La Poblanita

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Street Food

La Poblanita , located right near the Catedral de Puebla (in the historical center), is a street food vendor which sells antojitos. If you were to ask me what I think of when I think of Mexico, one of the first things I would say is ‘antojitos’. Antojitos means ‘little cravings’ and are the street foods of Mexico. Street foods in Mexico mostly include corn as their main ingredient. Here are just to name a few: tacos, tamales, memelas, gorditas, quesadillas, tortas, cemitas, chalupas, elotes, taquitos dorados, tostadas and molotes! Antojitos are sold EVERYWHERE, and I mean everywhere. You can always find something to eat in Mexico, day or night. You can’t go a block without antojitos being sold. And just because they are off the street doesn’t mean they are not safe to eat. I have never gotten food poisoning from street food, so don’t be scared to be adventurous. Try something new and be a real Mexican. Because real mexicans love their antojitos. Antojitos are sold by a lot of places during the day and generally close up shop by early evening, but at night a whole new set of vendors appear whether its in an actual building or being sold on the side of a street. I plan to make a lot of posts about different antojitos, so do not fret if you are puzzled as to what many of them are.

This post is about Molotes. Molotes are deep fried corn tortillas which have an oval shape. They are filled with the filling of your choice such as quesillo (my favourite) , mushrooms or many meat options. Aside: quesillo is a cheese from Oaxaca generally used in quesadillas and lots of antojitos. For vegetarians its a very tasty option. Anyway back to Molotes, once they are filled, they are deep fried, and served with salsa (rojo or verde) and sour cream. They are really really delicious- crunchy on the outside and the salsa and cream take it to the next level.

La Poblanita which is very well known in Puebla has been around for about 30 years. The weird thing is that they sell molotes throughout the day whereas usually molotes are mostly sold as a night street food. It’s cheating a bit eating them during the day, but they taste so good I don’t really care if it’s not the proper way! I guess eating a molote during the day is a bit like having a cappuccino after 11am in Italy.

Señoritas de la Poblanita

Here are some tips for ordering antojitos in Mexico:

  • Its not really in the mexican culture for them to ask you what you want to eat. To get the vendors attention you need to say either ‘señorita/señora’ for women and for men you say ‘joven’ which means young man (usually you will only find men selling tacos).
  • You should then ask for what you want and ask how much it costs (‘cuanto cuesta?’). A molote at La Poblanita costs about 16 pesos. If you want a soda with it I recommend Mexican Coca Cola (in the glass bottle). Mexican Coca-Cola is the best coke in the world so don’t pass up on the opportunity to try it. Often the soda will cost more than the antojito (usually 10-12 pesos). Its also absolutely fine to ask for whatever you want even if its not necessarily on the menu. For example if you want mushrooms and quesillo, then go for it. Mexicans are very accommodating. Same goes with if you don’t want the salsa (though I think that would be a fatal mistake).
  • At La Poblanita they will give you your antojito on a plate and along with everyone else you should stand and eat your food. This is very normal in Mexico. Even if there are no chairs, people will stand by the vendor and eat their food. There is often a little sideboard to place your dish on as you can see in the picture below. At night if you are driving around you will see people standing outside vendors eating, just like I have described.

Mexico is probably the best place in the world to eat after a night out or if you are craving a midnight snack.

  • Now if you want to be really Mexican here’s the way to do it: when you get your food or if there are people around you eating, you always say ” ¡Provecho! (short for buen provecho), and when you leave , if people are still eating then you also say ¡Provecho!

I have met a lot of foreigners in Puebla who are a bit wary of eating street food. Don’t be. It’s one of the things that makes Mexico so great.

¡Provecho!

Un Molote de Quesillo con Salsa Verde y Crema

El Mural de los Poblanos

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

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!

Check out Soy Poblana’s facebook page for additional posts and information about life in Puebla and Mexico!

