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March 26, 2009

Late Night: The Shwarma

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Showing a bare modicum of discretion, I'm going to call this feature 'Late Night.' This category could very reasonably be called 'Drunk Food,' given that while always good, most of the dishes I expect to discuss are 100 times better after an evening of revelry. I've already covered White Castle and the Taco Truck (as well as other tacos),

The Shwarma, also known as the Doner Kebab to the Turks and sharing more similarities than differences with the Greek Gyro is an internationally recognized celebrity in the world of late night fare. In Mexico, they righteously substitute pork for lamb in the al pastor taco. In Paris, we passed a dozen spits roasting layer upon layer of lamb around the corner from the music row where we stayed.

The massive structure of meat is constructed with horizontal columns of fat which melt down, basting all the meat below. But, I expect I'm not telling you anything new. You've either seen these 'meat logs' around town in one way or the other and either fled in disgust or ran gleefully towards it.

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This particular Shwarma was served up from my go to place on MacDougal near Bleeker in The Village, Yatagan. It's not nearly the only one in the neighborhood. And, while I love it, it's not the best I've ever had, it now has a long-standing sentimental value just for being associated with so many of the late nights I've had through the years.


Yatagan Kebab House
104 MacDougal Street
Greenwich Village

September 18, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: No to Fascism


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Cuyoacan, Mexico City. 2007.

August 20, 2008

Food Finds: Lengua


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Condesa, Mexico City. 2007.

August 14, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Bickle


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Mexico City. 2007.

August 12, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Pley


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Mexico City. 2008.

August 10, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Trooper


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Coyoacan, Mexico City. 2007.

June 16, 2008

Photo of the Day: Sittin Back


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Archeology Museum, Chapultapec Park, Mexico City. 2007.

May 30, 2008

Photo of the Day: Xochimilco's Waters


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Xochimilco, Mexico City. 2007.

May 7, 2008

Supermarket Finds: Que Suave!


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Condesa, Mexico City. 2007.

May 5, 2008

Photo of the Day: Up Close


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Anthropology Museum, Chapultapec Park, Mexico City. 2007.

May 1, 2008

Mexico: Climbing the Pyramid of the Sun


IMG_5307, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The photo above shows just about how far up the Pyramid of the Sun I managed to climb. The 246 foot tall Pyramid at Teotihuacan outside of Mexico City, pretty much goes straight up. Besides being amazingly steep, each step was about 6 inches deep, far too small for me to fit my feet. It reminded me how much bigger I am than the indigenous folks out there.

Among my other excuses: the heat, the elevation, and being a chickenshit.

April 30, 2008

Supermarket Finds: Blood Sausage


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I'm starting a new feature with shots of various odd or otherwise interesting items I've found on the shelves and often the meat departments of supermarkets in my travels.

I'm pretty sure this is Blood Sausage and Eric agrees, but I've never seen it presented like this.

Condesa, Mexico City. 2007.

April 29, 2008

Mexico City: Pata Negra


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We inadvertently took advantage of the great exchange rate at Pata Negra in Condesa. Even though it was listed as a tapas bar, very few of the dishes we got turned out to be particularly small.

When I ordered 4 empanadas, 2 sandwiches and a lamb skewer we saw our neighbor eating, the bartender warned us that we may want to tone it down a bit. But, given the prices, I couldn't imagine that each dish wasn't going to be gone in 3 bites. Everything was considerably bigger than that.

Having had a number of empanadas in Buenos Aires the year before, I expected a small turnover, smaller than a Jamaican Beef Patty. Instead we got what looked much more like a slice of Sicilian Pizza, a thick square covered with pastry and filled with spinach, salmon or other such things. They were huge, if not all great. We tasted a little of everything to make sure we took advantage of the variety we ended up with.

The winner of the meal has to be the sandwiches, especially the one pictured above, stuffed with juicy red chorizo slices. yummy.

In the end, I think we paid $40US, including a few sangrias that Tammi had and several local beers. All with enough food to feed 4 or 5 people.

Photo of the Day: The Long Shot


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This was one of a group of Missionaries we came across when we went out to see the pyramids. We talked to them briefly after climbing up the smaller pyramid. The conversation was pretty funny. When we told them that we were from New York, one of the guys was blown away. "Oh, wow! New York! Wow! I've never been anywhere like that. New York!"

Of course, I pretty much had the same reaction when I heard they were Missionaries from Utah...

Teotihuacan, Mexico City, Mexico. 2007.

