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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.

Push Project: Part III of a Series

Alex Stupak of Empellon & Chris Cosentino of Incanto Present Push Project III

 

"On May 14th 2012 I blasted a random tweet out into the world asking if anyone knew where I could score some pipichia. For those of you who do not know pipichia is a pungent Mexican herb thats rather obscure in my neck of the woods.

Only 4 days later I had some in my hands. It came from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and it was carried by Chef Chris Cosentino.

Chris Cosentino is an extremely busy guy. He runs two businesses (Incanto and Boccalone in SF), He’s a husband and a father and he manages to get himself on TV often. 

I bring all of that up not only because these accomplishments are amazing but even more so because he is the type of person that will take what little time that he does not have to help out a fellow Chef that he hasn’t even met yet.

From another chefs perspective this is exactly the type of person you want cooking for you. Generosity makes food taste better.

All I could do to thank Chris for the herbs was cook him a meal. Afterwards we had a drink and had the chance to discuss things that we have in common like growing up in New England and  oddly, cooking Mexican cuisine.

Over a year after we've met, Chris is doing me another favor". 

- Alex Stupak

On June 28th, The Push Project Presents part III of a Series:
Chris Cosentino and Alex Stupak will be preparing 8 courses.  We will offer two seatings for $150 per person (plus tax/gratuity).

- First Seating will be anytime between 6 & 7 PM
- Second Seating will be anytime between 8:30 & 10 PM

Location - Empellon Cocina, 105 1st Ave (btw 6th & 7th St)

For reservations, please fill out the form simply email tastings@empellon.com / call 212 367 0999.

Guest Stars 5.20 - 5.26

INSTAGRAMS POSTED BY YOU

INSTAGRAMS POSTED BY US

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

Tamales is the plural of the word Tamal. So if you happen to be in Mexico either order "un tamal" or "dos tamales" but do not try to order "un tamale" because it is grammatically incorrect.

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