Pea guacamole + Mexico City
I promise you, peas and avocados aren’t the only things in my culinary repertoire, but as you can probably tell from my last few posts they rank up there as a couple of my very favorite things on earth. Together, they are even that much better. My dear friend Fabianne asked me to take a stab at pea guacamole (yes, I do take requests!) after she tried something similar at ABC Cocina in New York. I thought it sounded like the perfect way to apply the bounty of fresh peas still available at the market and with it’s modern spin on a traditional cuisine, it felt reminiscent of my recent travels with my husband to Mexico City.
The last and only time I was in Mexico City before this trip was 12 years ago with my friend Justin. We were headed home from a fabulous stay in Costa Rica and had a 7 hour layover at Benito Juárez. Rather than sitting around the hot, and at the time very poorly appointed airport, we decided to wrap up our adventures by wandering into the city with no real plans in mind. Somehow we ended up at an exhibit at the Palacio de Bellas Artes called ”ABCDF: Palabras de Ciudad” that remains one of the most memorable shows I’ve seen in my life. I’m still kicking myself for not buying the book commemorating this exhibit of modern Mexican artists as I didn’t want to lug the huge volume around and was sure I would be able to buy it online when I got home. (12 years later and I’m still looking!) After that we grabbed a delicious lunch in the Zocalo at Casa de Las Sirenas, housed in a building so old that it was renovated in the year 1750 and then again in 1994.
Clearly that trip made quite and impression, and ever since I’ve been chomping at the bit to go back for a longer stay to really dig into all that D.F. has to offer. This time we had some expert advice from travelers with lots of time logged in the city. My wonderful friends Randi Molofsky and Michael Slenske gave us a ton of excellent recommendations, many of which you can find in Michael’s recent article on Mexico City in Architectural Digest. I also want to give a huge shout out to Joe Hargrave for being our food spirit guide after spending lots of time in D.F. finding inspiration for Tacolicious.
We encountered a couple of surprises our first night out on the town. As big tequila fans, we hit the streets of Mexico City practically salivating for what we were sure were going to be the best margaritas of our lives, but as it turns out, Mexico City has tequila fatigue. Mezcal, both for sipping and in cocktails, is the far more fashionable choice, and small craft cocktail bars with loads of good whiskey drinks are plentiful. This leads me to our second big surprise, running into one of our neighbors from San Francisco, Neyah White, at a charming bar called Limantour, about 3 hours after we landed in Mexico. Talk about a good sign! It’s worth mentioning a couple of other watering holes we visited on our trip including a tiny bar called Felix, known for it’s mojitos and sliders, and La Botica, a hole in the wall Mezcaleria where I sipped on a mezcal made from poultry and citrus. I promise it’s better than it sounds!
Among all of the great tips and insights given to us by our friends, there was one unanimous recommendation and that was for Contramar, a seafood restaurant in Colonia Roma. My obsession with Contramar began long before our trip, after trying Tacolicious’ version of their famed raw tuna tostada. Some of our other favorite dishes included an incredible tuna tataki, stone crab claws, fish tacos al pastor and whole butterflied snapper served with one half smothered in a smokey red chili sauce and the other half in a tangy parsley salsa along with beans and tortillas. So you know, we didn’t down that all in one sitting. The food was so nice, we ate there twice! Other culinary highlights included a lovely dinner at the very quaint Maximo Bistro, the most delicious tacos al pastor and chicharron de queso at a taqueria called El Tizoncito and a beautiful lunch with great wine and people watching at the Italian spot, Rosetta.
Thankfully, there was a lot of good walking and shopping to help work off all of the above chow, including Carla Fernandez and her modern clothing made from artisanal Mexican fabrics, gorgeous silver from Oscar Figueroa, stunning native rock formations at Mineralia and all kinds of local crafts and wears at the Shops Downtown.
I know this is getting long, but I would be remiss if I didn’t spend a little time acknowledging the vivacious art scene in Mexico City. As with my very first visit, the art did not disappoint with museum highlights including Museo Soumaya and it’s stunning architecture, Museo Jumex and it’s insane permanent collection (not to mention the Cy Twombly show that opened just after we left!) and the Museo Nacional de Antropologia with it’s deep collection of native artifacts. We also enjoyed some time at Galeria OMR and loved the warmth of the gallerist at Proyectos Monclova where they are featuring the work of Federico Herrero.
Holy guacamole! All of this Mexico talk has made me work up an appetite. Let’s eat!
Photos by Lauren Godfrey and Patrick Godfrey