travel & recipes

Notes from a roadtrip

Where are you headed? that's the question I have been hearing the most, from friends and family and strangers alike, everyone wants to know my plan. My plan? I have no plan, that's the plan. I wake up every morning and I look at the map, decide how long I want to drive for and in which direction, I choose the roads that look the most local yet direct and then I turn the key and go. That's the plan, taking each day as it comes, without commitment, without a destination, just go wherever my heart desires.
Sure, there is a general direction (south-west, away from the cold), there is an intention to end up in Oaxaca, MX, there are a few places I'd like to visit along the way, but there is no plan, for a plan requires certainty, and that is something I don't have, nor want. I drive a 30 years old Westfalia, with a known history of temperamental breakdowns, and though I am confident she is up for the travel, I don't really know. Which is exactly what I like about traveling like this, the unknown, the openness, the possibilities and challenges, and having to figure it out as it comes.
So without a plan, I continue the journey, today in Memphis, TN, tomorrow, who knows... 

 

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back on the road in less than two weeks

The time has come again, the leaves on the east end of Long island, NY are starting to change, vibrant reds and oranges teasing me on my drives, the geese are calling as the fly overhead, letting me know it is time I make my moves.
This year's destination is the west coast, a cross country trip I have been dreaming of for a decade, with an excessive tour of national parks, mainly in Utah, but certainly not exclusively. 
I am excited and frightened at the same time, my heartbeat speeds up as I think of the distance the van is going to need to cover, climbing to high altitudes and the already frozen nights in some of those marvelous places I'm planning to visit. Anxiety creeps in as I run scenarios in my head of everything that can go wrong, memories of past breakdowns, of tears flowing on the side of a road, of the panic I feel whenever by van show the slightest sign of malfunction. I am afraid, I won't even try to lie or pretend, I am so scared of this trip, but also unmeasurably excited. I have lived in this country for almost 14 years and I have never visited the Southwestern region that, so I hear, holds so much beauty and magic.  
Next week after finishing my last work commitment, I will begin to reload the van with everything I think I need, practicing my newly adopted minimalist approach to the term 'need', making sure nothing comes in unless it has a role to play in my day to day wellbeing. 

I will do my best to update this blog and share my adventures as I go along, wishing you all a happy fall and Shana Tova!

Dolphins and veganism

I spent the month of March on the Oaxacan coast, splitting my time between reading in the hammock, eating fresh fruit, swimming and playing the guitar. Most of my days were spent hiding in the shade to avoid shriveling in the bright coastal sun but on this particular Tuesday morning I decided to join a group of new friends, all living in their vans, on a snorkeling tour.
We took off around 10am in a small fishing boat, our guide grow up with this ocean and he maneuvers his way through the rocks and currents, like only someone who had spent his childhood on these fishing boats can do, he is kind and knowledgeable and tells us about the turtles and the whales, his eyes constantly scanning the water's surface as he navigates the boat with one hand. Without warning he speeds off into the dark blue, we all anxiously waiting to see what he sees. Suddenly he stops the boat and turns the engine off, we are floating in suspense, rocking slowly as we wait for something to happen. A yellow water snake swims by and as I lean out of the boat to look at it I see something coming up, then out, and by the time I realize what I am looking at she is back in the water, her enormous tail covered in barnacles fast disappearing behind her and all that is left my mouth wide open and a magical silence before we all start shouting in excitement. My first interaction with a humpback whale, I am in complete owe. 

We keep going, hearts beating in our chests, high on life and the experience we just had, nothing can top this I think to myself, a little too early, as our boat operator start speeding into the horizon once again, this time he joins a group of dolphins, aligning the boat with their swimming direction and he speeds off, they immediately follow and the games begin. The dolphins are surrounding us, taking turns jumping in front of the boat and all around us, I am glued to the front of the boat, one hand in the water and a huge smile on my face, for the next twenty minutes I am completely and utterly consumed by these mythical creatures and their marvelous ways. I can hear their calling in the water and the sounds go straight into my heart, cracking open something in me that I can't immediately define. As we say goodbye to those extraordinary beings and start our way back to the coast I am still overwhelmed by the interaction, water splashing around me, glistening in the midday sun and I realize that I am crying, crying for our disconnect, for the state of our oceans, for the life that we take in order to feed our greedy appetite. 

