Author Archives: lavitaminat

Art and Heart: A Culinary Showcase by Ron Aleman at Sophie’s

Sophie's Ron Aleman.

Sophie’s Ron Aleman.

 

Art.

This is the first thought that came to mind when my dish was served – a beautiful combination of colors and textures that made me take notice. The impeccable service and a thoughtfully curated space overlooking Michigan Avenue added to the experience.  Comfort meets class here, and you can´t help but feel charmed when you visit.  I was hooked.

Chef Aleman's cioppino at Sophie's.

Chef Aleman’s cioppino at Sophie’s.

And beyond beauty, substance.  Heart.  You are after all at Saks Fifth Avenue… a model walking by each table with the latest designer jacket can be a reminder of your targeted budget or caloric intake. Chef Ron Aleman’s food is so good though, that somehow you feel welcome, not intimidated.

As I kept coming back I realized that something resonated within me. Just like shorthand, food is a secret language that transports you to a particular time and place. I knew the author of my meal was undoubtedly an artist. But, why did I think that this American fare spoke Spanish to my soul?

Chef Ron Aleman grew up dreaming of pursuing a career in the arts, perhaps painting or drawing (when I heard this, the artistic plating made perfect sense). Instead, he took a detour and graduated with a degree in business. As a successful salesman, at the age of 30, (when many professionals have consecrated themselves to their craft) Aleman was starting over.  In his new position, tending to the chores assigned to the most junior staff, he took over washing dishes and mopping with pride. “I knew this was the path I needed to follow, and there was nothing to be ashamed of”, he said.

If you have tried Chef Aleman’s food, you have looked at a snapshot of his heart: “Family is at the center of food. Food is love… cooking for others is an honor.” It is precisely his family where Chef draws a lot of his inspiration. Aleman found his Mexican mother-in-law’s asada salsa so irresistible, that he recreated her recipe in his kitchen. Growing up with tortillas as a staple of his family’s meals, his point of view is down-to-earth yet uniquely cosmopolitan. If you visit, try his coconut bread pudding, a dessert that in Mexico, we call capirotada.

You say bread pudding, I say capirotada. Either way, this dessert is amazing.

You say bread pudding, I say capirotada. Either way, this dessert is amazing.

Like CliffsNotes on Chicago, Chef Ron Aleman’s dishes are a synopsis of the character of the city- elevated yet approachable; informally sophisticated; worldy American with just the perfect touch of heat.

Follow Chef Aleman on Instagram: @Ronaleman27

Sophie’s Chicago

(312) 525-3400

700 North Michigan Ave. 7th Floor

Chicago, IL 60611 

El Ponche Navideño, Deliciosa Tradición

Foto: Luisa Flores - Chicago, IL

Foto: Luisa López – Chicago, IL

El ponche es mi bebida navideña favorita, y me da siempre gusto encontrarla en las fiestas de la temporada. Hace unos días, nuestra amiga Luisa López nos invitó a una fiesta en la que tuve la suerte de disfrutar el mejor ponche que he probado. Luisa nos habló de un ingrediente ¨secreto¨y generosamente nos compartió la receta de su mami.  ¿Cómo consiguió Luisa tejocotes en Chicago? Lo mismo pensé yo. Nuestra amiga nos cuenta que es relativamente fácil encontrarlo congelado (broma aparte) en estas latitudes gélidas. ¡Qué lo disfruten!

Luisa Flores con su mami, la autora de la receta.

Luisa con su mami, la autora de la receta.

