DiningDiva's Profile

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MEGA shopping in La Cruz, Mexico

I would probably hit up the produce section and look for fruits and vegetables that either 1) I can't get where I live or 2) are new or different to me. Fruit in Mexico tends to be much riper than in the U.S. and Mexican papaya with a squirt of lime is heaven for breakfast in the morning. If tunas (cactus fruit) are in season, they're a nice treat ice cold. You will almost always find nopales in some form or other in a market in Mexico. Same goes for dried chiles, which you can take home with you with no problems.

Cruise through the bakery area if there is one and pick up some cookies, pan dulces or other sweets.

Head down the aisle with the gelatin. Don't laugh, gelatina is BIG in Mexico and they have really unusual flavors, like pistachio. Check out the brands of Mexican chocolate. You'll find the usual Abuela and Ibarra, but sometimes there are smaller regional brands that are fun to try. Leftove over chocolate can cross north with you too.

Don't overlook canned, boxed and bottled items. Some of the canned and boxed fruit juices come in flavors we never see in the U.S. and they can be pretty good. Check the salad dressings, there will be varieties you won't find at home. Not all of them are great, but if a flavor strikes your fancy, try it. McCormick's Mayo w/Lime is pretty popular too.

Mexican crema has a multitude of uses and it isn't really thinned out sour cream. Pick up a package or small jar of Knorr-Suisse Caldo de Pollo...chicken base that no Mexican kitchen is without...even some of the famous big name restaurants. You can take this home with you too.

Then there is always Clight, which is how Crystal Light is sold in Mexico. Once again, the flavors are way, way different they what you'd find in the US.

MEGA is, well, MEGA. It's a grocery store that's going to be a lot like any grocery store in the U.S. I've literally gone up and down the aisles looking at stuff just to see what's there. If there is a local street tianguis close to where you are staying, you might want to check that out as well.

Enjoy your stay :-)

about 9 hours ago
DiningDiva in Mexico

"Fresh" Ham for Lechon Asado

Thanks for the heads up. Why did they cancel, do you know?

Feb 25, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

San Diego restaurants OPENINGS (2015 edition)

The shoe fits...I'm wearin' it on this one :-D

Feb 24, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

San Diego restaurants OPENINGS (2015 edition)

Luna Grill = over priced and underwhelming.

Sorry to be a downer on this but I've tried them several times and have always been disappointed.

Feb 24, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Straddling the Border

Feb 20, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Straddling the Border

Let's throw this article into the mix as well

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/life...

Feb 20, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Straddling the Border

Everyone is in love with Mexican cuisine right now, even the dude from Noma...

Feb 20, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Straddling the Border

Sorry my friend, but I don't see this as a discussion about "authenticity". Let's leave that those that want to discussion the Mexican food of the mainland :-)

For me - and this is strictly my personal POV and not that of any chefly type or PR hype - the most interesting part of this discussion is the geo-cultural piece. The San Diego region (i.e. county) and northern Baja are essentially one region with a common topography, geography, coastline and climate. That broad area is separated by an artificial, man-made, international border. The larger region does share many similarities with the Mediterranean region in terms of climate, coastline and things that grow. What we see in San Diego - which would include chefs proclaiming Baja Med - is filtered through a much more European training, mindset and lens. What we see in Baja is a cuisine filtered through a Latin mindset with some Asian immigrant influences. Essentially, we have 2 very different cultures that have taken the same raw ingredients, applied different techniques (European vs. Mexican) to those ingredients and produced dishes that reflect the eating habits and lifestyles of the 2 cities that abut that international border.

I don't know how many people are aware that the term Baja Med was trademarked (or maybe it was copy righted, I always get it backwards) by Miguel Angel Guerrero a number of years ago. And it reflects his personal philosophy of using local ingredients, fishing, trapping, shooting or otherwise catching ones ingredients, which really smack of the terrior (sp?) concept more than anything. People tend to eat what's readily available to them, for Baja that meant fish, olives and olive oil, and the usual array of fruits and vegetables augmented by the Asians who came to work the railroad building and those passing through from other parts of Mexico. It's an interesting melting pot.

One point I think does need to be mentioned is that the techniques of traditional Mexican cooking are not rooted in European tradition or technique. Dishes don't begin by sauteing onions (carrots & celery), meats aren't typically seared and sauces aren't finished with cream or a slurry. Chefs on our side of the border may start this way, chefs south of the border probably don't. I think this is part of the whole Baja Med equation that is probably lost in translation somewhere. Or that perhaps the lines are now getting blurry because so many of the big name Mexican chefs went to culinary school and are now applying multiple techniques to their dishes.

