Category: US

CHICAGO SE PREPARA PARA LA FIESTA DEL MEZCAL

Sergio Inurrigarro

Sergio Inurrigarro, director del programa Master Mezcalier para Estados Unidos y Canadá. Foto: Bertha Herrera

Uno de las bebidas más emblemáticas de México es el mezcal. Este producto será el protagonista del festival Agave Fest 2018, el cual se llevará a cabo en el mes de agosto en Chicago.

POR MARICHUY GARDUÑO/ FOTOS: BERTHA HERRERA

Si eres amante del mezcal y lo disfrutas como nadie, te gustará saber que del 10 al 12 de agosto, se realizará el Agave Fest 2018, en La Vinata Liquors Center Cermack & Kedzie, en Chicago. En este evento se reunirán productores, importadores, distribuidores y representantes de tiendas establecidas en la ciudad,  para demostrar las virtudes y cualidades de este destilado.

Sergio Inurrigarro, director del programa Master Mezcalier para Estados Unidos y Canadá, explica que el objetivo de esta muestra es dar a conocer las diferencias entre los agaves de los estados de la República Mexicana, ya que no es lo mismo beber uno que procede de un cupreata que el de un durangensis, ya que los sabores varían considerablemente.

“Otro de los objetivos es impulsar la reforestación del agave y mostrar las bondades que posee e impulsar las ventas del mezcal”, explica Iñurrigarro.

Además, de la presentación de grandes variedades de mezcal, dice Iñurrigarro, habrá gastronomía mexicana, talleres, catas, música y productos adicionales.

El especialista en destilados agrega que esta edición del Agave Fest en Chicago es la primera que se presenta en esta parte del mundo, por lo que espera una buena asistencia de visitantes.

Resaltó que es importante reconocer que el mezcal no es un destilado fácil de beber, por lo tanto, hay que aprender a degustarlo y entenderlo, por lo que en este tipo de festivales facilitan el contacto con los productores, quienes pueden compartir los secretos del destilado.

De esta manera, los amantes de los destilados de agave podrán disfrutar probando la gran variedad de sabores, aromas y texturas que puede proveer el mezcal.

MOLE, POZOLE Y MEZCAL

Inurrigarro también anuncia que en el mes de mayo se presentará en Chicago otro evento de gran magnitud culinaria: el Festival del Mole, Pozole y Mezcal. La sede será en Chicago Sports Complex y espera reunir 10 mil personas.

“La idea de establecernos en Chicago es abrir una puerta adicional e innovar la difusión de la venta del mezcal a través de eventos y festivales”, puntualiza Sergio Inurrigarro, quien es un arduo promotor de las bondades del mezcal a nivel nacional e internacional.

Agave

Foto: Bertha Herrera

LO QUE DEBES SABER

En 1995, el mezcal obtuvo la Denominación de Origen registrada ante la Organización Mundial de la Propiedad Intelectual (OMPI) con sede en Ginebra, Suiza.

Actualmente, bajo el estricto cumplimiento de la Norma Oficial Mexicana nom-070, han quedado registrados como territorio protegido y productores exclusivos de mezcal los estados de Durango, Guerrero, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Puebla.

 

Marichuy Garduño

Periodista gastronómica con 25 años de experiencia. Ha trabajado en los suplementos culinarios de los diarios más importantes de México como Buena Mesa, Reforma; Menú impreso y Online, de El Universal. Actualmente es editora de Pimienta, Excélsior.

A lo largo de su carrera, Marichuy ha entrevistado a varias personalidades del medio gastronómico, de la política y la literatura, entre los que destacan Enrique Olvera, Ricardo Muñoz Zurita, Alicia Gironella, Massimo Bottura, Gastón Acurio, Alex Atala, Robert Mondavi, Carlos Monsiváis, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, Elena Poniatowska y Jacobo Zabludovsky entre otros.