Rinde para 8 personas
Ingredientes:
  • 6   litros de agua
  • 100  gramos de canela
  • 50   gramos de pasas
  • 100  gramos de ciruela pasas cortadas en 4 partes cada una
  • 1 vaina de chica a mediana de tamarindo
  • 1 cucharadita de jamaica
  • 1 kilo de piloncillo
  • La ralladura de la cascara de 2 naranjas
  • 1/4 de kilo de guayaba cortada en 4 partes cada una
  • 1/2 kilo de naranja peladas y cortada en trozos
  • 1/2 kilo de tejocotes lavados
  • 1 kilo de caña y cortada en trozos
  • 1/2 kilo de manzanas amarillas lavadas, partidas en 8 partes y sin el centro donde están las semillas
Foto: Luisa Flores - Chicago, IL

Foto: Luisa López – Chicago, IL

Preparación:
  • Pon todos los ingredientes a cocer en una olla a fuego lento,  excepto la manzana
  • Hierve durante 2 ó 3 minutos y agrega la manzana. Deja hervir durante otros 3 minutos.
  • Para que el sabor se concentre más, deja reposar durante unas horas antes de servir.
Foto: Luisa Flores - Chicago, IL

Foto: Luisa López – Chicago, IL

¡Sírvelo calientito!

Esquites con Sal de San Felipe: La Receta de la Chef Atzimba Pérez

 

Photo: Chef Atzimba Pérez

Foto: Chef Atzimba Pérez

 

INGREDIENTES

  • 6 elotes tiernos desgranados

  • 1/2 barra de mantequilla

  • 1 chile jalapeño picado finamente

  • 20 hojas de epazote picadas

  • 4 tazas de caldo de pollo

  • Sal de San Felipe con chiltepín para sazonar (cómprala aquí)

PARA SERVIR

  • Mayonesa

  • Jugo de limón

  • Queso cotija

  • Chile piquín

  • Epazote picado para decorar

PREPARACIÓN

  1. Pon a derritir la mantequilla.  En una cacerola, acitrona el chile jalapeño, el epazote y los granos de elote.

  2. Sazona y añade el caldo de pollo. Deja hervir durante 30 minutos.

  3. Sirve en un vasito con un poco de caldo. Decora con hojitas de epazote picado.  ¡Deliciosos para este frío! ¡Que los disfrutes!

Según la receta de la chef Atzimba Pérez. Para más información sobre Atzimba, visíta  su página de Facebook haciendo click aquí. 

 

 

The Perfect Complement to Great Food. Tips & Recipes by Rick Bayless. (Sponsored)

 

Photo: Negra Modelo

Photo: Negra Modelo

I was so excited when Negra Modelo asked me to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime walking food tour of San Francisco (led by none other than Rick Bayless), with stops including everything you can imagine from carnicerías to panaderías and tortillerías*.  The elation was immediately followed by the crushing realization that I had a previous commitment that would not allow me to physically make it.

I already knew I needed a clone, but this was just overwhelming evidence.

Luckily for me, our friends at Negra Modelo allowed me to report from the distance. Thanks to the magic of social media,  I  intently followed the mouthwatering play-by-play which included freshly made tortillas, the freshest carne asada meat in town, huaraches, pan dulce, and of course, Negra Modelo. ¡Ahhh!

In 1965 Salvador Vazquez brought Mexican carne asada cuts to San Francisco.

In 1965 Salvador Vazquez brought Mexican carne asada cuts to San Francisco.

Photos: Negra Modelo

Photos: Negra Modelo

As I “followed” the group into the panadería, which I learned was proudly operated by a third-generation baker, I understood the shop was out of my beloved conchas (for a moment I confess experiencing fleeting gratitude, as I could not bear much more pain). The group still lucked out, enjoying these instead:

Photo: Negra Modelo

Photo: Negra Modelo

Pan dulce is such a staple of Mexican meals. “Ir por el pan”  (to go get bread) is a daily, delicious activity so prevalent, that it has made it into colloquial expressions. For example, a famous pick up line is: “¿A qué hora vas por el pan?“. Literally meaning, “when do you usually go get bread?” the expression is usually used to say: “When will you be alone so that I can talk to you?”

When I was a little girl and even living in the city, men on bicycles with huge baskets on their heads, would home deliver pan dulce. I am not sure that this still takes place in big cities, but growing up, it was always a treat to hear panaderos ringing their bells, chanting ,”¡el pan!” (bread is here!) This is immediately what I though of when I saw the picture below. Priceless!

