Pat and David

El Hidalguense brings real pit barbecue to Mexico City

El Hidalguense brings real pit barbecue to Mexico City

On Sundays in Mexico City, it seems as if all roads lead to Chapultepec Park. We like nothing better than joining local families for a stroll through this green oasis in the middle of the city. Many of the city's best museums are also located in the park and as a bonus, most are free on Sunday. On our recent visit, we spent the morning tracing Mexico's history through the murals at Chapultepec Castle and then marveling at the work by some of the country's greatest artists in a special exhibition at the Modern Art Museum. Alas, it was too cool to spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic in the park. Instead, we indulged in another local tradition—a late lunch of barbacoa at...Read More
Tacos al pastor lead to more exotic discoveries

Tacos al pastor lead to more exotic discoveries

We're fascinated by the origin stories of street food. The tale behind the ubiquitous tacos al pastor (ubiquitous in Mexico City anyway) sounds suspiciously like a lot of best guesses. But it's logical to think that a popular food grilled on a rotating vertical spit just might have something to do with Lebanese immigrants to Mexico in the early 20th century. Even though it's pork, meat cooked “al pastor” certainly looks like lamb shawarma from the Near East. Mexico City's taco shops are having a moment—inventing new combos and flashier ways to serve them. But among old-fashioned taquerías, tacos al pastor still reign supreme. The rotating spit—usually placed out front or in a window—lures hungry diners with aromas of roasting pork, pineapple, and onion. Pile...Read More
Global street food experts share tips

Global street food experts share tips

Wherever we travel, we're always amazed by how many of our favorite meals were served in a modest eatery—or even by a street food vendor. Before our recent trip to Mexico, we revisited an interview we conducted for the Boston Globe with street food experts Bruce Kraig and Colleen Taylor Sen. They're the editors of Street Food: Everything You Need to Know About Open-Air Stands, Carts & Food Trucks Around the Globe (Surrey Books, $24.95). If you're looking for the best food, they advised, pick the vendor with the biggest crowd of local people. Here's a condensed version of the interview with other tips about healthy outdoor dining around the world What are your favorite places for street food? Collen: I go to India all...Read More
Christmas lasagna with Brolio Chianti Classico

Christmas lasagna with Brolio Chianti Classico

As readers of our last post know, we've been exploring Chianti with dishes for the Christmas season. Our last post highlighted a Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva with roast pork. But we're also fond of Brolio's basic Chianti Classico, which sells for about two-thirds the price of the riserva. The wine is intensely ruby red, with a more open nose than the riserva. Floral notes of iris and violet mix with red fruits and woodsy aromas. With less barrel aging, the wine is more loosely structured and the tannins are very soft. Typical of Brolio wines, though, it shows a slightly flinty minerality that we quite enjoy. With apologies to Italy, we decided that this wine would drink well with a French-influenced version of lasagna. Our...Read More
Chianti Classico for Christmas: Brolio 2015 Riserva

Chianti Classico for Christmas: Brolio 2015 Riserva

Long ago, we used to buy a well-made Chianti Classico from an anonymous cooperative for a price low enough to make Charles Shaw blush. When we wanted to treat ourselves to a better wine, we would step up to a Brolio Chianti. We didn't have a lot of money and we never went wrong trusting the Ricasoli family to make an excellent Chianti at a fair price. Chianti has come a long way since Baron Bettino Ricasoli came up with the original formulation in 1872. That recipe called for a minimum of 70 percent Sangiovese and allowed a couple of white grapes in the blend. The rules have been rewritten extensively and now even allow 100 percent Sangiovese as well as blends with Bordeaux grape...Read More
Chiles en nogada: the taste of independence

Chiles en nogada: the taste of independence

Hurrah for the red, white, and green! Despite several changes in form of government over the years, the colors of the Mexican flag have stood since Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1821. One of the most elaborate of Mexican dishes seems to date from the same year. Tradition says that the nuns of Puebla's Santa Monica convent created chiles en nogada to honor General Agustín de Iturbide when he visited the city after by signing the Treaty of Córdoba on August 28. (Puebla celebrates the Festival of Chile en Nogada on that day every year.) The dish echoes the colors of the flag in the green poblano chiles stuffed with picadillo, the white of the walnut cream sauce that enrobes it, and the...Read More
In Mexico, even the dead enjoy a feast

In Mexico, even the dead enjoy a feast

We recently returned from Mexico, where we joined the observations of the Day of the Dead in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán. Wherever we went, the air was filled with the vaguely pungent, slightly rank smell of marigolds. Farmers filled the beds of their pickup trucks to lug vast heaps of flowers to market. Native to central Mexico, "cempasuchitl" (the Nahuatl name for marigolds) are abundant in the late October rainy season. By tradition, their bright color represents the sun lighting the way for souls to return on the Day of the Dead. Their aroma also draws the deceased back to the world of the living. Marigolds abound in public spaces and private homes, where people use them to brighten the ofrendas so central to the celebration of...Read More
‘Feasts of Veg’ gives cause to celebrate

‘Feasts of Veg’ gives cause to celebrate

Some things are the same the world over. Sharing good food with friends and family is “one of the most enjoyable things to do in life,” says Nina Olsson, author of Feasts of Veg (© 2018 Kyle Books, photographs © Nina Olsson). That's as true in Olsson's native Sweden as it is in her current of residence in Amsterdam—or in our home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Olsson has drawn on world flavors to assemble a group of recipes for gatherings and celebrations. It's a book full of heart and the spirit of generosity that comes with cooking and sharing food. Someday we will host a bake-your-own pizza party or host a fancy sit-down dinner with Smoky Shiitake with Pea Farrotto and Chai Tea Sauce. But because...Read More
Planeta champions Nero d’Avola wines

Planeta champions Nero d’Avola wines

“Nero d'Avola is the most important grape in Sicilian wine-making,” announced Alessio Planeta at the outset of a two-hour seminar on the subject. Planeta has all the bona fides to make that claim. He's the nephew of Diego Planeta, who pioneered quality winemaking with the Settesoli cooperative in Menfi and co-founded Planeta winery (planeta.it/en/) in Sambuca. Alessio and his cousin Francesca now run Planeta, one of the biggest exporters of Sicilian table wine to the U.S. Nero d'Avola is the noblest of the many native Sicilian red grapes. With abundant warmth, sunlight, and dry conditions at harvest, it reaches peak ripeness in Sicily with rounded phenols and a sugar of about 22 brix. (It ferments dry to 13.5% alcohol.) Historically, Sicilian red wines were known...Read More
Blind Lion Speakeasy nods to Old West

Blind Lion Speakeasy nods to Old West

Tony DeMaro stood in front of an unassuming door marked “Employees Only.” I assumed that it's for the bartenders and waitstaff for the bustling Murphy's Pub (510 9th Street, murphyspubandgrill.com). A fixture in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota, the friendly place bristles with big-screen televisions tuned to sports. But DeMaro had a surprise in store. He led me through the door and down a short hallway to the Blind Lion speakeasy. I felt like one of the cool kids let in on a secret. Many of the folks watching football and sipping beer in Murphy's probably don't even know that this throwback to the Prohibition era lies beneath them. “The Blind Lion is as secretive as you can be and still be in business,” DeMaro...Read More