Parque Del Ajedrez

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This is Ajedrez

Entrance to the Park

El Parque del Ajedrez is a park funded by BUAP, the largest public university in Puebla. It is named the ‘Chess Park’ as it is one of the facilities offered (free of charge). There is even a chess teacher who gives classes.  The park is a large modern space which also includes a children’s playground (the best I have ever seen), and a large number of exercising equipment pieces. There are two big outdoor chess boards (pieces can be borrowed from the office) and there are also numerous chess tables (in the shade)  for which you can also borrow boards and the pieces. The park also contains numerous outdoor art pieces and a café. The park is right next to the ‘Complejo Cultural Universitario‘ (also BUAP funded) which is a cultural center.  Both are well worth a visit, and offer a very modern mexican feel – a nice change of pace to el centro histórico de Puebla.

Outdoor Art

A Game of Chess

 

 

Vamos a Cholula

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This is Cholula

Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

Cholula is a hop, skip and a jump away from Puebla. By car it only takes about 20 minutes, by bus you should expect a journey of about 40 minutes which costs 8 pesos, or if you are going by Taxi you should expect to pay about 80 pesos. It is divided into two parts, San Pedro Cholula and San Andres Cholula. This post is about San Pedro where the Great Pyramid is located. San Andres is the location of many bars and clubs so is a very popular destination for many poblanos in the evenings at the weekend (but that’s for another post). Cholula is an exceptional place. Unbelievably for such a small city (population of 100,000) it is said to have 365 churches. This might be a slight exaggeration but it gives you an idea of what the city looks like – practically a church on every corner. Cholula is home to the Great Pyramid which is said to be the biggest pyramid in the world in terms of its base size. Now this isn’t your typical egyptian pyramid, but a pyramid that looks like a very big hill with a church at the top of it (Nuestra Señora de los Remedios). The pyramid has been excavated in certain parts so you can see original sections. These are impressive and very much in the style of Teotihuacan (Mexico City).

Climb up to Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

One of the best things about going to Cholula is the walk up to church at the top of the pyramid. A recent trip (made by my friends and myself) showed an in shape person can get up to the top within five to ten minutes, but be warned it is a little steep and I would suggest to take water with you. On the way up to the top, there is a woman who sells edible insects. You HAVE to try them. Surprisingly they are quite delicious (salty and lemony) , and it’s a good story to take home with you. Once you reach the top, not only do you have the beautiful site of the church but also amazing views of Puebla. On a clear day you will also have the bonus of the most stunning view of the beloved Popo (Popocatépetl) which is the Poblano Volcano.

Mmm delicious crickets

On your way down from the church, or before you go up, I suggest going into the tunnels of the pyramid. These were created by archaeologists in the 1930’s but feature real parts of the pyramid that can be seen from the passage ways. The tunnels lead you conveniently out right next to the excavated archaeological sites which show different parts of the pyramid. There is also a small museum which gives a lot of interesting information about the pyramid, and has a really great model of the entire site.

Inside the Labyrinth of Tunnels of the Great Pyramid

A part of the Great Pyramid

If you are able to come in to Cholula by car there are other beautiful places to see as well as the pyramid and its surroundings. One of these places is San Francisco Acatepec which has a beautiful facade and has been called the ‘porcelain temple’. Another beautiful church is Santa Maria Tonantzintla also on the outskirts of Cholula.

Finally, if you can make your trip to Cholula during a weekday the better, as at the weekend it can get very busy.

San Francisco Acatepec

Yo Amo a Los Vochos

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This is Vocho

Hola Vocho

When I think of Puebla, I think of Vochos. They are a part of Mexican culture but they have an even great significance in Puebla. This is because Puebla is home to mexico’s biggest Volskwagen plant which has been open since 1964 and employs nearly 15,000 staff. Volkswagen is every where you go in Puebla. Its logo is posted on every mechanic’s door, it’s on the streets (not only Vochos but also moden models too)and most importantly it is the sponsor for the local football team ‘la franja’ (Puebla F.C). Yo amo a los vochos, because they come from another time, and whenever I see them I feel like I am transported back to the 30’s.  Plus they are seriously cool.

Oye, los vochos son chidos.

