Monthly Archives: November 2014

Nuestra Mesa: Quesadillas de Caracol

Foto: Manuel RiveraFoto: Manuel Rivera

Los insectos son una de las tantas aportaciones de la época prehispánica a la gastronomía que actualmente conocemos como mexicana. Relegados durante siglos,  (en gran parte debido a que los colonizadores españoles encontraban la costumbre de comer insectos algo repulsiva) hoy, este alimento  ha recuperado su auge. Actualmente, más allá de ser el alimento cotidiano de una multitud de comunidades indígenas a lo largo y ancho del país, los insectos  se han consolidado como un fascinante  (e incluso elevado) ingrediente de la gastronomía mexicana. Desde hormigas hasta escarabajos y  gusanos,  la abundancia, la diversidad y el alto contenido proteínico, de esta fuente de sustento  antes desdeñada como un alimento primitivo, quizás irónicamente sea la comida del futuro.

En esta ocasión, y únicamente gracias a la extraordinaria labor de antropología culinaria del chef Aldo Saavedra, es que nos es posible traerles esta receta del municipio de Acolman, en el Estado de México. Según Saavedra,  gracias al clima y al cultivo del maguey propios de esta entidad, Acolman  es un gran productor de caracol silvestre. Aquí, este insecto  se consume en diversos y exquisitos guisos que van desde sopas, salteados con guajillo, en ensalada de nopales y con xoconostle para quesadillas.

 

Ingredientes:

  • 150 gr caracol silvestre  (puede ser en lata)
  • 1/2 cebolla picada en cubos pequeños
  • 3 xoconostles
  • 1 ramita de epazote picado
  • Tortillas
  • Sal
  • Aceite para freír

Proceso:

  1. Enjuaga y pon a escurrir los caracoles.
  2. Pela los xoconostles, quitales las semillas del centro y pícalos en cubos pequeños.
  3. Calienta el aceite en una sartén. Ya caliente pon  la cebolla. Una vez que esté transparente,  agrega los caracoles. Dos  minutos después, incorpora el xoconostle.
  4. Dejar cocinar por 10 minutos, sazona con epazote y sal.
  5. Calienta  las tortillas y rellénalas con el salteado de caracol.

 

El chef Aldo Saavedra ha cocinado para huéspedes de establecimientos como el conocido Hotel Condesa D.F. y ha contribuído con sus recetas en proyectos con marcas de la talla de Larousse y Danone. En Nuestra Mesa, el chef Saavedra comparte con los lectores de La Vitamina T, su pasión por la cocina y por México. Encuentra más información sobre el chef Saavedra en México de mis Sabores.

A Sip of Heaven: Chocolate Champurrado

Champurrado de chocolate. Foto: Brenda Storch

Chocolate champurrado. Photo: Brenda Storch

“Es tan santo el chocolate, que de rodillas se muele, juntas las manos se bate y viendo al cielo se bebe.”

  -Refrán popular mexicano

“Chocolate is so holy that you must kneel down to grind it; put your hands together to churn it, and look to the Heavens to drink it “.

-Mexican folk saying

Chocolate, or Xocoóatl, in Náhuatl, was an important ceremonial drink in pre-Columbian cultures. Its importance was such, that seeds of the cacao tree were not only offered to gods, they were also used as currency. Considered nutritious and even medicinal, chocolate made its way to Europe via Mexico.

Serves 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 sprig of cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp of brown sugar or a small piece of piloncillo of around 2.5 oz
  • 5 tbsp of tortilla masa
  • 1.5 oz of handmade chocolate. I got the chocolate for my champurrado as a gift during my last trip to Mexico! You may replace it with a piece of chocolate for atole (in the U.S., you may find it in your ethnic food aisle under brands such as Abuelita or Ybarra). Using the latter might make the champurrado a bit sweeter, so reduce sugar.
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Dilute the masa in 2 cups of cold water until there are no clumps.
  2. Boil the remaining water with the sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Incorporate the corn masa while mixing constantly on low heat.
  4. Add the vanilla and the chocolate.
  5. Continue to mix constantly for about 15 minutes or until the mix reaches the desired thickness.
  6. This time, I added a pod of cascabel pepper for flavor! You can add a piece of dry pepper without its seeds if you want. We chose a sweeter pepper.
  7. Champurrado is a very thick drink. If you like it a bit lighter, you might reduce the amount of masa you add.

Enjoy!

AlXimia: The Art and Science of Extraordinary Wine

Photo Courtesy of AlXimia

Photo Courtesy of AlXimia

Under a sky that only a handful of locations in the world can offer (Ensenada’s observatory is the second most important in Latin America),  AlXimia’s large,  intricate dome-like structure, is a vision out of a sci-fi movie. As we drove by, I was transfixed. I could not help but intermittently think about a mothership and “The Jetsons”.

“Mad scientists,” joked Pasión Biba’s Abel Bibayoff, as we parked right next to the futuristic dome. I can hardly contain my excitement- “We saw this from the road last night!”

Photo courtesy of AlXimia

Photo courtesy of AlXimia

Dubbed by the locals “The flying saucer that landed in Valle of Guadalupe” or “The Cathedral of Wine”, the building is an architectural exercise in ingenuity and efficiency. Thought out to showcase water and energy conservation while highlighting the wine-making process,  it is clear from our vantage point within this unique circular building, that we have found ourselves in the midst of something quite extraordinary.

At the fulcrum point of art and science, AlXimia really lives up to its name. Backed up by a a group that under one cellar (and immediate family) gathers astronomers, educators, winemakers and even Ivy League mathematicians,  it is no wonder why this A-team produces award-winning wine. In fact, Spain’s most reputable and comprehensive wine guide, Guía Peñín, has recently given AlXimia’s  Aqua 93 points, the highest score for a Mexican wine, positioning it  as “excellent” within the 90-94 point range.

2014-09-21 15.12.07

I was particularly fascinated by the concept “Elemental Wine” or “Vino Elemental” explained by Alximia’s winemaker Álvaro Álvarez- a nod to the four elements in nature: air, water, earth and fire. According to the philosophy of the winery, the combination of these four speaks to balance, sustainability,  and, maybe more importantly, to the little piece of Valle de Guadalupe that is included in every bottle of AlXimia. Beyond the beauty of the concept, pragmatism- consumers can guide themselves with the elements represented in each wine for pairing purposes. For example, water and fish; air and poultry, and so on and so forth. Brilliant.

L to R ÁlXimia's Álvaro Álvarez, Pasión Biba´s Abel Bibayoff and Lozhka Bistrot's Chef José Bossuet

Starstruck by a select group of food and wine intellectuals. From left to rightL  ÁlXimia’s Álvaro Álvarez, Pasión Biba’s Abel Bibayoff and Lozhka Bistrot’s Chef José Bossuet

While AlXimia’s operation is smart, and innovative,  it is also firmly grounded in family, work ethic, and a profound respect for nature. I find it so poetic that the family’s patriarch is an astronomer… these Mexican entrepreneurs are undeniably, stars.

Where to buy: Visit the winery´s online store.

How to get there: Click here to find a map.

Do not miss:   La Terrasse San Román by chef Martín San Román, located in the winery’s terrace.

 

 

Prior articles in the series:

<¡´Biba´México! The Zeal Behind Mexico´s Pasión Biba  

< World Class: Mexican Wine and the Hands who Make it (Introduction to a Series)