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Monthly Archives: May 2006

Normally I prefer to make a nice pâté during the cold season, but the weather has been cool and rainy all day and I suddenly had a craving for some nice pâté and I thought about a recipe I invented years ago for our usual family Christmas party. It is fairly simple to make and improves in flavor for the first few days and keeps up to a week well wrapped in the refrigerator. For a party I normally like to present it on the buffet table molded in some interestingly shaped mold. You can also prepare it in small glass or ceramic dishes and serve it in individual portions as an interesting first course or appetizer with some nice fresh bread or crackers. It is very versatile and I normally prepare large quantities of it as everybody wants to bring some back home with them after the event. You can easily plan ahead by molding some nice smaller portions for your guests to bring back home, or dividing the leftovers for them at the end of the evening, but be careful not to start too many fights between your guests trying to score the biggest portion.

Ingredients

2 French shallots or 4 green onions finely chopped
1 large garlic clove finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbs butter
1 1/2 pounds of fresh chicken livers with all the fat removed and rinsed with water and lime juice
15-20 slices of dried mushroom or 4-5 chopped fresh mushrooms
1/4 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 Tsp freshly ground white pepper
A grating of nutmeg
A pinch of ground dry ginger
A pinch of ground cinnamon
4 Oz of finely chopped pistachios
4 Oz of coarsely chopped pistachios
4 Tbs of heavy cream
3 Tbs of Brandy
3 Tbs of dark Rum
2 Tbs of Port wine

Preparation

1. Prepare a mold for the pâté by putting a layer of aluminum foil in it and greasing it with spray oil, margarine, or butter.
2. In a large sauté pan melt the butter over medium-high fire.
3. Add the shallots and garlic an sauté for 1 minute.
4. Add the liver and mushrooms and sauté for 1 minute.
5. Add the spices and the salt.
6. Sauté the livers until they loose their pink color in the center.
7. Add the finely chopped pistachios.
8. Pour the brandy and rum in a glass and poor the glass in the pan.
9. When the liquid boil light it to flambé the livers.
10. When the flames have died off add the Porto and reduce the liquid by half.
11. Remove from the heat and let cool.
12. Put the contents of the pan in a blender or food processor and mix until it is of a creamy consistency.
13. Add the cream and mix until you have a thick liquid without any lumps.
14. Pour the liquid in a bowl and add the coarsely chopped pistachios and mix with a spoon until you have a homogenous mixture.
15. Pour in your prepared mold and cover with some plastic wrap.
16. Refrigerate at least 24 hours for the pâté to set and the flavors to mix well.
17. Unmold and put on a presentation dish.

Lucito

A few months back I had a bet going with Normita about something that I have totally forgotten about, and the loser was supposed to buy a nice restaurant meal for the other. I thought that I had fulfilled my duties last week, but it seems that the meal’s absolute fiasco did not comply with the nice meal part of the deal. This morning we went to see a movie at the World Trade Center (WTC) here in Mexico City, which happens to be about 5 minutes walk from home. The movie was a long one, and before someone asks it was Da Vinci’s Code, which was exactly like the book, very long, slow paced and boring. At least Normita somewhat enjoyed it despite the excessive length, but I think that they could have cut about an hour from it and made a better, tighter movie. I also had problems with the casting of the film as I always feel like Tom Hanks plays only one character, himself, in every movie he stars in. I did enjoy Ian McKellen’s portrayal of Sir Leigh Teabing, and thought that they underused Jean Reno one of my favorite actors, but this is not a movie review, so let’s move to other things…

On the way out, since the movie was so long, we both were starting to feel hungry and since the chicken that was defrosting in the refrigerator was sure not to be ready to cook for some more hours, we decided to look around for a place to eat. Since I still owed Normita that meal, we decided to try a new Italian restaurant that is located in the Crowne Plaza hotel next door to the WTC. A few clients she had sent there had reported that the restaurant was both good and inexpensive, so it was worth a try.

The hotel has only recently opened so the restaurant is a new operation. The decor is open and airy and the ambiance relaxed. At what would have been a busy lunchtime for locals (2pm), the place was mainly empty as the hotel caters to foreigner here on business. The service was attentive, but somewhat disorganized. I think that the newness of the restaurant was showing, and the waiter mentioned that he was very new in a very new restaurant so we will have to try again in a few months to see if the place has improved.

