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Jun 17, 2008 09:29 AM


It’s only one day after leaving Guadalajara and ya de repente me pongo trieste. People can say what they want about this city in comparison to other food destinations in Mexico but what I experienced was nothing short of revelatory. I miss it outrageously.

Some etched memories to share right now:

The steam rising from below cloth lifted in basket full of tacos de canasta and the overwhelming scent of maize and tender bite of steamed taco in the cool morning surrounded by the bustling activity of the Mercado Corona.

The sheer beauty of the colores of the pitayas elegantly laid upon delicate green leaves, jewels in appearance and taste.

The endorphin inducing and cooling cabeza sensation of a torta ahogada, the tapatio sandwich that is messy and simple yet very special in my heart.

The satisfaction of that first spoonful of delicious carne en su jugo with crispy bacon and corn freckled rich refritos after arriving with itching anticipation and an empty belly at Karne Garabaldi

Sitting in clear view of the gorgeously tiled and cazuela adorned activity of the kitchen at Las Nueve Esquinas sipping a fresa agua fresca and futilely trying to ponder if a birria in California shadows his one.

Spicy Tepache, tostadas de pata and one of GDL greatest gifts to the culinary world a Jericialla at the very old school La Morenita.

The cheese cannot be explained. The pitiful incarnations on this side are a sin. I left some of my clothes in Jalisco for the space to smuggle pounds – I open my refrigerator and just smile.

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  1. Apoligize for the belated conclusion to that intro.

    I hate to write this because it helps no one - but straight up the most amazing food I had was in the private homes of my two aunts.

    >>First Day

    Since Gdl is 2 hours ahead and we arrived relatively late around 6pm we went straight to house of my friends aunt we were staying.

    There she had prepared us cena. We had flautas, sopes and pollo a la valentina. The flautas were quite similar to those served at Texcoco in Chula Vista. They [the fried tortillas] are called raspadas and specifically used for this. They are texturally superior to any thick regular tortilla for frying. I cant tell you how delicious this was served with a mexican oregano souled fresh tomato caldillo. The sopes were quite interesting because the masa had been stained red - from chile that doesnt "pica" perhaps chilacate. Chicken was delicious - a dish of Jalisco - any info?

    >> 2nd Day

    We went over to the nearby Plaza del Sol mall to change some money and I had my first agua. I ordered the milky pink liquid which was labeled horchata because I was intrigued. Turns out that - at least here regionally - you have to specify for agua de arroz if you want the familiar white version rather than the pleasant but sweeter strawberry flavored. Oddly, I could not stop thinking about nesquik..

    We went to this other mall - that was more modern than anything I have seen in the US . All I can remember is that it is anchored by a chic department store called Liverpool and they have a food court with a Karne Garabaldi and Mariscos El Negro. Maybe Crisitina can help with the location?

    Across the street at Costco I picked up a Casa Madero Red whine from Parras, Coahuila the oldest winery in North America and a Tequila they were demoing. The wine was quite good, the tequila I can't remember... ;^)

    We then went over to the Club for Atlas the soccer team which the family belongs to. Next to the olympic swimming pool they had a buffet. This was probably one of the best culinary speaking - that I have experienced. A great color cafe pasilla based guisado of Carnita like pork and thin Julienned nopales, chicken breasts in pomegrantate sauce, tostadas de cueritos, and damn good cooked to order bistek with hand made tortillas and trio of salsas. Thing that most stood out was the esquites - it was my first taste and understanding of what a shame the sickly sweetness of american corn is. So divinely good with powdered chile, cheese and cream. Gelatina for dessert.

    Back at the house I count not resist succumbing to the outside bicycle driven nieve the garrafa vendor. Had a wonderful cooling lima with puckery spicy chamoy...

    1 Reply
    1. re: kare_raisu

      Your adopted family belongs to the Club ATLAS? Well la de da! That's a very rarified atmosphere, Kare. You were definitely not among the lower classes.

      The mall you mentioned is called Galerías, located in Zapopan at the corner of Rafael Sanzio and Avenida Vallarta. It's huge, and it's a chain. There are at least two in Mexico City, one in Monterrey, the one in Guadalajara, and one or two more elsewhere in the interior. They are extremely upscale, with the anchor stores that Kare mentioned, other stores of the Ferragamo ilk, etc. However: although Galerías is often packed with upscale people (mostly young people), it's rare to see anyone with a shopping bag. In other words, nobody much is buying anything much.

