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What's Cooking Mexico

Posted Mar 08 2011 12:00am

If you are in any way related to the culinary scene of Mexico City (and even if you are not), you have most likely heard the name Ricardo Muñoz Zurita . Before coming to Mexico I had heard of this chef, but I must confess I didn’t know much about him. But ever since I started hanging out with Ruth, I’ve learned a huge deal about Mexican cuisine and the people and chefs who are working hard to give the world a new perspective of our cuisine. It turns out that chef Ricardo has written several cookbooks: Verde en la Gastronomia Mexicana, Cocina de Yucatan,  Salsas Mexicanas , Los Chiles Rellenos en Mexico , and Diccionario Enciclopedico de Gastronomia Mexicana (Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mexican Gastronomy, wow!)

His café Azul y Oro in UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) has received great reviews because of its accessible prices, perfect for university students, and amazing food highly influenced by the cuisine of Oaxaca. A couple of months ago his new restaurant, Azul Condesa, was in everybody’s mouth, literally. I had the opportunity to visit and meet chef Ricardo in person a little more than a month ago. I had such a great experience that I went back with friends last Saturday and had a lovely dinner. I’m not very good at writing reviews, but this is what experienced in my two visits:

Tamal oaxaqueno

My first visit was a business meeting with some people planning a Culinary conference in Mazatlan and Puebla for the summer and they wanted to get ideas from chef Ricardo, Ruth and I. So we sat together at the table and chef Ricardo gave us a sample of the delicious food he’s serving in the restaurant (that according to what I heard, it’s the same menu at the same prices than his café in UNAM, pretty impressive considering that Condesa restaurants can be pretty pricy). We started out with a Oaxacan tamal that was very good. The masa was perfectly cooked with a very nice texture and the right amount of heat.

Arroz tumbao

When the time came to order the main course, chef Ricardo recommended I had the arroz tumbao, a traditional dish of the state of Veracruz, from the special menu Festival Jarocho (Jarocho is the slang to refer to the people and food of Veracruz) that was being featured that month. The dish reminded me of Jambalaya, lots of spiced up seafood in a stew with rice. Unfortunately, and this was a common issue that day, the dish was a little under seasoned. However, that wasn’t such big of a problem because of the flavors of the dish. I ended up eating all of it.

serving

The best part of the dinner that day for me was the desserts. Chef Ricardo ordered 4 dessert to be shared among everybody in the table and even though they were all very good my favorite was the tiramisu. Yes, I know this is not an Italian restaurant and even chef Ricardo explained to us that the reason he included this dessert in the menu is because in Mexico City nobody makes a good tiramisu and I agree. His tiramisu is the best I’ve had in many years. Who would’ve thought that I would have a great tiramisu in Mexico City.

31/365

Chocolate cake

The main reason to go back to a restaurant is the food, however other reasons are very important, too. The service, ambiance, price and decor of a place are very influential too and that’s why I recommended my friends to go to Azul Condesa last Saturday after finding out that the restaurant where we had made reservations wasn’t serving the Tabasco food we were expecting. They thanked me the minute we sat at the table. It’s such a charming place that even before you start eating you are already enjoying yourself. The food this time around was a lot better than my first experience.

mezcalera

One of the first things we noticed were the round containers next to each plate. I asked the waitress what they were and she explained that they were mezcaleras, traditional containers that people of Oaxaca use to drink mezcal. So we ordered some mezcal de pechuga (chicken breast mezcal, in a future post that I’m preparing about mezcales I’ll explain what this is). I’m a tequila guy, I can drink a lot of the stuff, but mezcal is just a little bit out of my league. However, I really enjoyed it and finished the whole thing. I’m acquiring the taste for mezcal little by little.

yellow mole

Festival Jarocho has ended but this month’s featured menu is even better for me, moles y pipianes. I went through it and finally decided to get mole amarillo con pollo chichal, a whole small chicken served over mashed potatoes with traditional yellow mole of Oaxaca and chilacayotes, a kind of round, green, delicious squash. It was very good!

mole negro

cochinita pibil

Jamaica enchiladas

enjoying

Some other dishes we had were duck breast wrapped in pastry served with mole negro, cochinita pibil, arrachera and jamaica (hibiscus flower) enchiladas. We tasted each other’s dishes and we all agreed that in general the food was excellent. There were some comments on the table about the duck being wrapped in pastry and deep fried, which I can personally see some issues with that, but was still very good, especially the black mole served over it. And the cochinita could’ve been better, not that it was bad. And when the time came to order dessert, I had to go for the tiramisu again! My friends Ryan and his wife Anna ordered the Tres leches with rompope cake, that turned out to be delicious too.

Tres leches cake

Will I go back? Definitely. Would I recommend it? Absolutely! Azul Condesa is definitely a great place to visit if you are in Mexico City. I will gladly take you there anytime you want ;)

Azul Condesa
Nuevo Leon 68 Colonia Condesa, Ciudad de México 06100, México
(55) 5286 6380


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¡Buen provecho!

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