We ordered our meal, with the starters being for Normita carpaccio of salmon and for me carpaccio de vitello, veal in Italian, but strangely translated in the menu to Spanish and English as beef, for the main course linguini al pesto for Normita and spaghetti carbonara for me. We wanted some wine with the meal, and they failed to bring a wine list, and when the first course arrived I inquired again about the wine list and they told us that they had Italian wines by the bottle, but no wine list, and also had unnamed Italian house wines by the glass at a fairly high price of ~$7, which I would have like to know exactly what I was buying at that price. We wanted to know what wines they had by the bottle, and they could not tell us for a good 10 minutes while our first course was waiting for us, because nobody had the key to the nice cellar at one end of the room.

This reminded me of another restaurant incident, again with the Padrino, in New York City at Windows on the Worlds at the other WTC, where they could not find the key to the storage room to bring us some cheese at the end of the meal and where the waiter also brought us a bottle of 1975 Gruaud Larose shaken not stirred, but that story will have to wait for another day…

Luckily during the time we were waiting we enjoyed some of their delicious bread, baked on the premises, with a nice salsa of olive oil, tomatoes, onions, and basil. Of course, when they finally managed to find the person with the key to the cellar, the whites were at room temperature, so since our first course had already been served for 15 minutes, we did not want to wait for the wine to cool down. We decided to look at the reds. The waiter brought 3 random bottles to the table and asked for a choice without telling us the prices. A few more minutes were wasted while he found a price list, and when the offering were in the $40-55 range, and I really had nothing to compare in price with a known value to assess if the price was fair, we decided to forego the wines entirely.

We started on our carpaccio and noticed that they did not bring us the usual thin toasts to eat it with. The waiter told us that they might have to get their storeroom open as they only had their regular bread. The problem was fixed quickly though, when he brought us some toast, that unluckily was somewhat limp instead of crisp, as it had been serve in a towel on the bread plate, where it steamed itself.

The quality of both the veal/beef and salmon was excellent, but strangely enough the delicate thin slices were not dressed at all. Even a few drops of olive oil would have given an extra dimension to the plate. Mine had a small dab of what seemed like a mixture of mayonnaise and mustard on one side and a nice pile of chopped mushrooms in the middle, and Normita had some chopped onions, chopped parsley, chopped capers, and chopped egg yolks, a nice combination, but a tad dry without any dressing. We remedied the problem by drizzling some of the nice olive oil from the salsa and using some of their nice thin house bread instead of the limp toasts.

While we were starting the first course, the waiter brought each of us a courtesy glass of white wine, because of out problems with the inexistent wine list. The wine was crisp and somewhat vegetal in taste, reminding me a bit of a Pinot Grigio, but I might be wrong there. There was a faint hint of oxidation on the finish, but we were not about to complain… I hope that the poor waiter did not get into trouble because of this, as he was swept away to a meeting with what I think was a supervisor near the end of our meal.

The main course was solid fare with nice al dente homemade pasta, and a delectable sauce though not exceptionally so. Luckily the portions were not overwhelming like they tend to be in some Italian restaurant and we finished our meal well fed, but not stuffed. I definitely was not in the mood for a dessert, but Normita was and asked for some Baileys ice cream and I settled for an espresso. The espresso was concentrated and bitter the way I like it, and while I was finishing it, they told Normita that they did not have the Baileys ice cream, so she decided to go without her dessert.

Overall the restaurant definitely shows some promise, but is in a definite need of organization. The quality of the food is high, but a bit of refining of the recipes is in order, and definitely they have a serious need of creating a decent wine list, as their haphazard method of presenting their wines will lead to lost clients. Another peeve was that I though it was a bit excessive to charge $2.50 for a can of mineral water. I think that we will give them a few more months to get their act in order and try again before making out final judgment. The food is good now and could easily become great, especially since the basic constituents are of good quality, but I will withhold my recommendation until they have straightened their organizational problems. It was good enough though to count as the nice restaurant meal I owed Normita. Maybe we just caught them on a bad day…

Lucito

PS. While I was writing this, Normita had another bet with me about another Tom Hanks movie, as she thought he was working for DHL in Castaway, and I was sure he was working for FedEx. I am glad that I did indeed win my bet, and now she is the one who owes me a nice restaurant meal.

