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Everything posted by stellabella

  1. but there a very few real intown walking neighborhoods--and if you live in one--say downtown decatur area, and want to go to another, say va/highlands, you have to drive to it. and even though the distance isn't all that far, depending on the time of day, it can take well over a half hour to get there. that's my great complaint about atlanta, and why i disagreed with an earlier remark about alpharetta not being in atlanta. i can't claim to be a native atlantan, but i lived in inman park and va'highlands and midtown for nine years. of course the midtown area is distinctly different from marietta, but in terms of dining/eating out, it almost doesn't matter where the place is--at least eight times out of ten you're gonna have to drive to it--and because atlanta's roads are so crowded [this is statistically true--we're up at the top of the list of americans who spend the most time in our cars], driving the freeway up past the perimeter might not take any longer than traveling from ansley park to cabbage town. of course in any community there will be local eateries that attract local clientele. that just stands to reason. all i am saying, i think, is that when it comes to eating out, it doesn't hardly matter where a place is located; if you need food fast, you go for what's close, if you can, but the typical atlantan does NOT live within walking distance of good food. so driving to alpharetta in some cases is as easy as driving to midtown. about taqueria del sol. i keep seeing this place getting glowing write-ups, and i drove past it at 7:3- on wednesay night and the lines snaked out into the parking lot. so, are you saying thart this is another one of those fellinis/tortillas type places, where you order up a healthy serving of surly pseudo-hip posturing along with your meal? that's too bad. i'm not a fine diner, so i don't claim to know about fine dining establishments, but over the last decade i've watched buford highway turn into an ethnic/cheap eats lover's dream. in fact i'd say that buford highway and new peachtree road offer some of the most exciting eating in the whole city--here's a sleepy little southern city that has gone ethnic in a really interesting way in a very short time--the choices for food seem endless.
  2. the best breakfasts are those served at fine hotels [sorry-but true]: cafe con leche, pan tostada [a beautiful assortment of rolls and pastries if you're lucky], mantequilla, frutas con yoghurt y granola, huevos. i know it sounds like a typical american style full breakfast, but the difference is in the quality and freshness of the actual components--a fruit platter, for example, consists of slabs of ripe papaya, mango, banana, watermelon, pineapple--which almost make a meal in itself. i like eggs served with tortillas, great combination, or, in ecuador, eggs scrambled with hominy. while honeymooning in guatemala, my husband and i stayed with a relative whose housekeeper fed us the most gorgeous breakfasts every morning, starting with thick slices of crusty whole grain bread, crema and fruit jam--the crema bore no resemblance to the stuff sold in bottles in ethnic groceries--it was thick and held its shape on a spoon. to be honest, i don't know if there's an equivalent available here--it's not sour cream, it's not clotted cream--it's unique. and of course guatemalan coffee..... had very good coffee in mexico, too, as well as hot chocolate [some mornings i'd have both ]. some people really develop a taste for mexican breads and pasties but i have never liked them--for me it's tortillas all the way.
  3. i rather disagree that atlanta has been discussed here as a sleepy city of meat & 3s and barbecue--in fact, that atlanta has been gone for over a decade. and i lament that there never has been much of any discussion about atlanta--high end or no--on this site. dave thomas's recs are good. i like both madras and udipi for very good, cheap authentic southern indian cuisine. i haven't tried vietnam house but bien thuy is an old standard favorite. nuevo laredo cantina is still an atmospheric place to go for tex mex. the angel pub in decatur serves decent draft ales & okay food--but the attempt at an english style "local" pub in a city as devoted to giant suvs as atlanta is frankly silly--just try to overlook that aspect of it. on that note also in decatur is the brickhouse pub--the food is rather shite but the draft ales are