Chicken Tinga Quesadillas with Oaxaca Cheese

Chicken Quesadilla from Mexico City Before going to Mexico, I asked my friends who’d already been what they recommended doing there and almost everyone told me to try tacos from vendors in the markets.  Since I love to sampling local street treats while traveling, I was all over this. I find street food vendors inspiring because with only the most rudimentary kitchen set-up they dish up numerous, delicious, regional dishes. It gives me hope for my tiny ill-equipped kitchen.

Some people get nervous about street food and worry that Montezuma’s Revenge is lurking in each quesadilla and under every chip every but if you a few simple guidelines you’ll be safe.Quesadillas in Mexico City from Street Vendor

Look for the most popular vendors; the locals don’t want to get sick either and they know what to look for so follow their lead and as a bonus they’ll lead you to the best tasting food too.  Never eat any fresh, unpeeled fruits or vegetables. Be wary of ice in juices or smoothies; if the ice was made from tap water, and it probably was, you’ll regret it tomorrow.Ingredients for Chicken Tinga Quesadillas

We were walking through the Zocalo, when I found my taco trunk. This team was so popular there was a crowd three deep around them. After working our way to the front, we  ordered two of their most popular item and by ordered I mean pointed at said item on the griddle, smiled, nodding vigorously, and said “Dos por favor.”

They turned out to be chicken quesadillas, not tacos, and they were delicious: greasy, cheesy, and spicy.  The type of food, where once you bite into it, you know you should have asked for more napkins.

Chicken Tinga Steps 1 & 2Chicken Tinga Steps 3 & 4

Generally, I don’t like chicken quesadillas because they always come with sliced, grilled, chicken breast tucked into generic rubbery cheese. Its not even the cheese that gets me so much, because even bland cheese is still pretty good but the dried out, tasteless, strips of chicken don’t add anything to the over all quesadilla so why include them?

The chicken tinga quesadillas from Mexico, however, used shredded chicken, that had been cooked with tomatoes, chiles, and spices. It added tons of flavor to the quesadilla.  Mexican chicken tinga quesadillas have American chicken quesadillas beat hands down.   Continue reading

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Fresh Lime Margarita inspired by Mexico City

The Margaritas of Mexico CityThe other drink I indulged in while visiting Mexico City was the Margarita. There’s tons of festive varieties in the States and I’ve been happy to sample a number of them but while in Mexico I wanted to stick with the old school style: on the rocks lime Margarita.Ingredients for Fresh Lime Margaritas

Juicing Limes for MargaritasAll the Margaritas I enjoyed in Mexico City were bursting with fresh lime flavor, slightly sweet but not coyly so. I think they were so much more refreshing than the ones I get at home because they made them with freshly squeezed limes instead of Margarita mix as most bars in the States do.

Also the limes in Mexico are more like Key limes which are sweeter and less acidic than the Persian limes commonly found in American supermarkets.Salted Margarita Glasses

Taking one for the team (the team being Spoons to Sporks; food blogging is tough…) I sampled a variety of Margaritas and I hate to admit this but I liked the one from the W Hotel bar the best (that hurts type). In order I would rank them: #1: W Hotel Bar #2: Dulce Patria #3: Cantina LA No. 20.  Reed would rate the bars differently but he likes stronger drinks than I do and the W bar made a lovely light concoction that barely tasted like tequila. The other bars had more robust drinks which were good but slightly strong for me. Margaritas on the rocks

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Michelada: A Beer Cocktail from Mexico

Michedala via Mexico CityI spent Memorial Day weekend in Mexico City. It was my first visit to Mexico. We spent the days exploring various neighborhoods and markets. Almost everything we ate from the street vendor’s taco to the fine dining was outstanding. However for my Spoons to Sporks posts, it was tricky. Since I’ve never had really authentic Mexican food before I wanted to try some of the more unusual dishes that I can’t get at Mexican places in the States.

My huitlacoche, corn fungus, empanadas were really good. I wasn’t such a fan of the grilled cactus paddle with braised lamb. There was even a dish with an ingredient that translated to ant swarm. I didn’t ask too much about that one… sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Ingredients for Michedalas

Ingredients for Michedalas (except the hot sauce... oops)

Although for me the best part of the cuisine was the sauces. With great enthusiasm, I applied the accompanying condiments liberally to everything I ate. The one that I found most interesting/yummy/searingly hot was almost black and made with ashes among, I imagine, many other ingredients.Making a Mexican Beer Cocktail, the Michedala

Unfortunately, I can’t easily find corn fungus, cactus paddles, food grade ashes or ant swarm in New York. However, all those fun and interesting dishes were washed down with some terrific drinks and drinks I can do. The only time I ever graduated first in my glass was from bartending school.Making Michedalas Continue reading

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