Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Tweet Life

Outdoor dining area at El Gorjeo de Las Aves En Las Mañanas de Abril
Some restaurants have good food and service; others have great view or setting. Rarely does a restaurant with a beautiful setting also have good food. There are a few exceptions. One is El Gorjeo de las Aves en Las Mañanas de Abril.

You may recall from a previous post of mine that it's a breakfast/brunch only restaurant, located on the lush, landscaped grounds of a beautiful estate in Ziracuaretiro, Michoacán, open from 9 to 1 seven days a week. It's the younger sister of the acclaimed La Mesa de Blanca, not far away, on the other side of Ziracua. Keep in mind that La Mesa de Blanca is open only from 1 to 6 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Both restaurants feature Michoacán specialties created by and under the supervision of Chef Blanca Vidales and her husband, Sr. Rodrigo Lemus.

On the most recent visit, Sra. Cuevas and I took two of my visiting my sisters in law to brunch at this delightful place. When we arrived at about 10:00 a.m on a Thursday, we were the only guests. Still, the service was welcoming and attentive.

The menu is neither long nor complex.
El Gorjeo main menu
We were brought a basket of warm, freshly baked pan casero and two conserves, one of naranja  and the other of fresa. The breads were even better than those we had on our first visit.

Pan casero El Gorjeo
I knew that we had to have a jarra  of the unmissable agua fresca de zarzamora, blackberry fresh water. The juice menu, offering orange, grapefruit, tangerine, lima (sweet lime), jugo verde, and jugo de frutas were first rate, but it is our tradition to drink agua fresca de zarzamora when we are at either of the sister restaurants.

Nectar of Ziracuaretiro 
We noted that for $90 pesos, one could have a combination of two different dishes. My sister in law, Joan, chose a half and half combo of Enchiladas Verde and Enmoladas.

Enchiladas Verde, L; Enmoladas, R.
Sra. Cuevas enjoyed Aporreadillo con Salsa de Aguacate a specialty of the restaurants. It's shredded dried beef scrambled with eggs with a very mild sauce of avocado. ( Ziracuaretiro, after all, is in the heart of avocado growing country.)

Aporreadillo en salsa de aguacate
My sister in law Wendy, had if I recall correctly, Enmoladas, and I Enchiladas Verdes. Both are filled with shredded chicken.

¡Que guapas las enmoladas! Archive photo.
Enchiladas verdes con crema. Archive photo.
I had brought a small bottle of my homemade limoncello as a little gift for Blanca and Rodrigo. Chef Blanca was away in Oaxaca, and Sr. Rodrigo up in their house, but our waiter went up to tell Rodrigo of our presence. He came down and joined us and we chatted. He then asked us if we would like to see some lodgings now available to rent as B & B.

I was excited, as I had occasionally fantasized staying overnight in this little corner of Paradise. He led us toward the back of the property, where we crossed a rushing stream on a narrow, arched footbridge.

The Bridge Over The River Sighs
On the other side are vehicle navigable streets leading to a gated enclave. Within the enclave are two houses, a new, two bedroom, two bathroom house, called "Bambú", for the grove of bamboo behind it. It's new, attractive, well kept and sleeps up to seven guests, if two sofa beds are deployed. There's even a small swimming pool.

One of two bedrooms in "Bambú"

Sala of Bambú
Casa Bambú to the left
About a block away,closer to the footbridge crossing is the more compact, modest, rustic "La Cabaña", sleeping up to five guests. There is a loft, reached by a narrow spiral ladder where there are three beds, best suited to agile youths.

La Cabaña

We returned across the footbridge to the grounds of El Gorjeo.

"El Nido" is a cozy studio apartment on "el primer piso", about midway down the hill from the parking lot to the dining area. This appealed to my romantic side as a snug "love nest" for love birds. It's also closest to the dining area.

El Nido bedroom
I should note that all are equipped with at least basic kitchenettes, although in some, stoves have yet to be installed. Rodrigo told us, "They are coming." Besides, breakfast at El Gorjeo is included in the rates! 

Rodrigo then showed us one more house, "La Casita", a rancho style building on the hilltop, fairly close to the parking lot and behind their own spacious house. It has two bedrooms. The main attraction for me is the ample porch.
La Casita
La Casita porch
Rodrigo told us that the price for any of the lodgings includes breakfast at El Gorjeo. The cost is $1000 pesos, notwithstanding the number of guests.



Food: ****

Service: *****

Ambience: *****++!

Cost: $-$ 1/2 (Each $ is approximately $100 pesos per person.)

Lodgings are unrated as we have not stayed there yet.

La Mesa de Blanca
01 423 59 30355
01 423 59 303 56

El Gorjeo de Las Aves En Las Mañanas de Abril

01 423 59 301 47

Sr. Rodrigo Lemus Lemus
Sra. Chef Blanca Vidales de Lemus

The lodgings have the same telephone numbers.


