Welcome, bienvenidos to Cook and the Fly
In this blog you'll find Mexiterranean food pictures and recipes, fishing stories, random thoughts and snippets of my new life in Southern Baja.


Mexico City Neighborhood Saturday Market

We were getting ready to cook for NY's Eve dinner when I realized we still needed yogurt and dill.

Beeing Saturday, in Lupita's block there was the weekly Saturday market.

We were looking for the herbs guy, wading through a moltitude of people and offerings till we found these really cool cheese stands; these are all artisan, small batch and unpasteurized cheeses

Artisan cheeses and homemade fruity cream liquors....

Food offerings were incredible as always .

This poultry stand , showing off some really nice free range turkeys was truly noteworthy

as well as the display of salsas and condiments at this quesadillas kitchen

Having found all I still needed I took a few moments to indulge in a little shopping for myself and picked up some top notch chapulines ( dried crickets, flavoured with lime and salt) to snack on during the mandatory poker game and an insanely good blue corn quesadilla filled with grilled nopal, chorizo, epazote and the smoothest Oaxaca cheese I ever tasted.

If I ever had any doubt about wanting to live in this City, these last few days of 2011 are most definitively clearing them out of my mind.

Chileatole = Surprise!!!!

Leaving the flower market the other day I noticed an old lady sitting by a coal burner and stirring a really intriguing bright green substance inside a very large stockpot.

At a second glance I notice yellow, blue and greenish corn hears gently simmering in a smaller pot.

The obvious question: " What is it?" or, better, "Que es esto?"

The lady answered, "Chileatole"... cool, I thought, expecting some sort of sweet hot drink, like atole usually is.

Imagine my surprise when, at the first sip, I got literally HIT by an explosion of epazote.

This stuff is really good, if you like the extremely strong flavour of epazote, and it gets even better if you douse it with the ever present lime and hot peppers powder

Definitively an acquired taste but one I developed really fast..


I am truly enjoing this glorious City and the company of fantastic people but I NEED TO GO FISHING!

Another day, another market

So, here we are, looking for floral arrangements for NY's Eve party and what better place to go to than Mercado de Jamaica, MC's flower market?

I'll spare yo the details of row after row after raw of flower stands packed with an endless variety of flowers, floral arrangements for any occasion and botanical curiosities, like this truly weird flower called Naranja (Spanish for Orange)
Coolest thing about this market though is that the other half of their business is........SWEETS and candies!
An overwhelming vortex of colours and smells; I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

and, yes, candies are cool but the the candied fruits are even better.. pumpkin,sweet potatoes, tejocotes(little tiny apple like fruits), figs and more all simmered in cane syrup until they absorb all the goodness of the syrup and the spices steeped in it

or crystallized fruit like in the following pic

The best part of all of this is that each and every vendor will try to earn your business  offering you a generous sample of their merchandise;  if you're as curious  and, well.. weak as I am, a day spent in one of these wonderful markets could put you in real trouble with your weight. In the 5 days I'm in this city I grew one full size!!!

Seared yellowtail with shrimp "crudo" and kumquat citronette

A little out of the way recipe for a light, elegant and tangy appetizer that with the addtion of a few greens will turn into a great salad.

Start with the dressing; slice a few kumquats as thin as you can removing the seeds and reserving whatever juice they'll bleed.

Squeeze a few more and add the juice to the sliced fruit and the juice you reserved.

Mix in some extremely thin diced shallot, S&P, a bit of sugar to balance and some olive oil.

Peel and devein shrimp, slice them very thin and toss with the dressing.

Season the yellow tail "loin" with S&P and sear it quickly in an extremely hot skillet.

Slice it, arrange it on a plate and pour the shrimp and the dressing on it.

I like to serve it with a thin toast and a crispy green salad with some "exotic" fruit mixed in it.



La bella Conde

Finally, after a few missed opportunities I got to taste pulque.
Pulque is the product of the fermentation of the maguei plant, a close reletive of the agave from which tequila is made.

Pulquerias once very common around Mexico City, are now sort of a thing of the past, frequented mostly by afecionados and older people.
Luckily enough though, pulque is enjoying a comeback thanks to the curiosity of the younger generations and the work of famous Mexico City chefs and UNAM ( Mexico most illustrious university ).

