Apple Cider and Rum Cocktail

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Since last year, this batch cocktail has become my new go-to every winter holiday. Easy, refreshing, and not too sweet, it’s a hit with everyone. And even though the holidays are over, it’s still cold and bleary outside, so let’s be real: we need something to hold us over until the skies are sunny again.

Apple cider and rum punch

Ingredients:

1 cup dark rum
1 cup sweet vermouth
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup simple syrup
8 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 red apple, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
3 strips orange zest, thinly sliced
1 12-ounce bottle French hard cider

1. Combine rum, vermouth, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters in a pitcher. Add 1 1/2 cups ice and stir until ice has mostly melted and cocktail is cold. Stir in apple slices and orange zest; gently stir in cider.

2. Divide cocktail among ice-filled glasses and garnish with more apple slices.

Mexico City, Days Five and Six

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Mexico City has no shortage of stellar cafes and every morning (and afternoon), we’d find a new one to try. On our fifth day, we headed to Quentin Cafe as a starting point to spend the day in the Roma neighborhood.

Quentin Cafe

You know what else is in Roma? Parque Mexico, which is probably my favorite park on earth for one very important reason: dogs. So. Many. Dogs. A pack of huskies taking a nap off leash? No big deal. An Afghan hound, a great dane, and a handful of Australian Shepherds taking a jog? Yeah, this is normal. A couple beagles and a golden retriever making friends with a samoyed? This is just par for the course at Parque Mexico. I could spend all day here.

Tacos Don Juan

Tacos Don Juan

But we had more things to eat so we walked over to Tacos Don Juan for delicious tacos piled high with meat and slathered with avocado and nopales and all manner of fiery, flavorful salsas.

Panaderia Rosetta

We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling Roma and stopping for a honey croissant at Panaderia Rosetta before heading to the storied Pujol in Condesa.

Street snacks at Pujol

“Street snacks” to start.

Elotes ahumados

Elotes ahumados. I’ll have 500 more of these, thanks.

Chayote squash with spiny lobster pico

Chaytoe squash with spiny lobster pico. A light and fresh palate cleanser.

Softshell crab at Pujol

Softshell crab, cucumber, daikon, and shiso. Okay yeah, I’ll have 500 more of these too please.

Barbacoa ox tongue, black beans, cactus

Barbacoa ox tonuge, black beans, and cactus.

Mole madre 1739 days, mole nuevo

Mole madre 1739 days, mole nuevo. Infamous.

Hoja santa tortillas

The mole was served with hoja santa tortillas.

Tamarind sorbet

Tamarind sorbet. I would buy this by the gallon if I could.

Coffee tamal, ginger ice cream, honeycomb

Coffee tamal, ginger ice cream, and honeycomb.

Churros

Without a doubt the best, most ethereal churros I’ve ever tasted.

So yeah, Pujol lives up to the hype. I’m thankful that we were able to experience this meal.

On our last morning in CDMX, we had one last coffee at our favorite Chiquito Cafe and got ready for lunch at Maximo Bistrot Local. Eduardo Garcia is the chef and founder at Maximo Bistrot. Garcia was born in Mexico and raised in the U.S. After he was deported twice, Garcia started his own restaurant in Mexico City, Maximo Bistrot. The restaurant serves another purpose in that it provides a place for deported immigrants like himself, a chance to find work that not only pays the bills but also provides a deep sense of pride. Today, Garcia is considered one of Mexico’s top chefs and runs several restaurants.

Sea urchin tostada

Sea urchin tostada. This was my favorite course of the meal and could have happily eaten just this and called it a day.

Roasted beets, fig, and pomegranate

Roasted beets, fig, and pomegranate.

Pappardelle with ragu

Pappardelle with ragu.

French toast with berry compote

French toast with berry compote.

And just like that, it was over. I hope to not let another decade pass by before my next trip to Mexico. Anthony Bourdain said it best: Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace. Look at it. It’s beautiful. It has some of the most ravishingly beautiful beaches on earth. Mountains, desert, jungle. Beautiful colonial architecture, a tragic, elegant, violent, ludicrous, heroic, lamentable, heartbreaking history.

Mexico City, Days Three and Four

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Our third morning in Mexico City was a Sunday, which is when the Paseo de la Reforma becomes a pedestrian-only thoroughfare: runners and cyclists and families (and doggies!) all come out to enjoy the day. Think vibrant public spaces and good health via walkable streets.

Near the Paseo de la Reforma is Chiquito Cafe, a tiny cafe serving up some of the best coffee and tea CDMX has to offer (and there is stiff competition for excellent coffee in this city). We enjoyed a quick breakfast here before making our way to Chapultepec Park.

Chapultepec Park

Chapultepec Castle

Chapultepepc Castle

Chapultepec Park includes Chapultepec Castle, the only castle in North America to have ever actually housed sovereigns. But to me the appeal was the murals. They were stunning! A mural of the revolution adorns the entrance. If you close up, you can see some of the figures looking directly at the viewer, as if making an appeal to support the revolution.