February 25, 2008

Mexico City: Viewing the Virgin of Guadalupe


IMG_5021, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I know, I still haven't posted about have the stuff we did in Mexico City. Here's my attempt to catch up a bit.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a big deal in Mexico. The guide who took us out here explained that Mexicans aren't really Catholic, they're followers of Guadalupe. I'm sure this is slightly hyperbolic, but only just so.

Clearly there is much to be said about native appropriation of Christian icons to represent facets of indigenous religions, but I'm trying not to go down that tangent.

Really, I just want to point out that they installed a moving sidewalk underneath the pulpit so visitors and pilgrims can see The Virgin without the obstruction of the clergy.
::c::

December 24, 2007

Ornaments: Mexican Candle


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The most recent addition to the collection.

Purchased in Mexico City, December 2007.
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December 17, 2007

Photo of the Day: Prayers


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Basilica Guadalupe, Mexico City. December 2007.
::c::

December 14, 2007

Photo of the Day: Agua


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Mexico City. 2007.

Graffiti of the Day: Seeing Spots


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December 13, 2007

Photo of the Day: Scowl


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December 12, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Roots


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Coyoacan, Mexico City. 2007.

Photo of the Day: Pollos


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Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico. 2007.
::c::

December 11, 2007

Mexico City: Tortas


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The other great street food we had in Mexico City was the tasty sandwich called the Torta.

The bread is a small football shaped hero roll. Its insides are smeared with smoky chipotle paste, then lined with slices of avocado, tomatoes and onions.

A variety of local meats are offered as fillings. I only tried the salchicon, a kind of bologna chopped into lardons, and later pierna, slices of roasted fresh ham. They were also sold with ham, chorizo or any of a long list of other meats. Both tortas I ate had that gooey queso fresco I love so much.

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Much like the spit-roasted tacos al pastor, I need to find these in New York. These are way too good to believe they aren't around in New York somewhere. I may have to make an expedition out to Queens or Sunset Park to hunt them down.

Mexico City: Tacos al Pastor


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I expected to eat some great street food in Mexico, but Tacos al Pastor were an epiphany.

These were unlike every other al Pastor I've eaten before in New York, San Francisco or anywhere else. Typically, it's just braised meat, not even necessarily pork. That is a travesty.

In Mexico City, "al Pastor" is defined by a giant hunk of pork roasting on a spit. It turns slowly browning all sides until an order comes in. Then, he of the giant knife turns the spit to expose a perfectly browned side of pork, crispy and juicy.


In one motion, he deftly slices off each piece of pork and tosses it into the tortilla waiting in his other hand. In many places there is a skinned pineapple above the pork on the spit. He reaches up and with the flick of the wrist cuts off a slice that lands right on top of the pile of smoldering pork waiting for you. The Taco is topped with a little salsa and served up fresh:

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The very concept is brilliant: a pork gyro. We need this in New York. Seriously. I mean, it's so obvious but it's not there. Why? It's maddening.
::c::

Photo of the Day: Surly Clown


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Tourist Bus, Zocalo, Mexico City, Mexico. 2007.
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Mexico City: Day 1


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After our 'early' lunch at Tezka, we started to explore.
Mostly what we discovered that day was the limitations of our maps and that we should pay better attention to which train we get on.

We tried to find Plaza Garibaldi, where a music festival was supposed to be taking place. We hopped the metro to the Garibaldi station. Unfortunately we couldn't find the plaza, and ended up in the middle of a rather sketchy street market, that we later red was called "Thieves Market," known both for its black market and its pickpockets. I decided we could miss the mariachis and we headed back to the metro to go to the Zocalo.
Unfortunately, I mistook the green and grey line for the green line and we ended up god knows where. We eventually made our way to Zocalo, where we walked around the square and saw some of the sites there. I shot a bit of it, but by this time most of the light was gone.
We went upstairs to the roof bar at the top of a craft shop and had a couple rounds while overlooking the Zocalo.
Afterwards, on the way to the Metro, we had our first Tacos al Pastor. More on that amazing food later.
::c::

Back Again

Apologies for the shortage of posts. I've got a ton of Mexico City stories, photos and so on, but haven't had a lot of time to write them up. I'm out in Glendale, California again, very briefly. Hopefully the time away from the usual distractions will give me a chance to get my posting organized again. Expect a fair number of posts coming in the next few days.
::c::

Mexico City: Noche Buena


IMG_3630, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

As with most great discoveries, I stumbled upon Noche Buena purely by accident.
I saw an unfamiliar bottle sitting on top of the ice in the beer cooler at the bar of Sanborn's Department Store in Coyoacan (seriously, a bar in a department store, why don't we have this?). When I asked the bartender, he said "Noche Buena," which I misheard as "esta buena" or "It's good."