Got to admit I was a little concerned at first because of a few reasons, such as the bad rep that pulquerias carry, the flavour and the texture of pulque which I've been told is quite peculiar and almost slimy.
What welcomed me as I slung the saloon style doors open was a slice of 1920's life.
"La Bella Cande" is 93 years old, turning 94 in a couple weeks and it shows it.
An original cast iron sink with art nouveau decor share the wall with an "open view" urinal... which is hung just across from the bar and in plain sight of the patrons ; )
The oxblood floor tiles, worn and chipped, are just beautiful and the old walls are highlighted by contemporary graffiti art portraying pulque mythology.

I am greeted by an red cheeks elderly gentleman, seating at a table and eating birria and quickly presented with the curados of the day, oatmeal and strawberry; curado is the term for flavoured pulque.
I start with a normal size , 500ml, oatmeal pulque, dusted with ground cinnamon...delicious.
What was holding me back so far, the texture, was actually very nice and... gnammy!
Dense, almost gelatinous but not slimy at all... a fresh oatmeal flavour and a slight hint of alcohol make pulque "go down" really easy.
Next is strawberry , smaller this time.
This one was quite different; with less body than the oatmeal the bubble from the fermentation process were noticeable as well as the alcohol.. always present but never imposing.
between sips I start "talking pulque" with my host, who tells me the story of the establishment and points out the paintings on the wall and the posters telling the history of this antique drink.
Slightly buzzed, this was my breakfast after all, I say "Hasta luego" to my gentle host and promise myself to come back for more curados .


Mexico City at last!

Got here yesterday at 13:00 hrs, finally.

I've bee wanting to come back since last year ; Mexico City, or DF as the chilangos call it, is truly an amazing locale.

If you like food, and you are not afraid to eat on the street, this is THE place for you. Markets are simply insane and the tianqguis , the red tarped street markets, are where the best food is found.

After snacking all afternoon on Christmas Eve dinner leftovers we got pulled into a neighbour's birthday party, with mariachi band and all the trimmings.

Señora Elvia, the birthday girl's mother and a friend of my girlfriend's family's, insisted we had just un poquito of chicken mole and pozole, followed by two rounds of birthday cake and plenty tequila and coconut cream... Over tequila and tostadas I got tipped on the best moronga in the area and decided I was going to try it the next morning for breakfast.

So here we are, in Nezahualcoyotl 's Monday market looking for the "Moronga Lady".

Moronga sauteed with jalapeño peppers, onion and epazote

Moronga: pig's blood sausage

It goes without saying that the taco I've been served was:
                                     Made with one of the best corn tortillas I've tasted.

After taking care of some "family business" we went to the neighborhood market looking for dinner supplies and stopped for a snack at this cool little pescaderia wich also serves fried fish, seafood cocktails and other seafood snacks and tapas

Fish and seafood tapas (botanas)

My fantastic shrimp empanada
The bill read like this:
2 shrimp cocktails, 2 shrimp empanadas, 1 crab tostada, 1 fish quesadilla, 4 Coronas for ...ready?...$200 pesos, less than 20 U$ !!!

Now, all hapy and fed we started wandering around and got into this amazing lamb barbacoa .
Barbacoa consists in a whole lamb steamed wrapped in maguei leaves, which adds a nice grassy and almost sweet note to the meat. The drippings and the juices make for a super tasty broth to be eaten with rice or chickpeas.

I don't have to add that the fruit and vegetable stands are on a monumental scale and full of , for us, exotic offerings

Huitlacoche, black corn  mushroom, fresh, cleaned and at a third of Los Cabos price!

Well. I think this is it for today.. I'll be hitting one of the oldest and more unbelievable markets in downtown Mexico City on Thursday.
I'll post plenty of interesting pics of hard to find and pretty much unknown traditional Mexican dishes.

Dinner's ready! Good night.


Peaches, arugula, goat's cheese and pumpkin seeds salad

Here's a fresh salad and rich salad from sunny Baja:

You'll need to toast a handful of pumpkin seeds (pepitas, in Spanish) in a dry skillet, over medium heat. You'll know when they're ready because they´ll start popping and flying all over the stove top     :  )        
Prepare the dressing by mixing 1 measure of honey, 2 measures of olive oil, 1 measure of your choice of vinegar - I like sherry for this one,  some finely minced shallot, a touch of Dijon mustard  and season with S&P .

In a bowl toss the arugula and the wedges of peach with the dressing; arrange casually on a plate and top with soft goat's cheese, like Montrachet , and a sprinkle of chopped and whole pumpkin seeds.

Pronto!  Enjoy.