Washington D.C, Burgers and Mezcal

After my cousin’s wedding I decided that crossing the border into the “US and A” could be a great idea. And it was.

So I took the bus from Toronto to DC (and it was a hell of a long drive),  where I’ll spend at least a day, and then I’ll find my way to New York City by bus or train. Sure thing, greyhound seemed like a good option, but Megabus was far much cheaper, reliable and had more runs, so that’s my recommendation.

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I got to DC on a Wednesday morning at its beautiful Union Station, my first impression about DC is that it was built by and for giants. Must confess that I’ve never been fond of my American neighbours and their nationalistic love for overwhelming monuments and beacons of their glorious history; however, DC is a gorgeous example of grand architecture devoted to enhance the past.

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My good old Mexican friend from University, Sergio, picked me up from the Station and took me to one of Obama’s favourite burger places in DC, Good Stuff Eatery. I helped myself with a “Hillary”, because at that time, mid October, the elections were still on. Beautiful burger, you should definitely try the Prez Obama Burger or their Good Stuff Melt. Serious stuff.

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After that “breakfast” I was on my own, Sergio told me to walk down from The Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, going around the Tidal Basin by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

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Jefferson Memorial at Tidal Basin

This is such a great path if you don’t have enough time in DC, as no matter where you are at the National Mall, literally you get to enjoy a great view of everything!

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The Lincoln Memorial is magnificent, as it crowns the National Mall bringing a sublime balance to the whole landscape, overwhelming Capitol Hill as it aligns in perfection to the Washington Monument. It was at the stairs of the Memorial where  I sat down to rest, while hundreds of tourists like me were doing their best to capture a picture of Lincoln’s statue, trying not to hit each other with their selfie-sticks. After a while, I headed to the White House, choosing to walk by the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

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I look so full of freedom and democracy

That afternoon I had beers and burgers (DC loves its burgers) with a great friend of mine. She is a smart-ass good looking journalist, one of the few people who appreciate my nerdy sense of humour and laughs at pretty much most of my jokes. That was the night of the last debate, mezcal was mandatory in order to hear Trump’s now famous quotes of “Bad Hombres” and “Nasty Woman” (which we all agree are great names for rock bands). Spoiler alert: Trump won the election.

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Or a great Eau de Toilette brand name

Washington DC showed me a different and refreshing face of the “US and A”. Even though I’m a Mexican used to the American “culture”, experiencing something different from LA, Minnesota, or Texas, was needed.

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On Thursday morning I had this wee piece of heaven at the Pretzel Bakery – gorgeous

All that happened in one day. On Thursday morning I was again at Union Station, ready for NYC, and that’s for another post.

Pork Rib Roast – The Musical

This one isn’t an easy recipe, turns out that for great dishes and outstanding flavours sometimes we have to be patient and take our time.

So, get your oven tray ready, turn on the heat, sharpen your knives and let’s get kraken with this.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 kilograms of Loin rack Joint
  • Half a litre of white wine
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 10 white small potatoes
  • A good bunch of fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

Let’s find the meat. Go to your favourite butcher, I know I have mine, and ask him for a good piece of Loin rack Joint (use the previous image for life changing purposes), tell the lad to leave the fat on, (always leave the fat on), take it to your kitchen counter, ready? Now let the magic begin.

First remove the membrane that comes on top of the ribs, this will make the meat really tender while cooking it. Ready? Sweet, now score the meat on the other side, you want the salt and the pepper to really get into that layer of fat.

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Now place the white potatoes, in halves, the thyme, pepper, salt and the garlic cloves on the cooking tray. This will look like a potatoe bed where you will place the ribs on, fat up.

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Pour 300 ml of the wine on the tray, cover the meat with tin foil, and put that baby inside the preheated oven, now leave it there for 1.5 hours at 180 degrees Celsius.

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1.5 hours are gone, take the tray out of the oven, remove the tin foil and put the pork back in. The meat is now cooked but we want that fat to turn into a beautiful golden crust. Leave it there for 35 more minutes, after that, place the piece of meat on a wooden board and let it rest for good 5 minutes, you want those juices to get evenly distributed. In the meantime, take that tray and pour the rest of the wine, deglaze that bastard, use a whisker to scratch those flavours out the tray.

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Get a good knife, and cut the pork into slices according to each rib, now plate, pour that gravy on and it is done. Enjoy it with a chilled white wine or a really good Pilsner.

