TACO EMERGENCY.

Listen, tacos are awesome.  And admittedly, sometimes I forget tacos exist.  Just because they fall off my radar on occasion.  Like any craving, tacos then barrel back into my life like a very aggressive food-based ninja.  Don't be mad at me, tacos, it's not you...it's me.  Please never change. Print from Paperchat on Etsy

Anyway, I'm tired and talking crazy so I'm going to cut to the chase.  If you ever get punched in the face by needing a taco, there is a brilliant website to come to the rescue.  Taco Emergency can be found at www.taco911.me and will save the day.  Click 'Find the closest taco' and this site literally gives you your latitude and longitude stats (which is kinda cool in itself), along with the closest place for you to order and enjoy tacos.

AWESOME.

 

Chiles En Nogada: My New Culinary Best Friend.

I've been a little lazy about writing the past few days but I like to think it's ok since the time I would usually spend writing, I am spending exploring, enjoying and relaxing.  ('Relax' is not generally a word in my vocabulary, though not for my want of trying.)  Anyway, point is, I'm not avoiding you.  So calm down. When I first arrived in San Miguel last year about this time, I didn't know what I was in for.  This city reveals itself to you slowly and it made no exception for me.  But all it takes, really, is a good drink and a great meal and I'll get on board with anything.  Seriously.  Write that down.  Needless to say, both were delivered on my first night in the form of a margarita and Chiles en Nogada.  And I was more than happy to repeat that moment in my life the other night, in the same restaurant, at the same table, with the same amount of excitement.

This dish celebrates the colors of the Mexican flag, the bold flavors of the country and is all around awesome.  Roasted poblano chiles are stuffed with ground pork and/or beef, cinnamon, garlic, onion, raisins and so forth.  They are then covered in an amazing creamy walnut sauce and finished with beautiful and crunchy pomegranate seeds.  WHAT?!  Yeah.  Badass.  I'll be sure to try it on my own when I get back home to the States but I will always get excited about a visit to El Pegaso on my visits here for what I now deem one of my favorite all-time meals.

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Chiles en Nogada (Recipe taken and modified from Our Life In Food)

For the chiles

4 poblano chiles

1/2 lb. ground pork an/or beef

1/4 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 Roma tomato, cored and chopped

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the walnut sauce

1/2 cup raw walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup sour cream

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup milk

For serving

Pomegranate seeds

Chopped walnuts

Fresh chopped cilantro (if you like that sort of thing...which I don't...at all...but I promise not to stand in your way)

1. Roast the chiles under the broiler until blackened. Be careful. Be a good judge of this. And yeah, s**t is already getting real. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let these bad boys steam for about 20 minutes.

2. While that magic happens, add your ground meat to a saute pan and cook until it is cooked through and just starting to brown.  Add the onions and cook until they have softened.  Stir in garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme and allspice. (You're doing great.) Add the tomato, apple and raisins.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. To make the sauce (I hope you're reading this ahead of time), place walnuts in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, allow them to cool and then rub them to try to remove as much of their skin as possible.  Place the walnuts in a food processor with all the other mentioned sauce ingredients above and mix it all up until smooth.

4. Peel the skin from the chiles. Cut a lengthwise slit in each and remove the seeds.  Stuff each chile with the meat mixture.  Top the stuffed chiles with sauce, garnish with whatever you like from the list and serve!

Stay tuned for lots more from my visit to Mexico...but in the meantime, I'm off to SHOP.  Psssst, if you want to keep up with all my goings on, follow me over on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@thrillofthechaise)!

Hola. Here Ends My Knowledge of the Spanish Language.

I left the house at 3am yesterday.  I went through two time zones, got a little bit fussy on two very turbulent plane rides, had an awkward stare-down with a guy throwing back Bloody Mary's and chocolate chip cookies at 10am at Dallas airport, passed a pilgrimage or two on a long drive and BOOM, a mere 16 or so hours from our starting point, we arrived in the oasis that is San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. P1000633

While I settle in a bit today, unpack, get my bearings and relax just enough that I am energized again, I wanted to share some of my posts from my visit here last year...

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I bought some beautiful, handmade jewelry and had the pleasure of visiting the artist's studio to see not just her own work, but the work of her husband and her budding artist children here.

Forget Halloween.  If you want to see some adorable little ones dressed up in brilliant costumes, enjoy the parade on the first day of Spring here.  It's fast approaching!

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I like Mexican cuisine.  I like margaritas even more.  Here.

San Miguel is an artists' colony and has been for basically ever.  If you want to see all that's beautiful in the mix of culture, tradition, colors and skill, check out this post on artisan work in this creative little town.

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Or just get a little intro here.  Off to explore now! xx

Eat, Drink and Be Very Merry.