Turns out it is good. "Noche Buena" is a term for Christmas Eve. The beer is a seasonal that pops up between November and January every year since the 1920's. It's produced by Cerveceria Cuautémoc Moctezuma, the brewers of half the Mexican beer I'd heard of. Most familiar in the US markets for Tecate and Dos Equis, and maybe Sol and Bohemia, depending on the market.

The beer itself is unlike nearly any other Mexican beer I've ever tasted. Over the trip, I managed to taste not just this year's 'vintage' but a couple bottles each of the 2006 and 2005 releases, which the lady at the hotel bar described to me as 'Reposada,' literally meaning 'rested.' Each year had some variations in flavor, but all of them were deep amber in color with heavy caramel flavors.

I found the 2006's caramel sweetness to be a bit severe, while the 2005 was balanced out more with a strong carbonation and hops. Given the differences, I made a point of getting a couple bottles of the 2007 to hold onto until next year to see what difference the 'resting' makes.


November 25, 2007

Mexico City: Chicharrones Con Salsa Verde


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This is an odd thing for me. I'm a huge fan of pig skin - not laced, cooked - but this dish almost seems to defeat the entire purpose. The only way I've ever enjoyed chicarrones has been crispy. This dish negates that entirely by offering it soggy in a green salsa. Somehow it manages to work. The skin is chewy and dense, the salsa adds spice. I only had a small bowl of it, I'm don't think I'd choose to make something like this myself, or even pass up a crunchy roasted chicharron for it, but I don't find it to be the sacrilege, I had initially considered it.
::c::

Mexico City Observations: Smoking


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I know I said the same thing about the Japanese, but they smoke a lot in Mexico too. This couple sat across from us at Tezka. Before the woman sat down she took out a pack of Marlboro Lights and put it on the table. The two of the chain smoked for the entire meal.

I try not to be one of 'those' non-smokers who bitch incessantly whenever someone lights up and I'm not complaining about this. It was just fascinating to see. I haven't been anywhere in the US where people smoke while they eat in easily a decade.

In our hotel, there are ashtrays every 10 feet along the hall of our non-smoking floor.
::c::

Photo of the Day: Aztec Sacrifice Platform


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Museum of Anthropology, Chapultapec Park, Mexico City. 2007.
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Mexico City Graffiti Posted


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I've created a Mexico City Graffiti set on Flickr. It's still in progress, of course.

More to come...
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November 24, 2007

Photo of the Day: Look Into My Eyes


IMG_2712, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This is one of many giant skulls decorating Paseo de la Reforma, presumably a 'cow parade' style exhibit celebrating the Day of the Dead earlier this month.

Mexico City, 2007.
::c::

Graffiti of the Day: Evil Ninja


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More Mexican Ninjas.
Sevilla Metro Station, Roma, Mexico City. 2007.
::c::

Mexico City Observation: Elevation

Mexico City has an elevation of 1.3 miles or 7350 feet. For those with no scale of such things, that's really high. New York has an elevation of 33 ft. I was reminded of this about two or three hours after we landed when I was trying to figure out why I had a splitting headache. Thankfully this passed, but I have to say that trying to counter dehydration in a place where you aren't supposed to drink the water can be a little tough.
::c::

Mexico City: Tezka

I read about Tezka a week or so ago when I was scrambling to figure out where we should go and what we should do here in Mexico City. Bittman raved about the place. When I realized that it was just a few blocks from our hotel, I decided it should be our first stop.

We went with the tasting menu, six courses of whatever the chef felt like doing with some set ingredients. Over the meal, we saw other tables also on the tasting menu get variations on the same courses we had.

After the jump, I've got shots of each course with minimal commentary. I'm experimenting a bit here with format, so tell me what you think.

Continue reading "Mexico City: Tezka" »

Mexico City: Ninja Crusader


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A busker on the Zocalo mixing cultures: a goth kid dressed like a ninja carrying a katana, but wearing the symbols of the crusaders.
::c::

Mexico City Bar Snacks


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I have no idea what this is. They served it as a bar snack at El Mitote in Condesa. Tastes sort of like seaweed, but I suppose it could bugs...

Turns out it's Perejil, which is just dried parsley. Clearly I should be concerned, as I was a little disappointed when I found out it wasn't bugs.

November 13, 2007

Going to Mexico


IMG_9278, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Since Barcelona is too expensive there days, Tammi and I decided to go somewhere closer to home for our annual Thanksgiving trip. We head to Mexico City next Thursday for 5 days. It has the benefit of a lower currency, something that is harder to come by these days. I can also practice my rusty Spanish skills while we're out there.

More to come.
::c::


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