Sunday, March 30, 2014

March Road Trip

In March, we took a road trip to Oaxaca, Mexico City and Ft. Lauderdale. They are very different cities but had one thing in common: GREAT FOOD.

Oaxaca is truly the food capital of Mexico and the proof is in black mole. It was like nothing I've ever eaten before. Rich, complex and layered with flavors, it's in a class by itself. 

The black mole at the Catedral Restaurante and Bar was the stuff dreams are made of. It is one of the top five dishes I've had in my lifetime and if I ever have a choice for my last supper, this would be the restaurant.

Will I ever make it again? I say leave the alchemy to the masters.

From Carnes Asada,Tlayudas, and Memelitas to the chocolate shops on Mina Street, to the single village Mezcals and all the great restaurants in downtown Oaxaca, I took it all in and left Oaxaca with a new mind-set about Mexican cooking.

At Oaxaca's soul is its markets both in and outside the city. Fonda Florecita in the Mercado de la Merced and the Carnes Asadas section of the 20 de Noviembre market are two of the best market restaurants in all of Mexico.

The markets at Ocotlán and Tlacolula proved to me once again that you'll never understand the magic of Mexico until you've experienced it on market day.

Mexico City is one of the great food cities of the world.

I never left Colonia Roma where Máximo Bistrot and Rosetta served up world class meals I will never forget. The French/Italian element made with Mexican ingredients was the wow factor at both restaurants.

The melt-in-your-mouth w/o butter bread at Rosetta convinced me that man can live on bread alone. The telenovela clientele was also a feast for the eyes.

Ft. Lauderdale was a mega-dose of sun and seafood.

Of all the times I've been fishing, I've never caught much less heard of a golden tile fish. Think poor man's lobster because this fish was some of the best seafood we ate including a whole snapper from a little Cuban restaurant off the beach.

We ate and drank more than our fair share in each city so over the next month we'll do a series of posts on all three cities.

Each city left its mark. I can close my eyes now and remember the smells and taste each delicious bite.

It was truly a feast for the senses!

Buen Apetito and stay tuned....

Monday, March 3, 2014

Eating Your Way Through San Miguel’s Tuesday Market

What? Are you crazy? You'll Get Sick.

These are some of the remarks I get from people who have never eaten at Tuesday Market. So let me set you straight. I am apparently eating enough for the both of us so thank you!

Fact of the matter is I've eaten at Tuesday Market almost three dozen times and I've never been sick.

First off, you're starting out with something you just don't find everywhere and that is market fresh. Many of them are just-picked yesterday and put on the truck as opposed to going through the very long and complicated distribution chain.

So how do I know where to eat? I follow the crowds...and my nose. After all, who knows better than the locals?

Tuesday Market is one place you can count on to get fresh food at a good value. Cheap Eats? You bet. It's the easiest way to stretch your budget -whether you need to or not- and still eat really well.

On my weekly trip I always have to sample a little bit of this and that. There are so many good things to eat it's a challenge to make your choices because you can get side-tracked so easily.

Tuesday Market is one of the great people watching spots in San Miguel. You'll see just about everything.

98 percent of the people who are there are not gringos. That's another reason to love it.

It's the one day of the week I'm a bottomless pit and fill up on good things to eat and drink so I can survive until the following Tuesday.

And for anyone who loves food as much as I do, next Tuesday can't come soon enough!

Buen Apetito!

Getting There:

The Tuesday Market is located about a mile and a half outside of Centro, “up the hill” near the old Gigante. It's a 35 peso taxi ride that takes about 10 minutes.

Walking: If your fit or want some exercise, just hike the huge hill East of downtown.
I take Correo Street up the hill to Santa Domingo and turn right and follow the road on the left hand side. You'll go past the Mirador which is always worth the extra effort. Google the directions on Google Maps from your starting location.
If you see a # 8 or # 9 bus - on Mesones up from Plaza Civica - that's marked El Tianguis or La Placita you know your headed in the right direction. Get off where the bus unloads with locals and let the traffic cop direct you across two busy streets. It's totally easy and safe.

Experience this 5 peso trip because it's how most people headed to the market travel.


The market opens at 9 AM and many of the food stalls open at 9:30 AM.

I always go to where I'm going to eat breakfast right when they open. That way, you can be assured that the food was just made and is fresh.


There are 3 sections. Section 1 is located closest to the old Gigante, Section 2 is in the center and my favorite place to explore for hidden treasures, Section 3, is at the very end where the buses enter the market.

Aisle 1 is the bus side. There are 9 aisles not counting the outside aisle which you should definitely not skip. There are some fun and lively vendors on those outside aisles.

The peso amount is for the item specified. Other items may be more but rarely over a 50 peso note. Bring lot's of them.

What's Good To Fill You Up:

Rodriquez Family Barbacoa
Section 3, Aisle 3

The Rodriguez Family Barbacoa is usually my first stop.

I get a half cup of the caldo without vegetables and extra Barbacoa and then load up with the just chopped cilantro, onions and of course lime. 

It's just chopped because I'm always there at 9:30 when they open. That's the best time to go there to eat otherwise you are fighting crowd.

What do I like most about this stall? It's a family run operation and they work hard to keep up with all the regulars and tourists they feed each week. They also have a restaurant up the hill from Mega.
15 Pesos.

Ceci Gorditas
Section 2, Aisle 8

Call it what you like but Gorditas Tradicionales Colon or Ceci has some of the best Gorditas at the market. Stuff them with any one of the 14 fillings they have on the menu.
13 Pesos.