I have not been able to really cook over the last few weeks as we had company and also work has been crazier than usual. Normita has been making nice large pots of vegetable soup for daily lunches and I have taken into eating a bowl of it, cold and in front of the computer, as part of my daily lunch. Normita is not a fan of cold soups and she cannot understand my love of them.

Most of this love it comes from my experiments with Vichyssoise when I started cooking. During the summer school holidays, I had gone to a nice French restaurant with my Grandmother in Ste-Agathe, a neighboring village to where I was born, and I experienced Vichyssoise for the first time. My Grandmother loved going to good restaurants and of course this place was top notch. I really enjoyed the soup’s creamy texture and its cold élégance.

When I started to be interested in cooking I experimented with various recipes of Vichyssoise, and I was never satisfied as on the first day I had tasted it in that restaurant with my Grandmother. One day at our cottage in the woods, when I was in a rush to prepare a meal as some friends were supposed to drop by for an unexpected visit at the end of the day, I looked at the ingredients I had in the refrigerator and found that I had some fresh leeks and parsley and some nice yellow potatoes. Since we would be out most of the day I wanted to prepare something hearty for a starter, and then grill something for the main course. I do not remember what I cooked for the main course on that faithful day, but I remember the hurriedly put together Vichyssoise I made as it was both easy to prepare and it reminded me of my first love of that soup.

I just threw it together in the morning in less than half an hour before leaving for our day’s activities, and finished it in 5 minutes before the meal. You cannot ask for an easier to prepare soup that will make you look like you slaved for hours in the kitchen, and if you are like Normita you can always heat it up before serving, but in my book this is sacrilège. I definitely will make a pot for the next week for my lunch…

Ingredients

2 medium to large leeks
4-5 medium potatoes (about the same quantity as the pared down leeks)
6 cups hearty chicken stock
1 1/2 cup of heavy cream
2 tbs butter
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

1. Peel potatoes and cut into cubes to speed up cooking.
2. Cut the tip of the leek and remove the dark green part leaving the white and the tender green ones.
3. Make a cut from almost the tip to the other end completely through, and then turn 90 degrees and repeat.
4. Wash the leeks thoroughly to remove any trace of dirt, and then pat dry and chop in thick slices.
5. In a heavy lidded sauté pan melt the butter in the olive oil and then sauté the leeks with the lid on until they turn translucent and soft.
6. In a large soup pot put the potatoes, the broth, the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
7. In a blender or food processor put the soup and the leeks together and blend until a creamy consistency is achieved. Do not overblend it, or the potatoes might turn rubbery.
8. You can refrigerate at this point for 3-4 hours up to a few days.
9. For serving place the cold soup in the blender and add the heavy creamy and blend. Adjust the salt and pepper and serve cold with a sprig of parsley and a splash of cream on top for decoration.

Lucito

I have just returned home with Normita and I am on my way out the door to a business meeting as I start to write this, but I need to put some of my thoughts down right away when the experience is still fresh. I was returning from Colonia Polanco, where Normita works, back home and we were looking for a place to have a nice lunch, our main meal of the day. My parents left back to Canada this morning and we did not have much to eat at home, and I was too tired to cook as I had a very long and tiring week.

We were on our way to fill-up the car, as we were running on empty, and we passed in front of a very popular fish and seafood restaurant in our neighborhood. The place is called Fisher’s and it is part of a chain of restaurants. There is always a crowd there, so we assumed that it might be decent. Trouble started when we left the car at the valet parking, and they promptly took the car somewhere else to park it. Normita is very protective of her new car, so she was upset, but I managed to calm her down as they were doing the same with all smaller cars as their main parking lot was full.

The place was very busy and most of all extremely noisy due to the poor acoustics of the various rooms. The center of the restaurant is some form of geodesic dome with prep area and bar in the center, and various rooms around the periphery. The decor is in white and blue maritime tones and the ambiance frenetic and noisy. Not a good start if you are tired and want to relax for a meal. The noise level was so high that there was no way to talk at the table unless you shouted.