I have made a promise that day, to the dolphins and the ocean, to mother earth and myself, to do all in my ability to help and protect this unreal, otherworldly magnificent waters and the lives within it. Perhaps the only way that I can help conserve it is by cooking the most delicious vegan food I potentially can, by introducing as many people as possible to the wonders of plant based cuisine and maybe just maybe I can crack the belief that we need to consume other animals to be healthy, fracture the notion that it's ok for us to take all we want without concern nor culpability.
We are raping the oceans, pouring our waste and throwing our garbage in it, over consuming, killing everything in our way so we can have what we want when we want it, in the process depleting it, diminishing it, completely destroying it, and it simply breaks my heart to watch.

I am not trying to tell you how to live your life, but rather show you some alternatives and yes, maybe put a mirror in front of your face while you happily chew on that fish taco, so you can see the hurt and the destruction we (and you) cause in our careless search for instant gratification. 


 

Vegan in LA

I don't know if there is a better city to have dietary restrictions than Los Angeles, with its abundant fresh produce, and army of tight bottoms in yoga pants, this place is every vegan's heaven. I think my favorite thing isn't how many vegan restaurants are around but more how almost every restaurant, vegan or not, offers some vegan and vegetarian options, making my life easy :)
In the few days I have in town I am planning on eating as much delicious vegan food as possible, starting with brunch at 'The butcher's Daughter' in Venice, with its beautiful design of live plant walls and rustic wooden ceilings, it's overly cool staff and super hipster crowd. 

It seems like everyone that are sitting in the restaurant on this sunny Saturday afternoon have been perfectly casted to fit the look, and the beautifully presented food certainly matches.
Below is a picture of the Thai Bowl, rice noodles in peanut sauce:

New Orleans in the spring

Who knew this town can be so intoxicating, as if the beauty of its rustic, brightly painted houses and old iron work wasn't enough to captivate, add the white, bright, velvety bulbs of the magnolia tree, slowly opening to pour down a waterfall of pollen to the ground, the honeysuckle and its explosion of sweet perfume, the abundance of sweet, juicy, finger staining mulberries and you'd be quick to get hooked.
New Orleans in the spring is a wild eruption, sounds of music from every possible direction meeting and melting into the colors and the smells that are this artistic and culinary center, pulling me by my ankles, telling me to stay still. I am lying beneath the Brugmansia shrub, with its pinkish trumpets in full bloom, stretched wide open to release their fragrant and attract them pollinating moths. I close my eyes, listening to a mocking bird on a nearby tree, reciting the day's symphony of sounds to a brilliant street light. It is long past midnight and this confused bird is in a trance, announcing loudly its daily catch of tones, whistles, barks and honks, like a car alarm gone crazy It is shouting one sound after the other, in a weird array of beeps and boops, each lasting two ar three seconds at most. I am laughing out loud into the foggy, misty night, enchanted by the vibrations of this night's music and very possibly so by the poisson of the 'angel's trumpets' I am lying beneath.  The grandson of an old female shaman in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, explained to me once how to make the perfect tincture out of the delicate flowers in order to perfectly harvest their hallucinating potential, on a flat rock, mountain side, surrounded by a thick pine forest, far looking the pacific ocean in the place where clouds are born he told me of an old native ritual that calls for burying a young man in the sand, neck deep, and feeding him the toxic nectar, then leaving him alone overnight and, assuming he makes it, digging him out with sunrise. 'The flowers', he said 'if placed under your pillow, sweetened your dreams and depends your sleep and if made into a tea and consumed, they kill you'.   
Intertwining strands of life, one place connects to the next and the one before, with the most delicate, silky crimson thread I am sewing together pieces of experiences, a giant quilt of sensations is heavy on top of me and I am sinking deeper into the ground. Wet, muddy soil is covering my digits, then my limbs, then my torso. It is sweet and comfortable, and soft and cozy and I am sinking fast.  Only the screaming of the freight train saves me, I wake up abruptly to find I am almost completely submerged. 
This mellow town is below sea level and the swamp is trying as hard as it can to reclaim its ownership of the land. 
My heart is beating in the rhythms of the second line and I know the time has come move on. 