Un Vocho al Centro

Vocho Street Art

 

Catedral de Puebla / El Zócalo

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This is El Centro

View of the Cathedral from El Zocalo

Puebla Cathedral is located in the Centro Histórico de Puebla which is basically downtown Puebla, where you will find most of the old colonial buildings, museums and many other places of cultural interest. At the heart of every mexican city is ‘el zócalo’ which means the main plaza or square of the city/town. The Cathedral is right next to the Zocalo where there are a number of restaurants and cafés. There are always a lot of big balloons for sale (‘globos’), young couples (PDA is very much the norm in Mexico) and kids playing in the fountains. If you sit down for a drink you will be welcomed by shoe shiners , caricature artists and many other people trying to sell you stuff. This isn’t just because you are a tourist, this is how things are done in Mexico. Wherever you go in Mexico there are always little tiendas (stores) , people on bikes or just people walking around selling stuff. And I mean anything from food to pencils to jewellery. If you are not interested just say ‘no gracias’ and they will leave you alone. Don’t forget el zócalo is one of the more touristy areas in Puebla so you will most likely be paying more than the usual price for your average chela (beer) or meal.

Inside the Cathedral

Cathedral Blue Skies

PICA PICADITAS

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This is Picadita

A picadita is an antojito (see this previous post on antojitos/street food for all the information you need on them). They are made using a circle ofmasa which is then pinched all around its circumference, fried and topped with salsa (red or green as always, remember to ask which is spicier), and a variety of toppings such as cheese, chorizo/longaniza, chicharron, and papas if you so desire. More often served in the morning, picaditas are very tasty, and easily made at home. They can be bought before they are cooked (pinched and made into the correct shape) just the same way you can buy tortillas and memelas. Usually these are sold by indigenous women on streets, but can also be found in local tiendas (shops). In some neighbourhoods (colonias) they come selling door to door, so don’t pass up on this opportunity to try them!

Cost: approximately 6 pesos each for cooked ones, 2 pesos each for “raw” ones.

¡Provecho!

Dos picaditas por favor, una verde y una roja

Memela Compro, Memela Como

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This is Memela

A memela is an antojito (street food) from Oaxaca (pronounced Wahaca, which also happens to be the name of an excellent mexican restaurant chain in London). It is made, like many antojitos, from masa. Frijoles (refried beans) are added to the masa before it is flattened with a tortilla press and then cooked on a hot grill. Once the base, which is touching the grill, is cooked and charred, salsa (red or green is your choice) is smothered across it, to which usually crumbly cheese (I recommend to ask for quesillo which is oaxacan stringy cheese similar to mozzarella) is added. Additional toppings can also include avocado, papas fritas (fries), nopales (cactus) and/or chicharron. You can always order a dish however you want in Mexico, so if you want everything on your memela, or a different topping, don’t hesitate to ask for it (as long as they have the ingredients). The easiest way to eat it is by folding it in half and using your hands. As usual, it is best served with an ice cold glass bottled coca-cola. Like picaditas (see post here) they can also be bought ‘raw’ as discussed.

Cost: between 9-15 pesos.

¡Provecho!

Una memela roja por favor con puro quesillo, aguacate y papas fritas

 

The (Poblana) Cemita

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This is La Cemita

The Cemita has a lot of sandwich respect, not only in its hometown of Puebla, but also across Mexico and the entire world. Super foodies know about cemitas; as I discovered in an article entitled ‘iconic sandwiches in the world‘. Two of Mexico’s sandwiches are listed in the 27, and deservedly so. The other sandwich is called a Torta (but I will save that for another post). How do cemitas and tortas differ? Well the real difference is the bread. A cemita, which is also the name of the roll, is a brioche type bread with sesames on it.  The filling is usually refried beans, avocado, chipotle or some chiles if you like spiciness, quesillo (Oaxaca stringy cheese) and a meat, the most popular being milanesa (which is breadcrumbed beef). Cemitas are often served toasted, as I prefer, and are really sabrosa (tasty).  You can also buy the rolls on their own in markets, if you want to make them at home. These days cemitas are easily found across the states, so don’t worry if you are not planning a mexico trip soon. Though you might have to wait a bit longer if you are from the UK or Europe.

Cost: 20-25 pesos per filled cemita. For just the roll approximately 3 pesos.

 

¡Provecho!