At any rate, I do agree with you that far too many people are jumping on the Baja Med bandwagon without really understanding what it is. It's more about locality, availability and technique than a specific set of ingredients or techniques.

There were a couple of other red flags in the article for me, but those are best left unexplored on this forum...

Straddling the Border

"Still, one can argue, as I do, the Baja and/or Mexico influence is all over Blais' menu. Why deny? Spicy carrots, black beans, Jalapenos, chorizo, cotija, dates, Carne Cruda Asada, Baja Yelowtail tostada, chicharones (even though they aren't really), Barbacoa, tres leches, Caesar salad, and more."

The bulk of those are Mexican influences, not Baja and I strongly suspect they are used as accents/enhancements rather than primary ingredients.

Jalapeños - peppers named after their location, Jalapa (or as is currently en vouge - Xalapa) which is the capitol of the state of Veracruz

Black beans - farm more prevalent in Southern Mexico than Baja

Chorizo - one could argue that's a nod to Spain rather than Baja, and the green chorizo is the specialty of the Toluca area

Cotija Cheese - point of origin is Cotija, Michoacan, now ubiquitous.

Barbacoa - not usually applied to fish, and tends to be a loose to somewhat soupy dish.

The one thing not lose sight of is the fact that Baja did not have the same influences as did mainland Mexico. There was no thriving traditional cuisine. The indigenous cuisine of Baja is Kumeyaay, and it was mostly nuts, seeds, roots, bulbs, bark and whatever else they could catch. Baja was (and still is) a long way from any of the power enclaves, be they indigenous, Spanish, Colonial or post revolutionary. The cooking in Baja developed along a somewhat different trajectory than that of the mainland.

While I understand your point, I, too, thought the reference to J&I in the article was odd and out of place. I think they've taken a lot of literary license with their menu descriptions. J&I and Baja are not 4 words commonly used in a single sentence and Richard Blais does not define his food through the Baja lens.

Feb 20, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego
1

Straddling the Border

Please see comments below...
I think there has been a lot of literary license taken with this menu. There are clearly Mexican influences and some are even Baja related. But I think it is a big stretch to cite these dishes as being representative of Baja Med

AHI TUNA TARTARE - "BARBACOA" / SPICY CARROTS / BLACK BEANS / YELLOW CORN...Barbacoa is in " " so that's suspicious and not usually a fish preparation in Mexico or Baja. What is "barbacoa" about the dish?? It's a tuna tartare with what? some smokey flavor. Barbacoa generally also denotes a dish that can be somewhat loose to even soupy. I think this is menu manipulation more than anything.

BAJA YELLOWTAIL - TOSTADA / SHARK SAUCE

ALBACORE - CUCUMBER / HORSERADISH / TOMATO CHICHARRONES...tomato chicharrones? what the h*ll is that? Deep fried tomato skins? What's Baja about that? The rest of the ingredients sure aren't

ENSENADA SEA URCHIN - LARDO / AGED YOLK / POMEGRANATE / CROUTON

CARNE CRUDA ASADA - QUAIL EGG / COTIJA / JALAPENO...the only thing Baja Med about this dish is the quail egg.

BLACKENED SHRIMP - GREEN CHORIZO / TANGERINE...green chorizo is not Baja, it is, however, Mexican...from Toluca

KALE SPROUTS - COTIJA FROM COTIJA / DATES / PEARL ONION / PRESERVED LEMON DRESSING...Cotija from Cotija? That means the Cotija is from Michoacan, not Baja. Dates, however, are a big production item on the eastern part of Baja up around the Colorado river delta area. Kale sprouts? Not Baja.

Feb 20, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Straddling the Border

Tostadita is a real word :-)

Feb 19, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Straddling the Border

Not everyone finds the food in SD lacking...

http://www.eater.com/2015/2/19/805568...

Feb 19, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Help with nopales salad

Good luck :-)

Please report back and let us know if you were successful or not

Feb 17, 2015
DiningDiva in Home Cooking

Help with nopales salad

Lime juice is traditionally used as the acid component in enselada de nopales because it helps to soften raw onions as they sit in the dressing.

You can dilute the lime juice with some water to help tame the acidity of the limes.

