Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fast Visit to the Big Enchilada

We'd been invited to the wedding of the oldest son of our dearest friends in Mexico city, to a girl he met in Monterrey. The wedding would take place Saturday, April 16, 2011 in Vista del Valle, a suburb of Naucalpan, Estado de México.

Following a tip from the Mexico Branch, we decided to stay at the Hotel Embassy, on Avenida Puebla, #115. It's in the northern perimeter of Colonia Roma Norte, and just 2 1/2 blocks from the Insurgentes Metro Station.

Ver Hotel Embassy en un mapa más grande

This location meant that if we traveled with minimum luggage, we could board the Metro at its western terminus, Observatorio, across the street from the Terminal Poniente de autobuses, save both time and taxi fare, thus reserving our funds for more important enjoyments.

The Hotel Embassy is not only well situated, but very modern and clean. We were charged only $300 a night for a nice room with a king bed, a full, very nice bathroom, and an entire wall of mirrors flanking the bed. Woo woo! The ventilation wasn't too great, though, and no fans were available. After the first night, it cooled off, so it wasn't bad. There's a plush and cozy sunken lounge with wi-fi which worked fine, until the latter part of Monday morning.

Naturally, there are plenty of places to eat close by, ranging from street tacos and curative juices; fondas offering $35 peso comida corridas, a bland U.S. Modern style coffee shop; to an upscale but casual seafood restaurant almost across the street, called Stampa de Mar. I looked at their menu and I didn't like their prices. Example: large shrimp cocktail, $160. OUCH!

Next door to the hotel is the Salon Covadonga, better noted as a hangout out for expat Españoles, journalists and hipsters than for stellar food. We didn't try it, nor did we venture into the unprepossessing Nirvana Restaurante Vegetariano, across from the hotel.

The Cafe Toscano is a bright, active place a block away, near the northeast corner of Plaza Río de Janeiro, with lots of young customers and staff, o.k. food and good coffee. The wi-fi worked fine. I think we went there three times.
Mini review:
Food: **1/2 Omelettes good, pan campesino from Rosetta excellent. A "salsa" of sundried tomatoes and chiles chipotles is outstanding.
Service: ***
Price: $-$1/2
Ambience: Contemporary, hip.
Restroom: Small, clean, unisex.

Pan Campesino, from Rosetta
There's a branch of the famed Dulcería Celaya on Calle Orizaba, not far from the striking XX Century church, La Parroquia de La Sagrada Familia.

We'd hoped to venture into la Zona Rosa for our first meal at a Korean restaurant in the Barrio Coreano of the Zona Rosa, but we were tired, so we headed south a few blocks, through the lovely Plaza Río de Janeiro, to the intersection of C/ Orizaba and Álvaro Obregon, to Restaurante Sobrino's. It's across Orizaba from El Diez Parrilla Argentina.

Here's the blackboard with the Chef's suggestions of the day, but there's much more on the printed menu.

Chef's suggestions at Sobrino's
The Sopa de Cilantro had run out, so Doña Cuevas had a lentil soup with frankfurter slices, which she enjoyed. After, she ordered a very good salad of watercress, sliced pear and apple and goat cheese, sprinkled lavishly with crisp crumbled bacon, and a light vinaigrette dressing.

Ensalada de berros, etc at Sobrino's
I ordered the hamburger, of excellent beef, served on a fresh baguette section and nicely dressed with a creamy garlic sauce as well as the requisite lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and pickles!

It was accompanied by seasoned french fries, which were good.
I'd wanted a glass of red wine, but their wine pricing is insane, with glasses starting at $110 pesos and bottles at around $550 per bottle. (Thanks to Calypso for spotting the earlier error.). Who of us can afford those? So I had a Cerveza Bohemia Oscura at only $39, which went well with the hamburger.

Our bill was $361 pesos. Note that there's a cubierto of $12 per person, which I suppose covers bread and butter, salsa, etc. The bread was ordinary.

