Friday, October 2, 2015

Feria de Los Moles 2015, October 4th, 2015, the Largest Mexican Food Festival in the U.S.A.

The 8th Annual Feria de Los Moles, founded by Pedro Ramos and organized by Vesper PR's Mariluz Gonzalez,  takes over Olvera Street this Sunday to showcase traditional moles from Puebla, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca and more with delicious adobos (moles with vinegar), pipianes (pumpkin seed moles) and moles. The event is the largest food event, and the largest Mexican food event in the U.S. with live music, special guests like representatives from the City of Atlixco, Puebla which is Celebrating Their 50th Anniversary of Huey Atlizcayotl.

It's a family oriented event in the Los Angeles Mexican community--not your typical divide and conquer tasting event where you and your crazy, gluttonous friends try to rack up a high Instagram food porn count, but an event where you enjoy a plate of mole with friends and family while listening to a nice cumbia. As much as I've always longed for a tasting event to sample lots of mole, I've gotten over it, and have learned to appreciate the Mole Fest for what it is: the best Mexican food event in town for traditional Mexican cuisine. So, here's an easy system for sampling lots of mole.

First, you must arrive early--10a.m.-- and come with a hungry bunch so you can order multiple plates to share. There are many of our local Oaxacan restaurants there, but give the home cooks a shot, especially those from Puebla, because they have been some of the strongest stands at the event. Not to mention that last year, mole royalty showed up; chef Liz Galicia of El Mural de Los Poblanos came to cook the refined Pueblan moles from one of Puebla's most famous restaurants. Anything from Tlaxcala is a must, because you've never tried them and they're in the same league as the Pueblan and Oaxacan varieties.

Miss Mole, 2014, Briana Marquez

But make room for mole caderas, a specialty of Tehuacán,Puebla; it was the most memorable dish from the 2014 edition of Feria de Los Moles and puts birria to shame. The flavor profile is similar to a birria but richer and packed with string beans. The dish usually involves fresh slaughtered young goats that are prepared immediately after a ritual killing as part of a festival that takes place on October 20th in Tehuacán called Festival de la Matanza.

Mole de caderas from Puebla, Mexico

Chef Liz Galicia from the world famous El Mural de Los Poblanos

Do it yourself mole tasting: pipian rojo, adobo and mole poblano

The event is free to the public, and it's a pay as you go set up for food and it's your best bet in trying Mexico's famous moles prepared by skilled cooks and chefs at one of the best food events Los Angeles has even seen.

8th Annual Feria de Los Moles, Sunday, October 4th, 10a.m. to 7p.m. Olvera Street,

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Ultimate Guide to Regional Mexican Cuisine in L.A. on First We Feast

Ever since Pulitzer Prize winning L.A. Times Food Critic, Jonathan Gold, wrote in a 2007 LA Weekly post that L.A. practically has every region in Mexico represented with the exception of Chiapas, many other writers around the country have assumed this to be gospel. This was never true, and at the time, the article even mentioned regions that were not represented at all, as some of the restaurants counted were not regional restaurants.

So, from this day forward, consider the record corrected in The Essential Guide to Regional Mexican Food in Los Angeles, a post I recently did for First We Feast. And while we don't have all regions represented, our depth goes beyond provincial dishes, making Los Angeles second to none in the U.S.

East L.A. Independence Day Parade

I hope you enjoy the guide and get a chance to dig in to all these delicious regional gems in Los Angeles, the second largest Mexican city in the world.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Donde Comer, September 18-20: Tacos La Carreta, Compton, CA

L.A.'s first legit northern Mexican taco cart

It just doesn't stop here in L.A.We are gaining new traditional, regional vendors each week, whether they've been around a month like Tacos La Carreta, or 15 years, hidden from mainstream food media.

As a writer for Los Angeles Magazine, restaurant consultant, fixer for food television and editor of this blog, it has been my job to find great shit. Whether it be the streets of L.A., Mexico, Brasil, Guatemala, or anywhere else in Latin America, I find shit, professionally.

These past few years have seen increased activity as many jobs that come up, as well as for my beat at L.A. Magazine, require me to find new places, constantly. And, to the petty food critic out there who has begun to trivialize my contributions to you diners, all I have to say is, what is your job? Apparently, to not find shit.

2 Generations of badness, Jose Morales Jr. and Sr.

My latest find I just published in Los Angeles Magazine's Digest is about Compton's Tacos La Carreta, and it's one of the best, a real carne asada vendor doing special tacos from Mazatlan, Sinaloa. And, this is my pick for you to explore this Sunday, as that's currently the only day they're out.

True carne asada is cooked over mesquite

Finding great Latin American food only helps to lift up Los Angeles as a dining destination and to reinforce its status as the best city for Latin American dining in the U.S., especially for Mexican cuisine. So, that's what we're going to keep on doing. I find shit.

On that note, let me welcome my new contributors, Juan Ismerio and Cerpa Rodion, who took these fantastic photos, and will be helping me update Street Gourmet LA more often and allow Street Gourmet LA to be in more than one place at a time. Scouts are for louts, no, these talented young Latinos aren't scouts, but they'll be contributing in a number of ways including an upgrade to a real website, attending events I can't make, and shooting much better quality pictures.

This past week we were able to attend events in Brasil, Los Angeles: the L.A. Times Taste event, Alex's Lemonade, the Festival Chileno in Camarillo and this top notch taco cart, Tacos La Carreta in Compton, as a team.