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Hot Wings and Beer

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That’s, I reckon, the best title I’ve ever come up with for any of my posts in this blog. The reason for today’s topic is plain and simple, Hot Wings and Beer are awesome (it’s in the bible, look it up)

Beautiful

Beautiful

Here in Mexico City we tend to go for wings every other Wednesday, and when I say “we”, I mean my mates from my hometown who live here and sometimes we bring a special guest. This sort of tradition began with my friends up north in Monterrey, most of them from my hometown, Tampico, used to get together every Wednesday. The day was chosen not because we love Wednesdays, but because of the specials they have that day at this restaurant (Wings Army), you order 20 hot wings they bring you 30. This place, Wings Army, besides serving great wings, also has a wide variety of national and international beers, which is awesome. From the local brews, to artisan beer, all the way to Cuban or great German beer. The place has it all.

Literally, from everywhere, except, you know... North Korea

Literally, from everywhere, except, you know… North Korea

I must admit I don´t really know how they do it, how they cook these wings to perfection, I’ve tried at home and the result is not disappointing but just “not the same”. I’m not going to explain how to cook the perfect wings, or what to look in a hot wings joint. This is just a reminder that there are some things that other do better, and we should appreciate them and munch our way through.

What other dishes you’d love to cook at home but just don’t turn out as good as your favourite food joint cooks them?

Ps, Oh, by the way, do you know that this guy in Guadalajara registered the “Duff Beer” and branded the bottles to commercialize this brew.

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Quesadilla Sans Fromage

For all my American friends, the title of this post is actually “Quesadillas without cheese”, and that´s today complaint.

See that melting cheese coming out of the tortilla... in love dude, in love

See that melting cheese coming out of the tortilla… in love dude, in love

I´ve been living in Mexico City here for 2 years already, and besides being an amazing place full of history and culture and stuff happening around you literally all the time, there´s one thing that I can´t understand.

Quesadilla with chorizo...

Quesadilla with chorizo…

And this sole thing seems to be a concern not only for me but for the rest of the country. Let´s do something together, ok? I want you to picture a soft corn tortilla, nice and freshly made, now, I want you to mentally put some cheddar or Edam cheese (grated) on one of its side, right? Now place that tortilla on the pan, medium heat, cheese side facing up. Imagine how that cheese begins to melt on that soft, freshly made tortilla, right?

That´s what I´m talking about!

That´s what I´m talking about!

Now, we are going to mentally do this together, right? Fold that tortilla, involving that sweet, melted cheese in all its glory. How do you call that?

A QUESADILLA, that´s right. 

Turns out that in  Mexico City, this is a Quesadilla with Cheese, meaning that the term quesadilla, when you order one on the street, doesn´t necessarily mean that they will give you what we just described in the above paragraph. When you order a quesadilla in Mexico City they´ll ask you if you´d like that with or without cheese, or what kind of stew will you like in it, not cheese involved.

Folded into perfection ...

Folded into perfection …

For the rest of the country, a tortilla with anything in it, is a taco, but when it has cheese it becomes a quesadilla (it´s in the Bible, trust me, Deuteronomy or something like that, true story “And Abraham melted cheese on a soft corn tortilla, using the heat of the pit of fire of sins of the gentiles…” ).

That´s the spot...

That´s the spot…

Apparently in Mexico City they don´t respect this, and will often confuse a taco with a quesadilla, only troubling the mindset of the tourists and other Mexicans, offending our history and traditions.

I will not rant about how much this pisses me, and the rest of the Mexican community, off, I rather write these lines to en-light all of you out there.

Whenever you come to Mexico City, it is your right, no! it is your Human Right (universal and stuff) to demand your quesadilla with cheese, always, and to ensure that melting cheese is always part of your gastronomic needs. Whatever they serve you in a tortilla, without cheese, is a taco, period! Quesadilla_de_Queso_by_mclaranium Damn… is anybody else hungry too?

2015 Resolutions (or whatever)

After giving it some thought I realized I do have some expectations for this 2015. I mean, they aren´t quite impossible, they are just some things I´d like to accomplish this year.

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Optimism

Keep up the good work and a smile on my face; that ought to be my moto for this year, open my arms to the enjoyment of life and the small things it has to offer.

 

 

Read more

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I know, all of you might think that because I´m a bright mind and, you know, smart and stuff, I must be one of those guys who reads a lot of books, but not really. I know, surprise surprise.

This year I want to and I need to read more of everything; books, reports, essays, news, articles, blogs; I want to know more about all sorts of stuff.

On the right, how I picture myself reading at night…

Fruits and veggies

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Right, I must admit it, I´m 33 and I´m not eating enough veggies and fruits, instead I´ve been eating a lot of street food and plenty of red meat, which might not be beneficial for me (still not scientific evidence to prove it, though), so this year this is changing, I will become healthier on this matter, you are what you eat, and I don´t want to turn into some kind of BBQ ribs (…mmm… if only).

