexico City: Will Walk For Food

Last weekend, we went to Mexico City to mark my 66th birthday with, umm, cultural activities and feasting.

The cultural part was pretty much limited to looking at and photographing the exteriors of Colonial Era churches, listening to the organ grinders and a lot of walking through the Centro Histórico.

The feasting part got off to a halting start with a stop at Bar Cantina La Montañosa, on Calle Las Palmas; listed in Nicholas Gilman's book, Good Food in Mexico City. The bar has a raffish scene, and the "free" food that comes with the purchase of a drink was o.k. but nothing special. A meal of one Caldo de Camarón and one Coctél de Seviche de Abulón accompanied by two Cervezas Victoria was $70 pesos.

Unfulfilled, we walked many blocks westward to an old favorite, the Taquería Tlaquepaque. We made a mistake this time in ordering very large assortments of tacos or taco fixings, which in the first instance ranged from ordinary to repugnant; and in the second case, passable but excessive. If we were to return (and I think that next time, we'd choose El Huequito instead.)

On the walk back, we found the strength to stop in at the fabulous Pastelería Ideal on Av. 16 de Septiembre. It was Friday afternoon, and the place was jammed, as citizens chose pastries and breads from the mind-boggling assortment on the hectares of self-service display tables.

At the checkout and wrapping counter, the crowd was so thick that I had to hold my tray high to avoid hitting other waiting customers in the head.
I always enjoy shopping in the Ideal, even when it's crowded. (Maybe more so.)

The next day, Saturday, we organized our itinerary better. We started out with fresh juices at Jugos Canadá; one Nopal combo and one Mandarina. Both were very good. We stopped at Cafe Jekimir on Isabel La Católica at Regina for some first rate coffee; then another long walk westward to Calle Ayuntamiento at Calle Luis Moya and the Restaurante San José, where we had a decent breakfast. We'd been to this restaurant twice in past years. It's just a neighborhood place, serving local folks. Since then, it's undergone a makeover, in knotty pine with sepia tinted photos from the Revolucíon era.

Restored, we sought the Mercado San Juan, whose entrances are hidden on a side street, Calle Ernesto Pugibet, one block south of Ayuntamiento, just west of the park of the same name and under the shadow of the Torre Telmex.

The medium sized market is notable for its high quality products, specializing in Spanish style embutidos; wild mushrooms in season, fresh Asian vegetables (I bought some beautiful ginger root at only $26 pesos a kilo.), pristine seafood and specialty meats. There were also some fine looking Spanish style breads. I felt constrained to buy only a couple of cans of "La Chinata" Pimentón de La Vera, which was a great find, at only $30 pesos a can.

Our walk back took us to Puros Hermanos Petrides, purveyors of fine, Mexican cigars for over 70 years. Calle Rep. de Uruguay, 22-A. The cordial staff assisted me in making a selection.

We'd done a lot of research on where to have our big, splurge meal, and after looking over the menus of two
Spanish restaurants, (one a seafood buffet), ended up making a reservation at El Cardenal. We'd had a wonderful breakfast there last April, and now wanted to try dinner.
We returned to our lodgings, the stylishly Art Deco Hotel Gillow, to clean up and rest.

To be continued...


Steve Cotton said...

More ginger!

Don Cuevas said...

Yes, more ginger, Steve. I haven't figured our what to do with it yet, other than maybe ginger marmalade.
I've pretty well cooled off on making ginger beer.