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Monday, November 18, 2013

Super Tacos de Guisados en la Calle de Puebla, México, D.F.

I have long been a proponent of street food in Mexico being the best representation of the country's culinary heritage, with the exception of comida casera. But I have to confess that when I read my recent reviews, that we have been eating more and more in moderate to upmarket restaurants.

While staying recently at the Hotel Embassy in Colonia Roma Norte, México, D.F., at Calle de Puebla #115, near the intersection of Calle Orizaba, I went out one morning hungry, looking for something good to eat, yet uncomplicated.

There are numerous street food options in the couple of blocks along Calle de Puebla, but at 7:30 a.m. most are still setting up and have nothing ready. You can get juices and tortas, and that's about all. But, what's this? A tidy stand with a young man working behind the counter, and a sign, "SUPER TACOS DE GUISADOS". Before me were about six to eight steam table pans, each filled with attractive prepared hot foods.

Some were strange and unknown to me. Others were immediately recognizable.

A few of the guisados offered
Calabacitas con queso panela—easy!
These two were easy for beginners. Arturo, the young chef, made me a couple of tacos from the champiñones (mushrooms). Each taco has two tortillas to support the generous contents: first a large spoonful of nicely made yet simple arroz a la Mexican; then the guisado of choice.

Chicharrón, left; arroz, right
Of the guisados I had, they were not picante, and if anything, somewhat under seasoned. If you desire more spice, there are bowls of condiments to give your taco a boost.

A fresh salsa verde—picante
Salsa negra—not very picante
Fresh chiles and onions in lime juice—muy picante!
Let's move to guisados for advanced palates.

Mollejas (gizzards) with nopales.
Riñones. (Kidneys, no foolin')

I had a taco of mollejas con nopales. Not bad, not anything special. I passed up the kidneys.

Picadillo was good. (I tried these over three differnt mornings, not all in one sitting.

Rather than describe the regular guisados and changing daily specials, I offer you this slide show.


Food: ****

Service: Fast and friendly. *****

Hygiene: generally good, but sometimes, laxness in money, then food handling. I didn't get sick, after three enjoyable meals there.

Specialties: try the Chiles Jalapeño relleno de queso Oaxaca.

Price: Super Bargain! Each plump taco is only $8 pesos.

Wine list: very limited, but refrescos are available. ;-)

Location: Calle de Puebla, south side, about halfway between Calle Orizaba and Calle  Jalapa.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Power Breakfast with Cardenal Palma

El Cardenal, Calle Palma 23 Centro. Image from restaurant website.
Years had elapsed since we first breakfasted at Restaurante El Cardenal, on Calle Palma, in Mexico City's Centro Histórico. We had some good memories of that first visit, and less good ones of our comida there at a later date.

But more recently, in fact, on Thursday, November 7, 2013, we again breakfasted at El Cardenal, this time with two of mis cuñadas, who had flown into Mexico City in order to visit us in our Michoacán retreat.

Las Tres Hermanas
The afternoon before, we had a very enjoyable comida with our friend Sra. LMS at Fonda La Veracruzana, in Colonia Roma. The hallowed halls of El Cardenal, matriz, could hardly be more different than the casual, sunny ambiance of La Veracruzana.

We like the main, original El Cardenal in Mexico City Centro for its air of subdued formality, the stained glass vitrales, the antique curving staircase; the ceremonious pouring of the famed chocolate o café; the offering of the justly famous pan dulce. The sweet breads, the chocolate and the natas (clotted cream) are all made in house.

Antique staircase
After the introductory course of rich pan dulce, you may elect to have an egg dish or if truly hungry, one of the more substantial meat based dishes offered on the menu.

This is a cazuela de huevos en caldo de frijoles negro y queso panela, chosen by Doña Cuevas.

Here is an Omelet de Flor de Calabasa y Queso, con un Tamalito de Pollo, as selected by Joan, my oldest cuñada.

Flautas de Cordero, chosen by Wendy, my youngest cuñada. Crisp tortillas wrapped around shreds of lamb.

I had Tasajo Enchilado con Frijoles Negros, a substantial dish, suitable to fortify me for the long walking tour which we would continue that day.This was a tender flank steak, in a savory but mild chile gravy; different from the typical, thin, salt-cured tasajo of Oaxaca.

This was perhaps the most enjoyable meal we have had at El Cardenal, nearly flawless, attentive service and very good food.


Food: ****1/2

Service: *****

Price: $$+ (La Cuenta)

Ambience: Old school tie.

Palma #23, Centro Histórico,
Entre 5 de Mayo y Francisco I. Madero.
Tel. 55218815 al 17 y 55213080

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