Rating Sobrino's
Food: ***1/2
Service: ****
Price: $$
Ambience: Bistro
Restroom: Clean, retro style

After dinner, we crossed Álvaro Obregón to the Maison Française de The Caravanserai (A snooty name if there ever was one.) but apart from the very high prices, the shopping was unsnooty and the staff helpful. There we bought specialty teas, both for ourselves and as part of the wedding gift.

After, a stop at the Café Toscano for a Caffe Macchiato Caldo, then the sweet Dulcería Celaya for a look but no purchases. Then, back to our hotel.

Saturday morning was our shopping day. We hopped the Metro at Insurgentes and got off at Balderas. Across the Avenida Arcos de Belén from the Hotel Pal was a weekends only barbacoa stand, run by a young woman, Érica Sánchez and her mom. The barbacoa comes from Siguilicán, Hidalgo. She invited us to try a little taco and it was good. We had intended to go to Cocina Económica Vianey on Calle Ernesto Pugibet, which for many fans defines barbacoa in the area, but it was good that we ate something at Barbacoa Singuilicán, for when we later arrived at Vianey's, the lines out the door were long.

Barbacoa Siguilicán
After our modest barbacoa breakfast, we complemented it by stopping at La Piccolina, on Calle Luis Moya at Marqúes Sterling. There we enjoyed two of their excellent café con leches, with some pan dulce from the neighborhood Panadería La Palma.

Now fortified, we made a swiftly efficient shopping visit to the usual places: Mercado San Juan; La Molinera El Progreso for various rare items; then into the Centro Histórico to Mazapanes Toledo for almond paste.

Salames and cheeses, Mercado San Juan
We made a fast return across Eje Central 3 San Juan de Letrán, where we stopped at the Camisería y Sombrería La Regia, C/ Ayuntamiento #3.  There I found the Panama style hat I'd been seeking at a reasonable price.

Our last few stops were to Café Villarías where we bought kilos of "green" coffee beans, and El Dragon de Oro for a few Chinese ingredients. An inexpensive cab ride took us back to our hotel.

We then rested up for the big wedding that would place that evening. I'll only say that it was beautiful ceremony, with gorgeous music and song, and the reception, in a large salon elsewhere was fun. We saw friends whom we hadn't seen for a long time.

 We got back to the hotel just before 1:00 a.m.

Sunday morning saw us at a very late breakfast at Café Toscano. Later, we walked 30 minutes to Colonia Roma Sur to our friends' house (parents of the groom), then went for a late comida at Mariscos "La Morenita", in the Mercado Medellín not far away. The two ladies both had Sierra Asada and I a large bowl of Sopa de Jaiba con Almejas, then a coctel chico de camarones y pulpo.

The Sierra Asada, prepared "a la talla", (split open, more or less boneless, and broiled with an adobo sauce) was succulent.

The Sopa de Jaiba looks great, but is based on a typically salty broth, with fine shreds of crab and a couple of clams in the shell. I probably would avoid the soups at La Morenita in the future, as I've twice found them to be disappointing. (I will probably choose the paella next time.)

Sopa de Jaiba y Almeja
On Monday, the lines were long at the bus ticket counters of Terminal Observatorio, and we decided to pay full fare for an 11:00 a.m. departure rather then wait until 1:00 pm. to get discounted seats. As it was, we arrived home after 5:00 p.m.


Tancho said...

Will we get to see the Chapeau on the author anytime soon?
One great thing about D.F. is the abundance of restaurants and markets. I get a tad tired with our selections here.

Don Cuevas said...

Oui, mon ami. Le chapeau is worn most days when I am in Pátzcuaro.

The sombrero Norteño is reserved for festive occasions on the Ranch.

Due to its wide brim, the new hat has a somewhat raffish, "tropical gangster" look.

Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

Our rstaurants are shutting down to a precious few for the summer. A trip to Mexico City would be great to increase the variety. But no more ant eggs.

Calypso said...

Good deal on those room rates - a glass of winew started at 110p and a bottle started at 55(p?) - confused there.

The Bohemia was a bit spendy - but you ARE in the BIG CITY!

Don Cuevas said...

Fixed that error. Thanks, Calypso.
Should be "$550 per bottle".

Don Cuevas