Photo: Negra Modelo

Photo: Negra Modelo

I vicariously enjoyed this very thoughtful event through the tweets and posts of my fellow foodies. Plus, although I  did not get to try the Twitter activated machine packed with samples,  I was able to bring this party favor to you-  Negra Modelo’s new website featuring tips and recipes by Chef Bayless, just in time for the holidays. Look no further!  www.NegraModeloUsa.com helps you bring to life anything from guacamole con chicharrón to mussels, all made or paired with Negra Modelo, the perfect complement to great food.

See? You can have your beer and drink it too!

¡Salud!

Photo: Negra Modelo

Photo: Negra Modelo

 

*butcher shops, bakeries and tortilla shops. 

Disclosure: La Vitamina T was invited by Negra Modelo to cover this event, and was compensated to post about it.

 

Pair your “Pavo” like a Pro – Cava Córdova’s Head Winemaker Shows you How

Winemaker Fernando Farías Córdova will launch Cava Córdova in 2015 Photo: Cava Córdova

Winemaker Fernando Farías Córdova will launch Cava Córdova in 2015 Photo: Cava Córdova GSM

From the Series “World Class: Mexican Wine and the Hands who Make it”

Mexican entrepreneur and winemaker Fernando Farías Córdova  followed his love for winemaking all the way from his native Jalisco to Valle de Guadalupe. Impressively,  although barely thirty, this young wine and tea sommelier is now making a living out of his passion, and is preparing to release his own wine label.

Sleeping in a cellar awaiting for its 2015 debut, is Cava Córdova GSM. Originally from the southern Rhône Valley, here, this blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes is being nurtured to become a wine that is both elegant and approachable.

It is impossible to resist asking an expert how to pair your food. Just in time for the Thanksgiving meal, Farías Córdova gives us tips for every palate:


White 
Look for wines with low acidity and high floral or fruit notes to highlight the flavor of cranberry sauce, such as wines made with Viognier, or Riesling grapes. A Moscato is a great option as long as it is not too sweet; and the butter notes of an oak-aged California Chardonnay would complement rich dishes very well.

Rosée
Dry, medium-bodied and very fruity wines will offer a refreshing contrast to pair elaborate dishes. Look for wines made with Grenache, Syrah or Carignan grapes

Red 
Red wine and turkey? Absolutely. Long gone are the times where poultry was usually only accompanied with white wine. Serve young red wines with notes of red fruit, jam and spices that intensify the flavors of our dishes. Look for Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Malbec or Syrah.

Sparkling
For a night of celebration, chose to pair your pecan pie with a Proseco Brut. Sparkling wines are also a great complement to spicy foods (in case mole or tamales verdes find their way to your table) and, why not, go ahead and pop that bottle of champagne that you were saving for a special occasion. This is one of them.

How do you know what wine is best for you? It is the one you like… and hopefully, it is wine from Valle de Guadalupe.

¡Salud!

 

Stay tuned for an update on the 2015 release of Cava Córdova GSM.

 

 

Prior articles in the series:

< AlXimia: The Art and Science of Extraordinary Wine

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

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

 

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nuestra Mesa: Para este Día de Muertos, Tamales de Queso y Chile

Foto: Manuel Rivera

Foto: Manuel Rivera

 

Por: Aldo Saavedra  

Entre los diversos platillos que forman parte de la celebración de Día de Muertos, están los populares tamales. En cada región de México, a este platillo se le “da vida” de diferente manera, incorporando masas, rellenos y procedimientos distintos.

En el Valle de Santiago, por ejemplo, entre las comunidades otomíes que ahí radican, descubrimos unos tamales únicos de intenso sabor y  preparación sencilla.  Servidos durante los velorios para alimentar a los que acompañan a los dolientes, y preparados nuevamente para celebrar el Día de los Fieles Difuntos, estos tamales están hechos con ingredientes y utensilios endémicos, entre ellos el tequesquite, una piedra de sal que emerge en las zonas acuosas después de la época de lluvias. El tequesquite se usa como sazonador, o bien  se le agrega a la masa de maíz para inflar los tamales y darles textura. Aquí, les comparto la receta. 

