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comida mexicana – La Gourmandista

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Etiqueta: comida mexicana

Barbacoa at Home: A Fancy Lunch

Nothing more obnoxious than a plate of cold food food when, in order for it to taste good, it ought to be warm. And this is exactly what I went through when encountering for the first time the traditional lamb barbacoa from the State of Mexico at the young age of eight. Still such a bright memory. My mom served me a portion with the plate full of the greasy cold meat while looking at me defiantly, almost sparkling firecrackers at a distance off her eyes. You all know what I am talking about, right? I mean, moms do that to their offspring, sometimes. The following 20 years, as I’m sure you can imagine, I wanted nothing to do with the popular lamb barbacoa.

I grew up and began to give food that I previously wasn’t fond of a second chance. Maybe my previous first impression of a dish could change now. I was right and it has become a beloved the dish. Something served at parties in small towns and prepared in different forms for weddings, Easter, and even family get-togethers. Now, I drive more than 100 miles to get the one carefully prepared by chef Cristina Martínez of Philadelphia’s South Philly Barbacoa.

Therefore, when she announced they’d come to DC, and orders for sale would be available, I quickly put my name in the list. I wanted to be among the fortunate ones so badly. Lucky for me, I was. I received an SMS the night before confirming my order. Now, I only had to arrive on time to the address in my message sharply at 11:00 AM. 

I woke up quite early since I had a dentist appointment. What was I thinking?, I told my self. Who in the name of God goes and gets anything fixed in their mouth before being able to taste these delicious tacos and believe it would be a good idea? That was SO stupid of me! Oh well! Half my mouth was numb. Fortunately I had no pain, I drove as fast as possible to arrive just in time at Rabaut Park in the Adams Morgan area of town. It was only necessary for me to find a parking spot.

15 minutes going round and round and nothing. I started to get worried and desperate at the same time. I didn’t want to end up losing my beloved package. My order wasn’t big, but it was lunch, and I had only had some fruit and a cup of coffee for breakfast. Round and round again, I finally found where to park the car. I ran and followed my Google Map to arrive in the least time possible to meet with Ben, Cristina’s husband, by his truck. There, he had all the packages ready and labeled for the craving souls who stared at them as the greatest treasures on the face of Earth.

I have no idea how, but I made it there. 5 minutes later I was about to receive my little piece of heaven in the form of lunch. I got the package, paid for it and headed home, but… where was the car? I started walking very doubtful of my whereabouts and hoping to find it without getting lost. Totally unsuccessful, about 30 minutes later and a bit tired of walking, I got to the car. Exhausted, but happy, I went home.

Upon arrival, there was fanfare. A few minutes in the oven for the meat to be warm and ready to eat. That memory of the cold barbacoa left a mark, so, let us all be patient for a little more time. Warm up the tortillas on the comal for a moment as well and serve with all the toppings on a platter for everyone to prepare their tacos as they like them. In bowls, we served the stock that goes on the side of this meat with rice and chickpeas. It’s a bit spicy, but Cristina makes is perfect for all of us to tolerate.

Finally, I have my taco. It’s warm, just as it should. The tortilla is not masa, but nitxtamal and her aroma gives the information away. It’s like going back in time, to my hometown in the 1980s. I bite it and you can see it in my eyes. I’m crying. They’re so good, they remind my of my dad, of my grandma, and even of my mama looking dagger at me. I reflect on it for a moment and come to the conclusion that giving a second chance to this taco was the best decision ever. Our first encounter wasn’t good, but now, it’s fascinating and I go wherever necessary to find it. The only requirement is for it to taste like my homeland.

Address: 1140 S 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147, USA

Phone: (215) 694-3797

Note: Only cash payments accepted here. An ATM is available for withdrawals if necessary.

Hibiscus Enchiladas in a Chipotle and Chile de Arbol Salsa

Anyone who knows me or who simply follows this blog either on the web or via social media can see that I am an omnivore and that most of my family is as well. However, I am conscious that global food trends are becoming more and more vegetal every day. Now, enchiladas have always been part of the Mexican diet, right? Well, a couple of years ago when I was visiting family and friends in Mexico City, I found a similar option in a menu at a restaurant where I went to have breakfast, and even though my choice was a different one, they stayed in my mind for a while. Months afterwards, I had made hibiscus agua fresca, but before disposing of them, I decided it was the best moment to try my own version of the dish. Here’s what I did:

Hibiscus Enchiladas in a Chipotle & Arbol Chili Salsa

When I was a child, enchiladas were normally stuffed with chicken. This vegetarian option is delicious and gives a second life to your hibiscus flowers after aromatizing your agua fresca.

  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Baking sheet
  • 2 Medium skillets
  • Blender
  • Turner or Rigid Spatula
  • Several spoons

For the sauce:

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 árbol chili (hydrated)
  • 1 smoked chipotle chili
  • 60 ml vegetable stock (if necessary)
  • Kosher salt and allspice (to season)

For the stuffing:

  • 50 g hibiscus flowers (dehydrated)
  • ¼ onion (finely diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)

To assemble the enchiladas:

  • Frying oil
  • 12 Corn flowers
  • 100 g Mexican crema
  • 100 g Cotija cheese
  • ¼ onion (finely diced)
  1. The easiest way to make this salsa, I think, is to put the onion, the garlic clove, and tomatoes to roast in the oven at 350 °F (180 °C) with a drizzle of oil. Then, blend with the chipotle and the re-hydrated árbol chiles. Season with kosher salt and allspice and adjust the texture with a bit of vegetable stock. You don’t want your salsa to be excessively runny.
  2. Then, in a skillet with a little bit of oil, sweat the onion and then add the garlic and the hibiscus flowers as well as a couple spoonfuls of salsa to season the flowers.
  3. Warm your tortillas and then slightly fry them for a moment in a skillet with oil.
  4. Form your enchiladas by taking a bit of the flower stuffing and folding the tortilla by half.
  5. Bathe with the salsa and add a bit of the Mexican crema or crème fraîche, fresh finely diced onion and a bit of cotija cheese on top. If you want to omit the crema and the cotija you will have some delicious vegan enchiladas.
  • Hibiscus flowers generally come as the by-product that is left over after preparing a pitcher of agua fresca on the warmer days or tea on the colder ones. 
  • If Mexican crema is not available, substitute with crème fraîche. Avoid using sour cream.
Main Course
enchiladas, lockdown2020, Mexican food, stay home, Vegetarian