 

Sneaky little Vegan heaven

Keeping my healthy eating habits while stationed in New Orleans have been a challenge, the fridge at Fiona's hasn't been working well on propane and as a result I have been using a cooler and been more lazy as far as cooking goes.. It's also been so easy for me to get my tempe fix with the Sneaky Pickle being so close and so good.
What started as my weekend pre-work treat has now turned into a 4 times a week deal, between their daily specials, the full menu and the good ol' "bowl of food" I just can't get enough.
The food is fresh, delicious and clearly made with thought, care and love. 
I truly appreciate the courage to cook vegan food in this southern town that is all about it's biscuits and gravy and I  thank you Sneaky Pickle for feeding me these past couple of months. 
 

New Orleans

It's been a month and I feel so settled here in NoLa, it is visually stunning and there is beauty in every corner, I enjoy biking the ragadey streets and taking in the magic of this small town.
I am back on the line, working at a local gem of a restaurant with a bunch of happy people that are just trying to do their best and have fun while doing it, and it's been great. Being back on the line and under the pressure of a restaurant full of diners, readjusting to being on a production line of beautifully plated food. I am happy and excited and feel that I am exactly where I need to be at this moment. 
This freedom to move and wonder as I please, together with the practice of meditation allow me to be present, even when the days feel dark and my brain is playing tricks on me, trying to tell me that things aren't ok, I feel open and in tune, in my flow and in this moment.
I am thankful for the courage to take of in my tiny mobile home and follow my passions of traveling and cooking.
So for now I am here, in this vibrant, colorful city, until it is time to get going again. 

NoLa

This adventure began at the end of December when I left NY in an attempt to drive south west and live out of my 1989 VW bus, named Fiona. 
Although I had imagined the road isn't always going to be smooth and anticipated the occasional repair I soon learned that a 27 years old car needs constant maintenance and my budget has been shrinking rapidly.... 

Now I am in New Orleans, Fiona is in the shop with a coolant leakage issue just a few days after leaving another shop, back in FL with a new exhaust and fuel pump and I am devastated. Even though I am lucky to be blessed with a temporary shelter provided by a friend of a friend who I have never met, a FB connection that led to an offer to stay in his space while he is gone to perform in NYC, I am having a hard time shaking off this cloud.

The last couple of days have been grey and rainy, a perfect setting for the melancholic mood I have been in, with my Fiona in the shop and the feeling of helplessness and fear of what's to come. The cost of the repairs is biting deep into my pocket and the fear that accompany the impermanence is real. What if I can't make it to Oaxaca? What if the car breaks down on the road in north Mexico?  What if I can't afford making it back? What if ? What if? 

I force myself out of the dark bedroom to take an alignment yoga class, the teacher reminds us, as if she is reading my mind, to breath through the sadness and the feelings of depression and  heaviness, I count my inhales and exhales and slowly open to the present and my mat. 
My body is loving the stretch and my soul is thankful for the momentary awakening, I notice the story line returns and that I am holding my breath, so I let it go with a long exhale and a rush of heat goes through my head. 

I am so blessed to have a shelter over my head, a bed to sleep in, a kitchen to prepare my meals, while my home is being repaired, and New Orleans, even in the rain, ain't such a bad place to be stuck in. 

 


challa, bread for the holy days

I have started making Challa this past winter in Oaxaca, to me when any sauce soaking is required, challa does the ultimate job. 
I have used this recipe so many times, it is simple and hit the spot every time, regardless of how you braid it. 
To make 2 Large loaves you will need to mix following in a bowl (place as listed)

20 gr salt (2 Tbs)
1 kg white flour (7 cups + 2 Tbs)
20 gr dry yeast (2 Tbs)
50 gr sugar ( 1/4 cup)
1 egg
100 gr oil (I use olive) (1/2 cup)
460 gr water (2 cups, less 2 Tbs)

knead for 10 minutes, add flour, a little at a time if needed, allow to rest 5 minutes then knead again for 1 minute and cover with a clear plastic bag.
keep in a warm place until the dough is almost doubled in size.
braid challa, brush with a beaten egg and cover again with the plastic bag.

heat oven to 190°c /375°f  
once the bread has risen to a time and a half its original size, place a bowl of boiling water in the bottom of the oven and bake for 17-25 minutes, depending on size, rotating at least once.

to braid, I recommend starting with a simple 2 piece braid, and as you get better experiment new ways, the internet is full of video and pictures on the subject :) good luck and Shabbat Shalom!!! 