Fitness

3c7I´m definitely going to start running again, or something like that, and I mean real workout, I´m not talking about running after the “Tamales-Man” (I know, I made that one up, I´m awesome). While I was with my family during the holidays I realized that I couldn´t do some stuff like “reaching for the top shelves” that easily anymore, or talk on the phone and walk at the same time without running out of air.

So, screw that, I´m going to become healthier and the next holidays I´ll go back to my hometown, look at those top shelves on the screws and say “See, you bastards, I´m back, and I will have no mercy on reaching for several items from your top compartments”, you will see.

New Zealand

New-Zealand

Yeps, that´s a moose in the South Island… look it up on Google.

Let´s face it folks, and I´m talking about you lads out there, away from the mainland, aye, you, my fellow kiwi mates, you guys miss me, and I understand that and I´m aware that I´m the only one that can change that; so this year I´ll do my best to see you guys again. Pinky promise.

That´s it folks, if I think of something else I might not let you know, however, let´s see how this year develops and wish you all an awesome 2015.

Ps. Oh, Mexico, if you were wondering, is really not doing well, the current administration is trying to figure out how to get out of the trench of manure it got itself into.

Ps2.  My mate, @gabrielsaldana shared the following image with me this morning… enjoy.

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Duc In Altum

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Duc in Altum, it is Latin for “Into the deep ocean”, or something like that, my Latin is sort of rusty at the moment, but trust me on this one. It was taught to me during junior high and high school, almost 20 years ago (damn) by the Jesuits. My professors and academic community encouraged us to always go forward, looking for new challenges and frontiers, for adventures and knowledge, to open or wings and fly away…

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How do you like that for the opening paragraph of this post? Pretty epic, right?

 

 

Anyway, so later on, these thoughts and the urge for adventure, made me travel around the world and to visit many places, from France, Canada, Norway, Argentina, and my second home, New Zealand. Recently I got the chance to read a great article written by Kellie Donnelly, titled “The Hardest Part Of Traveling No One Talks About”. In this entry she describes perfectly the way I´ve felt after my trips abroad, specially the last one, coming back from New Zealand to Mexico after three years away.

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Indeed, traveling changes you; it transforms you into a different person and makes you an addict for just flying away. Realizing that coming back home is an obligation that you enjoy, that your friends are grownups now, with kids and responsibilities, with a retirement fund and a decent relationship gut. You find your parents and relatives a little older now, their hairs are greyer and their eyes look nostalgically into the distance. They listen to you blathering about your adventures and sincerely enjoy your stories, as you enjoyed their bed time tales when you were a kid.

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Kellie describes perfectly that “travel bug” that annoyed me at the beginning of my return. Now it is clearer, it isn´t that you don´t like your home country anymore, it is much more; the need to get to know the world, as an addiction that is only beneficial for you, and your free soul.

As she concluded:

“This is the hardest part about traveling, and it’s the very reason why we all run away again.”

Kidrunning

 

Ps. All  the pictures in this post were taken by myself, pretty neat, huh?

Mussels and Leffe Blonde

I can´t believe I haven´t told you about my favourite day of the week when I was in New Zealand! It wasn´t Friday, nor Saturday, it was freaking Monday, bro. Monday was the day when my mates and I would take a break and go to De Fontein on Mission Bay. (Wednesday was recycling day and business time, obviously)

Why on Monday? Because if you had your loyalty card you´ll get 2×1 in mussel pots, that meant ordering 1 kilo and you get an extra kilo, served in any of the different sauces they had: White wine and garlic, lobster bisque and brandy, coconut cream and lemongrass curry, blue cheese and spinach, or the chef´s special. My favourite? Coconut cream and lemon grass curry, it was freaking delicious.

Beautiful

This place was/is always hectic, people waited lined up outside to get a decent table and being able to try its spectacular flavours and massive servings, you don´t only get a pot of mussels, you get the french fries and dipping sauces. But wait, no Belgium restaurant will make sense if there isn´t good Belgium beer to wash down these delicacies.

leffe-blond2My recommendation? Leffe Blonde, its taste, body, and freshness is essential to enjoy mussels and fries and the beautiful view that Mission Bay in Auckland presents you.

Remember that mussels are the cheapest source of protein in New Zealand, as you don´t need to pay more than NZ 3 to NZ 4 per kilo at the supermarkets, and that my mates is freaking nothing, even in comparison with Mexican standards.