Chorreadas, Mazatlan-style vampiros spiked with a splash of hot, unrefined lard

These chorreadas, vampiros, tacos and quesadillas are game changers; do yourself a flavor and pay them a visit this Sunday.

Tacos La Carreta, 413 N. Wilmington Ave., Compton, Sundays only from 3:30pm to 9:30 p.m.

Monday, September 14, 2015

On the Road: Menudo Blanco, Estilo San Juan de Abajo, Nayarit in Montecito Heights

On the Road is a weekly series here on Street Gourmet LA, where we share a favorite bite from our travels, domestic and abroad, in the finest dining rooms around the world and at the most humble of urban and rural stands as well as people's homes.

This week was just another typical week around the office, Michelin star restaurants in Jardins and Vila Medeiros, São Paulo as well as delicious pasteís (pastries) in Liberdade (São Paulo's Japanese neighborhood); Los Angeles Time's Taste event, Alex's Lemonade Stand, the Festival Chileno in Camarillo for completos (Chilean hot dogs) and pisco sours, Sinaloan-style tacos (exciting new post coming soon on Los Angeles Magazine) and a bowl of homemade menudo blanco by a family from San Juan de Abajo, Nayarit.

Chava and his wife, Hildelisa, cook up a light and tasty white menudo from southern Nayarit, influenced by the nearby state of Jalisco. While this wasn't the greatest dish of this rather substantial week in food, it was a reminder of how nice it is to sit down with a family and enjoy simple, delicious and thoughtful cooking.

The delicate stock is different from most white menudos I've encountered--transparent and light in flavor until chopped onions, jalapeños, yerba buena (as is typical in Jalisco) and menudo mix spices are layered to taste. The ample cuts of beef include al dente book tripe, beef tendon, and a marrow rich lower leg bone draped in crunchy bits of cartilage.

The family is the best of the many houses preparing menudo blanco, all from San Juan de Abajo, in Lincoln Heights and Montecito Heights where snack kings Raspados Nayarit do business. It's another example of the regional enclaves that exist in L.A. (and why L.A. has the best Mexican food in the country), where everyone knows each other, and each year and few more from their home town show up ready to work, but not until they've had a hot bowl of menudo blanco from San Juan de Abajo.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Enchiladas: Mexican Food Explained!

1) All-American baked enchiladas

This time on Mexican Food Explained, a photo essay to unlock the mysteries surrounding the debates about what's Mexican, what's Mexican-American, and what's All-American, as we tackle enchiladas, a dish beloved by all. 

Think of enchiladas as being the opposite of tacos, where the sauce is what's most important, and the filling is simple, usually chicken or cheese. They can be baked, fried to order, and either rolled or doubled over before the covering sauce is ladled on top. In America, it's melted cheese and in Mexico it's a dressing of cream, salty cheese, raw vegetables, fried potatoes and carrots, pork rinds and whole chicken legs on the side. 

Because the sauce or mole is so important, the main element, the sauce or mole is homemade in traditional Mexican enchiladas, as opposed to the Mexican-American or American, where melted cheese and the sides: rice and beans, play a bigger role. 

Whichever your fancy, you'll find this photo essay handy in knowing what style of enchiladas are on your plate. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

My Ultimate Guide to Mole in L.A. for Los Angeles Magazine's Digest

Moles at the Mercado Benito Juarez in Oaxaca

Mole is easy to find in L.A., but often is misunderstood by fans of mole north of the border. Mole is the dish, that's it, everything else is there for eating mole: the rice, the vegetables the beans the tortillas and the proteins. No, we never braise the meat in mole, no mole is not a sauce and yes there should be more mole on the plate than anything else. I'm talking to you chef, who only took one lesson on mole zacatecano and then put a dot of mole on the plate; I'm talking to you Yelper, who complained about the chicken--who cares about the chicken, it's about the mole.

Oaxaca and Puebla are most famous for their moles, and no doubt Oaxaca has more moles that any other state, but that doesn't make them the best moles, or the most important. Moles are in practically every state, and while some states have only a few or one typical mole, states like Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Michoacan and more have amazing moles. Zacatecas has a few including their sweet asado de boda, which is as good as any in Mexico. Oaxaca and Puebla are just very good at mole PR, and food tourism in general.

Elevate you mole knowledge with my Ultimate Guide to Mole in L.A., in this week's Los Angeles Magazine Disgest blog. Provecho!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

5th Los Angeles Food and Wine, August 27-30 Brings Top Chefs, Wine and the Roots to Downtown LA

The 5th Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival begins this afternoon through Sunday with 2 dozen food events featuring the best chefs in town and some top chefs from around the country thrown in, plus plenty of seasonal wines to toast to the end of summer the start of the big event season. This year     has a few surprises in store to add a little funk and spice in the mix.

The Roots will be featured this year as the marquee musical act and I'm happy to report that we're going to see participation this year by a pair of Alta California chefs, Ray Garcia and Carlos Salgado, to properly represent L.A.'s top Latino chefs. The Night Market, a popular event at LA Food and Wine will showcase the who's who of our young Asian-American chef scene with chefs like Perry Cheung, Jet Tila, Alvin Cailan, Chris Oh and Tin Vuong.

It's the most star studded food event in Los Angeles and always a great time to get to know some of the restaurants you've not visited--Union, Alimento, Slapfish and Birch are on my short list--while sipping white wine in the heart of the city's restaurant scene--Downtown LA.

Los Angeles Food and Wine, Downtown LA, August 27-30, for tickets and event information