decent, and it's a neat place--AND getting a real neighborhood feel to it--lots of locals actually walk to it on a regular basis. the best bar in atlanta, still, after all these years, is manuel's. in fact, it's one of the best bars anywhere, but i may only feel that way because i lived near it and frequented it for so many years. it is truly a locals' hang-out. the draft beers are decent, and the bar food is good & grubby. don't go to manuel's in search of a dainty cocktail however. chef spencer should have stopped by manuel's that sunday. flying biscuit still serves a good breakfast, but i have had some genuinely bad supper there. i do NOT recommend it. alfredos and ninos are old standard atlanta "italian" joints, old dapper waiters and hearty average fare. i read a write a write up recently praising fellini's pizza. many years ago--literally light years ago--when it was still the single most self-consciously hip eatery in town, the waitress, clearly a hard-up junkie, short-changed me and when i confronted her she acted like she was going to beat me up. i have never been back. i knew too much about the guys who started that place at one time. rocky's pizzeria was a long time favorite, but i hear rocky passed away. unfortunate circumstances. right next to the old VA/Highlands location os alon's bakery--still one of the best in the city. i used to work with alon when he was pastry chef at the old Murphy's location--he made terrific desserts and when he left he took many of his recipes with him--there was no love lost between him and old tom murphy. now, they tell me murphy's has a new menu and chef, and the place is as successsful as ever. as a former employee [i slung hash there for 5 years] i can tell you that his success may be attributed to the fact that he sold his soul to the devil. i can't bring myself to eat there, but i might change my mind. i've been to nava several times--i think it's a bit precious and high-priced for what you get. most everyone i know in atlanta still likes thai chili best for thai food--on briarcliff road. i very rarely eat in the city anymore, and i can't speak at all about the high-end places. recently i had supper at a new italian bistro in conyers, la luna--the chef came from veni vidi vici--the food was hit or miss, but when it hit it was really good--i had the best gnocchi i've had anywhere--as light and tender as clouds, in cremini and shitake cream. the grilled tenderloin is nice, too. they're really proud of their focaccia, but i thought it was chewy and greasy. their olives tasted like they were out of a can.
  4. internet cafes are ubiquitous, but they're not reliable. it's not uncommon to sit typing for an hour and find you've lost the connection--just like that--and lost all your work, as well. electricity can be intermittent in many communities--so just imagine the havoc that wreaks for internet access.
  5. elmo, if you look like brad pitt, then i look like geena davis. but i gotta tell you, nothing does it for me like a young dark-eyed mexican boy, say 18 years old......... oops, better stop before i look like a fool. opps, too late.
  6. jaymes, i'm thinking margaritas after we find a posada. pero, es verdad, a mi me gustan margaritas....
  7. well, guess who's riding shotgun? first and foremost, we'll [i'll] be in search of the perfect margarita...
  8. thea, i am really mesmerized by your posts. sorry it took me so long to find them. i especially like reading about the memela and huarache lady in puebla. so true. IMO the greatest hindrance to norteamericanos diving right in to the local cuisines is fear of getting sick. my husband won't eat a tlayuda from a street vendor if you put a gun to his head. [really]. the cocineras selling tamales and ensalada de nopales in market corners or on sidewalks have prepared the food in their own kitchens. reading your posts is making me hungry and sad.
  9. i ate a lot of asiento in oaxaca this summer--not always by choice--it was smeared in the tlayudas. thea--thanks for explaining where it comes from--i did not know! but i did know that the lard used in mexican kitchens is runny and brownish looking, often kept in a plastic baggy inside another plastic tub. and it can be expensive. i have no idea how anyone could produce a vegetarian tamale. i have tried making tamales once this summer and i substituted my own rendered duck fat for the lard. the flavor was pretty good. but the texture is tricky--the lard has to be beaten into the masa with a strong arm.