Oded fisher has some great videos on youtube (in hebrew..) 
 



The ultimate granola mix

In my search for the perfect granola I have experimented with making different versions for quite sometime, and I think I have found my ultimate combination. 
Granola is pretty easy to make and it stays fresh as long as you store it in airtight containers, so I usually make large quantities every few weeks (I also think that I am slightly addicted to this combo...).

oats 4 cups
raw pecans, chopped 1 cup
raw pumpkin seeds 1 cup
coconut oil 1 cup
2-6 teaspoons of cinnamon (this mainly depends on how much you like cinnamon, you can always add more later)
generous pinch of good sea salt
zest of 2-3 oranges
unsweetened cranberries 1/2 cup
unsweetened coconut flakes 1/2 cup
1/2 cup agave
few drops of vanilla (optional)

preheat oven to 375°F
In a large bowl mix together the oats, pecans, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, orange zest and salt.
If using agave and/or vanilla pour it in a bowl with the coconut oil, mix together and pour over the oat mix. I tried this recipe with and without agave, sadly I find that without it the granola tends to be slightly boring...
mix well and taste, adjust as needed, you can add cinnamon to bring the sweetness out without adding sugar. 
the aroma of the orange will be much stronger after baking so don't over do it before it's baked, you can always add and adjust throughout the baking process and even once it's ready. 

Line a baking sheet with paper, my favorite is 'if you care' unbleached parchment, you can usually save and reuse those too, spread the granola in an even layer, you would most likely be better off using two baking sheets and bake for 30-45 minutes. 
This is very important, Most ovens aren't even in the way they distribute heat , so you MUST rotate the sheets while they bake, I set a 10 minute timer and make sure to switch between top and bottom racks, as well as mixing the granola on the sheets. anything that is closer to the edges will brown faster so make sure you mix well! Keep checking for color, that's the best indication as the granola won't dry until it's out of the oven and has cooled down. 
Once it looks almost ready take it out and let cool, it will darken and dry as it cools down. 
Now mix in the cranberries and coconut flakes and it's ready! store in airtight jars and enjoy with your favorite nut milk or yogurt!

Romulo's ¡Que mariscos! , Mexico, DF

But the city really ain’t no bigger than the friendly people, friendly people that you meet
— Bill Withers

This place is an example of why having local friends is the best. 
South of La Roma Sur, in the small market of 1 de diciembre sits Romulo's ( ¡que mariscos! ) a vibrant seafood restaurant that is cheaper then it's fancier sister around the corner and is just as fresh and delicious.
Luiz brought us here, on a special cura-cruda mission. Last night started at a local bar, through a crowded dance party in a tiny car, a visit to a taco stand and a few hours of salsa dancing, with a sweet finish of an in-house whiskey party until dawn.  I met Luiz a year ago, dancing at our friends concert, we spent the entire night dancing and a friendship was born.

There are 4 of us for lunch so we are going for the Parrillada de mariscos a mix of shrimps, clams, squid, crabs and prawns topped with a mojarra, all stewed in their juices and the house mix of spices. This is some serious pile of goodness and we know we shouldn't order anything else, but we can't help ourselves so we start with tostadas of aguachile (serrano shrimp ceviche) and when the plate is placed in the center of the table, we are all holding our breath at awe.
It is a most fragrant, delicious, juicy looking pile of seafood, swimming in red spicy sauce. We dive in, fingers first.
When I am finally cleaning my hands with fresh lime I realize I haven't said a word over the last 20 minutes, I was so busy cracking shells and peeling prawns, floating on a seafood cloud in total bliss.
We walk half a block north from the market to wash the meal down with some Turkish coffee at Emir's.