We were passed from one staff person to another until we were seating in a corner table that was probably one of the quietest places in the whole restaurant, but this was not saying much as it was still very noisy. They have system for the waiters that seems to have been designed to look like it is efficient to the patrons, but overall it leads to some of the worse service we have ever had in any restaurant, including a certain fish place in Vancouver years ago when we were there with the Padrino and we were inflicted with the most stupid waitress in the Universe. That was a totally different experience as it was mainly the stupidity of a single person, not an entire restaurant system designed to be totally inefficient.

Their serving system rotates around the writing pad where they take the orders, and they leave it on the corner of your table. Various waiters and waitresses come and go and grab it and look into it and make notes in it and generally make a nuisance of themselves throughout the meal. At the end of the meal I looked at the pad to see what secrets it held, and there was simply a checklist of table preparation and opening, as well as service, and an individual sheet for each single item ordered. They seem to be making everything in triplicate and bringing a copy to the kitchen to place the order. The system must have been designed by a bureaucrat…

As we were waiting to be served we noticed the service at the neighboring tables, and in most tables the service was very strange. For example at the table on our left there were 3 people waiting for their main course. The woman at the table got hers first, then the gentleman on her left got his about 10 minutes later, and the one on her right resorted to nibbling at her plate until he got served about 20 minutes later. A very nice way to share a meal…

During that time about 5 different waiters passed in our areas with plates and they were looking at the order pads at each table, including ours, to find out which table the plate they were carrying belonged to. At times it belonged to a table totally across the room. I have never seen such confused service in my life. I can see one new person being lost, but not the entire staff. Also the fact that about 5 different waiters and waitresses attended us added a lot to the total confusion in the place. Luckily we were served at the same time so one of us did not have to wait for the other while his or her plate cooled down.

Another trait of the place, where they want to make it look like they are attending to you closely, is that they come and look at your table every few minutes and remove every little bit of stuff you put aside. I do not mind that if it is done smoothly, but the various waiters just nose over the table to check and intrude in your privacy and normally reach across the table in front of you to grab things at the other end. That is not very polite. Add to that that at least 5-6 times during the meal some janitorial person came and swept some crumbs from under the tables with a broom between your feet, making it impossible to relax from the constant distraction. I like the idea that they keep the place spotless, but they could at least let you finish your meal before cleaning the breadcrumbs from under the table.

As you have noticed I have rambling on and on and I have yet to talk of the food. If the food had been exceptional I would have been more lenient on the entire experience. As it stood we had some seafood and it was very fresh but totally uninspired. Normita had some ‘camarones al mojo de ajo’, some large shrimps with butter and garlic, and the shrimps were decent, but the portion was small for the price, and the side dish of white rice, seemed like microwaved precooked rice and was not very nice. Not a great meal for the price as the portion was pretty small. I had some stone crab cakes, and the cakes themselves were more of an appetizer portion at a main course price. There were three small crab cakes less than half an inch thick, that were presented on 3 slices of tomatoes and some slices of tomatillos, with a bit of shredded lettuce in between. There was a bit of something that looked like soy sauce on the tomatoes, but I did not even taste it as the tomatoes looked horrible and the plate looked like a mess and very unappetizing. The lettuce was undressed and totally bland so I did not touch it either. The three small crab cakes were actually quite good, though they had some pieces of shell and cartilage in them. As you might have guessed both Normita and I were still hungry after that, but we did not want to spend more money there.

We asked for the check and they brought it about 20 minutes later. I gave them my debit card to pay, and then the girl had to go get their wireless terminal and swiped it and show me that they inputted the right amount and she returned my card. This is nice in itself, but then she left with the terminal and returned about 10 minutes later with the card receipt to sign. I have no idea why they invested in the wireless technology if it actually makes the transaction much slower than the usual method. I assume that it is to show you that they care and do not screw you with the card, but…

Of course when we went out it took over 20 minutes to get our car from the valet parking, even though everybody else got their’s in a few minutes. I guess that the gods were not in my favor today.