Cut in half toasted cemita

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Mercado 5 de Mayo / Mercado de la 18

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This is El Mercado

Welcome to one of Puebla’s markets, officially known as Mercado 5 de Mayo but most commonly known as el mercado de la 18. Both names are due, I presume, to 5 de Mayo being historically important to Puebla and its location on Avenida 18 Poniente.

The market, which is located near el centro historico is vast inside, and also has numerous stores, fishmongers and butchers surrounding its perimeter. You know you are nearly there as you begin to smell fish as you approach the area.

Outside the market

On the outside wall of the market, it is written ‘Mercados Poblanos – Lo Mero Nuestro‘ which translated means ‘our very own’. Really the expressions means that it is a place of pride, and its what they excel at (in this case being the markets of Puebla). And from what I saw the statement can not be argued with. Inside the market, and outside it too, is filled with hundreds of stalls divided up into sections of meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, fruit, flowers and that’s not all…

It’s not completely in the mexican culture to go to a supermarket though it is more and more part of daily life because of its convenience (a bit like supermarkets in France and Belgium where people like to buy their groceries from individual shops). It’s not easy to go to a market like this one which is in the historical centre. Saying that, if a mexican is making an important meal, or has the time and the means to go to a market then they will. The produce you find in markets, like this one, is impeccable. And its not only of high quality but cheaper too. Inside you will also find a lot of puestos (stands) selling prepared food , using produce from the market. Theres a few quirky things in the market as well like alive chickens for sale and one place selling stuff which I can only describe as witchcraft products…but I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions when you visit the place…

Pollos Hermanos

This is a mexican market, a poblano market. Don’t be fooled, if you expect to find a farmer’s market like the ones back home, that’s not what you’ll get. But what you get is something so much better; a place rich in character and personality which captivates the hustle and bustle of Mexico.

Be sure, you’ll be very hungry by the end of your visit.

¡Provecho!

frutas y frutas

Crabs and Crabs

El Mural de los Poblanos

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This is Chiles en Nogada

El Mural de los Poblanos is a high end restaurant located in the historical centre of Puebla. It serves traditional poblano dishes and prides itself on locally sourcing all ingredients. El Mural considers itself to serve the most authentic and best tasting food of Puebla. It is part of the Tesoros de Mexico, ‘a group of hotels and restaurants that have gone through a careful selection process and meet the highest quality standards’ . The restaurant is named after a mural which covers one of the walls inside, which depicts many famous poblanos (I have to admit I didn’t recognise a single one) . There is much that can be discussed regarding this restaurant, as the menu is vast and covers a huge number of dishes important to the city such as Mole and street foods such as Chalupas and Cemitas. However I prefer to look at one dish in particular, and save other dishes (at different restaurants) for other posts. For a more in depth review of the restaurant and all its dishes check out this great post by blogger Docsconz.

Inside the Restaurant

The dish is called Chiles en Nogada. If you have ever been to Puebla in the summer, you will know that around July something in the air changes. Suddenly from nowhere, posters and banners appear everywhereadvertising the dish. This is a poblano dish; authentic only to Puebla and only in season for the months of July, August and September.

So what are Chiles en Nogada? And why are they seasonal?

Chiles en Nogada are:

  • poblano chiles filled with picadillo (which are then dunked in egg batter and fried)
  • topped with a walnut based cream sauce (nogada)
  • and pomegranate seeds

Many of the ingredients of the picadillo are seasonal and unique to Puebla such as special fruits like manzana panochera and pera de leche, but in particular the nogada is seasonal and only available for these brief months. El Mural prides itself on using the correct ingredients bought only from the state of Puebla, for example they do not use regular apples which are more easily sourced and cheaper. They make sure that the Chile en Nogada is made as it should be, to the very last detail.

The three elements give the three colours of the Mexican flag: green (chile), white (nogado salsa) and red (pomegranates). This is no coincidence, as the dish is tied historically to the independence of Mexico. As it is said it was famously served to Agustín de Iturbide (a general during the mexican war of independence).

The dish is served at room temperature (usually a little bit warm on the inside) , and is very sweet due to the sauce. The centre, which is filled with picadillo, is a fruit, spice and meat mixture which contributes to the sweet taste. The inside can often be a bit spicy due to the pepper, a taste which really compliments the sweetness of the creamy sauce.

