Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off on September 15, and this year we want to celebrate it right. We talked to Mexican Chef Roberto Santibañez of Fonda Restaurant about some of the ways he’ll be bringing the festivities to the kitchen.
For all of you who eagerly await the arrival of the seasonal Chiles en Nogada, Santibañez will be preparing the classic dish in his Park Slope and East Village restaurants during the first week in September. The eponymous dish which precedes independence day celebrations in Mexico fills poblano peppers with a picadillo stuffing and tops them with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds — the Mexican flag on a plate! Santibañez prepares his picadillo by adding apples and peaches to shredded beef and creates the walnut sauce with nuts and goat cheese. more »
We’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo, the day in 1862 when our Mexican friends beat the French in the Battle of Puebla, with what else? Margaritas! Cindy B., all-around cool chick and mixologist extraordinaire from NYC’s Tao Restaurant is here to share her easy and delicious margarita recipe. So mix up a few and take your friends up to the rooftop. It’s time for alfresco cocktails! All you’ll need is: your favorite tequila, orange liqueur, rose’s lime juice, limes, and if you’re feeling decadent, some St. Germain.
Enjoy and Happy Cinco!
As a holiday treat this week, our guest blogger Jessica Solt shares one of her favorite childhood desserts: Rompope Jello. Growing up in Mexico City, a Christmas holiday was never complete without Rompope, or Mexican eggnog. Learn how Jessica delves into its origins and transforms it into a luscious, boozy dish.
Velvety, creamy and aromatic; no wonder rompope has been a part of Mexican culture and a silent witness to countless table talks for centuries. Known to many as “Mexican eggnog”, rompope is a drink made with eggs, almonds, milk, sugar and vanilla. The yolks give this smooth beverage its yellow hue. Although the Spanish version uses rum—hence the name—traditional recipes use other cane-based liquors. more »
Latinfoodie Goes to Europe12.12.11
Hello Friends, I’m thrilled to share with you my first international byline! I have just been published in Sabor, a food magazine distributed in the Netherlands. For their Winter 2011 issue, I had the honor of covering Latin American tamales, prepared throughout the Caribbean and Venezuela during the Holidays. The story has been translated to Dutch, but here’s the original story in English. Hope it’s what you need to kick off a wonderful and blessed Holiday season! ¡Felices Fiestas! more »
Did you know that there are soft drinks produced all over Latin America, and that you can get a taste of a country’s local flavor just by flipping open one of these bottles? In the Dominican Republic, for example, two of the most popular drinks are Merengue and Refresco Rojo, and are available at Dominican restaurants and bodegas around NYC. In Peru, the local palate lusts for Inca Cola, Cola Real and Chicha Morada. I know, I know, when the temperature starts to drop, it’s more fitting to talk about chocolate caliente and atole? But even though the city seems to have changed from green to fall yellow overnight, my memories of summer are still alive.
I was walking to work one day when I stepped into my corner deli to pick up a bottle of water and some flowers for the week. As I paced through the store browsing the cold drinks stocking the fridge something surprised me. An entire shelf was stocked with a line of the quintessential Mexican soft drink Jarritos. Captivated by the bejeweled bottles, I stared at the luminous rainbow of flavors: tamarind, pineapple, jamaica, mandarin, grapefruit, lime.
Not long ago, lime soda became my summer drink of choice. Along with boogie boarding Saturdays. G and I would wake up, pack PBJ’s and rush out of the house to squeeze every moment of our long warm days, returning time and time again to our favorite spot on the Jersey Shore. After an invigorating day of playing with the waves, we would drive home when the last hint of light covered the sky, picking up burritos at our favorite tex-mex joint in Hell’s Kitchen. With salt on my skin and leftover sand between my toes, I would order a bottle of the lime green, psychedelic-looking soda, straight out of the pages of Dr. Seuss.
What better way to welcome a hot summer Sunday than with a Latin-style brunch? With the Gourmet Latino Festival kicking off June 4th at the Astor Center in Manhattan, I was able to savor some of the flavorful innovations that are happening in Latin American cuisine right now throughout the city. Led by chef Aaron
Sanchez and other popular names in the world of mixology, I picked up some ideas in the Mexican kitchen (ei. use an onion studded with cloves when you make home-made chicken stock ) and witnessed the creation of original cocktails inspired from traditional Latin ingredients.
The session I attended was a “Levanta Muertos” brunch seminar, a phrase ubiquitous in Latin America, that alludes to a dish or a drink that’s supposed to “wake you up from the dead” and help with your hangover. As the first year of the festival, the turnout of people was impressive. There was not a single seat available at the long tables set up for the diners throughout the space. The event was well organized, although the setup of the space was a bit funky: I was limited to seeing the mixologists in action, but couldn’t really see the chef at work.
After a cheesy introduction that had the two hosts (Sanchez and Olson) playing a pair of drunkards at a bar, the event thankfully picked up. The first creation was a Maria Sangriente, or a Mexican version of the Bloody Mary. This drink was prepared by mixologist Steve Olson and had Mezcal, Tequila, hot chiles, tabasco sauce, salt and pepper as its principal ingredients. The drink was beautifully served in a tall glass with a half chile. It was a feast for the eyes and the palate. After my first swig, its lingering heat and balanced flavors made even a spice-adversed palate like my own second-guess itself. One thing Olson repeated throughout the class was that the key to making a levanta muertos successful is that you should use the same liquor you drank the night before. This he kept referring to as using the “hair of the dog” of the dog that bit you! Kind of weird, but probably true. To nibble on, the chef prepared a huitlacoche tamal with a saffron corn sauce. The tamal took the color of the huitlacoche ( it’s corn fungus), so its masa was a dark almost black color, but tasted heavenly, with a fluffy texture and sauce that was smokey and complex.
The courses that followed all had the colors, textures and heat of traditional Mexican cooking but with a refined twist. There was a Pepita Crusted Salmon in a Papalo Coconut Broth, which was paired with a drink from Phil Ward from Mayahuel restaurant in Manhattan. The drink echoed the colors of the dish as a clear peach elixir, prepared by mixing mezcal, Aperol, Maraschino and lime. The final tasting course was a Stuffed Sweet Plantain with Smoked Black Beans, Epazote and Crema Fresca. This was accompanied by a drink called the Marajoara Magic, by Danny Valdez, the most charismatic of the guests, who prepared a drink with Brazilian cachaca, Carpano Antina, Habanero peppers and Lime oil.
The session was educational and fun, but most of all, I walked out feeling not only impressed at how Latin American flavors can be, but most of all, very proud.
(I took the photos with my phone, the colors were vibrant in real life)