I just returned from my business meeting as I am writing those last lines and it seems that the bad luck in the restaurant was nullified by a good meeting and some potential contracts and on top of that another contract signed by a distributor today, and even better paid next Monday. I’ll gladly take the bad meal in stride, except that the hunger I had when we left the restaurant is now converted into starvation.

To resume things, Fisher’s is a seafood restaurant that is mainly flash and show, where they do a lot of needless things to make it look like they are serving you well, but where the substance of that leads to horrible service. The food seems of good quality for the fish and seafood, but uninspired and pricy for what you actually get. It seems to be very popular as there is always huge lines, but I think the people going there are more interested in the show and to be seen there, than actually wanting a good dining experience. Like those perennial movie reviewers would say I gave them two thumbs down.

Lucito

Last week I was writing about a recipe that did not turn out as planned, because I had left the shrimps marinate too long, and then the sauce was a bit unbalanced to my taste. Today we left early for some shopping and one thing lead to another and we returned home late in the afternoon totally exhausted. I was planning to make some simple chicken ‘bistecs’, butterflied chicken breasts pounded thinly, with some mashed potatoes. When we were putting away all of the fresh fruits and vegetables we bought at the market, I ended up with much more pineapple than the plastic container I use to refrigerate the slices can hold. I normally buy one large pineapple or two small ones every week when they are in season, and then trim and slice them, then store them in an airtight container if the refrigerator for the week. This week I bought a large one and tried a small one of a new variety that our fruit merchant had received this week.

Since I had more pineapple that I could easily store, Normita suggested that I prepare the chicken a bit like the shrimps I had made last week, as she liked them a lot. In this way I can revisit the recipe, with a small change of ingredients, and see if the new ideas I have for the sauce will be better to my taste. If it is a success I will post the recipe in the coming days.

The other week I posted the simple recipe of a mango mousse that Normita had made when my parents had visited us from Canada. It made for a very tasty but rich dessert. I had mentioned that I had put it to freeze in the refrigerator, but I did not say that I had totally forgotten about it especially in the first few hours in there. I totally forgot to stir it during that time, and it ended up being a solid piece of mango ice, and you need to take it out of the freezer for 30-40 minutes before you can serve it. It is still very good, and I will see if I can think of something to do with the leftovers…

Normita, who thought it was too rich for her, just made a simple mango purée with some leftover manila mangos we had from last week. She just pureed it in the blender and we will see how it turns out. Maybe this time it will make some nice ‘sorbet’ or ‘granita’ instead of solid ice cubes…

Lucito

I am in the process of researching various technologies to create short cooking videos for the blog. I am looking at the technical side of things now, and we already have some of the equipment here in Mexico. It is too bad that most of our stuff is still in storage in Canada as we have a full professional video-editing suite up there, but it is not much good to us right now, as we cannot ship our stuff south until we get ourselves a place big enough to store it all.

My plans are to use what we have on hand here to start, and about the only thing missing so far is a solid tripod for the video camera. I have yet to try the video-editing software we have here, but that should be a simple fix if it is not up to the task. We plan to also get a decent still camera to replace the one that died on us last winter, so that we can start posting pictures of all the dishes and preparation.

At first I want to put together some short basic cooking technique videos and to experiment with the format and the tools until we have the production side well broken-in. Once we achieve that we might start creating slightly longer videos featuring simple recipes. We will judge what the reaction will be from those and then figure out how to proceed from there with both content and format.

If you have any suggestions on what simple cooking techniques you would like to see featured in the first few videos, please leave them in the comment section, or send us an email at suggestion@igourmand.com. I am looking forward to read your feedback and suggestions on this.

Lucito

I was reading this morning about someone being asked about what was their best restaurant meal in a particular city. It got me thinking as I am not a regular restaurant fiend to start with, as most of the time the food is better at home than in most restaurants, and there is more to the dining experience than the actual food. I have the same problem answering the question ‘what is my favorite food’, as it always depends on my mood at the moment I am asked, how hungry I am, the phase of the moon, and velocity of the wind, and other more esoteric factors.

I have eaten in revered restaurants where the cooking was so good that there is no hope in this lifetime that I will ever be able to attain this perfection in my kitchen, in overrated restaurants living only on their reputation and/or ‘inness’ factor, in restaurants that serve solid-but-uninspired food, in fast-food joints, in food stalls on the street or in markets where I ended up with food poisoning, and in places that fit anywhere in or out of this spectrum. What makes the dining experience is not the food itself, though it is a major part of it, but it is a combination of food, service, atmosphere, and who you are sharing the meal with.