  10. considering that this is a website dedicated to the appreciation of food, and considering that you are a sponser, i guess i would have expected you to be more willing to engage in a critical discussion of the obesity epidemic as it is related to increasing portion sizes, availability of cheap high-fat low-nutrient foods, etc. but your reaction seems to me to be two-fold: to pooh-pooh the claims that this is anything more than some anti-american conspiracy, and to dismiss any evidence presented by anyone to the contrary. as i have picked my way through this thread i have noticed that you seem to be all over the board about the issue. in my first post i claimed that fast food is partly to blame--there is certainly a link between fast food consumtion and rising BMI. your response to me was to stop giving homework and to give data, instead. then you asked how i could implicate fast food as a cause for obesity in the US when it clearly isn't causing obesity in other countries. i'll paraphrase: if people in other countires where fast food is limitedly available are getting more obese, then fast food can't be the cause of increasing obesity in the US. that's called false logic. it's possible that the casues for obesity in two different countires are entirely different. for instance, the polynnessians are heavy largely because their diets are so high in palm oil--more saturated than pig lard--and in the 70s Nixon's farm secretary helped broker expansion of palm oil importation into the US market, where it immediately became in high demand among snack foods manufacturers. it's true that obesity is increasing across the socioeconomic board, but it also still the case that the obese are disproportionately poor. southern babtists are heavier than atheists. southerners are heavier than everyone else in the nation. on and on. the causes of increasing obesity are many and complex and in some cases inter-related. fast food is certainly implicated, as are Dolly Madison and Hostess, TV, irresponsibility, wide-spread availability of cheap foods, ignorance, genetics, etc. and though Shaw admonished me for it, I will suggest again that anyone really concernd about this issue take the time to do some reading on it, as there's way more relevant info than anyone could ever present in this thread. i did claim and will claim again that this debate heretofore has been largely uninformed--which is not the same thing as saying that the people participating are uninformed. i have noticed that a few folks, like hobbes, have tried to present some controversial information, for some reason feeling they have to apologize for it. this doesn't feel like a free and open discusssion to me. call me paranoid, but i feel that i have been warned by the head guy to butt out. one final point, unrelated to the content, more to the style. as a left-leaning advocate for the marginalized, i have little patience with the tendency of those right-of-center advocates of anti-human and mean-spirited agendas to bully and intimidate and derail opponents in order to avoid having to take responsibility for their lack of compassion. when one bandies about the term "personal responsibility," one is implying that the obese adult can remain fat and lazy or he can choose to eat better and exercise more--helping him make better choices is not the role of the government. but what about the obese adult's family? his children are more likely to become obese--and if he is personally reposnisibly for them, then it may be convenient to call their ill-health his shame, not ours. but for one thing, i know that many people reading this thread do feel compassion for the 4, 5, 6 six year old child, who isn't being raised by "responsible" parents. it's one thing for the govt to harden its heart against adults and preach personal responisbility--it's another not to intervene to try to reduce the damage caused to the next generation. rather than a bleeding heart, i'm more of a pragmatist. in addition to being a political issue, and a "human" issue, this is a public health issue as well, and it's only a matter of time before everyone begins to feel the real cost, in terms of rising insurance premiums and drug prices, of the obesity epidemic. the way i see it, shaw, you really blew it here not advocating a more concerned proactive response to the obesity problem. this is a food site and this issue is totally relevant.
  11. funny, shaw--you're behaving like one of my students. i haven't been indicted--i'm not on the stand--and you're not cross-examinging a witness. how about that, big boy? i made it clear that i wasn't going to present evidence. i am not going to "explain" to you why obesity is on the rise in nations where people don't eat fast food. that information is available to anyone who wants to find it. one can gather the information from as many disparate sources as one likes and then begin to have an informed debate. i was making a different point, that thus far this has been a relatively uninformed "debate," with an occasional attempt to interject some valid and germane data, which you then, as far as i can tell, dismiss. when bright adults have debates, they typically are able to cede ground occasionally. you don't. if you want me to step out of the teacher mode--i'd kindly ask you to step out of the lawyer mode. it's unfair and unproductive in this case. i posed a very difficult and very important question--why are the economically disadvantaged disproportionately obese? the answer is extraordinarily complex, but to begin it does have to do with the availability of cheap, high-fat and high-sugar convenience foods in poor neighborhoods, with decisions made consciously by marketers and executives within the fast food companies to increase portion sizes, to give folks a lot more food at a minimal increase in actual cost, playing to the notion that more for less is more and better, which americans have absoutely bought into. have portion sizes at the local mom and pop joint increased over the last thrity years? i don't know, but portion sizes at McD's have--demonstrably--an "adult" serving of fries has increased from @ 250 to @600 calories since McD's began selling them. when portions became supersized, people began consuming more calories. before supersizing undoubtedly there were people who ate two or three burgers and orders of fries at a time, but the majority of consumers were comsuming one serving size--now "one" serving size delivers more than twice the calories it did 25 years ago. to say i disagree with your position--what is your position, exactly? that there's no evidence that--what?--that anything is making us fatter? but we are fatter--this is a front burner issue, as you say. but it's because--what? the air has become more caloric? when some of us have argued that fast food is partly or even largely to blame, you argue that there's no evidence. should we argue that perhaps celery is to blame? unleaded gasoline? beanie babies? what answer would you like to hear? that we're too sedentary? that's been argued , too. why is that a better answer? because it falls under the category of "personal responsibility"? or maybe you'd like to hear that we're not fat at all--that the figures have been renormed and skewed to misrepresent us as fat people when in fact we're no fatter than we ever were, which again is not true because in measures of BMI and average height/ weight we do weigh more than we did 30 years ago. this is a maddening conversation. it's such a very serious issue but almost every attempt to explain gets pooh-poohed.