 

INGREDIENTES:

  • 1 kg de masa de maíz.
  • 250 grs de manteca de cerdo.
  • La cáscara de 10 tomates
  • 1 cda de polvo para hornear (para remplazar al tequesquite que se usa originalmente)
  • 4 piezas de chile ancho sin semilla.
  • 300 grs de queso añejo.
  • Sal
  • Cantidad necesaria de agua.
  • 20 hojas de totomoztle (hoja de maíz)

 PROCESO:

  1. Pon cocer las hojas de tomate en agua. Si vas a usar tequesquite, pónlo a hidratar previamente en un vaso de agua para que suelte la tierra. Posteriormente añade esta agua al recipiente donde hervirán las cascaras de tomate, cuidando de no vaciar el fondo. Hierve ligeramente. Reserva.
  2. Pon las hojas de totomoztle a remojar.
  3. Remoja el chile bien desvenado en agua durante una media hora, escurre. Muele en metate alternando con el queso. Si no tienes metate, usa el procesador de alimentos cuidando que no queden cascaras grandes. Mezcla con el queso hasta formar una pasta homogénea y reserva.
  4. Agrega sal a la masa, manteca de cerdo y en caso de que no tengas tequesquite, añade el polvo para hornear. Mezcla hasta que se integren todos los ingredientes.
  5. Añade poco a poco el agua de los tomates hasta que la masa se desprenda de la superficie donde se está trabajando, no es necesario agregar toda el agua.
  6. Escurre las hojas de totomoztle.
  7. Arma los tamales agregando en una hoja un poco de la masa, extendiéndola por la hoja y al centro el relleno. Envuelve doblando firmemente y coloca los tamales acomodados en una vaporera, paraditos, con las puntas hacia arriba
  8. Cocina durante 1 hora o hasta que estén bien cocidos.  Sabrás que los tamales se cocieron bien, cuando el tamal se desprende con facilidad de la hoja.

Nota curiosa: En algunas zonas del país se acostumbra dar la bendición a la olla para que se cocinen bien los tamales, pero en Santiago Mezquititlán, se ponen dos chiles guajillos formando una cruz en el fondo de la vaporera.  Se cree que de esta forma, las personas que andan cerca y alcanzar a oler lo que se prepara, no impedirán, con su antojo, la buena cocción de los tamales.

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.

 

Guacamole… Valle de Guadalupe Style A Recipe by Chef Bossuet

 

Photo Credit: Lozhka Bistrot

Photo Credit: Lozhka Bistrot

 

This is one of my favorite souvenirs to our trip to Valle de Guadalupe in September.

Yields 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 5 pieces avocado (Hass)
  • 1 cup of brunoise Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of white onion finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of Serrano fresh chili
  • 2 tbs of cilantro finely chopped
  • 4 tbs of lime juice
  • Salt t.t.
  • 1/2 cup of table grapes cut in half
  • 1/3 cup of fresh ranchero cheese

Directions

  • In a bowl add the mashed avocado pulp, and mix the tomato, onion,  chili, lime juice and salt.
  • Add ranchero cheese and grapes on top.
  • Enjoy with fresh corn tortilla or tortilla chips.
  • Pair with Rosayoff, Bibayoff
Chef Bossuet´s Kitchen at Loshka Bistort

Chef Bossuet´s Kitchen at Loshka Bistort

Celebrated Mexican chef  José Bossuet Martinez,  former Executive Chef of Mexican ex-president Vicente Fox,  is member of the world’s most prestigious association   “Le Club des Chefs des Chefs”, which exclusive membership is reserved for those who are personal chefs of heads of state.

Today, chef Bossuet treats lucky patrons ´like kings´ at Lozhka Bistrot in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California and Café Contento in Guanajuato. José Bossuet is an author, an educator and an extraordinary representative of Mexican gastronomy. Beyond that, he is a proud showcase of Mexico’s ingenuity, its entrepreneurship, its heart and its undeniable talent.

 

 

 

 

 

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