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FROM ASPEN, WITH LOVE

FOOD MATTERS

TASTE OF MEXICO CITY

“A Taste of Mexico City,” is the first story in a three-part series on food of today’s Mexico. In next week’s Aspen Times Weekly, Amiee will dive into the history of mole poblano, the signature dish of Puebla, Mexico, the site of the 1862 battle for which we celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

A CULTURAL REAWAKENING OF THE WORLD’S FIFTH-LARGEST CITY IS STARTING WITH ITS CUISINE THOSE PASSIONATE about food are always looking out for the next great place — a location where inspired chefs are taking their personal heritage and stealing it away from the home, off the street and into the restaurant scene. Food lovers look for a place where tastes are evolving and escalating the global palate. That place, right AMIEE WHITE now, is Mexico City — a BEAZLEY historic, international city pulsing with art, music, people, great restaurants and modern food. Everywhere you go there is energy around the cuisine. Chic cafes line the streets in trendy neighborhoods or colonias of Roma and La Condesa, and street food, which is a culture unto itself in the city, offers items well known and perfectly executed in their simplicity

from tacos al pastor and tortas to gorditas and cemitas. You would think in a city with such passion around its food, there would be a measure of modern Mexican. Not so, for many years people didn’t see how it could be refined. Italian, Japanese and Argentine restaurants dominated the scene and still do. Mexican, so deeply rooted in the home, has only until recently found its path into fine dining spurred via rising star chefs such as Richard Sandoval, Enrique Olvera and Guillermo Gonzalez Beristain. These three chefs represent the future taste of Mexico City and have invested their time, skills and money into the dining scene here. Sandoval, known in the United States for his myriad restaurants from the United States to Dubai, including Venga Venga in Snowmass Village, was one of the first to introduce the world to the unique

and rich heritage of his hometown. Olvera, the young chef and owner of Mexico City’s restaurant of the moment, Pujol, offers the promise of the future in this city, and Beristain, the former Culinary Institute of America roommate of Sandoval, is owner and chef at the successful Mexican restaurant group Pangea and considered a visionary of regional dining.

It was a special night when all three chefs united in the kitchen of Sandoval’s La Moderna restaurant at Hotel Brick in Mexico City to showcase Mexican cuisine as it exists today — prepared with incredible ingredients teeming with dynamic flavors. The menu included squid with sashimi of cucumber, a sopa topped with sliced pork, croutons and the right touch of indigenous spice, a perfectly crafted small tamale with mole negro, fish with ash crust and onion, and goat terrine, which provided amazing flavor and texture. And while these chefs already have made names for themselves in Mexico City and abroad, there are smaller, lesser-known gems to be discovered throughout the city. One of my favorites was a small café in the Roma Norte district called Café Alekzander on Alvaro Obregon. Set in a historic 19th-century mansion, this three-level café offered an international menu with emphasis on Mexican. The dishes I sampled, a tostada covered in fresh, plump shrimp, red onion and tomato followed by a modern presentation of soft flour tortilla taquitos with marinated steak, were a great insight to what Mexico City does best and had me eager to find what else is yet to come from this emerging city. Amiee White Beazley writes about dining, restaurants and food-related travel for the Aspen Times Weekly. She is the editor of local food magazine edibleASPEN and contributor to Aspen Peak and the travel website EverettPotter.com. Follow Amiee on Twitter @awbeazley1, or email awb@ awbeazley.com.

TOP: Cafe Alekzander is one of many chic cafes that line the roads in Mexico City. BOTTOM: Fish with ash, one of the dishes prepared by chef Guillermo Gonzalez Beristain.

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A S P E N T I M E S W E E K LY

Apr il 26 - May 2, 2012

ALL PHOTOS BY AMIEE WHITE BEAZLEY

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