  12. this is the most rational point you've made yet--but it also begs the question, which NO ONE has touched--Why are the economically impoverished more likely to be obese? foode recommended Greg Critser's Fatland. i just finished it and recommend that anyone wishing to participate in this debate read it and then return to the table--not that it is the definitive word on american obesity--but becuase after reading it at least you'll have some place from which to start making rational points--rather than assuming and tossing out IMOs. i don't agree with his entire premise, but mostly he's right on and his basic underlying argument--borne out rather frighteningly in this thread--is that americans are in deep denial about obesity. back to the begged question. many want to throw around the term "personal responsibility." in this case then one needs to be prepared to argue that EVERYONE--rich or poor, educated or not, has the same options available to them, access to the same information, the same ability to make the "right" choices for themselves and their families. the poor are equally able to choose to eat rice and beans and grilled chicken, as opposed to a quick bag of palm-oil and fructose-infused fast food from McD's. those that choose burgers are just being stupid, or irresponsible, poor people, right? and exercise is free, too, right? one needn't buy an expensive gym membership to get in shape, right? poor people who choose not to rise early before heading off to the factory--or the welfare lines--for a brisk jog are just being irresponsible, right? if this is an educated comminty, then i assume we all know that the probelm is far more complex and i'm being very reductionistically wry. this is not only a health issue, this is a political and socieconomic issue. oh, and there's no evidence that fast food is contributing to rising obesity? fatguy, i can't take you seriously when you make such a claim. you're smarter than that. the evidence is out there. hobbes, you presented a good start. foode & i suggested a book--and there are countless others. instead of asking hobbes and others to dispense the burden of the doubt--everyone else might want to do some research of their own, as well.
  13. i ate lots of entomatadas and enfrijoladas in oaxaca--this is comida corrida, for sure. instead of being baked, the bean-dipped tortillas were folded into triangles and layered on the plate, topped with crumbled requeson and sliced onion, served very warm. flash-frying the tortillas in hot oil should prevent them from getting too mushy.
  14. a ustedes-- por supuesto, por supuesto! um...miguelito and i are planning to go into atlanta this week and thoroughly scope the ethnic hispanic markets. my guess is that it's possible to buy the dried corn and lime and make one's own masa--or buy masa dough, refrigerated or frozen--i'll update this when i find out. i have a gas stove and the comal i purchased is fairly small--it needs to be set over flames--an electric range doesn't seem like it would work. again i tell you these things are miraculous--the heat distributes uniformly--the mexican comals often appear white [and/or charred] and this is more lime-- they are painted with lime for two reasons: it creates a non-stick surface AND it adds calcium to the diet--yet another example of the incredible economy of mexican culture--everything used, nothing wasted. i also suggest buying yourself an olla if available--i plan to--too damn big to carry home on a plane, though. ususally the terra-cotta-colored ceramic, glazed on the outside, but not interior--used for simmering moles and boiling frijoles--another miraculous utensil as the heat distributes all the way up to but just short of the handles--which can still be grasped without pot-holders. many people are concerned about lead in cheap local earthenware pottery--but i was told by a very reliable source that, while inconclusive, studies suggest mexicans who use this pottery have lower levels of lead in their blood than we here in el norte--common sense dictates two cautions: don't cook highly acidic foods and don't store anything in them--otherwise they're fine to use, not to mention beautiful.
  15. The first food I hope to replicate in mi cocina encantada is masa: Bueno, chicitas, I am pretty sure I have this straight-- masa is maiz cocido con cal--en ingles, dried fat corn kernals, what the Mexicans refer to as maiz, cooked in an olla with water and cal until the kernals become tender and the tough hulls start to blister and fall away. Mi marido bought a bag of the cal [lime] so that we can really try this at home. Next, the cooked kernals are ground on a metate, while wet, to a sludege-y paste--depending on your preference, or your patience, this paste, fine or a little grainy, is your masa, gets patted into tortillas and thrown onto the comal--and that, mis amigas, is a tortilla--no more, no less. In Zapoteca masa is called nixtamal--and if you listen carefully you will hear this word used more often than you'd think, even though in the city proper there aren't many folks speaking Zapotec. Okay, so lesson one: masa is maiz cooked with lime then ground to a paste for...tortillas, tamales, etc. We can all get the same info from Rick Bayless, but it was one heck of a lot more fun to learn it from Rosita, in the very heart of Mexico..... I bought a comal for $5 from Susana--sure I might have gotten it for a less at the mercado, but they wrapped it in cardboard and bubble wrap for me and I GOT IT HOME. Last night I used it to roast some peppers and garlics and onions from the garden--the comal is miraculous--if you live in the vicinity of good ethnic Mexican markets, see if you can't find one. The books all say that for tortilla making you could use a cast iron skillet in a pinch, but the comal is a different animal. ANd used for everything--spices get toasted before they're ground in the molcajetes, etc. Another word on metates: I heard this from everyone--in most families there are at least three: one for masa, one for moles, and one for chocolate--for purposes of purity, of course!
