Monday, November 19, 2007
On page 21 (after Cafe La Blanca) the address is given as Madero #40--the real address is
Cinco de May #40
On page 74 (column 2)--the 'green' pedestrian overpass at the La Noria train station is now painted orange.
The Museo Universitario del Chopo in Santa Maria la Ribera (p.70) is closed for renovation until further notice.
CHANGES IN THE 2006 EDITION:
The Museo Universitario del Chopo in Santa Maria la Ribera (p.68) is closed for renovation until further notice.
Two new places to say in La Condesa: www. condesahaus.com and www.theredtreehouse.com. Both are old houses, converted into B&B's.
Tacos Beatriz (p. 81 and 84) has gone out of business--after 100 years! Supposedly they are re-opening in a new location--I'll let you know.
Paquita la del Barrio (p. 99) has closed her nightclub due to problems with the tax people. Rumor has it that she is living in San Miguel de Allende and drives a Hummer.
Ambulantes (street vendors, p. 31, 32) have been forced to leave many streets in the centro, creating a more open, but slightly duller, atmosphere.
The 'pink' Edificion San José (p. 59) has been painted white
Aguila y Sol, arguably DF's most talked-about alta cocina Mexicana restaurant, is closed for unknown reasons--I've heard it had to do with parking problems. (p. 92)
The bar/restaurant has re-opened in the Torre Latinoamerica. Open late (p. 22).
The oldest cantina in Mexico City is closed! El Nivel, just off the Zócalo on Calle Moneda, had been around since the mid-1800's. Sic transit gloria. (pages 32 and 97)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
THE 10 BEST THINGS I’VE EATEN IN
By Jim Johnston
The older I get the more I love eating, the more my fascination and respect for food grows. Cooking and eating together seem the most blessed forms of communal human behavior, and eating alone ranks high on my list of self-indulgent pleasures.
1. Several times a week I stop at the fruit juice stand near Insurgentes and Sonora to get a liter of fresh-squeezed orange or tangerine juice (18 pesos)--and wonder why every civilized city doesn’t offer such healthy convenience. Fresh fruit stands are all over the city and often seem to appear magically whenever I get really thirsty.
2. I’ve never eaten better tamales than those sold by
3. I don’t feel completely human in the morning before my first cup of coffee, and I always feel a bit cheated if I must drink coffee other than what I buy in the Centro at Café Jekemir (Isabel la Católica at the corner of
4. Tlacoyos are found all over the city, usually made by women tending small charcoal fires in metal anafres on the street. Tlacoyos are palm-sized ovals of masa (corn dough), formed by hand and filled with frijoles (red beans), requesón (mild white cheese), or habas (fava beans—my favorite). Cooked on a greaseless griddle, they are served with nopales (cactus), onion, grated cheese, and your choice of red or green salsa. Healthy, delicious, and cheap (usually under 10 pesos), I find this one of the most satisfying snacks in town. You will see tlacoyos everywhere, but my favorite stand is on Calle
5. I am a big fan of mole, and whenever I return from a trip outside
6. Mexican cuisine offers many regional specialties that are usually found only in their places of origin—unless you are in
7. Years ago, while still living in
8. I have to confess a preference for Mexican food from street stalls and market fondas (in case you haven’t noticed); it usually has a ring of authenticity missing in many upscale establishments. But internationally acclaimed chef Patricia Quintana has turned out some pretty delicious Mexican food—gussied up a bit—in her Polanco restaurant, Izote (Mazarky 513, tel. 5280-1671). The smoked salmon appetizer accompanied by guacamole drizzled with vanilla-infused oil is both surprising and delicious.
9. It took me a while to warm up to pozole, that thick soup made with pork and hominy (large corn kernels), but I’ve since become addicted to this most satisfying dish, which has been around in a similar form since Aztec times. Most places offer red pozole, but one of my very favorite things to eat in Mexico City is the pozole verde served at Pozoleria Tizka (Zacatecas 59 in Colonia Roma), which is thickened with ground pumpkin seeds. You can order it with chicken instead of pork to lighten it up a bit. Their tostadas are crisp and fresh, and the lemonade excellent.
