Monday, March 08, 2010

Gourmandizing Mexico City Part 6- Will Shop 4 Food

We didn't spend all of our time in Mexico City eating. We also shopped for food. We had a modest list, augmented by requests from our friend Ron in Pátzcuaro. He was interested in green, (unroasted) coffee beans, fresh shiso leaves, and date molasses. I was fairly certan we could find those items within a two block radius. The date molasses required a longer search, but it was fun.

I wanted to augment my supplies of Pimentón de La Vera, an essential seasoning. I had some vague idea of sampling some embutidos Españoles (Spanish charcuterie). But the most pleasurable part of shopping is the hunt and the serendipitous discovery of new delicacies.

Our hunter-gatherer instincts drew us to the area of Calle Ayuntamiento, between López and Luis Moya. The fabulous Mercado San Juan (basket icon) lies a couple of blocks south of Ayuntamiento, on Calle Ernesto Pugibet, under the shadow of the ugly Torre TelMex.

View Mexico City, D.f. in a larger map

We delayed visiting the Mercado San Juan until Monday, with the thought that we might be carrying somewhat perishable items back to Pátzcuaro. Meanwhile, we occupied ourselves by shopping at La Europea, a chain of wine and liquor stores originating in the area. They also carry delicacies in jars and tins. I bought a large tin of Pimentón de La Vera "La Chinata" (my favorite brand because it's good, but it's also packed in a Chinese Red color tin. There were a couple of brands of fine conserves, and we bought a jar of Spanish "La Vieja Fábrica" Seville Orange Marmalade.

We then walked east to the corner of Ayunatamiento and Aranda, anchored by several coffee roasting companies. The first is Café Cordobés, right on the southwestern corner. There we purchase a medio kilo of café verde, grano entero from Veracruz, at $35 MXP. Immediately next door is the Café Colibri, which looks more trendy and less traditional. (As we were already well stoked from a cafe con leche stop at La Piccolina, C/ Luis Moya 93, we didn't try any of the brews offered.)

Catty-corner on Ayuntamiento is the Café Villareal, with a sharp aroma of coffee roasting. This shop is dedicated to selling the coffee, both whole and ground, without any frou-frou brewhaha. There we scored some café verde de Chiapas at $41 MXP the half kilo.

We continued our food quest in the eatward eastward direction, headed toward the true Centro.

Soon, we crossed (with the light!) the broad and bustling arterial street, Eje Central 3, AKA San Juan de Letrán.

We wove our way through a less attractive barrio to the lovely and renascent neighborhood centered on Calle Regina, of which one long block is pedestrians only. The stately Iglesia de Regina Coeli is the centerpiece of the street.

Our goal was Café Jekimir, on the corner of C/ Isabel La Católica and Regina. This bustling, Arabic inflected coffee house was first brought to our attention by Nick Gilman in his book, Good Food In Mexico City (a recommended guide for the food lover to Mexico City.)

There we rested, sipping an apple-spice tea, while having our shoes shined. I went to buy some coffee beans for us, but the prices were considerably higher than over on C/ Ayuntamiento, so I passed. Maybe it's because Jekemir is famous, or to help pay for the free wi-fi available in the shop. Anyway, it's a nice place.

We asked about date molasses, but they don't sell it. The man at the check out offered directions to Biblos, Productos Árabes, of C/ El Salvador, a little east of the corner of C/ Correo Mayor. This is east of Av. Pino Súarez, and southeast of the Zócalo.

We continued to it, pushing on eastward into new territory for us. This seems to be one of Mexico City's garment districts. We found the Biblos Productos Árabes in the Pasaje Balvaneda at C/ El Salvador # 152, Local 29.
It's a small store, but has a nice selection. We didn't find date molasses, although we did get a large bottle of Jallab of rosewater and date syrup to make drinks. There are good olives, some spiced and others not. We bought some extra heavy fig conserves for ourselves.

Then, a long walk back to our hotel, stopping in at the Paraiso de Fumador (Hermanos Petrides) and at Mazapanes Toledo to buy some turrón for our friends Luz and Paco.

When we got back to our hotel, I realized that I hadn't bought any coffee beans for us. No matter; we are quite content with the coffee from La Surtidora in Pátzcuaro.

I'll describe my visit to the Mercado San Juan in Mexico City: The Final Day, coming soon to a computer near you.


Tancho said...

You have worn me out, just reading about running around.....

Don Cuevas said...

Tancho, maybe you need to eat better. You're all skin and bones! Then you'll have more energy.

Gird yourself; it's not over yet!