Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vanessa and the Rosa Tortillas

I've been passing a tortilla stand at the San Juan de Dios market since late last year admiring Vanessa, the woman who makes the Rosa tortillas.

Rosa Mexicano. Hex: #E4007C and RGB: 228,0,124. It's the color of Mexico.

My fascination with the color Rosa began when I first came to Mexico years ago. My obsession started when I saw her Rosa tortillas.

Rosa is considered a symbol of national identity in Mexico. It also represents Mexican charisma.

Vanessa has charisma. She charmed me the first time I met her. That's why she sells so many tortillas. That and the fact that most of Vanessa's tortillas are Rosa and not white or yellow like everyone else.

Rosa is the one color that represents the Mexican color palette. I see Rosa and it instantly makes me want to break out in song and start dancing. Rosa makes me happy.

Seeing the world through Rosa-colored glasses these days? Blame it on San Miguel. Some say it has that magic.

Bullfighters use Rosa to line their clothes.

Visionary artists like Anado use it to mark their windows.

Fabric designers like Patrice Wynne use it to create a bold presentation.

Even the inside walls at restaurants like Cinco de Mayo Experimental in Queretaro are painted Rosa to make a powerful and symbolic statement.

Everything about Rosa speaks passion, spirit and the determination to get more out of life. Getting more out of life is one of the reasons I moved here.

In fact, Rosa stands out, even when it's at the bottom of the stack.

Just look at Mexican art, clothing or food and you’ll see plenty of Rosa Mexicano.

Rosa is the dominant color in many of the photos I've taken in Mexico.

After all this time watching Vanessa make her Rosa tortillas and chatting, I found out today that Vanessa is my neighbor. She lives on my street just ten doors down from our house.

Love thy neighbor...

she may even place a basket of Rosa tortillas outside your door some Sunday morning when you least expect it.

Buen Apetito!

La Casa de Los Tamales:La Bonita Restaurant

Have you ever gone to bed hungry because tamales were the only thing on the dinner menu?

For most of my life, I've hated tamales.

I learned to wrap them before I ever learned to eat them...

Chef Cynthia Martinez is a well-renowned Mexican chef with a passion for traditional Michoacán cooking. Her cooking school, Zirita, was one of just five that was written up by Saveur Magazine.

I participated in a class she taught in San Miguel last year as part of the San Miguel Festival Gourmet where we learned to wrap a Corunda, a variety of a tamal typical of the lake area and northern Michoacán.

Here was my Corunda. Looks perfect doesn’t it? Sorry to say that it took lots of practice, a half a dozen ruined corn leaves and lots of help from the experts to make it look this good.

Eating tamales at La Bonita...

The last time I tried a tamale back in the late 60's, I did so with my eyes shut. I couldn't stand to even look at it. I didn't like the texture or the taste. The masa tasted sour. I learned today that the masa was probably not fresh. Tamaleras extraordinarias only use the best and freshest ingredients.

Like at La Bonita where there are 27 types of tamales on the menu.

Classic tamales like the ones with mole. Or the Verde which I selected. I took a bite and the masa was almost sweet with just a hint of green sauce. Amazing to me I liked it.

I also tried the Chiapanecos in a banana leaf with mole, chicken, olives, almonds, prunes and pimento. This is my friend Melissa's favorite. She likes tamales and she loves the ones at La Bonita.

I preferred the Verde as it was less complex. It was the masa after all that I was learning to love.

This place is a vegetarian's delight with a wide-variety of options on the menu. Rajas, with cheese, Purlsan with nopales and Mediterranean with eggplant, goat cheese, black olives, zucchini, and tomatoes sauces with chipotle. They have Yucatan style too with achiote, epazote and habernero chile with pork or chicken.

Got a sweet tooth? Try one with raisins, pineapple and nuts, blackberry with creamy cheese, Guava, and of course Nutella and a sweet carmel.

They also offer 12 flavors of Atoles, Beer, Wine and Spirits.

My green tamale with a coke was 32 pesos. Most tamales run 16-19 pesos each.

At Canal 90.They are open from 9 am-10:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays and closed on Tuesdays. You can order on-line at

Although I'm not ready to host a Tamalada, I can honestly say that I'm beginning to acquire a taste for them.

And remember, you'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.

Buen Apetito!

SMA Shorts

A Gardener's Dessert:

Here is a miniature dessert that speaks of your love for plants ...and portion control.

Line a tiny clay pot with plastic and stuff it with ice cream, crushed Oreo Cookies and Cream (the dirt) and top it off with a giant Strawberry.

The Bloody Alfredo:

Named after my friend Alfredo who trained the day bartender at Cafe Rama to make an American style Bloody Mary.

Ask for a Bloody Alfredo ($90).

Delicious ...and I didn't liked Bloody Mary's until this one.

Pepper Infused Vodka

An essential for a good Bloody Mary? Pepper Vodka.

Buy a bag of multi-colored peppers and stuff a Mason jar full. Pour vodka on top of the peppers to fill the jar. Refrigerate for a week or more.

Bacon Pepper Infused Vodka

6 strips of bacon
3 habanero chili peppers
2 serano chile peppers
1 liter good quality vodka

Add strips of bacon to a dry, cold, large skillet. Warm the skillet over low heat. Cook bacon until crispy, flipping the bacon several times throughout the process. Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside to cool.