If there is something I miss from Aotearoa has to be going to De Fontein on a Monday arvo. Trust me, if you have some spare time in Auckland, take a wee break, go to Mission Bay and dig into that bucket of mussels, just marvelous.

Auckland Eastern Bays

No Sex in the Champagne Room

Wait a second, is it March already? Where the bullocks did this year go? Anyway, so I´m on the hunt for a new place now and I´m quite excited about this. Let´s put it this way, there are many plans ahead and the rest of this year is going to be bloody awesome. Well, except for the fact that Ukraine is in a terrible political turmoil, Venezuela is experiencing an awful social revolution, the Mexican government intends to pass a law that will allow the authorities to block telecommunications in case of national security issues (aye, just like Egypt, Iran, or Syria), and somebody vomited on Lady Gaga for … let´s put it this way: art.

They say it looked a lot like this…

So, one quarter of the year gone already? And what have we learnt so far?

1.- Street food is an awesome sin

This is one my favourite “sports” since I moved to Mexico City, street food here is freaking glorious and without hesitation the best meals I ever had here were on the run.

From pambazos, to “tacos de canasta”, pork crackling quesadillas, or just corn in a cup (no girls); this city is the bomb when it comes to urban/informal gastronomy.

 

2.- It´s ok to protect human rights in other countries except yours

I´m talking to you “Murica”, don´t think we haven´t noticed the amount of people lined up for execution in your penitentiary centres. That´s right, there are several inmates that are there waiting for their lives to be “Terminated” by the American government without a proper trial. If you want to find out more, go to the Death Penalty Information Centre website, and see “who´s next”.

3.- Christmas decorations are fine on February but not March

I´m not going to go deeper on this subject, you know who you are, and no, it is not “ok” to leave them all the way until August and then say “well, Christmas is just around the corner, why bother”. Get those bloody cardboard boxes and put those obnoxious holiday annoyances away!

Neither saying “happy new year” after the second week of January.

4.- No matter what the stripper says, there´s no sex in the champagne room. 

Amazingly explained by Chris Rock on this great 90s hit:

Ps. Remember mates, learn the difference between positivism and optimism, they are not the same, and no, reading Paulo Coehlo isn´t cool either.

Ps2. Speaking of optimism, tend to hang out with happy and optimist fellas, learn from their ability to see the good things in life. Usually these people are empathetic, caring, good listeners and they share their happiness with those around them.

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. 

Happy Mexican Festivus

Can I talk to you guys about happy things? I just feel like talking about great things today, as far as I know, regardless of how cloudy the day gets, well, there´s always a bright side, right? Besides, only two more days until Christmas, so, let´s be nice to each other (especially you, the quasi-hipster about to complain to the clerk at that organic coffee place because of the temperature of your soy-slim-latte-machiatto-doubleshot).

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Even if you aren´t feeling particularly optimist today, that doesn´t mean you aren´t thankful for the life you are living and the people walking alongside with you every day (except those vegetarians… but until we find a cure…).

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Mi casa es tu casa

So, let´s talk about something awesome, my country: Mexico. This is a great place where to be, regardless of the political turmoil, the poverty, the corrupted political system, having the U.S.A. as neighbour, still, Mexico is amazing. I´m thankful I was born here; I love travelling around the world and being able to say proudly “I´m Mexican”. There´s nothing greater than to listen to people´s reaction when I say where I´m from.

  • “So, you like to party hard?”
  • “Do you guys ride donkeys as a primitive form of transportation?”
  • “Why do you speak English, aren´t you supposed to speak only Mexican?”
  • “You guys are great at dancing”
  • “What is it with the chilli lollies?”
  • “Are you a Luchadore?”
  • “Eat this Jalapeno!”
  • “Ay caramba!”
  • “Do you sell weed?”

Besides, being Mexican is clearly a competitive advantage, specifically in how we find our way into happiness every single time. I know, after the war on drugs (“after”, it is still happening no matter what the current administration´s efforts to hide it), people decided that life must go on, and that they couldn´t be living in the shadows.

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The Zocalo, the cathedral, the flag… this is Mexico

Today, Mexicans know these are hard times, the political arena is confusing and the government isn´t really focusing on the people but in the private sector to reactivate the local economy. However, Mexicans have something more important, the strength of this country is its people´s faith, passion, patience, and hope, intangible values that motivate my countrymen into believing they can do it, and trust me, most of the time they do and achieve amazing things.

So, this existential post is dedicated to my country, its people, culture and values. Whenever you get the chance, come to Mexico, you won´t regret it.

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Happy holidays to all of you, I´ll be hanging out with these amazing girls: my sisters.