 

Bertha Herrera

Comunicóloga de profesión, fotógrafa por convicción. Chilanga de nacimiento, oaxaqueña de corazón. Adicta a  capturar  imágenes, a resaltar las texturas de las cosas y de las personas. A lo largo de 23 años ha retratado grandes personajes vinculados con la gastronomía, la arquitectura, la moda, el diseño, la cultura, se ha especializado en la fotografía gastronómica, tomando cursos de food styling en en el Culinary de Nueva York.

Ha trabajado en dos de los periódicos más importantes de México como son El Reforma y El Universal, y ha colaborado para  revistas relacionadas con estilos de vida, como El Gourmet, Chilango, In Style, Ha sido testigo de la transformación que ha habido dentro de la gastronomía mexicana. Para su lente han posado iconos de la cocina mexicana como Carmen Ramírez Degollado, Patricia Quintana, Alicia Gironella,  Giorgio D´ Angeli, Mónica Patiño y grandes cocineras tradicionales como Abigail Mendoza, Deyanira Aquino, Benedicta  Alejo. También destacados chefs como Ferran Adrià, René Redzepi , Joan Roca, Massimo Botura  Juan Mari Arzac, e infinidad de personajes famosos del mundo del espectáculo, la moda, la arquitectura, la cultura.

Como dice la canción  “veinte años no es nada”, pero para ella han sido un cúmulo de experiencia en el ha conocido y viajado. Bertha ha hecho la fotografía para tres libros relacionados con la gastronomía. El libro acerca del chile es el que más emoción le ha causado.

 

 

 

Méx-O-Logy – Hardcore Horchata Recipe

Photo courtesy of Red Stag

Photo courtesy of Red Stag

Horchata, a delicious Mexican rice drink is one of my favorite beverages.  Chef, Jonathan Zaragoza, surprised us with a cocktail inspired in this drink. This is definitely horchata for adults.

Hardcore Horchata

  • 8 cups of water, divided
  • 1 cup long grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1 stick of Mexican cinnamon
  • ½ cup of sugar, or to taste
  • ½ cup Jim Beam Hardcore Cider

Working in batches, combine the rice, cinnamon and 4 cups of water in a blender, pulsing to grind the rice and cinnamon. Transfer the rice/cinnamon mixture to a bowl and add remaining 4 cups of water. Soak overnight. Puree the rice mixture, again and strain through a fine meshed strainer or cheesecloth. Mix in sugar and Jim Beam Hardcore Cider and chill. Serve over ice with a cinnamon stick as garnish.

 

A Chicago native, Zaragoza taps into his Jalisco roots to bring to life Mexican-inspired dishes with a creative twist. This recipe is the second of a series.  

Originally published on 6/16/2014

La Vitamina T was invited to an event sponsored by Red Stag by Jim Beam® Hardcore Cider and received free samples of food, pairings and product. The decision to write this review, as well as all opinions, are our own. 

Savor the flavors of a Mexican Christmas #PosadaShaman

Don Churro in Pilsen – Churros with a Soul

 

At Don Churro, in Pilsen, churros are an artform.

At Don Churro, in Pilsen, churros are an artform.

I was touched by the sight of the churros that welcomed us, as if they had somewhow been coaxed into perfectly spelling out “La Vitamina T.” We were asked to arrive early since, like it is the case with any kind of magic, at Don Churro, these delicious fried-dough desserts  can only be conjured up in the dark.  

It was barely dawn when we got to the quaint Pilsen establishment, and the Molinas had been up all night. With no sleep and even in the the sweltering heat of the friers that have been going on for hours, the owners of Pilsen´s Don Churro, el Moro de Letrán (an homage to the iconic downtown Mexico City establishment) are extraordinary hosts.

María, the matriarch, speaks proudly and animatedly about how a mix of hard work and bravado landed her a business for which she had to fight every day to keep afloat. At first, she says, she would go out to sell churros on her bicycle. Fast-forward thirty years and Don Churro is making 5,000 pastries a day to keep up with a demand that spans beyond state lines, and has earned a spot as a community fixture. 

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The Molina family add passion and pride to their delicious churro recipe.