Life is good and I am content and thankful to have made this friend. 

 

El Origen Moroccan dinner

I have been wanting to do this since I came back to Oaxaca in January, a private dinner for a lucky few, that reflects my style of cooking, my soul food. The Moroccan food I grew up eating, the food that makes me happy when I cook it. 
I was lucky to encounter chef Rodolfo Castellanos of El Origen restaurant, here in Oaxaca, that invited me to one of his cooking classes and graciously offered his restaurant's event space for the occasion.

Let the party begin! 
I am starting the morning with an early trip to central de abastos, Friday is a good market day and I am here with an expert of the vegetable aisles, the list is long and he is moving quickly between the stands, knowing exactly who has the best of what and how much it should cost. 6 heads of  cauliflower, 55 small summer squash (they need to be the same size!), jocoque (sour, yogurt like cheese), nuts & oranges. I already have fish and lamb, fresh herbs in abundance, this is going to be fun !! 

The menu is of 6 courses, starting with harrira, a thick lentil soup the that is sour and full of fresh herbs, a pastilla of fish and sauteed onions, lamb stuffed summer squash, topped with a mint labane, chicken tagine (with couscous), a trio of salads and a nut pastry dipped in citrus blossom syrup.

 

Panaderia, second time around

Last December I was blown away by the pastries this panaderia makes, they are flaky and bursting with flavor, accompanied by a rich, smooth cup of coffee it's no wonder this tiny place is always full.

It's also no surprise I came back for round two..

This time I tried the Amaranth cookies, the mix of sweet and tangy cranberries, with almond meal, almond slices and the crunch of the grain makes for an addicting combination.

I had to pull myself away after the third one....
 

Panaderia, Colima 166 Colonia Roma Mexico D.F.

Mediteranean botanas for a Turkish fashion Show

In this epic journey to Mexico I have connected with many people, all from this magical fertile land yet so different, in their economic status, their culture and even the spanish they spoke. 
I have been undoubtedly blessed with a constant stream of eye opening, challenging interactions that led me to places I did not plan on going and meeting people I never anticipated meeting. One of these random connections was with chef Gustavo, the personal chef of Ricardo Salinas Peligo and now a dear friend.
As stories unfold, Gustavo and I met in Mexico City on my first week in town. Put in touch by a mutual friend, we met for dinner and talked about food, how different are cultures were and our mutual love to traveling, we talked about food the non existing limitations of flavors, we shared our ideas and aspirations all while sipping mescal...
It was a friendly conversation that ended with a promise to try and work together soon (funny enough we ate some Mediterranean knock off that night).
Four months went by and our paths haven't crossed again, I was nearing the end of my trip and Gustavo was heading to the coast of Spain on a private yacht when he called me and said "Mrs Salinas is hosting a fashion show for a turkish designer, I need to make middle-eastern botanas, can you help?", Can I ? Born and raised in Israel, tahini and falafel flow simultaneously in my veins, "sure I can", I responded and hopped on the next bus to DF.
We worked for three days, together with a team of four talented cooks who normally work for Salinas in the kitchens of TV Azteca. Simmering chick-peas for hours, burning eggplants and red peppers on open fire, rolling puff pastry and soaking sheets of filo with rose water infused honey syrup, recreating the smells of my childhood on a Friday afternoon in my mother's kitchen.
The result was stunning, we created a display of bite size delicacies (botantas), authentic and beautiful that have transformed guests at the BNG fashion show to the warm middle east in an instant.
Gracias Gustavo por eso oportunidad, y gracias a grupo de los talentosos y talentosa por la ayudarnos, el placer ha sido mío! 

  

Barceloneta's oldest bar

In the small run down neighborhood of Barcelonta, two blocks from the Mediterranean, on a street corner, without an obvious sign to mark this gem resides Cova Fumada, the oldest fishermen's bar in the area. It's been over 200 years the Sole family have been runs this place, it opens around 11am and closes at 3pm, 1pm on the weekends, you will need to get on a non written list and hope you can get a table in less than 30 minutes. Come hungry but not starving, you will build up a healthy appetite waiting outside or at the bar, and my is it worth it.