10. I have a fairly aggressive sweet tooth, which is often disappointed with desserts in
My list is but a brief glimpse of the culinary pleasures awaiting you in our capital city. True foodies will want the book ‘Good Food in
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
First published in Atención San Miguel
Not far from the Zócalo, Mexico City´s vast main plaza, is the Secretaría de Educación Pública (Argentina #28 near Venezuela) where jacaranda- filled courtyards are decorated with murals by Diego Rivera, painted here between 1923 and 1928. There is too much to see in one visit, so I recommend beginning upstairs on the 3rd floor, where Riveras’s later work exhibits greater control of design and color. The murals are an allegory of the Mexican Revolution, with scenes of triumphant workers and decadent capitalists united by a long scroll painted with lyrics of Revolutionary songs. These are my favorite Rivera murals in the city, full of movement, opinion, and colors you want to sink your teeth into. Rivera used wife Frida Kahlo as a model for an armed revolutionary in the panel “The Arsenal” near the top of the stairs. Murals on the first floor depict traditions and festivals of the Mexican people. Passing beyond the back patio you enter a colonial building (the former Customs House), where murals by David Alfaro Siquieros, Rivera´s famed contemporary, enliven the large stairwell with their bold imagery and energetic technique. .
Eight blocks west of the Zócalo is the Alameda, an oasis of green in the city center, a perfect place to relax under an umbrella of jacarandas, get your shoes shined, and watch the world go by. Surrounding the park are some of Mexico City’s best sights. The recently renovated Palacio de Bellas Artes, looking like a giant wedding cake at the end of the park, is the principal venue for opera, concerts and ballet. The museum upstairs has murals by Rivera, Tamayo, Siqueiros and Orozco among others, and there is a Museo de Arquitectura (separate admission ticket) on the top floor, well worth visiting for the up-close view of the dome over the lobby.
Attending a performance at Bellas Artes is the only way to see the magnificent Aztec-Deco interior of the theater, with its Tiffany stained-glass stage “curtain”. Events are listed on the wall in the front lobby, where you will see ticket booths (taquillas). The Ballet Folklórico presents colorful dance performances every Sunday and Wednesday; the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional has concerts on Friday nights at 8pm and Sundays at 12 noon, with tickets for as little as 80 pesos.
Directly across from Bellas Artes you will see a Sears store, whose 8th floor café is perfect for viewing the jacarandas in the Alameda below—and the coffee is good, too.
On the north side of the Alameda, on Avenida Hidalgo, is the Museo Franz Mayer, with a fine collection of colonial art housed in a lovingly restored 16th century building. Be sure to visit the museum’s tranquil cloistered garden to best enjoy the elegant colonial architecture here.
South of the Alameda, behind the high-rise Hilton Hotel, is the Museo de Arte Popular (Revillagigedo and Independencia, www.map.org.mx). A top-notch collection of Mexican handicrafts is beautifully displayed here in a renovated Art-Deco building. All proceeds from the store here go to the artesans.
The most dramatic display of jacarandas is found in Colonia Condesa. Take a taxi to Avenida Michoacán in Parque Mexico, where you will see a statue of a buxom nude holding two jugs spouting water. This marks the middle of the park, where you can also find a taxi sitio for your return trip. Ambling through this cool, shady neighborhood park is a pleasure, especially on weekends when you might encounter a used book sale, art classes for the kids, or an impromptu tango milonga near the duck pond. The park is a large oval whose perimeter is defined by Avenida México and by a larger concentric oval, Avenida Amsterdam. Walking along these streets will give you a good feel for the mix of nature and architecture that characterizes this colonia--and you can’t get lost in this otherwise complicated neighborhood, as the oval shape returns you to your starting point.
Weekly markets, known by the Aztec name tianguis, are set up in the streets as they have been for centuries; here you might see a woman with a Chanel bag buying handmade tortillas from a country woman in braids and a rebozo. Sounds of an older Mexico are heard in Condesa: the whistle of the knife sharpener, the cries of men delivering gas or water, the hoot of the camotero who sells sweet potatoes from a push-cart at night, or a one-man band playing trumpet and drums.
On Avenida Michoacán, about five blocks from Parque México (walking in the direction of the traffic) , is the commercial center of Condesa, with lots of places to shop, eat, or sit and watch hip, young “chilangos” (as D.F. residents are known) looking great and having fun. At Café La Gloria (Vicente Suarez at Amatlán) you can admire the work of established Mexico City artists on display while dining on bistro-style food. Artefacto (Amatlán 94) sells home accessories that mix traditional materials with sleek design. El Milagrito (Mazatlan 152) features whimsical gift items with images of Mexico’s twin goddesses, the Virgin of Guadalupe and Frida Kahlo. You can cool off with a gelato at Neve-Gelato (on the corner of Michoacan and Cuernavaca).
Start at Avenida Michoacán in Parque Mexico, where you are surrounded by jacaranda trees—you will see a statue of a buxom nude holding two jugs spouting water, which marks the middle of the park. Ambling through this cool, shady neighborhood park is a pleasure, especially on weekends when you might encounter a used book sale, art classes for the kids, or an impromptu tango class near the duck pond. The park is a large oval whose perimeter is defined by Avenida Mexico and by a larger concentric oval, Avenida Amsterdam. Walking along these streets will give you a good feel for the mix of nature and architecture that characterizes this colonia--and you can’t get lost in this otherwise complicated neighborhood, as the oval shape returns you to your starting point.
