We got off the plane in Mexico City like two teenagers entering a bar with fake I-D for the very first time. Dancing, giggling teenagers, elated at our newfound and illicit freedom.
Four days on hiatus from family life with my dear friend L, passed too quickly as we absorbed the panoplies of color, indulged in fiestas of tastes and dabbled in orgies of fine drinking.
But lest thou think we spent the entire time dragging ourselves from Mezcal to Tequila bar, think again. Sure, I’d imagined our trip would be filled with late night romps through nightclubs and bars, flitting away the advances of hot Latin flesh with a quick flick of the wrist. But then BING! I quickly awoke from my flights of fancy as reality set in and L and I crawled into bed each night at 11pm, exhausted.
I blame it on the altitude. Our tiredness had absolutely nothing to do with nearing 40, I tell you. Mexico is nestled at over 7,000 feet above sea level, so it takes oxygen a bit longer to reach the brain. And that, my friends, shall be my excuse for the lack of late night antics on this trip.
But hey, instead, our days were filled with exploring the city, the food and…yes…some very colorful drinks.
So, if you have a momentito to join me on our culinary redux, read on!
We got a fabulous half-price deal at the gorgeous boutique hotel Hotel Condesa, in the hub of Mexico City’s artsy community. With breakfast included, each morning we gorged on luscious fruit, fresh yogurt and honey, followed by smoked salmon, prosciutto, bread and quesadillas. Buffets are my favorite!
Day one also transported us to famed fish restaurant, Contramar, a restaurant only open for lunch that serves slatheringly (is that a word?) yummy, fresh fish. Lunch in Mexico starts at around 3pm and lasts as late as 7pm. Reality check! In my normal life, 3pm marks school pick up time, by which moment I’ve usually snarfed down a million helpings of cheese and crackers for lunch. And 7pm is the kiddie pre-bedtime ritual of stories and tooth brushing accompanied by threats of all teeth falling out if complaining ensues.
We reveled in our new “schedule.” A routine focused on us.
No lunches to pack, dinner to make, dishwashers to empty, beds to make, laundry to load.
Just several days to indulge in food, drink and as much sleep as we wanted.
Accompanied at every step by our new best friend, Tequila Reposado. Meet our constant and loving companion, Don Julio:
We ended our epic meal at Contramar by polishing off the most beautiful looking, jewel-toned digestifs:
We were in bed like good little girls by 8pm! After all, we’d woken up at 4.30 am to catch our plane. And the altitude, people, the altitude…
Fried worms. A traditional Mexican delicacy. We ate them. They tasted like dusk and earth. I felt slightly ill. But I survived.
Ah yes, the worm that feeds on the Maguey plant. Or Tacos con Gusanos, as they are lovingly listed on the menu of El Cardenal, the super chic restaurant that also serves grasshopper (they were out that day…dang) and ant eggs or “escamoles.”
Yes, worms. As in: “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I’m going to eat some.” Luckily, they were neither squishy nor mushy nor alive. More like fried, hollow, crunchy bits of pork crackling. That were really worms.
Don’t believe me?
After worms and tequila? A reward for our bravery and drinks on a rooftop terrace overlooking the Zocalo.
We blew our biggest wad of cash eating a six course lunch at Pujol, run by Mexico City’s most famed chef. We finished as the restaurant started setting places for dinner. I have never in my life eaten such beautiful, unusual, delicious and dramatically presented food, using ingredients like cactus flowers, mole, crispy fried tomato skins, baby corn and sprouts lovingly grown by a man named Dante.
Our palate cleanser (don’t you love palate cleansers for their charming insouciance?) was raspberry sorbet doused in Mezcal and set alight at our table. I think I’ll try this in Brooklyn for a bit of light home entertainment next time the boychild complains of being bored.
But dessert proper was the topper.
Only issue: you had to tap the chocolate skull with your spoon to break it and get to the creme within. Feeling like a daintier version of Colonel Kurtz from “Apocalypse Now” in my skull cracking attempts, I got a bit over zealous and managed to land an entire piece of skull cheek on the floor of the restaurant. Precious goods, that chocolate. It is the only time I have ever rescued a piece of food from a restaurant floor, and against the protests of my dining companions, hastily stuffed the tarnished remains into my mouth.
Oh, the horror.
In the morning, the bathroom toilet greeted me with open arms. I shall speak no more on that topic.
We spent the day browsing and shopping at the incredible arts and crafts market at San Angel, a cobblestoned neighborhood on the outskirts of the City, with houses framed by walls creeping with purple gardenias. Diego and Frida lived and worked in this neighborhood from 1934 to 1940, and the area is reminiscent of a Mexican village.
We bought a lot of goodies, and briefly considered opening a store back in Brooklyn. We’d call it D.F. (for Distrito Federal, which Mexico is commonly referred to.) Like the idea?
On our last night, we dined at a simple taqueria:
Home again, home again, jiggedy jig. I was truly so happy to see everyone! Muy relaxed with renewed stores of patience and calm. I even managed to refrain from completely blowing my lid last night when the boychild insisted on drawing out the tooth brushing ritual into a ten minute toothpaste LICKING extravaganza. As he taunted me with his blue sparkly toothbrush, I drew in a deep breath, thought of Don Julio, and instead of rushing him along, conjured my brain at high altitude, yawned, and told him I’d go to bed before he did if he didn’t hurry up.
For some strange reason, this worked.
At which point, I toddled upstairs to meet my newer friend, Alacran. A gift for hubby. A Tequila Blanco that incidentally just launched in New York City.