 I started eating standing up at the bar, first came the nabajas, fresh razor clams that are seared on the plancha and served with a delicate buttery juice. Second arrived the artichoke, 3 pieces of medium sized halved artichoke, perfectly fried with crispy outer leaves and a soft center that melts in your mouth, a touch of spanish paprika and just the correct amount of oil to drip down the side if your mouth. Artichoke has always been one of my favorite foods, and as I was slowly pulling off chunks of leaves and biting into their flavorful soft bottom I couldn't resist an old family tradition and was placing the half eaten leaves in a flower form, surrounding the plate. This little work of art did't go unnoticed, as the plate got picked up (brother number 1) it was presented to the crew and I received a round of applause from the kitchen stuff (Mama, head chef and two of her grandkids). La chica de las flores was now my name, and when jose maria (brother number 2) asked where I was from I also got a loud "viva Israel" from behind the bar. I smiled and raised my second glass of red wine (poured straight from the barrel) and responded: "viva espana!". Immediate silence spread in this normally chatty little room and I could hear the red hot sensation down my neck climbing up to my face. "lo siento, lo siento", I quickly apologized, "Viva Catalonia" .. not a word.. I'm counting the seconds, feeling the razor clams climbing up my throat, am I going to get thrown out? Jose maria raises his beer half way, looks at me and shouts, "eso!!!!" 

I survived. What a rookie mistake…

My braided hair and flowery dress must have helped me dodge the potential disaster and I enjoyed the rest of my meal, over the next two hours at a table in the company of two Spanish men, both been living in Barcelona for over 60 years and been dining at this joint ever since they can remember. 

We were treated with extra care and kept eating uninterruptedly until the front doors were shut close.
I must have tasted 10 different dishes and that was barely half the menu ..
My favorites were the whole squid, marinated with garlic and paprika, then grilled. The gambas were so juicy and soft that if i closed my eyes I might have not realized I was eating shrimps.
The sardines (and here I must admit that though I often try sardines I usually can't go crazy for them) these were crispy and salty, with a strong fishy flair that was anything but overwhelming. The bombera arrived next, It was (according to Jose-Maria) invented in this bar and since been copied by everyone else in Barcelona, its a ball of meat wrapped in a dough, battered, deep fried and served with garlic aioli and a spicy salsa, I skipped on this one, trying to avoid the red meat, but from the faces of my companions, it was delicious. it sured looked, smelled and sounded delicious. I am going to make another assumption, that the fact they have a fresh trey with roughly 30 balls come out every 10 minutes is a good sign.
What else was there? Pan con Aioli, crab salad, Mussels, more artichoke and a lot of red wine. we finished this nearly 3 hour long lunch with espresso (the men had it with cognac) and I strolled out slowly, with a full stomach and a very happy heart.

This has been my most real food experience in a long time, and it felt refreshing and relevant.
The food was simple and fresh and for me that is always the best way to eat, the seafood comes directly from the port in the morning and there is no need to cover it up, its so fresh and flavorful and is cooked perfectly. 

If you get around this part of town look for number 56 on the south west corner of the plaza out side the market in Barceloneta, the name, most likely, won't get you far, but if you trust your nose you will find it, no doubt.

La Sirena, Pozole lesson

I arrived at Cecilia's kitchen early, she was already working at it hard for a few hours it seemed, though with this magician cook, she might have arrived 3 minutes before me..
On the stove in a pressure cooker the corn is getting ready, long pressured cooking is what gives the maize pozolero (Cacauasinque) its unique plump texture.
Chilis are soaking in water, Mulato, Ancho, huachillio Pico, Huacillio normal. soaking with the chills are also pieces of leek and leave of an avocado tree, just for flavor she says. i love how everything is so simple, yet presice and how she has been doing things the same way for years (or so i am told be her husband, Ricardo).
once the chilis are softened they get blended in her vitamin, along side garlic and onion, the leeks and avocado are discarded. she adds some liquid from the stock pot to make the blending easier and once all is well pureed, she pour the mix into the big pot of soup. this will make the base for the pozole for the next two days.  