By nature I tend to stay away from the new ‘Trendy’ places as from past experiences they seem to rely on glitziness, gimmicks, and at times shock food to generate their often undeserved reputations. I know that it is difficult to differentiate yourself from the crowds, but spending millions in decor and nada in the kitchen does not make for a nice restaurant. Also the noise level in a lot of trendy places makes enjoying even the best food in the world very difficult. I also dislike the fact that most of the times you have to reserve a long time ahead to get in. Since most of the time I have no idea what I will be doing in the next hour, let alone in 3 months time, and if I will even be in the mood to go out for that type of food that night. I normally go the reservation route only when I am traveling out of town and I know I will be in need of a restaurant on such and such dates, thus reserving is a no-brainer at those times.

Back to the subject of the dining experience, I have noticed that to have an exceptional experience you need to first have well prepared and presented good food that is pleasant to eat. If for shock value the chef is into weird combinations of food, just for sake of being different, I tend to stay away from their place. The same is for experimental cooking, I am all for experimentation, but if you cannot find focus in a dish you should not serve it to paying clients until you finish playing with the ingredients. I have seen chefs bringing you small serving of dishes they are working on to get feedback, and I am all for that, but I would not build a menu with untried recipes, just as I would not serve untried recipes to guests at home. I have ranted already about dishes that are presented for the ‘picture’ look, but that are difficult to eat and enjoy, so I will not go there today.

I also tend to stay away from the cult of the ‘Star Chef’. Some of their restaurants are stunning and serve sublime food, but a lot tend to lack in the personal touches. If they are at the head of a culinary empire, chances are that they are not the ones supervising the daily running of their restaurants, and whoever is doing a stellar job at it does not get the recognition they deserve, and normally stays in the background as not to take the stardom from the ‘Star Chef’. It is nice to think about your favorite TV Chef preparing your meal for you in the kitchen, but they are probably at some cocktail party, on the set of their TV show, or on another continent when your visit their restaurants. That does not mean that I have not had exceptional dining experiences in their restaurants…

Now that we have a nicely prepared meal on our plates, we now need good service. The staff should be attentive, and not overbearing. They also should know about the food and the chef’s philosophy. There is nothing more annoying than asking how a dish is prepared, or what an advertised ingredient in a recipe is is, and seeing the staff running to the kitchen to ask. If the menu specifies an ingredient it would be good idea to let the staff know what it is before letting them loose on the public. That is, as long as it does not go to the other extreme and they start pontificating about the type of salt they use, or refuse to bring you salt because the chef does not want you to ruin his dishes with it.

Where was I? A plate of nice food, attentive-but-not-overbearing staff… Next on the list is atmosphere. I tend to prefer a quiet relaxed atmosphere, to a frantic noisy one. That is in my nature, as I abhor noise and hyperactivity. If you have to shout to your dinner companions to get heard, it is does not make for a nice dining experience. I’m not really crazy about church-like atmospheres either, as they make you uncomfortable about having any conversation during the meal. I used to be more tolerant of this in the past, as before I met Normita, I used to travel the world on business alone, and dine in the best places by myself. I could concentrate more on the food, at the detriment of not sharing the experience in those days, but I would not go back to them. Your preference of atmosphere may vary, but you have to be comfortable to enjoy the meal.

Dining companions are important too. I find business meals, especially with new business acquaintances, to be normally strained, as you do not know the people, their tastes, and their ideas. It is a great way to get to know people, and it is one of my prime factors in doing business with anybody. I need to share a nice meal with them so that we can appreciate it together. I tend to stay away from doing business with people who do not share my love of food and wine, and the few times that I have not done so in the past, I paid for it dearly in the long run. Dining with loved ones and close friends is a rewarding experience, and it is one of the nicest things in life.

