Guadalajara, Guadalajara!

This is not the first time I write about Guadalajara, however, I spent a weekend there just last year, and felt in love with this city, again.

Getting there from Mexico City is pretty simple, you either take a 50 minutes flight (around USD$70 to $100 return), or a 7 hours bus from “Central Poniente” (USD$75 return). I chose the second option, because either I’m still an adventurous man or apparently I haven’t learnt to buy my trips on advance, go figure.

I arrived to Guadalajara’s bus terminal on a Saturday, around 7 am, and decided to hop on the public transportation to get to the city centre. As, due to some previous reading, public transportation routes are easy to follow. Once you get to downtown, moving around by foot isn’t that bad at all, or at least for me, as I really enjoy long walks.                

As you can see, the day was beautiful, and as I walked from “Templo de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazú” to Guadalajara’s Plaza de Armas (its main square) stores and restaurants were getting ready to serve the peasants.

The Cathedral is incredible. Its construction began on 1561 and was finished by 1716, finally completed on 1854. To one of its side you will find the “Hombres Ilustres” (distinguished men) roundabout with all those men who contributed to either found Guadalajara or stood out for their achievements in culture, science, politics or leadership.

I continued walking through Jose Maria Morelos street and passed by Teatro Degollado. This Theatre was built during the XIX Century. Its facade is beautifully balanced by 16 Corinthian styled columns, a reminder of Guadalajara’s constant focus in culture and arts.

Just a 20 minutes walk away, in that direction, you’ll find the Hospicio Cabañas. This is a World Heritage Site, and one of the oldest and largest hospital complexes in the Americas. I’ve been there before, and I do recommend you to spend at least a couple of hours exploring it.

You might be wondering, “Luis, why did you go to Guadalajara out of the sudden?”, glad you ask. As you know, I’m from Tampico, gorgeous town on the Northeast coast of Mexico. My local soccer team was playing against the Universidad of Guadalajara’s team that Sunday, so, I packed my jersey and lots of sunscreen and just went for it.

Estado Jalisco – Leones Negros vs Tampico Madero

On Saturday evening I hung out around the Chapultepec Avenue zone, it has plenty of hipster-ish pubs, restaurants, local gastronomy, and a colourful flea market. Later that night, a good friend of mine invited me over to a party in that same neighborhood, the “Colonia Americana”.  Guadalajara and Merida have that in common, huge 19th and 20th century houses, which are part of the local heritage, some of them became restaurants or venues for fancy events. She took me to “Patán Ale House“, wonderful beer place, with local brews, great ambiance and good food, perfect for a relaxed Saturday night.

On Sunday I went to the football match, to the Estadio Jalisco, aye, you are right, my team won 2-0 and I couldn’t be happier. The funny thing is that around 400+ fans from my town traveled all the way from East coast to Guadalajara to support our team. That afternoon I made two more food stops. One at “El Negro”, a seafood joint. That was freaking heaven, fresh seafood everywhere, fish and shrimp tacos, grilled octopus, and beer as cold as my ex’s heart, amazing.

The second one, and a great reminder that I need to come back soon to keep on exploring this great city, was “La Res Publica“. Here we ordered one of the most heavenly “Bife de Chorizo” I ever had. Medium rare, solid salted crust, juicy meat and an outstanding explosion of flavours in my mouth with each bite.

That was Guadalajara for me, great weekend, and a must needed break from Mexico City. I highly recommend it, not only as a place to go for a couple of days. Guadalajara seems like the right place where to go if you want to experience Mexico in peaceful and calm way.

Ps. But of course I had a Torta Ahogada. This is a local dish made with hard short baguette stuffed with pork carnitas, and covered on hot or mild red sauce (hence the word “ahogadas” which means drowned). However, I had the seafood version, with shrimps, outstanding.

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Charro Beans (Or Mexican Soup)

I was born and raised in the North of Mexico, Tampico is my hometown and I’ll will always cherish my childhood and youth spent there. However, right when I turned 19 I moved to Monterrey, Mexico. So from 10 good years I studied, lived, worked and ate grilled meat (“carnes asadas”) at the City of Mountains and hard working Mexicans.

espesos-y-deliciosos

While there I learnt to cook “Frijoles Charros” or as I later called it in NZ “Mexican spicy bean soup”. So, don’t be shy, grab pen and paper and write down the following recipe for some kick ass spicy bean soup that will definitely be the final entrée at your home made BBQ this summer (or Fall… screw it, you know I went on holidays, so this is great for Winter too, ok? just be cool with it). Remember, this is not “Chilli”, this is a Mexican spicy bean soup, alright?