The nearby Condesa DF Hotel (at the corner of Veracruz and Parque España) is a fashionable hotspot, with a spectacular display of jacarandas, best enjoyed from the rooftop. Take the elevator to the top floor, where the wood-planked terrace, complete with hot tub, seems to float on waves of jacaranda trees lining Avenida Veracruz.
In Xochimilco at the southern end of the city is The Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño, an idyllic place for a spring visit. Olmedo, a rich socialite patron of Diego Rivera, opened her house and collection to the public in 1994. Manicured lawns are planted with jacarandas and flaming red colorin trees; strutting peacocks and waddling ducks lead you to her 16th century hacienda. Out front is a fenced-off area where several xoloitzcuintzles, rare hairless dogs of pre-hispanic origin, are frolicking or sleeping. The ceramic sculptures of these dogs from the state of Colima are a highlight of the museum’s small but impressive pre-Hispanic collection. The museum features works by Diego Rivera, including a roomful of luscious small paintings of sunsets, his best lithographs, and early work from his cubist period. Frida Kahlo has her own room, the largest collection of her paintings anywhere.
Visit the website (www.museodoloresolmedo.org) for more information and directions. Make a copy of their map, as many cab drivers have trouble finding this place. The museum is near to the La Noria metro station.
Perhaps the best place to view the jacarandas is from the air--if you are arriving by plane, be sure to get a window seat.
If you think of Mexico City as a big ugly metropolis, visit during jacaranda season and see if you don’t change your mind.
First published in Atención San Miguel June 29, 2007
The earthquake that struck
Maintaining a sense of equanimity in
The busy area behind the Cathedral in the Centro Histórico recalls an older
The Museo Franz Mayer, facing the green park known as the
Not far from the Zócalo is the Museo de
If you’re seeking more oxygen, head to Parque
The Museo del Carmen, a former 17th century convent in San Angel, in the south of the city, is a cloistered enclave with a hushed, expectant mood. You can see a fine collection of religious art from the Spanish colonial period, as well as a cellar filled with mummified nuns, but simply sitting and enjoying the feeling of weight and security--of survival--in the stones here is what makes this spot so soothing.
Finding a peaceful and quiet hotel room in
Two hotels in quieter parts of the city are the Hotel Maria Cristina (Rio Lerma 31, Colonia Juarez, tel. 5703-1787, www.hotelmariacristina.com.mx) and
I’ve never heard anyone say they are coming for a relaxing weekend in
First published in Atención San Miguel
In Mexico City’s neighborhoods tall red and green ‘Mi Mercado’ signs are a familiar sight, and although statistics show that more and more Mexicans are shopping in American-style supermarkets each year, in the big city the traditional market is going strong.
Mercados bring the farm, the earth, the past into everyday life. At the Museo de Antropología in
Most market stalls are small family-run businesses, so there is an intimate feel of a village in the mercado. You can still ask for ‘un aguacate para hoy’, a recommendation for the best melon, or get a free apple as a ‘pilón’ from your friendly local greengrocer. Vendors beseech you with ‘Que vay a llevar?’ or ‘Que le damos, marchanta?’ and there is a chatty, bustling feel to the proceedings, and usually, somewhere, music.
A few miles south of the Zócalo, the Mercado Jamaica offers a laid-back and scaled-down version of La Merced, plus more—it is the city’s wholesale flower market. Beyond the beautifully displayed fruits, vegetables and piñatas are several aisles lined with masses of cut flowers and curious formal arrangements that might include apples, plastic dolls or live goldfish. In the main covered building look for the Tepacheria ‘Paty’ where you can get a refreshing glass of tepache, a traditional drink made of lightly fermented pineapple juice. There is a metro stop at the Mercado Jamaica on the #9 line and a taxio sitio behind the flower market
The Mercado San Juan (on Ernest Pugibet in the Centro) is not the most picturesque place, but it’s where gourmet cooks, professional chefs and French people go to buy their food. Fist-size shrimp, button-sized squash, exotic fruits, chinese vegetables, imported cheeses, wild mushrooms and more are found inside the building. Outside you might find crispy fried grasshoppers or fresh gusanos, worms of the maguey cactus that are eaten live, rolled in a tortilla with salt and lime. The dapper Argentine gentleman by the outside wall of the Mercado San Juan sells excellent empanadas de elote.
The Aztec word ‘tianguis’ is still used to describe once-a-week street markets where the vendor comes to you, a distinctive feature of
My apartment in