I know the nopales salad you'referring trying to recreate well and it does need some acid in it to balance some of the other flavors. A mild fruit vinegar might work. If you can't find a nice fruit vinegar you can always use apple cider vinegar diluted 1:1 with water. Rancho Gordo (the bean dude) sells a banana vinegar I understand is quite good. It'S available on-line

Feb 16, 2015
DiningDiva in Home Cooking

Best ethnic restaurants in San Diego?

Actually Alpine Village *is* really pretty good. It's fun during Oktoberfest

Feb 16, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Any new news on Mama Testa in Mira Mesa?

As Honk man says, they'really going into the old El Maguey space. It'sometimes close to my office so I st by periodically to see if any progress is being made and it'S not much. The floor is torn up and there is a lot of new framing going up. About a month ago there was some activity inside so I poked my head in and asked if they new when the restaurant would open. The guys said they were the plumbers and had no clue about opening. Based on how it looks now, I'd say it's at least a month away if they worked every day...which they are not. I wouldn't count on it any time soon

Feb 11, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

guadalajara resturants???

Yep...Karne Garibaldi is a lot of fun and the food is good. Carne en su Jugo is hard to replicate north of the border

Feb 11, 2015
DiningDiva in Mexico

Guanajuato and Leon Mexico recommendations

Yes, Clave Azul is still there.

Feb 09, 2015
DiningDiva in Mexico

Looking for a recipe

I am not familiar with the dish you're looking for, but I'm 99.99% sure it's NOT chicken adobo

Feb 05, 2015
DiningDiva in Mexico

SuperNatural Sandwiches To Open Its First Brick & Motar Site

What took you so long :-)

Feb 05, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

The Return of McCabe

So it looks like Paul McCabe is headed back to San Diego, at least for the short term, to revive the dining options at the Town & Country

Feb 05, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Regional, sit-down Mexican reccos for the parental units

I agree, the folks that run Ranas are super nice and they really try and accommodate seniors and little kids :-)

Feb 02, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Regional, sit-down Mexican reccos for the parental units

El Comal is sit down but I'm not sure how "nice" it is and parking is difficult at best. Food is pretty good, probably closer to what they'd find in Mexico than the other choices you've been given.

Romesco's isn't traditionally Mexican, more like filtered through a Baja lense. Easy parking, good choice for that age range

Ranas in Spring Valley is a little hole in the wall with a following. Food us average to very, very good depending upon what you order

Mayahuel is funky with good food and a limited menu if I recall

Casa Guadalajara has great patio dining but only average food.

San Diego does tacos and burritos well. The rest of the Mexican menu is hit or miss at best

Feb 02, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Regional, sit-down Mexican reccos for the parental units

You mention a lay-over? How long and are they willing to rent a car? The choices you've been given so far are all decent, but some of them will require a vehicle.

Feb 02, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

Mexican Pizza

Probably because the woman/hostess in the video didn't know how else to describe it so that her audience would quickly identify with the dish. Or perhaps because tlayuda is not an easy work for an English speaker?

Feb 01, 2015
DiningDiva in Home Cooking

Mexican Pizza

I agree 100%.

Calling a tlayuda a pizza is a stretch by any stretch of the imagination.

Feb 01, 2015
DiningDiva in Home Cooking

Mexican Pizza

Tlayuda really

Great little video on how to make a tlayuda

https://www.yahoo.com/travel/making-m...

(sorry, but there is a commercial at the beginning of the video that you can't skip :-(

)

There is also an accompanying article if you don't want to watch the video, but the video is worth watching. I have had the pleasure to cook with Abigail Mendoza and she is pretty awesome :-)

Feb 01, 2015
DiningDiva in Home Cooking

San Diego CLOSED Restaurants...2015 Edition

No, I cited the opinions that were available.

Jan 31, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego
1

San Diego CLOSED Restaurants...2015 Edition

Actually, I was just making what I thought was a neutral comment that reviews on other sites were not favorable. There wasn't any value judgement, real or implied, on my part. Just an observation.

My real time experience with Yelp reviews is that there may be a shred of truth in them, but mostly I need to take them with a very large grain of salt. I am not their target market and what I, at my advanced age, seek in a restaurant is not necessarily what a 20-something is going to want. I have had better luck with Google reviews; their demographics appear to trend older and with more disposable income.

Other than location, I think there were a number of things - and simply speculation on my part - that hurt Zarco's chances of succeeding.

Jan 31, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego

San Diego CLOSED Restaurants...2015 Edition

If you read the reviews over on Yelp, and even on Google, they weren't very good.

Jan 30, 2015
DiningDiva in San Diego