Edwin Molina, one of María’s three children, gives us a quick glimpse at the struggle and sacrifice that have built both, the family business, and his character.  Armed with a grateful attitude and a superhuman work ethic, Edwin  works  to  find new opportunities to merchandise his product and to continue to innovate. This place is not called Don Churro in vain. Here, churros are  serious business.

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What makes Don Churro so special? These churros have a soul. And I am not just talking about the delicious guava, cream cheese, bavarian cream, strawberry or chocolate fillings that make these crispy and chewy bundles of goodness extra special.

These popular transplants have gone through fire to become who they are, and much like the Molina’s, they are a real success, and they will steal your heart.

Don Churro

Address: 1626 S Blue Island Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

Phone:(312) 733-3173

M-S 6:00 am to 7:00 pm

Get there early, churros are particularly tasty when hot.

Soraya Rendón’s Shaman: The Superpower of Will

Shaman and Chilam Balam´s owner, Soraya Rendón. Photo courtesy of Soraya Rendón

Shaman and Chilam Balam´s owner, Soraya Rendón. Photo courtesy of Soraya Rendón

Underneath the supernatural halo that surrounds the concept “Shaman”, you will find  the fascinating meaning of a cross-culturally relevant word that some say can be traced back to Sanskrit: survivor.

Fittingly, Soraya Rendón, the owner of Chicago’s “Shaman” and “Chilam Balam” is that and more.  Just like the concept, she has crossed countries and cultures. Beyond surviving, she has thrived. She has conquered.

Leaving her native Mexico in her teens, Soraya remembers how she was passed up for a job as a receptionist because she did not speak English. Unfazed, she told the hiring manager she would learn the language and then come back. A few months later,  and faithful to her promise, she returned to land the job. Actually, Soraya negotiated a higher-paying position with a better title because, as she explained,  she “was now bilingual.”

Consistently fearless, Soraya soon opened Chilam Balam, a Mexican restaurant focused on sustainable cuisine. “It survived, so we decided to open Shaman,” Soraya said about her second “child” as she calls each one of her establishments. “The name made perfect sense to me.”

True to form, Soraya would continue to challenge convention and predictability. Her BYOB eatery treats patrons to a dynamic menu featuring Mexican-inspired small plates. The dishes are a creative take on traditional recipes, and are thoughtfully brought to life by none other than chef Natalie Oswald, an Ohio-born chef who brace yourself, happens to cook fluently “in Spanish”.

But what is absolutely certain is that when you visit Shaman, you will be charmed by a fascinating out-of-country atmosphere that you could very well find in a restaurant in Coyoacán.  The food is a reflection of the story behind it: bold, creative, passionate… Delightful.


Glorious porkbelly tacos at Chicago´s "Shaman"

Glorious porkbelly tacos at Chicago´s “Shaman”

What we loved: If you visit,  try the porkbelly tacos. I was impressed by the balance of textures and flavors packed in a small bite. The tortillas, by the way, were perfect.

Shaman by Chilam Balam

1438 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

(312) 226-4175

BYOB

Hours: Tue-Thu: 5pm-10pm Fri-Sat: 5pm-11pm. 

 

 

Laura Martínez, First Blind Chef to Open a Restaurant in the US

La Diosa's chef and owner, Luisa Martínez. Photo: Brenda Storch

La Diosa’s chef and owner, Luisa Martínez. Photo: Brenda Storch

I  accidentally stumbled upon La Diosa (Spanish for “goddess”), a little café in Lincoln Park that I did not remember having seen before. I was first curious about the name, and since we had already had lunch, we decided to go in for dessert.

I had no idea that I was really in for a treat.

We were greeted by La Diosa‘s owner Laura Martínez, a young Mexican chef trained  at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. We exchanged pleasantries in Spanish (the restaurant had just opened in January). The pictures on the wall prompted more questions. I learned that Martínez honed her cooking skills while interning, and later working for Charlie Trotter. 

As if these accomplishments were not already impressive, Laura Martínez happens to be the first blind chef to open a restaurant in the US.

