Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hand made in Mexico

One of the benefits of Mexico is that a lot of the day to day items, especially food products are hand made.  We go to the bakery two or three times a week, where we purchase conchas, orejas and other items that you would only find in plastic envelops NOB, almost always made by some oven or machine larger than your house.
Our tortillas are either hand made at restaurants or we stand at the tortillaria waiting for them to come off the machine still steaming as the attendant packs them into a plastic bag, but not before grabbing one or two and applying some salsa and salt that the tortillaria has provided at the counter.

When we go out to restaurant, a mark of a decent place is that they have a dedicated person that makes them by had, which they bring to your table in a hot steaming basket.

On one of our rides around the lake there is a roadside restaurant that overlooks the lake, a small family run place that has about 4 or 5 tables , which we will usually stop by for a meal.  The menus at these kind of place is usually limited to 3 or 4 items.  Either some sort of taco or perhaps a fried fish dish or an arracherra.

One can usually expect to pay anywhere from 50 to 80 pesos for the meal which may include a small salad with a squeeze of thousand island dressing plopped on a sliced tomato. Some of these places even provide a cold beer, not ice cold but at least not room temperature.

These places are usually a family operation where the mother or grandmother tend to cooking, the son or daughter wait on the table and the baby provides security or entertainment for the clients. You have to pull off the side of the road with usually space for only two or three cars close to the cliff.

There are several of these places ranging anywhere from 3 or 4 tables, a shack with a roof held up with sticks and poles, on the other side closer to civilization there are several larger places with dozens of tables a parking lot, area for kids to run around and play ( outside of where the dining room tables are) and a menu with dozens of items.
Some of these places specialize with fish, others only have meat dishes, but all of them will usually have hand made tortillas.

I actually enjoy these hole in the wall , dive places more than the larger more organized places. It seems that the food has a more genuine taste when you see mom or grandma making the stuff.

I  may make a map of the places that dot the perimeter of the lake. I would estimate that there are probably about 20 of these place if you include the proximity of the ones in Quiroga lake front.

All in all, you owe it to yourself to try these places.  Don't be squeamish if you happen to see dirt floors or no doors on the establishment. You might be surprised on how good and cheap the vittles are.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Another day in Paradise

A few weeks ago our fellow Blogger, Felipe had taken a road trip on his way and through Ucazanastacua, which is halfway on the road to Tzintzuntzan. 

As I have mentioned before we enjoy getting out of the house for short jaunts around the area also especially on nice sunny days which we have in the season now. In another month our rains will arrive, bringing green to all the surrounding hills and mountaintops.
 We sometime find new things, new restaurants and new places see the rich history the area has to offer.

Felipe's story inspired us to take that trip again, and stop for lunch. We usually do these trips on Sunday, since that way we can be assured all  these little restaurants are open and there are other people out enjoying the day off or the family excursion day.

We stumbled on this place

The place is called Tharemuecha restaurant and it is located at the lakeside of Lake Patzcuaro, at the end of a windy crappy little road that shoots off from the main road that circles the mountain.  It is a little ways away from Ucazanastacua, which has a boutique spa and restaurant along with expensive rooms that are usually filled up with guests coming from CDMX for the weekends.
The road around the mountain has about 5 or 6 small little communities some of which probably have no more than 30 inhabitants, other have 3 or 4 dozen homes.  As you stay on the road it will empty you out in the back of Tintuntzan, about 7 or 8 blocks behind the main road that goes through town , the road if you stay on will put you in Quiroga.

Anyway, we stopped at this roadside or I should say lake side restaurant to enjoy a nice lunch which was served quickly along with a not so ice cold beer.  That would be my only complaint that the beer was cold but not enjoyably ice cold like I like.

I ordered the Sopa Tarsco and Chile Relleno while the wife got the Camorones Al Mojo de Ajo.
Both dishes were served with rice and a small salad with pedestrian salad dressing out of a bottle.
While sitting lake side there were 4 or 5 families also enjoying the view, their kids were running around int he adjacent grassy area and no one seemed to be in a rush to leave.  I asked for a colder beer after my first and it looked like they stuck one in the freezer for a few minutes because my 2nd one was much better which I enjoyed much more than the first.  It's usually the other way around most of the time!

Our meal was good, nothing stellar, since we were there for the lakeside experience and not a gourmet dining experience. It was good, tasty and moderately inexpensive.  All in all we would return here and tote along visitors from afar when showing them local dive places. Dive like in drinking joint not the wet kind.

In one of our other trips we had stopped at a restaurant that was perched on the cliff right off the road , again with a great view and basic road style food. There are about 4 or 5 places that one can stop and eat, along with the view on this road.

If you go all the way around the lake on the other side there a few places also, that will be for another posting.

We have lots of little places one can experience if one is adventurous and willing to try something new and out of the way.

We'll talk about our other lake restaurants  one of the next posts.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Not Mayonnaise.

Growing up the only condiments on the table were salt, pepper and occasionally mayonnaise.
Not any mayonnaise, it had to be Best Foods also know as Hellman's east of the Rockies.
Not Kraft, Not Gulden ( yes they did make mayonnaise in the 50's Not Dukes, or even Heinz.

Why, I don't know, but I have always used Best Foods all my life until being in Mexico which now it's McCormick's with lime is my favorite.
I also use to make it myself, couple of eggs, salad oil, salt and pepper and you have the best home made mayo know to man.

But the table condiments made a drastic 180 degree change here in Mexico. It's no longer mayo anymore, although you do see it at my favorite seafood restaurant, but mostly you will see at least 4 or 5 hot pepper  sauces, a bottle of Magi and even some salsa Americana or Worcestershire sauce.

Occasionally you might find a bottle of Tabasco sauce but not usually.  I only see Tabasco sauce is in restaurants that cater to tourists, since they don't have any experience with local sauces like Tapatio or Cholula.  Recently I have started seeing Seracha sauce which is a spicy not hot Asian style sauce.  In face Sriracha is the most popular pepper sauce in the states nowadays.  ( I am told).

Never the less, you can put lots of sauces and stuff on your food here.  The other day at our favorite taco establishment I ordered a half dozen lingua (tongue) tacos while my wife order a couple of tripa and asada tacos.  For 8 pesos each 10 or 12 small tacos make a great meal for us, wash it down with either a ice cold beer or coke light and we have a great dinner.

Presented usually for addition to tacos are cucumber slices, fresh pico de gallo, marinated onions, tomatillo salsa, guacamole salsa, habanero salsa and chopped cabbage.

 And you always have to squeeze a wedge of lime over the whole shebang too.

Additionally many places will have two or three hot pepper salsas, either chile de arbol, chile ancho and chile manzana salsas.

A veritable selection of salsas with various heat, smoke and roasted flavors.

I am also told that these salsas are gaining popularity in the states as accompaniment to many meals not just tacos and burritos etc.  These salsas can make fish meat and salads pop with flavor.  Not all salsas will blow your eyes out of your eye sockets either.  One of my favorites is the chile de arbol, which has some decent heat and still have great flavor.

Oh, I forgot, for some reason Ketchup is popular down here too.