Tlayudas

National Museum of Anthropology

We continued making our way through Chapultepec Park and stopped along the way for a tasty, crunchy, spicy Oaxacan tlayuda before walking to the National Museum of Anthropology, also housed in the park.

Housemade salsa and tortillas

Duck taquitos at Guzina Oaxaca

Short rib barbacoa at Guzina Oaxaca

For dinner we headed to Guzina Oaxaca in Polanco for more Oaxacan cuisine. I could have probably eaten a gallon of the housemade salsa, that is, until the duck taquitos with mole colorado arrived. For those familiar with Iranian cuisine: you know khoresh-e fesenjoon? Okay, think fesenjoon, but in mole form. In the best way possible. Oh yes, I could eat a gallon of these too. By the time the short rib barbacoa arrived, I was already full from the richly flavored taquitos.

All this gluttony was sort of fuel for the next day (or so I tell myself), because we were up bright and early on day four to take the bus to Teotihuacan, which links the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Pyramid of the Sun.

Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan

Photos don’t to it justice — Teotihuacan is more expansive and stunning than I could have imagined, and let’s be real, mostly I’m just really proud that I managed to climb the Pyramid of the Sun. Make this day trip: it’s absolutely worth the hour or two drive from Mexico City. Just make sure to bring some water.

Taqueria Los Cocuyos

Taqueria Los Cocuyos

Once we were back in Mexico City we headed to Taqueria Los Cocuyos in the Centro Historico for what were among the best tacos I’ve had in my life. Lengua, suadero, campechano, and cachete. So tender, so flavorful. My happy place.

While in the centro, we checked out the Metropolitan Cathedral before heading back to our home base in Zona Rosa and narrowly escaping a rainy downpour. For dinner, we had a warming bowl of ramen at Kominari Tonkotsu Ramen, a cozy restaurant frequented by the Japanese-Mexican community.

How can one city contain so much energy and so many surprises around every corner?

Mexico City, Days One and Two

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I hadn’t been to Mexico in nearly a decade which is kind of crazy because, you know, it’s only a couple of hours away by plane. What took me so long? I’d been raptured by Pujol ever since seeing the Chef’s Table episode about Enrique Olivera, but there is so much more to CDMX’s food scene. Tacos de canasta! Barbacoa! Churros! Tlayudas! And that’s just scratching the surface.

Our six-day trip to Mexico City was basically a thinly-veiled excuse to eat, with some stunning cultural stops along the way.

Tacos de canasta

Tacos in San Angel

After tacos and ensalada de nopales in Zona Rosa’s Taqueria de Califa on our first evening, we went for more tacos on day two in the San Angel neighborhood. Tacos de canasta and carne asada, to be exact.

Bazar del Sabado

Bazar del Sabado

Afterwards we walked it off at Bazar del Sabado, a Saturday-only market by artists of all kinds. Creative art for days! Not pictured: all the cute doggies enjoying a day out with their families, including an old English sheepdog. My day was made.

Barbacoa

Afterwards we headed to the weekends-only El Hidalguense for barbacoa. It may not look pretty, but inside this maguey leaf is the most tender lamb you’ve ever tasted. Tuck it into a tortilla, drizzle some salsa over it, and you have yourself a delicious, albeit heavy meal.

Churreria El Moro

Churreria El Moro

We walked off the barbacoa at Casa Fusion, another arts and crafts market, this time near Zona Rosa. Satiated but craving something sweet, we capped off the day with churros con chocolate at the storied Churreria El Moro, one of CDMX’s oldest churrerias.

Three-Mushroom Omelet

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This recipe combines two of my favorite ingredients into something that’s so much more than the sum of its parts. Meaty mushrooms and creamy eggs are the canvas for a spicy, savory sauce that coat these unique parcels. Toasted pine nuts add extra depth. You can have these for brunch, or prepare them for a light dinner like I do. They’re #uglydelicious.

Three-mushroom omelet

Ingredients:

For the sauce:
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

For the omelet:
3 portobello mushrooms
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
3 green onions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
7 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced
8 button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
10 snow peas, trimmed and sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1. Prepare the sauce: stir the soy sauce, oyster sauce, water, and chili garlic sauce together in a small saucepan and set aside.

2. Remove and discard the stems from the portobello mushrooms. Scrape the gills from the underside of the caps and discard the gills. Thinly slice the caps.

3. Whisk the eggs and water together in a bowl.

4. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil. Pour about 1/3 cup of the egg mixture into the pan, tilting the pan so the egg coats the bottom, and cook until the bottom of the omelet is set, about 1 minute. Slide the omelet onto a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining egg mixture, adding oil to the skillet as needed, to make six omelets.

5. Heat the sauce over medium heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

6. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and all the mushrooms and stir-fry until the mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the snow peas, pine nuts, soy sauce, and oyster sauce and cook until the snow peas are tender, about 2 minutes.

7. To serve, spoon one-sixth of the mushroom mixture onto the bottom third of one of the omelets. Gently roll the omelet up like a burrito, leaving the ends open and placing on a serving platter seam side down. Repeat with the remaining omelets and filling. Spoon the sauce over them and serve immediately.