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of Cannellini or Red Kidney beans in brine
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic, chopped
  • 3 stripes of smoked bacon (the real deal, you know what I mean)
  • 1 piece of Spanish chorizo in squares
  • Red, yellow and green capsicums squared (1 each)
  • 1 bratwurst roughly sliced (I do prefer either Argentinian sausage or Polish burst)
  • Fresh cilantro (just a handful)
  • 1 smoked chipotle chilli
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
capsicum_annuum_chipotle_dried

These are chipotles 

What to do? 

Use a large and deep pot, add the bacon and chorizo, stir around, let those juices cover the wall of the pot, add the onions, garlic and capsicums, stir-fry. Throw in the bratwurst (no pun intended), stir around again, oh yeah, that’s it, you know it. Finally, add the tomatoes, and after a couple minutes put in the beans, brine and all.

bayos

Finally, put the chipotle and the cilantro in. The idea of using the whole chipotle, without chopping it or slicing it is because you don’t want to make this a hot soup, you just want the flavour of this smoked chilli, that’s it.

fch4

Let all the ingredients mix in the pot, now pour in 3 cups of water, let it boil. Salt and pepper to taste.

This my friends, is a great confort food. You can even not put any extra water in it and it is a great side dish for a roast (like pork or lamb).

charros-lata-y-bolsa

In Mexico we can also just buy these and everybody will be ok with that. Kidding, we are not ok with this, go for the real deal

Ps. The year is almost over and we are soon to know who is going to become president of the USA. Aren’t we all excited? Not really, nor of the two options are great for my neighbours, but that shouldn’t be of my business, right? Now, if you excuse me, I have a wall to build.

 

Mexico City: One Year After

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Well, not really, I´ve been in Mexico City for over a year already and honestly I´m loving it. This city is amazing, so alive, so busy, vibrant and full of surprises. Living here was one of my goals in life, regardless of how the rest of the country sees the capital city, the Federal District (or DF as it is known in Mexico) is one of the most amazing urban centres of Latin America.

Just don´t mind this… I mean, sometimes it gets pretty casual.

I got here around the end of January last year, I didn´t know what to expect, but now I can say that this is a great city to visit, live and do pretty much whatever you want (legally, obviously, this isn´t bloody Amsterdam, you know, we are Catholics and stuff).

I still have that crazy bird in my head telling me to do other stuff and fly away, but for now, this place is pretty awesome.

Last weekend I noticed how lucky I am, I went to Reforma Avenue on Sunday. This is perhaps the most important avenue in the country, which on Sundays becomes a pedestrian-only road. On this day you can find people riding their bicycles, practicing yoga or just hanging out around freaking old monuments. 

Pretty awesome day, right?

Pretty awesome day, right?

After wandering around for a while I went for some churros with hot chocolate close to the main square (known as Zocalo) of the city. This place is pretty famous and old, it is called “El Moro” and it is just delicious, for USD$4 you get hot chocolate and 4 large churros, fantastic.

These are the bomb!

These are the bomb!

As well, every Sunday, but in the my neighborhood, the Colonia Napoles, a street market makes this “hood” a literal food parade, where fresh veggies and fruits can be found. Also, taco places and Mexican food stands sell their products to the general public.

These are deep fried quesadillas filled with cheese and pork crackling - Pure love

These are deep fried quesadillas filled with cheese and pork crackling – Pure love

My favourite stand, and I reckon they might know who I am by now is a “carnitas” stand, where they offer amazing pork crackling, pork meat and pork… and more pork, it is just heaven (I love pork).

The heart of Mexico: El Zocalo

The heart of Mexico: El Zocalo

Anyway, the point here is, Mexico City is freaking awesome, give it a chance, and if you are ever around do not hesitate to give me a call, I might even take you to my favourite “carnitas” stand and share a taco or two with you. 

The Soumaya Museum, for example, has one of the largest Rodin´s collection in the world.

The Soumaya Museum, for example, has one of the largest Rodin´s collection in the world.

Ps1. Honestly, that #100HappyDays thingy is really working, I do feel more optimistic and enjoying the simple things in life.

Ps2. Did I mention last time that I found this ubber delicious coffee place just around the corner from my flat? It´s an original concept and the way they prepare coffee is very traditional, not more Starbucks for me on the weekends. The place? El Guapo Café 

Ps3. Wanna see more pics of how is life in Mexico, go for a wee visit to the following link.