  16. Pardon any redundancies--my post will certainly draw from much of what has been written here already. I just returned from three weeks in the city of Oaxaca, studying Spanish, attending cooking classes, eating, living. I attended the ICO, Jaymes's recommended school. The teachers were excellent, the staff professional & bilingual/cultural, helpful, the curriculum superb. My cultural activity, in addition to four hours daily of instruction, was a cooking class that met for one and a half hours four nights a week, in the school kitchen, with a charming abuelita named Rosita: she walked us through the preparation of atole, memelitas, mole amarillo, chilaquiles, arroz con leche and tamales [with frijoles or epazote]--home-cooking, simple foods, but for students on a budget this is a good way to get a free meal out of the program. I skipped two days of class to attend Susana Trilling's classes at her ranch in Etla. For $75 I was picked up at my posada and taken to the market, then to the ranch for an afternoon of cooking and eating, then brought back to the city again @ 8 pm. The first week we met on Wednesday at the Etla market, myself and three other couples, including one young couple from Brooklyn, on their honeymoon, and she just happened to be a Martha Stewart Living food editor. The next week we met on Tuesday at the Abastos market in Oaxaca--Tuesday because Susana was leaving the next day to give a class in NYC--and this class was huge, including the pastry chef from a famous San Antonio restaurant and a whole cadre of other folks who knew jack, and I mean this literally, about food and cooking, but who had learned about the classes from their Fodor's guides. Attending the class twice, being part of two such distinct groups, my best advice about these [or any classes] is that they're going to be largely determined by the other folks attending. I expected to be at the very low end in terms of knowledge, expertise, etc., and I wasn't--but then, I probably sell myself short. Most annoying for me was having to spend time in a van next to an idiotic American making inane comments such as, "The only thing I don't like about Hispanics is the way they treat their animals," and then, back at the ranch, as Susana described the dishes we were to prepare and passed ingredients for us to sniff and fondle, exclaiming, "Well, I think I'd prefer THIS dish without the star anise!" You get the picture. And I noticed that Susana and her staff responded very differently to the two groups. I think a great deal of her--she is a funky woman, very earthy and very warm, but also la mama, as she herself admits, the person in charge of the show. We prepared mole rojo the second week--I jumped into that group, along with most of the men who were participating--it was certainly the most labor intensive dish, and the one I felt I most needed walked through. After the mole is blended [and they use a real molino], it gets dumped into sparking-hot lard in a giant olla over coals--NO gas burners! Some of you asked about lard--the stuff we used, what is referred to in Oaxaca as aciendo, is an off-white opaque pourable mess often stored in plastic baggies--my understanding is that lard is expensive for most people and therefor treated quite like a valuable commodity--it's also used in the preparation of the tlayuda--the large corn tortilla smeared with aciendo and black bean sauce, shredded quesillo, maybe some chicken, then folded and grilled on the comal til crispy and dripping--delicious and muy rico. After cooking everyone at the ranch gathers for the meal, which is served by Oscar, Susana's charming maitre'd, and guests have the option of enjoying and sampling as many mezcals as they like--Susana sells el rey zapoteco reposadas and cremas--I bought small bottles of the quince and passion flower cremas--delightfully fragrant-- plan to use in place of cointreau in my margaritas. As for mezcals--mi marodo y yo brought home eight bottles, mostly reposados, but one good anejo I managed to sample in the Sunday market in Tlacolula. Everyone has a different take on mezcal, what it is or isn't, and how it differs from tequila--most say tequila is the mezcal made from the agave azul of the Tequila region, often aged in oak barrels, giving the anejo the golden color. But many mezcals produced in Oaxaca are fine and smooth, indeed, saltier than tequila, and with a long slow burn. Best to look for those that are fermented naturally after cooking, for seven days, rather than artificially fermented with nitrates. A good place to pick up some good bottles--all of which may be sampled first-- is La Cava in Oaxaca on Gomez Farias. I did not eat at El Naranjo--the place written up in Bon Apetit, the