Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

El Cardenal in Centro Histórico

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Be prepared for a 40-60 min wait or even longer. It would have been wonderful to try out all their dishes to find a few personal favorites. In our sampling, the mole sauce turned out to be stunning.

Fresh Oxacan cheese sauteed in butter, wrapped in zucchini blossoms, onions and strips of green chili and baked in banana leaves. Served with tacos. The fresh cheese is lightly salted, crumbly and not unlike taste of Indian paneer. Zucchini blossoms do not have a strong taste but they add prettiness to the dish. Served with an excellent green salsa and fresh made corn tortilla. Overall, a refreshing start of the meal. We had sufficient leftover that we brought back and had for breakfast the next day.

A stunning mole sauce with chicken leg. Mole had several varieties of chili, chocolate, spices, and peanuts. Chicken was cooked separately and mole was ladled on top.

Fall off the bone beef shank cooked in traditional spices. This was tasty but not unusual like the mole. Perhaps my own familiarity with south Asian spices made this particular dish less unusual. Again there was sufficient leftover that we brought back and had as part of breakfast tacos!

Written by locomotoring

January 3, 2016 at 9:44 pm

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Los Danzantes in Coyoacán

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Los Donzantes came after the visit to Casa Azul. Along with excellent food, this was our first experience with Mezcal. It turns out that Donzantes brand is one of the more popular mezcal brands. Mezcal is a whisky like alcohol made exclusively from agave cacti. It is almost always smoky.  The variety of agave results in other particular flavors.  Smoothness depends on the distillation and maturation process. It is sipped like a good brandy and between sips, you can cleanse your palate with salt – typically you get sliced sweet limes to suck down the salt. Grasshopper salt is traditional but not served as default. I would have to guess that the price of mezcal is proportional to the wildness of the agave variety (hence hard to produce in large batches) and romance around the brand is based on the remoteness of the distillery.

Up until Donzantes, my familiarity with agave was the grand flowering process. Near our old home, our neighbor’s agave, which was nearly as tall as me, bloomed over course of an year. My best guess is that it was Agave Americana variety,  the flowering stalk was as tall as a telephone pole. The plant died after the flowering process (their reproductive fate) and gave birth to a dozen small ones. I have always loved cacti, but after tasting mezcal, I am elevating my love for agave to the same level as my love for elephants. And please don’t head towards extinction, I promise I will drink wild mezcal in moderation.

Los Donzantes happens to be next to the beautiful Fuente de Los Coyotes in Jardin Centenario. So, in addition to their excellent Mezcal, al fresco dining without smoke and gasoline to flavor your meal is actually feasible here.

Fuente de Los Coyotes in Jardin Centenario

Early start to Mezcal, this is one of Donzantes reposado house brand.

Early finish to Mezcal!

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Written by locomotoring

January 2, 2016 at 8:34 pm

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Real tamales in Mexico City

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Monasterio Tamales is a small food stall a few blocks from Frida Kahlo Museum. Perfect place to lunch before queuing up for the museum visit. And oh, these are the genuine article – fluffiness that can’t be brought about by “healthy” fats. A lunch that cost us a grand total of USD $4 for four tamales.

Savory tamales

Sweet tamales? I didn’t know this concept existed. But it makes perfect sense in hindsight.

We had ordered shrimp but I think they either ran out of shrimp that day or gave us a vegetarian option.

Cuitlacoche – famous tar-like corn fungus. We had our first taste of this fungus at a hole in the wall in LA. Since then, we have ordered Cuitlacoche anywhere we have seen it on the menu.


Guava (Guayaba) – this was surprisingly yummy. They had basically taken the guava pulp and discarded the seeds.

Written by locomotoring

January 2, 2016 at 7:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

El Parnita in Mexico City

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El Parnita was our first meal in Mexico City. Lunch in Mexico City commences around 2 pm – like in Barcelona. We arrived before the restaurant had opened. But the place filled up soon enough. Dogs and kids were welcome – we had two young babies on one side and a Mexican hairless dog on the other. Several other multi-generational families were present, this place is clearly popular with locals.