Once the corn been cooked in the pressure cooker for at least 45 min or up to an hour it moves to the flavored stock pot for another two hours, from there it will get scooped up to serving plates and will be accompanied by fresh white onion, cilantro and lettuce and served with tostadas, dried oregano and chilis to bite on.

I am so grateful for meeting this unique woman and her man, what a treat, what a delight to spend those precious hours in her kitchen, beside learning some of her secrets i also learned about the state of her 8 children, her heart and her soul. 

-With much gratitude, and hopes of seeing you again soon. Gracias señora Cecilia Rivera
 

La Sirena

Today is a happy day. The truth is, all days are happy, when you wake up on the beach in Zipolite... So today is an extra special day, because today Cecilia said yes!
She is gonna teach me how to make her beyond delicious Pozole.
I have visited her a few times before, and have repeatedly licked my plates clean, her food is indeed That good.
I especially like her mole, it's not like any flavor I tasted before. It has a deep flavor of cacao without being sweet and a rich mix of chilies and spices, creating a complex odor and a marvelous taste. 17 ingrideants are grind up together to make this mole, all according to her specific recipe at a moleria in Mexico city.

she serves it every day at her beach restaurant, La sirena.
Maybe if I'm lucky she will sell me some before I leave.

Transient
Transient

Casa Mixteca, Hautulco

In my quest for good traditional Mexican cuisine I have encountered chef Gustavo, he has been moving all over the world for years, private cooking for the richest. Gustavo introduced me to Reina, who has been cooking in Casa Mixteca for over 20 years, for the many Mexican presidents that have passed through this incredible home and for it's current owners; the Salinas family. The house is located on a small mountains in the bays of Hautulco, and since the main kitchen was under constructions we cooked in the beach-house service kitchen. If that sounds like a downgrade allow me to clarify, the beach house sits on a small stretch of a private beach, and the kitchen is a chefs heaven, fully air conditioned and stocked with top of the line appliances, but the best part was the view of the windows.... 
Reina agreed to teach me some of her secrets and we got together for a day of cooking.
She moves in her kitchen flawlessly, despite her bad knee and a walking cane, in the kitchen she is a dancer.
She cooks simple food, with minimal amount of ingredients, nothing is fancy but all is beyond delicious. Just the way I like to eat, just the way I love to cook.
Mole negro, pollo con salsa verde, two types of ceviche, cochinita pivil, tacos de lengua, tamales, tinga and about 5 salsas. All in about 4 hours. I'm amazed and excited, taking notes like I'm possessed and can't stop dipping my fingers in the pots.
This is what I dream of when I decided to come to Mexico and learn the secrets of Mexican cooking, A mama that will teach me her ways, show me how to fold banana leaves and hand make tortillas.
I am blessed and thankful.

Transient
Transient
Transient
Transient

Pozole

Oh my! I think I just found a new favorite mexican dish!
Pozole is a soup, with a simple broth of pork or chicken and ground up dried chili peppers, inside are inflated grains of corn that are soft and chewy and is served with freshly diced onion, cilantro, fresh sliced cabbage, tortilla chips and of course a selection of salsas and lime.
The flavor is rich and combined the ability to create your dish by adding whatever amounts of extras in yourself obviously got my addicted. I am a huge fan of playing with my food. This is what I want to eat everytime I feel like I might be getting sick, it takes the chicken soup mama used to make to a whole new level !!

 

My date with Isabel, part two

 

Second part of this fantastic experience with the very talented and extremely friendly Isabel.
Panuchos y empanadas
Pamucho is a corn tortilla, slightly dried out that is filled with frijole purée much like you will fill a pita bread, it's then dipped in hot oil and finished on the comal (a flat iron grill). It's topped with your choice of meat and veggies and topped with pickled onion.
Next are empanadas, freshly pressed corn and wheat tortilla is filled with meat or cheese and deep fried. It's served super simple with pickled red onion and cream.
I was struggling to keep the doughy from breaking in the process of transferring it from the tortilla press to the oil, of course Isabel makes it looks like it ain't no thang, and I foolishly thought it to be easy...
The end result was delicious, despite my repeated broken empanadas, and was even told I have gotten it down quicker than usual for a first timer.
Sweet!