April 23, 2009

Tex, Mex & California

Chinatown, San Francisco

I've been home from my 2 weeks in Texas, California and Mexico for a week now, and I've finally made it through my photos and unpacked my bags. It's been an especially long transition back to normal life, and for the very best of reasons - I had such a wonderful time. Every one of these places was new to me. I now have a huge crush on California, am completely in love with Mexico, and am happy to say that I liked Austin, TX so much I'll be moving there in August.

Much of the trip wasn't particularly food-heavy - it was on-the-road kind of food, stopping where we could when we could, depending on what was around (good hearty breakfasts at tiny Buck Meadows outside Yosemite National Park, for example), but some meals really stood out (and of course, once we hit Mexico, everything was amazing).

I was in Austin only briefly, but ate a spectacular tomatillo pork burrito at:

El Chilito
2219 Manor Drive
Austin, Texas 78722
+1 512 382 3797

The highlight in California was my pulled pork sandwich and potato salad at:

Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & BBQ
975 First Street
Napa, California 94559
+1 707 226 3976

(And it was fascinating to see the table set for dinner at Hearst Castle, San Simeon, complete with paper napkins - embossed with WRH, of course - and ketchup in bottles.)

During our day and a half in Mexico City we ate from small taco bars, where they fried up thin strips of beef alongside your tortilla and served it all topped with raw onion, wedges of avocado and tomato, and squeezes of lime; or cheap and cheerful rotisserie chicken places, where the juicy joints came with fried potatoes, onions, red salsa and pickles.

The sweets and pastries were incredible, and I liked these 2 patisseries in particular:

Dulceria de Celaya
Avenida Cinco de Mayo 39
Colonia Centro
Mexico City
+52 55 55211787

Panificadora La Vasconia
Calle Tacuba 73
Colonia Centro
Mexico City
+52 55 210659

We spent nearly a week in Puebla, a beautiful and lively colonial city on the road between Mexico City and Oaxaca. The bus from Mexico City takes about two hours and passes between Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, Mexico's most famous volcanoes. Besides a fabulous wedding and the fascinating Good Friday procession through the streets of Puebla (Easter is a wonderful time to be in Mexico), we ate very well. I can't document all the little gordita stands we snacked at, or tell you the name of the purveyors of handmade tres leches ice cream who waited, with their wares in big tubs of salted water, at the foot of the Aztec pyramid in the small town of Cholula, but I can recommend these two restaurants in particular:

For Mexican fusion (I ate a smoked cheese risotto, duck confit chalupas, stuffed poblano chiles and an amaranth mousse) in a beautiful, minimalist space - a converted water treatment plant:

La Purificadora
Callejon de la 10 Norte 802
Paseo de San Francisco
Barrio el Alto
72000 Puebla
+52 (222) 309 192

For traditional Pueblan cuisine, like mole poblano (the famous spicy chocolate sauce was invented in a Pueblan convent), tinga poblana (stewed, shredded pork with chipotle) and chiles en nogada (poblano chiles stuffed with pork, served with a walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds):

Fonda de Santa Clara
3 Poniente 920
Col. Centro
72000, Puebla
52 (222) 246 1919


Day of the Dead altar models in Puebla - including miniature mole poblano, sprinkled with sesame seeds.


Amanda said...

I am planning a trip to Austin and can't wait to go! That city seems like it has such life and energy. I'm so used to Californian Mexican food so I am dying to try tex-mex.

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