The three parts of Chiles en Nogada

he Nogada salsa being poured onto the Chile

Chile en Nogada

Chiles en Nogada are best served with a white wine or a sparkling white wine. Accompanied with the dish is always bread, which is very important because you use it to mop up the delicious sauce. The bread can be a bit of a deal breaker, if the bread is not up to scratch, then it can really let the dish down. You want to have a nice crispy bread like photographed below.

the ever important pan

So what makes El Mural de los Poblanos’ Chiles en Nogado so worth the visit? Well you can’t go wrong with any dish here – as a foreigner visiting Puebla, if you have a decent amount of money to spare, then this is the place to go because you know you are getting high quality cuisine which is truly poblano. And if you happen to be in season try the chiles! This is the real thing with every ingredient being directly sourced from local farmers.

If you want to make them at home here is a recipe though they say there are as many recipes for Chiles en Nogada as there are families in Mexico. An even better option is the cookery classes offered by the restaurant; if you are a keen chef or foodie check out more information on classes here.

Wherever you go in Puebla, don’t pass up on this very tasty poblano dish.

I will leave you with wise words, ‘Puebla is Mexico’s best kept secret’. No doubt about it; don’t pass up on visiting this magnificent city and all its delicious food.

¡Provecho!

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Taquitos de la Juarez

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This is Tacos de Asada

Best Tacos in Puebla?! Well I couldn’t possibly say that, as I haven’t tried all the tacos in Puebla. However these are UP THERE!  And no Mexican is going to disagree with that statement. Students of UPAEP, the University which it boarders, are probably its best customers and its biggest fans.

Taquitos de La Juarez, is an example of a Puesto. It is found, only in the evenings, right next to the very popular football pitch. If you go during the day, there is no sign of it whatsoever, but at night it appears from nowhere. This is why I consider eating tacos as a street food, a very evening affair, because many places like this one are only open at night, and their atmosphere fit with an evening mood. This place is popular throughout the evening, and even more so with drunken diners.

Taquitos de la Juarez

Tacos come in many form in Mexico, and generally a puesto will focus on one type (more posts to follow on other types). In this case they are tacos made with Carne Asada. Carne Asada are thin strips of beef which are marinaded and then grilled. They are DELICIOUS.  As I discussed in a previous post about antojitos (see post here), tacos are only ever made and sold by men. Being a taquero (the person who makes tacos) really is a man’s job.

This taqueria sells taquitos (which means little tacos).  A bit like eating off someone else’s plate, there is something a little less naughty about eating taquitos rather than tacos, though you’ll probably end up eating more than if they were bigger (but don’t worry you won’t feel guilty, because they are just that good!). These taquitos are served with onion, cilantro/coriander, and guacamole. You will be asked which of those you want, I recommend you ask for all of them.  Then help yourself to lemon (essential to making them taste like heaven) and salsa. I like the green one, which is quite spicy, so be careful how much you add.

The Best Kind of Mexican

You have got some choices, including, if you want just carne asada, or if you want Longaniza (which is like chorizo) or combinados (a mixture of both).  I recommend the first and third choice as the carne asada is just too good to pass up on. You always can add cheese, which they melt on the tortilla before they add the meat. Also very delicious, however not ascommon with locals. This is because the tortillas are corn, not flour, and usually you have cheese with flour tortillas. Flour tortillas are available too (tortilla de harina) but beware they are much bigger in size as they use Pan Arabe (again look out for a post coming soon about Tacos Arabes). These I would definitely recommend with cheese. You can also get the same meat options in a Cemita (see previous post here) which is a type of roll ( also delicious with cheese).  There are a couple other options but the ones I have mentioned are what I think you should go for. Basically you’re choosing what combination of meat/ tortilla you want.  Best served with a nice cold BOING (a fruit flavoured drink).

Dos Taquitos con Queso : uno de asada y uno combinado

Locations:

1. On Avenida Juarez between Los Remedios and KOI (the sushi restaurant).

2. At the cross section between Avenida 13 Poniente and 25 Sur (on the corner of the football pitch).

Please note both of these are very close to each other (less than 10 minutes walk).

Cost:

10 Pesos per Taquito (2 pesos extra for cheese).

20 Pesos for a Cemita.

All other prices are in the photo of the menu below.

¡Provecho!

Menu de Taquitos de la Juarez – with cheese or without?