Aguachiles at Moxi in San Miguel de Allende (Photo by Brad A. Johnson)
Enrique Olvera is one of Mexico’s most important chefs. His restaurant Pujol, in Mexico City’s chic Polanco neighborhood, has done for fine dining in his country what Thomas Keller did for America or what Ferran Adria has for Spain. Pujol celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, and yet the chef and his wildly popular restaurant are still relatively unknown to most foodies in the United States. But that’s finally starting to change.
Within Mexico, Olvera is a already superstar. And like Keller, he is also very humble and soft-spoken. He cooks for passion, not for fame. When I met him in April, I asked, “It’s been 10 years, Enrique. You’ve been very successful. Why haven’t you opened another restaurant?” And he looked me in the eyes and said, very self-assured: “One restaurant is all I need. It is all I want.” But he said it with a smirk on his face. At the time, I didn’t think any more of it. But little did I know at that moment, he was holding back a huge secret. Continue reading →
The Viceroy Riviera Maya (Photo by Brad A.Johnson)
“What’s your favorite hotel in Mexico?” That’s a question I get asked a lot.
It’s a loadeded question to which my answer changes daily. I’ve stayed at so many hotels and resorts in Mexico that I can’t possible count—or even remember—all of them. A favorite? I hesitate to pick just one. However, when pressed, I can usually come up with a short list of the places I most want to go back to again and again. This is, of course, a very personal and subjective list, one that varies wildly from glam to rustic, high-end to low. And it depends on whom I’m traveling with, too. So when asked about my favorite hotel, I generally respond with, “What are you in the mood for?” Continue reading →
A mariachi musician taking a lunch break at Mercado Benito Juarez in Guadalajara (Photo by Brad A. Johnson)
You don’t hear much about it these days, but I just love Guadalajara. I think this is one of the most underrated cities in Mexico. Did you know that Guadalajara was the birthplace of mariachi music? (Yeah, neither did I, until recently.)
I travel to Mexico frequently, but I hadn’t thought much about Guadalajara lately. Hadn’t been there in seven or eight years. But on a recent tequila-tasting trip to Jalisco, I had a chance to spend a bit more time in Guadalajara—and now I can’t wait to go back. The dining scene here seems fantastic on both ends of the spectrum. Although I barely had time to scratch the surface, I did come away with two truly outstanding culinary experiences, one rather upscale and trendy, the other completely lowbrow and traditional. Continue reading →
I love this shot, captured just across the street from City Hall in Morelia, the capital city of the state of Michoacan. Morelia is such a romantic old city, and this is where much of Mexico’s best candies are made. There is an amazing hacienda hotel called Villa San Jose that sits atop the town’s largest hill, from which the views are absolutely incredible. Continue reading →
Grilled octopus salad with cactus pico de gallo (Photo by Brad A Johnson)
I travel to Mexico frequently—mostly for the food. And whenever I come across a cooking class in Mexico, I almost always give it a shot. Last month I wrote about a class in Puebla where I learned to make an incredible mole poblano. I also wrote about the fish tacos atFour Seasons Punta Mita, from an afternoon cooking class at the resort’s beachside grill, Bahía (where they serve an incredible white sangria), led by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval and executive chef Philippe Piel. Here’s another recipe from that class: a super-easy, incredibly delicious grilled octopus with cactus pico de gallo.
Step One: Catch an octopus.
Good luck with that. (Actually, it’s pretty easy these days to find good quality frozen octopus any decent fish seller.) The Four Seasons is lucky enough to have a bunch of local fishermen who catch the fresh octopus in the ocean in front of the resort (or somewhere thereabouts).
La Flor de Ahuatepec taqueria in Puebla, Mexico (photo by Brad A Johnson)
I snapped this shot at La Flor de Ahuatepec, an incredible barbecoa taco stand inside the Mercado el Carmen in Puebla, one of my favorite cities in Mexico (about an hour south of Mexico city). The dining counter at La Flor is lined with an amazing selection of freshly made salsas and brightly colored Mexican soda bottles. While I was dining here, a couple of guys walked through carrying an entire side of beef (click through to see that photo). Just another day at the market. Continue reading →
Mole poblano at Mesones Sacristia in Puebla, Mexico (photo by Brad A. Johnson)
I’ve taken dozens of cooking classes throughout the years in towns across Mexico. And among my favorites were two classes I encountered just last month, days apart. The first was in the town of Puebla at Mesones Sacristía, a quirky boutique hotel and restaurant where chef Alonzo Hernández showed me how to make mole poblano the way his grandmother taught him to make it. That’s what this post is about. (The second cooking class was in Punta Mita at the luxurious Four Seasons resort, where chefs Richard Sandoval and Philippe Piel sparked up the beachside grill for fresh octopus that had been pulled from the sea earlier that day by local fishermen. But that’s a story and recipe for a future post, coming soon.) Continue reading →
Four Seasons Punta Mita yacht (Photo by Brad A Johnson)
This was one of my favorite sunsets so far this year. I snapped this shot aboard the private yacht of the Four Seasons Punta Mita in Mexico’s Banderas Bay, just north of Puerta Vallarta. Way too much tequila was consumed that day, but all in all it was a fairly perfect outing. I mean, just look at that view. Now imagine yourself barefoot. On a private yacht. With tequila, guacamole and tuna ceviche. Continue reading →
A new beachfront villa at The Viceroy Riviera Maya (Brad A. Johnson)
The Viceroy resort (formerly called The Tides) near Playa del Carmen, Mexico has just unveiled its brand new beach villas and a fresh new look throughout the property. The revamp also include a new beachfront restaurant and new menus. (The resort is owned by the Viceroy Hotels group, which recently sold the original Tides in Miami, so makes sense that the group would want to reposition the brand.)