So, when faced with a question like ‘The best restaurant meal you’ve ever had in…’ my answer might disappoint the Trendy Foodies, as the place would most likely not be the latest trendy place or the place to be seen by the proper Foodie crowd. It would likely be a place where I had great food and service, in a relaxed atmosphere, with the people I love. I tend to collect restaurant experiences in my mind as the whole experience, not just the badge of being at the right address. I have been in great restaurants on bad nights, some of my favorite places have also disappointed me at times, and I might have just made the wrong choice on the menu, so the right address is not always the best. The reverse is true and I have had exceptional meals in places where you would expect it the least. With all the ingredients that make a great dining experience put in the equation, the answer might be a big surprise even to you. It is just where you did enjoy yourself the most. What else is there?

Lucito

Last weekend I was preparing a series of new recipes in my mind to try on Sunday. When doing our Saturday morning shopping at the Mercado de Jamaica, we found a new fish place that had nice fresh fish and seafood at a very reasonable price. We picked up a bit of shrimp for the meal on Sunday, and since I had some leftover clotted cream at home, I decide to make some nice scalloped potatoes with the shrimps, and a rich thick chile guajillo cream sauce to go with the shrimps.

When Sunday morning arrived, Normita had not slept well and had stomach problems when she got up. She was definitely not in the mood for a rich meal, so I had to change my plans. I decided to forego the chile sauce to spare her stomach, even though the guajillos are very mild. I now have half a pound of them to use on a later date when she feels better. Luckily they are a dried variety and they keep for ages.

To make a lighter meal I decided to briefly marinate the shrimps in some fruit juices. I had some pineapple, mango, and orange juices at hand, and first soaked the shrimps in a bit of reposado tequila to give them a nice tangy flavor. My plan was to simply marinate them for 15 minutes, and then stir-fry them quickly in the wok, flambé them with some tequila, and make a nice quick sauce with the juice marinade, and some extra ingredients.

The main problem was that things did not go as planned, and we ended up doing a lot of things in the afternoon, and instead of marinating for 15 minutes the shrimps marinated for close to 4-5 hours. Of course the shrimps became a bit rubbery from the too long marinade, and when cooked a lot of the accumulate juices came out, to further stiffen them. The juices were also a bit on the sweet side and lacked acidity, which did not help a bit.

Normita liked the meal a lot, judging by the speed by which she emptied her plate. I was left disappointed as the nice shrimps had turned a bit too rubbery for my taste from the too long marinating, and the sauce lacked a bit of acidity to make it interesting for my taste. I guess that we cannot win them all. Since there was nothing wrong with the basic recipe, and only some small adjustments are needed, I will get some more shrimps in one of our future visit to the market, and I will correct and retry the recipe at that time. As long as I do not marinate the shrimps too much, next time should be a great success. When I am satisfied by the results I will post it for all to enjoy. Until then I will go pout in a corner…

Lucito

This afternoon Normita invented a fantastic dessert. We were shopping for things for supper, as my parents are visiting with us from Canada for some days, prior to us driving them down to Acapulco later in the week. We had already picked up some arrachera for the main course, with some large potatoes for baking, some nice string beans, and some mushrooms. We were looking for something simple to have for dessert when she remembered that we had some nice Manila mangos that were perfectly ripe at home, and some nice thick farmer’s cream that has a nice sweet aftertaste. The medium sized Manila mangos are of a stunning bright yellow and they are the ones that we find the tastiest and the sweetest. They are currently in season and Normita loves them with a passion, so much that I get jealous at time…

She decided to scoop the flesh of the remaining mangos and add the heavy cream, and simply puree them for a dessert that was a stunning mango mousse. She had put it in the freezer to cool it down, and we had it while it was still like a thick liquid. The texture and taste was incredible, and we will leave it to freeze overnight and see what it will look in the morning. Hopefully it will have turned into a rich mango ice cream. My mother liked it so much that she already had 2 bowls, and we are all worried that when we get up in the morning nothing will be left of what we put in the freezer.

Ingredients

2 pounds ripe Manila mangos
1/2 pound heavy clotted cream

Preparation

1. Scoop the flesh of all of the ripe mangos and place in a deep bowl or into a large water pitcher.
2. With a stick mixer puree the mango until you have a thick creamy liquid.
3. Add the cream and mix with the mango until well incorporated.
4. Place the liquid in a container and put into the freezer until it thickens.

Lucito

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