Last week, we escaped the scorching temperatures and tragic wildfires that plagued Central Texas with a long-awaited visit to Mexico City, where high temperatures kissed the 80s and the cool evenings almost begged for a sweater. The occasion for the visit was Mima’s 80th birthday, which happens to be on Mexican Independence Day, Dieciseis de septiembre, a very festive time in Mexico when the entire city is decorated in green, white, and red, and culinary delicacies abound.
We arrived in D.F. late on September 13, so for our first meal the next day we chose Azul Condesa, owned by chef and author Ricardo Muñoz Zurita. I can’t begin to explain how dining out in Mexico City can turn from a regular family outing into an experience for all senses in a matter of minutes. Azul Condesa met all my expectations and then some. Unfortunately, Chef Ricardo is a very busy man and was away from the kitchen, but I look forward to meeting him in person in the near future.
Later that evening, Will and I invited my brother Ariel for some drinks in the bustling main plaza of Downtown Coyoacan. We sat outside on the patio of one of D.F.’s most popular mezcal bars, Corazón de Maguey, located just across the plaza from big sibling Los Danzantes. I had been in Los Danzantes already, setting up a special dinner paired with selections from their ALL MEXICAN wine list for a CuisineXplorers tour. Corazón is a bit more laid back, but the service and drink selections are top notch. We enjoyed various selections of artisanal mezcales from various producing regions, including Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Zacatecas, made by different mezcal masters. The mission of these establishments is to promote and rescue the art of mezcal-making by purchasing and selling mezcal from small production co-ops from all producing states. The staff is atentive and well-trained and can answer any question about the origin and flavor profile of the spirits.
My flight consisted of the house OH mezcal joven from Zacatecas, barrel aged, with butterscotch in the nose and a sweet pineapple palate; next the Alipús from San Andres, Oaxaca, a greener and herbal selection with undertones of jasmine and melon. Next came the Los Danzantes Tobalá, produced in dry, high slopes that concentrate the flavors in the plant, producing a smoky and robust spirit. Last but not least, Karim poured me a mezcal which is not usually served on this flight, the special edition Alipús from master Don Valente Angel, made from a blend of three plants: espadin, madre cuiche and bicuixe. It was very smooth and lightly smoky, with a tropical explosion of banana and pineapple.
For the next round, Will and Ariel opted to taste some of their specially crafted artisanal beers, but I stayed the course and sampled a couple of mezcal cocktails, all creative but respectful of the flavors of the different mezcales.
I was lucky to meet one of the partner/owners, Pedro, who goes by the name of Pete Mezcales. We are now in contact to make sure our next CuisineXplorers group experiences the best mezcal tasting available in D.F., with excellent food to match. He also offered to guide us on a tour of their mezcalerias in Oaxaca. Los Danzantes has many partners in the state, artisanal producers who sell their own products to the group, and some who produce Los Danzantes’ house labels, Alipús and Los Danzantes, which is currently available in Austin under the name Los Nahuales (to avoid confusion with Danzante Pinot Grigio, of course…)
Hungry and thirsty yet? You just tell me when you are ready to go and we’ll make it happen. By the way, we didn’t get mugged, kidnapped, or killed during our stay. We remained happy, stuffed, and mostly drunk. I love my hometown.