place that is all the rage these days--Iliana also offers cooking classes. I heard a lot about it--good and bad--good food but noveau, not real Oaxaqueno food, and real Oaxaquenos don't eat there--whether that's true or not I don't know--I didn't eat there because it's a couple blocks south of the Zocala [my posada was nine blocks north] and, well, there are MANY other good places to eat in the city. Chief among them: if it's a grand meal you want, and don't mind shelling out $25 or so, try Catedral on Morelos--my vote for the BEST margaritas in the city, and the cuitlacoche crepes are unforgettable, as are the tamoles de etole. I also like El Asador Vasco because , c'mon, you gotta have at least one meal on the balcony over-looking the zocalo--the waitresses are gorgeous, no-nonsense matrons, but the margaritas are water-y. I took a lot of cheap meals on the fly: I adored Maria Bonita on Alcala--the entire staff consists of teenaged girls in blue jeans with giant crooked smiles, the food simple and traditional--this is a great place for a leisurely breakfast in the back patio. West of Alcala on Vigil is a pretty hotel with a nice cheap restaraunt, Los Arcos--I liked this place because it was quiet and empty, the balcony totally enclosed by brilliant fuschia bougainvillea. My Oaxacan friends name Cafe Olla, on Reforma, as their favorite restaurant--mid-priced, un-fussy presentation, adorable staff, charming and colorful interior--mostly traditional oaxacan dishes--AND the woman who owns it ALSO offers cooking classes. I have reams of advice, but neither the time nor inclination to post it all here, so I'll try to make the most important points: * avoid the 20 November and Juarez markets--get a cab, or walk, if you are accompanied, to Abastos--and sample the tamales from the women squatting near the food stalls--also try some of the prepared salads from the women who have regular tables--get a large fresh tortilla and have la vendedora fill it with ensalada de nopales, the delicious, baba-y cactus leaf, and steamed quelites, field greens--drizzle some salsa, wrap it up and go. * stroll west on Morelos the 3 or 4 blocks to the neveria park in front of the Soledad Basilica--a carnival-like atmosphere, almost a dozen families courting your business, and therefore each one serving something truly delightful. The nieve is Oaxacan ice cream, but it isn't ice cream--it isn't gelato, and it isn't sorbet--although you're gonna hear folks using all these analogies to try to describe these incredible icey sweets--the traditional flavor is the smoked milk leche quemada, with a little tuna [made with the brilliant scarlet cactus flesh] on top--but I quickly became addicted to chocolate and cajeta. DON'T miss these. * go salsa dancing at Candela--arrive @ 9 for some cheap lessons--if you're like me, you'll need them--get dressed up, be pretty, and be prepared to stay up all night dancing your fanny off--great fun--even if you don't dance--the professionals who command the floor are breathtakingly gorgeous and skillful-- * shop at MARO--Mujeres Artesanales Regionlas de Oaxaca, a crafts cooperative, on Cinco de Mayo--the proceeds go to the women from various communities across the state--prices are reasonable, selection huge. Oaxaca is a gringo town and there are many high-priced boutiques with gorgeous pieces for sale--if you have the money and don't care who it goes to, shop wherever you like--but with a little effort you can give your money directly to the artisans--spend a few days browsing and comparing prices and you'll see what I mean--the Magic Hand has great stuff and it's run by funky hippies--but they are charging four times more than folks right across the street. If you really want to see folks at work and buy roght from the artist, you can hire cabs to Teotitlan or Ocotlan, for examplel amd go right to weavers' homes. Another option is to visit the small towns on their market days--there you'll have artisans bringing in their pieces from all over--and of course, the foods are incredible, especially locally grown and roasted coffees. * chocolate--notice those molinos lining the wall? Don't buy the pre-packaged stuff--order your own chocolate al gusto--tell them how much sugar you want, how much almond, canela, etc--the Oaxacan chocolate tends to be VERY sweet--if you have your chocloate custom-ground ask for about 1/2 to 3/4 kilo of sugar to every kilo of cacao, or less, even, if you are a die-hard bittersweet chocolate fan. In about six hours or so it will start to harden--mold it into small balls or patties and then seal in baggies for your trip home--otherwise you'll end up with one huge leaden block of petrified chocolate. Buen Provecho--Oaxaca is beautiful--enjoy!