Tacos Lupita Tacos
Section 3, Aisle 2

At Tacos Lupita, just look for the cabeza (head) and take a seat. At this point you specify which part of the head you want to try. Last time I ate the cheeks, brains and eyes. You can see all the fat on this made it so tasty.
8 Pesos.

Bautista Brothers Carnitas
Section 2, Aisle 1

More often than not someone is bringing out a fresh tray of Carnitas...or I have a perfect sense of timing. Whatever it is, I get the ribs and when I'm done I suck on the bones. I know. It sounds barbaric but that happens to be where all the flavor is. You can also get a torta or a tortilla.
Ribs 38 Pesos
Torta 26 Pesos
Taco 9 Pesos

Don Santos Bistec Tacos
Section 2, Aisle 1

The crowds are always lined up at this taco stand where beef tacos are the standard breakfast fare.
8 Pesos.

Section 3, Aisle 3

You have to prepare this dish on a sunny day which is almost every day in San Miguel.
These thin strips of beef are cooked with salt and hung out to dry in the sun. They are served in a tortilla with fried onions and topped with French fries. The combination cuts some of the salt and they can be totally addictive. I didn't love them until I ate them for the third time.
Yep - third time’s a charm.
14 Pesos

Tacos Al Pastor
Pancho Pizza Celaya
Section 2, Aisle 9

The largest pastor I've seen anywhere. The cook always loves to ham it up for the camera. A cast of many here diligently preparing tacos as fast as they can turn them out.
6 Pesos.

Fried Fish Dinner
Section 2, Aisle 1
70 Pesos.

Section 1,Aisle 6
40 Pesos.

There are a couple of places to get a great fish comida. One is not necessarily better than the other so check them first before you buy.

Thin crust Pizza
Section 3, Aisle 3

You have a dozen or more to choose from and I just love watching the girls make them up.
I also watch when they take them from the oven so I can be sure to get the freshest one. Again, go early.
As with many other things, Mexicans smother theirs with hot sauce.


Fresh Squeezed Juice
Section 2, Aisle 8

This is the freshest just-squeezed juice around. A wide variety of fruits are used but my favorite is the pineapple. You can also do them in any combination you like.
I met a woman last Tuesday who brings her own bottles and has them filled for the week. Not a bad idea.
20 Pesos.

Aguas Frescas 

These flavored waters are loaded with fresh fruit and look so refreshing. You would like to try them all but that will take forever since the tables stretch at least a half mile...or so it seems.
15 Pesos.

Deep Fried:

Like all good things deep fried, I like them fresh and hot out of the fryer. In fact, I say the hotter the better.

Section 3, Aisle 1

I've never loved Chicharrón until I was offered a piece right out of the hot oil.

That's one thing about Tuesday could fill up on the samples and if they don't offer one, ask for one. They rarely say no.

Makes sure you get the Chicharrón with the "meat" attached. Every bacon lover should experience this at least once.
30 Pesos

Potato Chips
Section 2, Aisle 7

The girls give them to me just out of their fryer too but you have to ask for them that way. I always give them tip.
Sprinkle liberally with salt and you have your portable snack ready to explore the rest of the market.
20 pesos.

Section 2, Aisle 7

This is one of my favorite vendors at the market. He loves having his photo taken and always loads me down with samples. His sales effort is almost always rewarded as I rarely pass him by without buying something.
20 pesos.


Pasteles Diani
Section 3, Aisle 5

Delicious chocolate cake and other sweet treats.
20 pesos.

Section 3 and also Section 1, Aisle 3

You'll walk by mountains of strawberries and notice by mid-day they've been reduced to small hills.

You have to be careful with local strawberries so remember to both disinfect and freeze them.

I like them in breakfast smoothie made with ice, yogurt, fresh squeezed juice and agave syrup.
15 Pesos per kilo.

Whipped Cream Treats
Section 2, Aisle 8

These will look so good with fresh fruit mixed in and a festive topping of sprinkles. 
It's almost like licking the spoon when your mom use to whip fresh cream.

Take Home:

The Cheese, Sausage and Tortilla lady
Section 2, Aisle 1

This is some of the most beautiful Oaxaca cheese I've seen. She also makes other local cheeses. Her homemade flour tortillas are laced with lard. Yes, you can actually taste the difference they are that good.

Fresh Meats and Vegetables:

Section 2, Aisle 2

Section 2, Aisle 2
Section 1, Aisle 3

Some say this fish is from Mexico City and others swear it's flown in from Veracruz. I've not had it but there are people that swear by the freshness.

Fresh fruits and Vegetables
Section 2, Aisle 3
Section 1, Aisle 5

Although there are plenty of great looking fruit and vegetable stands everywhere in the market, I noticed these two aisles have a lot of them.

Berry Etc. Stand
Section 1, Aisle 8

All sorts of unusual things to eat.

Section 2, Aisle 5
35 Pesos per kilo

Section 2, Aisle 2
15 Pesos

Section 2, Aisle 2
25 Pesos per kilo.

Kitchen Goods
Section 2, Aisle 7

Mole Paste
Section 2, Aisle 2
In case you're not in the mood or don't have the time to make it from scratch
25 Pesos a Quart

Section 2, Aisle 3
70 Pesos per Kilo.

Tortilla Press
Section 2, Aisle 3
180 Pesos.

Seasonal Blooms
Section 1, Aisle 4
10 Pesos per bunch depending on size and type.

Staples (Beans, Rice, Corn, ect.)

Section 1, Aisle 5

Scattered throughout the market.