      Most of the large malls in Mexico's cities have become the new town plazas: see and be seen, have an ice cream, flirt, go to the movies (I believe the Cinépolis cinema at Galerías has 22 screens, including an IMAC and several VIP screening rooms with waiter service and big comfy double recliners to sit in). Sushi while you watch Sex and the City, the Movie, anyone?

      And you thought Mexico was a third world country!


    2. >> Day 3

      We went to the Centro Historico for the first time where we wandered for hours, allowing my friend mother to walk a little down memory lane 30 years later. I ended up getting a ciruehla agua fresca from a Paleta etc vendor on Pedro Loza I believe to beat the heat. Really good and quite unique. I cant understand why you won't see this golden drink very often on this lado.

      A bit later we stumbled across La Morenita right next to the Santuario. I'd wager it fits the bill of an old-school traditional GDL restaurant to the T and I really liked that they offer escabeche on each table. We ordered some tortas ahogadas that had a flavorful fresh tomato based sauce though it required adding chile. I had to get the gargantuan tostada de pata for the sake of the city and ate as much as I could - I dont think I will be getting this again however!

      The homemade tapache was spicy and delicious. Desserts included a side by side tasting of flan and jericalla. Both were well made though I can understand the tapatio preference for the light, tongue soothing Jericalla.

      Mercado Corona will be the first Mexican mercado I have ever experienced. I was impressed by the row of menuderias flanking one side and endless antojito puestos on the other. There was a gorgeous Pan vendor on one corner across from Flor de Cordoba [more on this later] with incredible looking artisanal birotes which would rival those of the French.

      Once I got more into the market - I found the two swamped Tacos de Canasta vendors manned by a few young ladies whom I could not help but falter when pressed to get some by their calls.

      An order of 5 each filled with a different relleno cost a little over US $1. Mole Verde, Chicharron, frijolitos, carne debrashada, papas. Ah - what I wouldn't give for some of those now.

      7 Replies
      1. re: kare_raisu

        "I ended up getting a ciruehla agua fresca from a Paleta etc vendor on Pedro Loza I believe to beat the heat. Really good and quite unique. I cant understand why you won't see this golden drink very often on this lado."

        I haven't seen the varietal of plum used for this agua north or the border. It wouldn't surprise me if the varietal of plum is already here and that I just may not have seen it yet. When you were in the market, did your friends happen to point out plums that are used to make the agua?

        1. re: DiningDiva

          Yes, its different then what I have seen up here - though I am sure it exists already.

          1. re: kare_raisu

            Yeah, I kind of suspect they're around somewhere here too. I've not seen them at Northgate and they've got about the widest selection of Mexican fruits in SD that I've come across.

            1. re: DiningDiva

              The agua is made from ciruela mexicana, which only grows here. The photo shows the plum in its green stage, but the agua fresca is made from ripe plums, which are either yellow or red. I've never seen this fruit outside Mexico.

              This is my second-favorite agua fresca, the first being piña con alfalfa.


              1. re: cristina

                Thanks for the info. Did you ever see the plums in question when you were living in Tijuana?

                Also, thanks for the link to the Coctale de Camaron on your blog. It's been hotter than blazes up here and that sound like a good bet for dinner one night this week.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  I didn't begin to see the plums until I moved to the interior--although back in the old days, I wasn't really looking for them. It's entirely possible you could find some in the Tijuana produce markets and neighborhood *mercados sobre ruedas* (street markets, in Tijuana).

                  They're very rarely sold in supermarkets, even in the interior. I've only found them at tianguis. As I mentioned, the color of the ripe ones ranges from bright yellow to deep red. The stone is nearly as big as the fruit.

                  To make agua fresca de ciruela, squeeze the raw plums with your hands over a strainer in a bowl. Mash the pulp through the strainer, removing the peels and stones. You'll want about two cups or so of juice and pulp (this is quite labor intensive).

                  Mix the strained pulp and juice with sugar to taste. Add water until the agua fresca is the consistency you like. Two cups of pulp/juice should make 3 liters of agua fresca, more or less.

                  Chill and serve.

                  And thanks for the note about the coctel de camarón! Enjoy.


        2. I feel you man! Eating on the streets,in the haunts and homes of Guadalajara is what it's all about.Karnes Garibaldi is a fun and a unique tasty spot.Glad you got to try it for yourself.Did you have some Victorias or Indios with your corn-bean extravaganza?Field corn rules, and sweet corn is for your flexcar.