We started lunch with guanabana juice and ordered several tacos. Aside from the traditional Tlacoyos, the tacos were served on blue corn tortillas. Garbanzo Bertha was perhaps the most unusual although given the influence of lebanese cooking in carnitas, the addition of hummus shouldn’t have been surprising. Pibil sauce on fish felt unusual but to be honest, I have only had pibil once and that too home made following Robert Rodriguez’s puerco pibil recipe nearly a decade ago – from the DVD extra on Once Upon A Time in Mexico!

Our Google translator app managed to translate only 10% of menu but I think we would have been happy even if we had ordered randomly.

Great day outside

Eclectic and cozy inside

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Written by locomotoring

December 24, 2015 at 5:23 am

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A breakfast and a lunch in San Francisco’s Little Italy

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Mama’s on Washington Square. Even for a mid week breakfast, there was a long queue outside.

Mama’s screwdriver is made with grapefruit juice and soju. On yeah, a morning screwdriver is the best way to celebrate middle of the week time off from work. This is completely no-nonsense drink that would provide a buzz long enough to last the trek up to Coit tower.

Mama’s Benedicts. Tasty! Enough energy to last the trip to Coit tower and back and then slump on the luncheon chair at Tony’s Napoletana.

Menu at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. When pizza appears on the menu along with the oven temperature, one has to take it seriously, right?

The gluten free. You could ask, why one even bothers. There is something in the aroma of bread and cheese that is simply put, irresistible. Overall verdict, the dough is not as good as Mariposa’s.

Written by locomotoring

August 15, 2015 at 8:51 am

Chantal Guillon – land of macroon wonder

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Chantal Guillon in Palo Alto Downtown Store front
Blood orange macaroons Guava macaroons

Written by locomotoring

June 29, 2015 at 3:41 am

Posted in Bay Area

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Freedom Wings

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Osmanthus in Oakland was our pick for lunch after the naturalization ceremony in Oakland’s Paramount Theater. Pizza is what we would have celebrated with but with the gluten intolerant microbiota, we decided on Asian cuisine instead. And a modern pan Asian restaurant to celebrate the occasion was perhaps even apt. Of the 1097 fellow Americans who took the oath representing 55% of world’s nations (yes, a whopping total of 109 nations!) over two third were formerly asian.

Oakland, thank you for supporting restaurants like Osmanthas (and Juhu Beach Club and Asmara and …) . And thank you for restoring the Paramount theater and hosting this celebration there. It is an important milestone in our lives and it is extraordinary to share the experience with 1000 others in this stunning old Art Deco theater. It was a solemn occasion with speeches and presidential videos (w/ camera flashes and twittering and cheering!).  Throw in 15 minutes of Charlie Chaplin on the big screen next time or even Walt Disney cartoons and lets us feel the true glory of this beautiful venue, Might even lull the crying babies!

Chicken wings lunch plate with honey ginger glaze.

Dry-fried chicken wings lunch plate with sichuan peppercorns

“Ms Grant” – a gin, ginger, lime and castilian bitters cocktail and “Plum Manhattan” – a rye, vermouth, umeshu, sour cherry bitter cocktail.

Also the basa fish with fermented black beans and “kiang ton” spareribs. Every dish was done expertly with the usual play of textures. Dishes were served with this delicious Japanese style pickled cabbage that elevated this simple vegetable to fine cuisine. The flavors in their fermented beans and sichuan peppers were memorable enough that my taste buds can recall with clarity after 24 hours!

Thinking about the wings now, I would say that only thing that could have made the chicken wings better is if they were Pok-Pok’s. But at the time, after a wonderful glass of Plummy Manhattan, I was happy.

Written by locomotoring

June 25, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Bay Area

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