Tuesday, May 13, 2014

La Gran Parrillada on 5/17 at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes: Chefs Javier Plascencia, Carlos Valdez, Eloy Uribe, and Dante Neuquen Put the Spotlight on the Sonoran Grill

In Mexico, as in Italy, China, Japan, and France, every region have similar foods and dishes that are transformed and prioritized by local customs--every state has mole, but some states emphasize it, like Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Estado de Mexico. Every state prepares seafood, but Nayarit, Sinaloa, Sonora, and Baja California take it to the next level with preparations that highlight the superior product. And every state grills but none like the northern state of Sonora where quality steers and a dedication to fire make carne asada a sacred tradition--Oaxaca has mole,  Hidalgo has barbacoa, Jalisco has birira and Sonora has the parrillada, or grill. Four chefs have journeyed north of the border to bring a true taste of the Sonoran grill.

This Saturday at the Hola Mexico Film Festival's Gran Parrillada at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, from 12pm-5pm, chefs Carlos Valdez (Buffalo BBQ, La Paz, B.C.S.), Eloy Uribe (sb2, Hermosillo, Sonora), Javier Plascencia (Mision 19, Tijuana, B.C. and Bermejo, Hermosillo, Sonora), and Dante Neuquen (Neuquen Restaurante, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon). Valdez and Uribe are from Sonora, Plascencia has recently opened a modern Sonoran restaurant in Hermosillo, and Neuquen cooks in another great northern state, Nuevo Leon, and comes from one of the top grilled meat countries, Argentina.  This is an Olympian grill team.

Each chef will prepare their own parrillada, or grill plates to be served with a sobaquera tortilla and Mexican wine from Baja California.

This is a once in a lifetime chance to experience top Mexican chefs on the Sonoran grill, and even more amazing is the addition of a traditional sobaquera artisan, making the famous giant, and thin flour tortillas from Sonora that are essential to the cuisine.  

If you hurry, you can get a discounted ticket on guilt city from now until May 14th at noon, and after that just go to the ticket link.

Gran Parrillada
Saturday May, 17, 2014
$45 per person

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Parts Unknown Mexico: Fear and Loathing or a Simple Misunderstanding?--Bourdain Indulges in the Worst Cliches

CNN's Part's Unknown paints a grimmer picture of Mexico than the Santa Muerte, or Lady Death herself

As a consultant, or source for Parts Unknown Mexico, I was of course eager to see how the episode turned out--that is to say I agreed to a phone conference with CNN's Mexico bureau to suggest where host Anthony Bourdain and ZPZ Productions should visit in Mexico, to reveal the unknown parts. In the half hour I spoke with CNN, I emphasized the importance of Tepito's food scene and about some other locations I feel have been underexposed that have tremendous cuisine. I was busy that Sunday and wouldn't see the episode 'til later that evening, but I saw a heartfelt blog written by Bourdain that made me feel very optimistic before I saw a tweet from Monterrey, Mexico's Chef Guillermo Gonzalez Berestain (Pangea), one of the founding fathers of Modern Mexican cuisine (No, he doesn't live in San Diego or vacation in Cabo, Mr. Bourdain), lamenting the shows content.

The episode was not the great show that had just done very food-centric programs in India, Las Vegas, and Lyon--perhaps the most food orientated show this season--instead it showed Mexico as a non-stop bloodbath, with everyone running for cover, and sort of glossed over the food. When it wasn't sensationalizing the drug war, it was doing ads for the Grey Goose of mezcal, Del Maguey, owned by a Texan, and doing the Fodor's guide tour of Oaxaca, visiting places that have appeared in practically every food show ever shot in Oaxaca. A viewing of your old episodes of Chef Rick Baylesses Mexico: One Plate at a Time would have done the trick. A surly Bourdain responded in the comments section to A Gringo in Mexico blogger Scott Koenig's Open Letter to Bourdain with a decisive dismissal of any concerns about Parts Unknown Mexico by San Diegans and Spring Breakers out to have Mexicans carry their golf clubs (the same ones that washed dishes at Les Halles). But why Mexico, at a time when the biased media has backed off of this story--was this an attempt to get ratings from low lying fruit, or was the show simply mistitled?              

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tepito: El Barrio de La Comida Brava

Vamos a Tepito!

Tepito, El Barrio Bravo, (fierce neighborhood) is a northern section of Mexico City less than a mile away from the Zócalo (town square) whose name instantly conjures up the sum of its notorious history, lore and mysticism. You can walk there from the historic center, but chilangos, expats, and anyone else that has heard of the place steers clear because of a reputation that no longer is valid--whenever I tell people I'm headed there to hang out they nervously chuckle, yet again, they've never been.

Since pre-hispanic times, Tepito has maintained a tianguis, or flea market for the poor, working class Tepiteños that are culturally, and economically landlocked. Today, the tianguis is Tepito's exoskeleton, an external maze of tarp covered apparel, pirated DVD's and CD's, luggage, electronics, shoes, and food stalls offering the best deals in town--this neighborhood does everything by its own rules from the products it sells, to the offal-rich cuisine, the public consumption of alcohol, the the Santa Muerte (Saint Death) religion. I was a location and food consultant for CNN's Parts Unknown Mexico, and when the Mexico bureau asked what was Mexico's best kept secret, I said the street food in Tepito. Although CNN's Parts Unknown Mexico was a terrible show for it's preoccupation with the drug war, and so many repetitive experiences, the world did get a glimpse of barrio tepito, a neighborhood I've been lovingly exploring for the past 2 years. Here's what you should have seen on the episode!