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Fun Fact Friday: Undoing the myths of Mexican Food that you've believed all your life

The word mole evolved from the word mulli which is the Nahuatl term for sauce. Most of the ingredients in Mexico's most famous mole, Mole Poblano, are not indigenous to the country at all.

Empellon Inside: Sliced Mango with Peeky Toe Crab Salad

Sliced Mango with Peeky Toe Crab Salad...A Must Try Tonight at Cocina


Kitchen Recipes: Sea Urchin Guacamole

There is without a doubt a fascination with guacamole in the United States. So much so that most people can’t fathom not ordering it when they go out to eat in a Mexican restaurant. If we are never going to stop serving it perhaps we can take the opportunity to make people take a second look at what can be done with it. Avocado and chiles is a no-brainer of a combination to pair with sea urchin so we acted and created this unusual guacamole. We love to serve different table salsas with our guacamole at Empellón so echoing the flavor of the urchin in a rich and smoky salsa seemed logical to us.

Sea Urchin Guacamole

Serves 4


7 oz. sea urchin 

4 cloves of roasted garlic

40 grams of roasted onions

4 oz.  roasted plum tomatoes

5 oz. extra virgin olive oil 

1 each canned chipotle chile, seeded

½ tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

1 TBSP minced onion

cider vinegar, for rinsing the onions.

1 each avocado, flesh only

salt, to taste

1½ tsp freshly squeezed lime juice

40 fresh cilantro leaves

In a blender, place 5 ounces of sea urchin, the roasted garlic, roasted onions, plum tomatoes, olive oil, chipotle, salt and sugar and purée until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Rinse the onion in cider vinegar and then under cold running water.  Set aside.

In a bowl, lay out the avocado flesh in one layer. Add the onion, salt, and freshly squeezed lime juice.  Using an avocado masher, mash together all the ingredients in the bowl, making sure to leave some chunks of avocado.  Continue by gently folding in the cilantro leaves.

To serve, place the guacamole in a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining 2 ounces of sea urchin.  Serve with the sea urchin salsa and tortilla chips.

Mat in Mexico: Week 5

Morelia continued, Pátzcuaro …

I lost my pants!  Technically I didn’t lose them, they were taken, but we’ll get into that later.

This past week found me back in the State of Michoacan “on assignment” with my buddy Joseph Mortera whom I’d met at Tales of the Cocktail last summer.  Our mission was to tout Hendrick’s Gin at the Morelia en Boca festival, a 3-day gastronomy and wine event where  “Renowned chefs and domestic wineries join together to offer a weekend full of sensory experiences through special events like tastings, pairing dinners, master classes and a gourmet market with local producers.”  It’s a scaled down version of Googa Mooga, but without the drama. Check it out: http://www.moreliaenboca.com/

Being the multi-tasker that I am, I was able to assist Joseph in promoting Hendrick’s, leaving my post every so often to walk around and check out the local offerings… because, well hey, I may not pass this way again…

During my wanderings through the crowds, I had the opportunity to sample the many mezcales that were on display and, with my vastly improved communication skills, I chatted with their respective producers.   Mezcal lesson for the day:  the majority of the mezcales produced here are made from the agave Cupreata, also referred to as Papalote or Chino, depending on the native dialect.  The Cupreata is indigenous to Guerrero and Michoacan where it is often found growing on the mountain slopes at higher elevations of between 1,500 and 2,000 meters.  It’s a relatively hearty fellow, medium-sized, and covered with dark spines and vivid green leaves.  Ahhh, and it has such a nice funk to it, similar to cheese and certain fatty meats, like a buttery prosciutto mingled with melon.

(Young Cupreata, Be Kind to Tourists, Morelia en Boca Hendricks Booth, Chef Pedro of Capote, Cupreata to be Planted)

Happily for me, on the second day of our trip, we were able to visit Pátzcuaro a small town located in the highlands of central Michoacan.  Founded around 1324, very little is actually known about its origin, the only recorded history being written in a book called Relación.  That point notwithstanding, Pátzcuaro is a neat little lake town that strives to maintain the traditional colonial-indigenous look it’s had since the Mexican Revolution, and its elaborate Day of the Dead celebrations where people proudly wear the traditional Day of the Dead get-up resembling La Catrina, the image of Death in Mexico, which most of you have seen.

Our stroll through town rewarded us with colorful sights and enticing smells, as everywhere we looked we saw street vendors and small shops where proprietors smilingly waited to sell a variety of knick-knacks, souvenirs and delicious food.  We eventually made our way to one of the few mezcalerias in the town, which had a most curious name:  El Carajo…have Google translate that for you.  

The place was small, around 5 tables altogether, and was surprisingly stocked with a decent selection of mezcal, mostly white labeled bottles straight from the vinaterias.  After partaking of the wonderful food and a bit of the drink, we made our way back to Morelia to assist in the set up for that evening’s after- party sponsored by Hendrick’s.  The locale, Villaló, is an eclectic mix of music venue, pizza bar and social club.  I worked the event along with 2 of their ace bartenders, and it was a blur of a night.  The place was jam packed and we were slinging drinks as fast as people could order, often making 10-15 drinks at a time, per bartender! It was a crazy busy evening, but it felt good to dust off the old shaker and get back in the game for a few hours.

(Morelia en Boca Mezcal Samples, Villalo, More Mezcal Samples, Live Music at Villalo)

On our last day in this beautiful state, we took it easy and, once again found ourselves at Tata Mezcaleria, easily one of my favorite mezcalerias since coming to Mexico. I spent most of the evening chatting with the owner of a local artisanal beer, La Brü, which is made in Morelia and is known for their small-batch approach to their production.  This technique allows for one of the freshest beers I have ever tasted.  Unfortunately, they are so small that they aren’t looking to expand in the States or to export, so you’ll just have to travel to Mexico to check it out for yourself. It is definitely worth the trip.  Anyway, we decided to make a short night of it and arranged to meet in the hotel lobby the next morning.  We were to leave Morelia at 8am.

Apparently someone had other plans for us.  When morning rolled around, I sauntered over to meet Joseph, whereupon seeing me the first words out of his mouth were “the van is gone!” Say what, now?  Sadly, it turned out that someone had stolen our transportation during the prior evening.  Oh, incidentally, the van had a bag with my pants, a shirt and my toothbrush in it.  So, after spending a good 5 hours at the police station filling out paperwork, we taxi-cabbed around to a few different tow yards, just to be sure the van wasn’t among them, and finally made our way to the bus station to head back to Mexico City.  After a full day spent, we finally made it back to the apartment around 930pm….all I wanted to do was brush my teeth.

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