I have to admit that one of the things I was most excited about when I found out I was going to Mexico was the fact that, as far as I am concerned, margaritas are a national treasure.  Also, I like to eat and Mexican food done well is one of my favs.  So going to the source was something I knew I would be writing home about. Street food is a bit of a 'no no' for those of us who may be visiting but San Miguel is full of incredible restaurants and delivered some of the best food and drink I have ever had.  Here are some of my favorites:

El Pegaso

Located just a block from the central jardin, El Pegaso (the pegasus) was where I spent my first night in San Miguel eating probably one of the best meals I had during my visit.  It is a casual cafe with a good deal of seating and a fun, bright atmosphere that helpfully caters to the secret gringo population of San Miguel.  It isn't obnoxiously obvious, I promise.  You'll notice that nothing is very obvious geared towards English-speaking tourists, just hints to help accommodate the population that does exist in the shadows.  The walls are covered with miniature shadow boxes with tongue in cheek depictions of pop culture using the ever-loved Day of the Dead skeletons.

Yes, of course my margarita was good.  But it was my main course that stole the show.  Chiles en Nogada is a Mexican specialty that seems to have slipped through the cracks of the staples which we see probably being butchered by many a Mexican restaurant outside of the motherland.  Using the colors of the flag, this version (there are a few) takes large poblano chili and stuffs it with ground beef, spices and sultanas, covers it with a creamy and crunchy walnut sauce and then tops with tart pomegranate seeds.  It was INSANE.

La Sirena Gorda

Very literally, The Fat Mermaid, this hidden gem quickly became our favorite haunt.  It's tiny with only about 5 tables in it's main seating area, but boasts some excellent outdoor eating (the roof above the dining area is retractable) and a lovely collection of art depicting their patron saint of a chubby mermaid.  Very easy to walk by and miss, we found out about this place from a local who told us not to be intimidated by the old saloon style doors because, as everything in San Miguel, you can never judge a book by it's cover.  Open any dusty old door in the city and you'll probably be amazed at what you find behind it.

Here's what sold me on the place...GINGER MARGARITAS.  And they apparently make ginger martinis too but I had no time for that.  I had my fair share of these puppies on my visit and though I may have only had a couple in any one sitting, I must warn they are reasonably strong which is rather rich coming from me.  The great news is, the food is just as good as the drinks.  They do a great plate of BBQ ribs, an amazing appetizer of a steamed artichoke with a garlic and lemon dip, and delicious tacos of combinations of steak, pork and shrimp.  Dessert may leave a bit to be desired but only because you have to giggle at a dessert menu that consists of an offering of cheesecake or coffee :)

Petit Four

It seems almost sacrilegious to say this but I HAVE HAD THE BEST FRENCH PASTRY OF MY LIFE IN CENTRAL MEXICO.  Ok, that's out.  In all seriousness, the French patisserie (not run by anyone French) Petit Four right near the jardin is absolutely incredible.  Most incredible?  Their almond croissants.  If I knew they were going to be on the table for breakfast, I would get out of bed like it was Christmas.

There is a little cafe which is charming to sit in and take-away is just as easy.  From cream puffs the size of your head to delicious mozzarella sandwiches and freshly made baguettes (they sell quickly so smart to reserve one!), this place does it all beautifully.  When you are at the counter, a huge window lets you see into the kitchen and watch the head chef himself, Paco, hard at work.  Though he makes sure to come out and greet familiar faces and even some new ones.  You can visit their website here and learn more.  Paco even teaches cooking classes which I will be SURE to take next time I am in San Miguel.

Ofrenda: Glorious Mexican Food in NYC

On a recent visit to NYC, my Cali friend and I decided that since I did not get to sample any Mexican food on my visit out there last month, we should give it a go on the East Coast.  Through a very random online search, we stumbled across Ofrenda and what a happy chance meeting it was  :)

Right in the West Village, Ofrenda offers not only amazing food and some of the friendliest service I've had on this side of the pond, but also fantastic people watching and an even better margarita.  So let's start with that.  A mango margarita on the rocks.  You will never have anything more refreshing and delicious.  The fresh guacamole to start was delish and the waitress very kindly brought us more tortilla chips when she saw we may be running a bit low (we're greedy, whatever).

For a main, I tucked into scallops with a sweet potato puree and asparagus.  The only way I can review it is by telling you this...while everyone else around the table was being nice and letting each other sample the food, I spent the main course with my head down focusing on nothing but the world that my scallops and I existed in...and the mango margarita, of course.

We opted to skip dessert (weird for us, I know) but I could have stayed there all night.  The front of the restaurant was completely open to the street, the cocktails were out of this world and the food...oh man.  So if you're in NYC and looking for a nice, casual dinner and don't mind a bit of tequila, make sure to check out Ofrenda.  STAMP OF APPROVAL.