          Yeah man, those tostadas de cueritos will put you out of commission.Did you make it out to destilerias?Anyways, sounds like you had a tremendous life experience, in more ways than one.

          1. Las Tlayudas is a Oaxacan restaurant I stumbled upon near the first home I was staying a little bit north east of Plaza del Sol. [


            One night I was hungry and walking around the area - resisted the signs for tacos arabes and headed here. Its a lovely small restaurant run by a young husband and wife team whose knowledge of Oax cookery and passion is rivaled by none.

            Inquired for beer - but it wasn't available, instead I was brought out a wonderful shot glass of smokey mezcal gratis. :^)

            I ordered a Memela - a Oaxacan sope with chorizo de bolita to start.
            I was wondering why it was taking so long to arrive but the answer came in the form of taking that first bite of fresh masa, earthy sieved black beans, and the rich chorizo juxtaposed next to creamy queso fresco. If I ate only this my entire trip - I'd still feel the pain of longing I have now to get back to GDL.

            But it gets better - that perfect example of a sope was lifted further by the salsa accoutrement that was placed on the table as I waited.
            Admiration for this couple by me is tripled in this simple plate that without a doubt contained the best salsas of this trip. The green opened my eyes. That fresh, grassy chile note tempered by a tomate verde that leaned more toward sweet than sour and my favorite part - diced avocado redolent.

            The crema based avocado sauce with its garlic flavor...damn..and just look at the taquero style arbol!

            For dinner - I ordered the Enmolada - with the name of the restaurant in mind. This was not what - you think - rolled filled tortillas with a filling and dressed in a mole sauce. Instead its a tlayuda folded over and filled with mole negro and quesillo. Texture in the crisp giant tortilla, richness of tangy queso oaxaca, and depth of artesianal haunting mole negro. Forget papa johns, tlayudas is where its at homeys.

            To finish I had a Oaxacan horchata with melon, pecans and tuna syrup, mmm! And tasted some of the sal de gusano - another example of the unbelievable hospitality of this couple.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kare_raisu

              Wow the Memela looks divine! Thanks for sharing. Oh and the salsa accoutrement wow.

              I've never seen a Enmolada looks interesting.

            2. >>>Karne Garbaldi

              On the reccomendations of DD and Cristina - I knew I could not miss KG if I were to spend 10 days in Guad.

              The plaza del sol outlet definitely has nice digs with its drive up valet service and upper class zapopan clientele.

              I think it might have even been less than the 12.5 seconds that they claim to be the record in the Guiness record book to serve me.

              I ordered a mediana Carne en su Jugo and horchata *boom* it arrives. You can tell that the runners are hovering around to hear the order!

              I was starving after an entire day managing the endless tianguis in Chapala. That first bite and I closed my eyes. I really like that they keep the delicous golden bacon crispy by adding on order, the thin beef - that reminded me of sukiyaki, earthy peruano beans and rich broth.

              The refritos on the side are deserving to be canned for souvenir as seen in the pic (I have seen them in CA Supers). The addition of the corn - keeps them from being boring and and all is Well fried in Pork fat.

              The grilled sweet onions and rabanos are great breaks from diving into the soup lending sweetness and light notes to compete with the rich caldo.

              I left a happy man without a doubt in my mind that I will be back!

              Once my 'aunt' found out I had gone out for Carne en su Jugo her pride as a cook demanded her to make it for me the following evening. She is super cute and sweet!

              Just when I thought I had reached the pinnacle of GDL Gastronomie - I stood corrected at the first spoonful of her poderosa talent!

              Enter Carne en su Jugo into my favorite all time things to eat.

              4 Replies
              1. re: kare_raisu

                Didja put a big spoonful of minced onions, another of chopped cilantro, a big squeeze of lime, some sal de grano, and a spoonful of salsa in it?

      's one of Guadalajara's sublime dishes.


                1. re: cristina


                  You know that there is not a decent recipe on the web for this?

                  1. re: kare_raisu

                    Well...I know that there are a LOT of recipes on the web for carne en su jugo. Whether any of them can achieve the greatness of Karne Garibaldi or the woman of the house where you were a guest--I think that's a question of trying, tweaking, experimenting, and experience. A friend of mine in Arandas makes it as well as they do at Karne Garibaldi, but she's been preparing it all her life.

                    And Karne Garibaldi is never willing to share the recipe...


                    1. re: cristina

                      Interesting thing about her carne en su jugo which I really dug was that she blended cilantro with garlic and onion I think so that the broth took on a slight green hue. Really good.