The entire concept behind La Diosa, from the menu to the name, are both her idea and her dream.  Losing her eyesight as a baby, Martínez is convinced that her condition pushed her to succeed. “Being a chef was not the easiest path for anyone in my situation, and I did not want anybody to tell me that I was not able to do something. I am the only one in my family with a degree,” she said.

Her kitchen is completely open and pristine, and watching her prepare empanadas with great precision, is nothing short of amazing. Her husband,  Maurilio, doubles as both Martínez’s eyes and her sous chef. “Sometimes it can get frustrating, you wish you could see when it gets busy so that you can move faster,” she added.

Why La Diosa? Martínez said the name is a nod to her faith. As she spoke, I could not help but be reminded of her strength and resolve. Plus, if I could ever imagine of anyone embodying supernatural powers, it is her: Martínez  masterfully wields a knife without sight.

Tequila pie is to die for a La Diosa in Lincoln Park

Tequila pie is to die for a La Diosa in Lincoln Park

If you visit La Diosa, please say hi to chef Martínez from us. We recommend that you try her tequila-cheese pie or the flan. The hot chocolate is heavenly indeed.

La Diosa

2308 N. Clark St.

773-372-5559

Open hours:

8 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday

9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday  

 

 

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 

Pilsen y su Calle 18: Una Puerta Dimensional a México en Chicago

Si estás en Chicago y te da un ataque de nostalgia, o si estás de visita y quieres descubrir un lugar diferente dentro de la ciudad, a sólo 5 kilómetros al sureste del “Loop” se encuentra  el barrio de Pilsen. Fundado por colonizadores de Europa del este a fines del siglo XIX, Pilsen fue nombrado en honor a la cuarta ciudad más grande de Checoslovaquia. No fue sino a principios de 1960 que la comunidad hispana empezó a hacer de Pilsen su casa. Ya para los 70, Pilsen era, como les hoy, una colonia muy diversa y predominanemente hispana.

Virtualmente un museo al aire libre, quien visita Pilsen podrá descubrir una serie de murales que sirven como vehículo para el discurso social. Exilio, lucha e identidad son los mensajes predominantes de esta expresión de arte urbano. Si prefieres un museo intramuros, no te pierdas el Museo de Arte Mexicano.  La entrada es gratuita.

La calle 18 es una puerta dimensional a una serie de negocios que van desde restaurantes, panaderías, dulcerías, hasta peluquerías. ¿Quieres pan como ese que probaste en las ferias de Acámbaro? Aquí lo encuentras. Estos personajes llegaron como recetas en los morrales de artesanos michoacanos y aquí se hicieron pan.

Y si en tu paseo te da hambre, acuérdate de visitar Carnitas Uruapan, donde encontrarás desde chicharrón, hasta quesadillas de sesos y ensalada de nopales. Pasa a saludar al Güero Carbajal y díle que te recomendó tu amiga Brenda Storch de La Vitamina T.

 

Carnitas Uruapan – The Best of Michoacán in Pilsen

Inocencio and Marcos Carbajal personally host patrons at Carnitas Uruapan.

Pride and Joy: Inocencio and Marcos Carbajal personally host patrons at their famous Pilsen restaurant Carnitas Uruapan.

Inocencio Carbajal becomes emotional as he shares a very personal story. In the late 70s, as a recent transplant from Uruapan, Michoacán, he had to make the decision to let go of his most precious possession- a medal of the Virgin of Guadalupe. “I asked Her to bless my choice,” says Inocencio, his eyes tearing up. “We bought our first piece of equipment with that money.”

Fast-forward four decades later, and Inocencio’s hardship has paid off.  As we arrived at the Pilsen eatery, a long line of patrons had already assembled.  Marcos Carbajal, Inocencio’s son, kindly invited us to tour the kitchen while we found a spot to talk.