Remove the stems from each chili pepper and slice in half lengthwise. Add peppers (with seeds) to a large, airtight jar. Once cooled, add bacon to the same jar. Fill the jar with vodka to cover the bacon and peppers. Seal the jar and let steep for 7 days in the refrigerator.

After 7 days, strain the vodka through a cheese cloth lined fine mesh basket strainer into a clean jar or bottle. If you see any major particles floating in the vodka, strain a second time. Discard the bacon and peppers. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 1 liter.

Letting the vodka steep with the chili peppers for 7 days will result in an extremely spicy infusion. If you have a low heat tolerance, would recommend steeping for a shorter period of time. You can start tasting half way through and strain the infusion once you reach your desired heat level.

Bartender Soon-To-Be-Baker:

Speaking of bartenders, Leo the bartender at Los Milagros is studying to be a baker and will finish classes at the end of this year. He showed off some of his delicious baked goods at La Pulga last week.

Photos from Readers:

From Melissa and Barry Barnett at The Breizh Cafe in Montreal.

Buckwheat crepe with ham, egg and gruyere and French Onion Soup.
Barry's comment: Formidable!
Melissa's remark: Now imagine taking a bite of savory heaven.
My remark: French Onion Soup worth traveling for.

Bottlefork in Chicago.
Bite into these Sour cream doughnut holes with bourbon jam.
Brunch Heaven!

Primanti Brothers -Pittsburg
Sandwich stuffed with French fries and cole slaw.

Jessica Hess
Khans BBQ on Devon -Chicago
Chicken Tikka Boti
Beef Kabob
Chicken Biryani
Garlic Naan
Jessica 's remark:It was yummy!!!

 Bar Matilda

I love the feel of Bar Matilda. On the second floor of Hotel Matilda, it is a beautiful, small space with a great cocktail menu and bar food including handmade pizzas. They also serve their famous French fries.

Don't let the beautiful San Miguel weather escape you. There are plenty of spots in this indoor/outdoor space just in case you also get a quick summer shower.

A little on the $$$ side but the quality of the food and cocktails is well worth the extra price.

Guarantee you'll love the room and the new bartender Alberto “Riesler” Morales Perez.

Aeromexico's New Menu

Aeromexico, Mexico's global airline, has announced its new onboard menu for its exclusive service in Clase Premier and Coach, designed by the Colectivo Mexicano de Cocina [Mexican Culinary Collective] led by Chef Enrique Olvera.

Count me in. Now I just have to actually fly on Aeromexico.

Hotel Matilda

Broaster to Go San Miguel

2 pieces of broasted chicken, a biscuit, potatoes and a drink for 60 pesos.

Calzada de la Aurora #1A at the corner with Calzada de la Luz, this is the best chicken in town so says half of Guadalupe who go there regularly.

Finally satisfied my craving for "fried" chicken because the skin is really, really crispy.

Day Trips: Mineral de Pozos and Dolores Hidalgo

Cesar Nistal Gonzalez is not any ordinary guide. He has special access to places and people you would not otherwise see or meet. This personal touch makes his tours.

From the miner who went with us on tour in Mineral de Pozos and shared his heart-breaking experiences when working at the Santa Brigida mine to this ceramic factory in Dolores Hidalgo. 

Cesar has permission to bring his groups in to get a first-hand look.

We also stopped at Posada de las Mina's to have a delicious breakfast. Try these colorful Huevos Divorciados (divorced eggs.)

Stop in the Central Plaza of Dolores Hidalgo for Ice Cream. We hit up Helados Aguilar because they make their ice cream with both cream and milk.

The city of Mineral de Pozos has gone through some major renovations. I loved the town and plan to travel back for another look.

You can contact Cesar at:
Cell: (415) 125-0344 from USA or Canada Dial 011-(52) 1 (415) 125-0344.

Posada de las Minas is located at:
Manuel Doblado 1
Mineral de Pozos, Guanajuato, 37910

 Travel Teaches:
Travel shows you the joy of returning to a place you love.

Cheese Chorizo Crisps
Yield: 4 servings

1 poblano pepper, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup pork chorizo
4 small flour tortillas
4 tsp butter
1 cup of mexican cheese, shredded (I used a blend of Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla and Oaxaca)
2 scallions, sliced

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice the poblano pepper into thin strips.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat with olive oil. Add the sliced poblano and saute for 5 minutes until the skin of the poblano starts to blister. Remove from skillet and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the pork chorizo and saute until fully cooked. Remove and set aside.

Place each of the small tortillas on a baking sheet. Spread 1 tsp of butter on each tortilla. Place the baking sheet into the oven and let the tortillas toast. It will take about 5-7 minutes but keep your eyes on them. Once the edges start to turn golden brown, remove from the oven.

Place 1/4 cup of cheese on each of the tortillas and place back into the oven for about 3 minutes until the cheese has melted. Remove from oven.

Top with scallions, poblano peppers and chorizo if desired.

Eggs Benedict Mexican Style: cornbread and Chorizo or Short Ribs.

Chicken Tacos

Lavender Lemonada: Lavanda


Buen Apetito!