Every time I go on a vacation I play a little game game in my head asking myself, “Could I live here?” I love to evaluate the city, the food, the people, the language and the lifestyle ask myself if the city is somewhere I could call home. Mexico City kept making me say, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Hearing the Spanish language, seeing food on every corner, feeling so welcome by people, visiting the open air markets and basking in the sunshine… I loved every minute of it. Every time I’ve scrolled through my photos since the trip, I pause to reminisce because the trip to Mexico City was truly one of the most memorable vacations ever. I wrote about The 10 Best Things I Ate in Mexico City on Food Network’s blog, but I had so many more pictures to share, I wanted to share a few more here!
Mexico City is known for it’s al pastor tacos, but I have to admit, this cochinita pibil pork (above) from Azul y Oro is one of my favorite things I ate. The marinated, shredded pork is a little sweet, then it’s topped with pickled onions (with that bright pink color!) and it has the key to my heart. If you visit Azul y Oro, I also recommend their tortilla soup and this mole (below). Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce made with chiles and layered with 20+ ingredients of rich flavor. It’s typically served over chicken. Look at that dark color with the contrast of the white cheese in the Oaxacan mole below!
Churros and chocolate have had a special place in my heart since my days of studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain. (Here’s a real #tbt when I ate them for the first time!) While the Spaniards may keep their churros pure without any extra sugar, Mexicans drop the freshly fried churro dough into a cinnamon sugar mixture. Here’s a quick video I shot – it’s striking how they fry the dough in a big circle ring and cut it with scissors! Make sure you visit Churreria El Moro at one of their many locations to experience this.
Corn is the heart of the Mexican diet and corn tortillas are served with almost every meal. Someone told me on the trip that Mexicans eat an average of seven tortillas a day! Watching tortillas be made on the streets was mesmerizing, and I ate as many tortillas as I could find. Beyond just the typical corn tortillas, one of my favorites was the tortilla cooked with an hoja santa leaf on one side. You can find this avocado taco at Molino El Pujol!
I grew up going to cooking classes in my free time, and getting the chance to take a cooking class in Mexico City was a highlight of the trip! If you visit the city, you should absolutely take a class at Casa Jacaranda. Beto and Jorge, the couple who teach the class, take you on a touch through the market to source your own super-fresh Mexican ingredients and then take you back to their incredible home in the Roma neighborhood to get cooking. The class ends with a group meal on their patio – I could have stayed out there sipping wine and mezcal for hours! It’s called “Casa Jacaranda” because of the incredible lavender jacaranda tree that blooms over their patio in the spring.
You guys know from my Instagram that I LOVE produce. If you also could roam around a farmers’ market for fun, you will love the open air markets in Mexico City selling the coolest produce. I wrote about this on my Food Network blog post, but the exotic fruits in Mexico were some of my favorite things I ate. Mamey, especially, is something I miss the most. I can’t find it here in New York City!
One of the most incredible experiences of the trip was seeing how Mexican chocolate is made from scratch. Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita explained the process of making chocolate from scratch while two women from Oaxaca demonstrated the process. This art goes back 2,000 years and seeing it done by hand truly gave me goosebumps! It completely changed the way I think about chocolate today. When they make the chocolate by hand, grinding down the cacao, creating heat with the friction of the metate (the stone grinding tool below) it begins turning into a shiny paste that turns into the base of the famous Mexican hot chocolate when stirred with hot water.
If the chocolate paste isn’t turned into the hot chocolate drink, it is formed into disks that harden and can be used for another traditional Mexican drink called “Chocolate Atole.” The chocolate is ground again on the metate with sugar and spices like cinnamon, star anise and corn. Once this turns into a new paste, it’s whisked with hot water using a molinillo whisk to create tons and tons of foam. The drink is served like a cappuccino with the froth on top as the most-precious part of the drink. It’s served at traditional Mexican weddings and eaten with a flat wooden tool like below to scoop up all that froth. What a treat to be able to try this handmade by women of Oaxaca!
This blog post just scratched the surface of all the adventures in Mexico City. Besides eating all the amazing food, you should visit Medellin Market for produce, Bazaar del Sabado (the open-air craft market only open on Saturdays), San Angel Inn for the best margarita of your life (and it’s right by the Frida Kahlo house), Palacio de Bellas Artes (the Palace of Fine Art) and the House of Tile (originally a department store that turned into a super-fancy pharmacy). My favorite neighborhood was the Roma neighborhood – it is a hip area that has restaurants, coffee shops, markets and shops to walk around. It’s lined with beautiful trees, gorgeous homes and classic buildings. When I said I would gladly move to Mexico City, this is the neighborhood I would call home!
Food, culture, art, history, music and dancing – Mexico City has it all. I would hands-down add Mexico City to your list. I already can’t wait to plan another trip back to the city!
Love food. Love self. Love life.