  17. why haven't we talked?! patzcuaro is my favorite mexican town. don't you love how there's that little local pottery market behind the main zocalo--you'd never know about it unless you stumbled onto it. the pottery is low-temp fired and therefore very fragile, some of it anyway. and the glaze can be uneven and i'm sure some might suspect problems with lead. i have mine on the walls. some lovely artisanal work.
  18. masa harina is NOT corn meal--the corn is soaked in lime then dried and then ground--most recipes [for tamales, etc] call for masa harina, not just corn meal--that is, if you can get it. the difference in flavor is obvious. that said--i'm no "expert" but have eaten a lot of food in mexico. there's no comparison between the tortillas on your grocer's shelf and a hand-patted fresh tortilla taken from a cloth-lined basket, thrown on the comal for a few seconds and sprinkled with a little mined salt. i prefer corn tortillas. i eat lots of them, being a taco freak and also often in-a-hurry. there've been evenings when i've turned the heat on under my cast iron [i keep three skillets stacked on the stove and i use them for almost EVERYTHING] and stood at the stove heating tortillas til the cheese inside melts, stuffing them in my mouth til i'm too full to eat any more. i always sprinkle them generously with some rock salt or fleur de sel. the salt really makes the tortilla. jaymes and snowangel--i wish my mom had fed me quesadillas. i think the wonder bread/grilled cheese=flour tortilla quesadilla "analogy" is silly and irrelevant.
  19. Hilda's Friend's Almond Shortbread 3/4 c melted butter 1-1/2 c sugar 1-1/2 c flour 2 beaten eggs pinch salt 1 tsp almond extract Mix butter and sugar til creamy; add aggs and mix well; add flour, salt and extract and mix well. Grease your standard cast-iron skillet and line completely with foil. Pour the stiff batter in and spread it to the sides. Sprinkle the top generously with slivered almonds and more sugar. Bake @ 350 30 mins. Cool completely before removing. Notes: this is so easy it's addictive. I use the Kitchenaid and pretty much just dump in the ingredients in the proper order and let the machine do all the work. I recommend taking the pan out after 25 min. and checking that your oven isn't cooking too fast. The top of the cookies will brown only VERY slightly. You might think they aren't done and want to stick them back in for 5-10 minutes--DON'T. Becasue I was making them during a cold spell, I took the skillet out on the porch and let them cool overnight. Once completely cool they set and firm up. Cut them into thin slivers and serve them with coffee or tea or alongside another dessert like chocolate mousse. These are the best cookies I've discovered in a LONG time. They are like a rich, soft chewy biscotti. Hope you like them, too. Keywords: Dessert, Cookie ( RG413 )
  20. stellabella


    in fact, in many parts of the world eggs aren't refrigerated. i use raw eggs [from local chickens] in chocolate mousse. no one has complained. how risky is this, really? curious.
  21. if you make jam be sure you're working on a clear day with low humidity. foole: throw some rosemary and ginger and nutmeg and what-you-like into a glass of sweet wine and let it sit for a couple days, then strain and pour into the bottom of a trifle dish; layer whipped cream [with a little wine in it] and fresh berries til the bowl is full. i don't use much sugar-- sweeten to your preference. in two months do this again with blueberries.
  22. Frida's fiestas is a good one--Lupe Rivera is Diego's daughter. I have cooked several recipes from it and they were all good. The biographical bits about Frida are interesting, too, but very sanitized.
  23. when i first started hanging out in new orleans in 1988, because my best friend moved down to go to LSU, we thought le madeleine and camilla grill were cool. but then we realized that they were tourist attractions, and le madelaine is a chain, so they were no longer cool. but in retrospect i remember that both places were new and different to me at the time. as for cafe du monde in the quarter, it's well situated, and a great place to sit and sober up on a beautiful sunny afternoon. and everyone should have the pleasure, at least once, of blowing powdered sugar from one's beignets all over one's companions.
  24. when i'm in Latin American Country X i always look for cookbooks--in gift shops, book stores, wherever books are sold. and it's hard to find cookbooks translated into english.
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