The state of Michoacán in southwestern Mexico, is famous for its carnitas, one of Mexico’s favorite folk dishes. Usually cooked in large copper containers brought in from a specific neighboring town,  it is not uncommon to find this treat also being prepared in large stainless steel pots. “In many villages, eating carnitas is a Sunday morning ritual,” said Marcos, who periodically visits family in Uruapan, his father’s birthplace. “People know to arrive early, as typically only one pig is prepared, and they gather to eat after church. Many of our customers still follow this custom, but we cook a fresh batch every two hours.”

Although he kept in his heart the desire to go back to Michoacán at some point, Inocencio’s family and his growing business kept him in Pilsen. “All of a sudden, Marcos was ready to go to college, and I was happy that he had the opportunity,” said Inocencio. For Marcos,  the word “pigskin” is not merely a seasonal one- with a degree in Economics from the University of Michigan, and thinking of helping his dad, Marcos left his corporate job to work in the restaurant full time, while also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship from Northwestern University.

Although Inocencio has not returned to Uruapan, he has brought Uruapan to Chicago with him. The path he chose was not easy but, he says smiling, “I would do it all over again”.

His eatery’s menu is perfectly simple, with many well-achieved crowd pleasers. From mouthwatering pork carnitas, to menudo, chicharrón en salsa de tomate ( chicharrón in tomato sauce, of which I took a big container home), cacti salad and even quesadillas de sesos (brain-stuffed quesadillas), this place is the real deal. In fact, the cueritos I tried here are the best I have ever had in both, texture and flavor.

Carnitas Uruapan did not disappoint. My stomach was full and happy, and after talking to Inocencio and Marcos, my heart was too.

¡Viva México!

Carnitas Uruapan

1725 W 18th St  Chicago, IL 60608

(312) 226-2654

www.carnitasuruapanchi.com

Claim your free carnitas taco with your to go order and and free order of chicharrón if you check-in on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carnitas Uruapan on Urbanspoon

Chef Paco´s New Rebozo – Oh My God!

Cochinita pibil tacos await you at New Rebozo in Chicago's Gold Coast.

Cochinita pibil tacos await you at New Rebozo in Chicago’s Gold Coast.

If you visit New Rebozo, chances are that aside from a remarkable meal, you will be delighted by owner Chef Paco’s warm and exuberant personality.  After more than 20 years of success at his Oak Park location, where Chef Paco (A.K.A. Francisco López) is already a fixture, this Mexico City native decided to bring his creativity and passion for authentic Mexican food to Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Holy mole! Chef Paco delights his guests with his complex, yet surprisingly down-to-earth mole Poblano, at New Rebozo.

Chef Paco equates food to the dynamics of everyday life: “Life can be sweet and sour… even salty, add love to it and you will strike a balance.”  His philosophy spills into every corner of his restaurant. There is definitely love in New Rebozo, named after a shawl Mexican women wear. From the cozy fireplace to the thoughtfully picked art, the dining room and patio embrace you like welcoming Mexican embassies. Do not expect to find cultural clichés here.  New Rebozo is the real deal both in form and content. “My work is about making people happy,” said Paco. “That’s my ultimate goal.”

Full of flavor, depth and whimsy, it is so fitting that mole is one of Chef Paco´s specialties. Very few words say fiesta and Mexico as loud and clear as mole does, particularly in the countryside, where this traditional dish is served during important celebrations such as weddings and christenings. Chef Paco´s mole Poblano is so good, I have no doubt that my Pueblan grandma, who was often charged with making the mole for her village’s fiestas patronales*,  would have approved.

Watermelon mojitos: Oh my God!

Watermelon mojitos: Oh my God!

If you visit New Rebozo,  do not miss the cochinita pibil tacos, a delicacy straight from Yucatán. There is a piece of Mexican heaven in every perfectly flavorful bite and they are surprisingly not greasy. The watermelon mojitos are also quite memorable- one sip of those glorious cocktails had my entire table exclaiming in unison: “Oh my God!”

*In Mexico, fiestas patronales are a village’s most important celebration, and are typically dedicated to the patron saint the village is named after.

New Rebozo Chicago

46 E. Superior

Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 202-9141

Open Mon-Sun 12-10 pm

New Rebozo Chicago on Urbanspoon