El Flamingo – Tortas de Puebla

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Tortas

Okay, you got me! Tortas are not specifically from Puebla, but good ones are. Too controversial? If you disagree, then please comment below, and pictures provide good evidence. So what’s so special about Poblana tortas? Well I am just basing this on DF and Puebla tortas, but first of all they are crunchier, and most definitely a different shape. For my tasting DF’s tortas are a little too soft. Yes I am a crunchy roll kind of a gal.

A torta in my opinion should be about the size in the picture (maybe a little bigger) and either an oval or circular shape. Inside the Torta, there should be frijoles (beans), avocado, onion, tomato, rajas (if you like spicy), quesillo, and a meat of your choice, if you should desire. Also a bit of mayonnaise can make quite the difference. Personally I also like my Torta toasted.

If that sounds good to you, and you like the look of the picture, then check out ‘El Flamingo’ which is in ‘El Centro’. I recommend these tortas, as they make them just as I mentioned before, and a bonus is that the ‘Milanesa’ isn’t greasy. ‘Milanesa’ is either pork or chicken covered in bread crumbs that is fried (similar to Escalope Vienes/ Wiener Schnitzel), so sometimes if not done correctly can be a little greasy. That is certainly not the case at ‘El Flamingo’. They also serve delicious juices, licuados, and aguas. More on types of drinks to follow in another post!

¡Provecho!

El Flamingo is located on Av. 2 Poniente between 3 Sur and 5 de Mayo.

Tacos al Pastor

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Tacos al Pastor

Let the taco education continue. Previously I have written about tacos de asada which are one of my personal favourites, but now it is al pastor’s turn. Heavily influenced from shawarma, Tacos al Pastor are slightly different in that the meat is cooked on a standing spit (the same way in which kebab meet is cooked) however the meat is pork rather than lamb. If you are in downtown Puebla around 10am you will see the meat being prepared at every taqueria in sight. Layer by layer the meat is marinaded in spices and layered on the spit, where it then takes hours to reach the tasty meat, which is used in the tacos. Don’t be surprised to see gigantic spits of taco meat before lunch/dinner begins.

What’s that on top of the spit, in the picture below? It’s a pineapple! A crucial part of tacos al pastor is the pineapple. The pineapple, if done correctly, should stand atop of the spit, so it gains the heat, and then pieces of it are cut off and added to the already prepared meat. Being a ‘taquero’ (like the man pictured below) is a real skill, one that you can see in this video. I recommend watching right to the end where you can see how the taquero skilfully cuts the pineapple and catches it with his other hand, that has a taco in it.

Tacos al Pastor vary considerably, in how much the meat is cooked. Some taquerias cook their meat so it is crispier than other places. Now once you have your tacos, which come with cilantro, onion and pineapple, you need to add lemon and green salsa. Tacos al Pastor are always served with a unique green salsa, which takes the flavours to the next level.

Tacos al Pastor are traditionally made using corn tortillas, though you can switch it up and ask for flour tortillas and/or added cheese. ‘Gringas‘ are a flour tortilla, with melted cheese, pastor meat and closed on top with another tortilla.

Where do I go get some delicious tacos al pastor? Well they are not hard to find, especially if you are downtown, but if you are looking for a recommendation then please send me a message through our facebook page.

When should I eat tacos al pastor? Like every type of taco, these are more popular at night but also make for a delicious (all be it a bit naughty) lunch!

¡Provecho!

two tacos al pastor prepared with pineapple, cilantro, onion and salsa

Vamos a Cuetzalan, Pueblo Mágico

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Cuetzalan

Welcome to Cuetzalan! A hill-top town which has a reputation that proceeds itself amongst most poblanos, but for us foreigners is [most likely] completely unknown. Cuetzalan is a small town set high in the hills of the sierra norte of the state of Puebla, which makes for a great weekend trip. It is only 183 km from the capital, Puebla, but takes around 3 to 4 hours to get there, due to the mountainous roads. Cuetzalan is not just any town but a ‘magical town’ or ‘Pueblo Mágico’. ‘Pueblo Mágico’ is an initiative run by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism to promote towns that have been specifically hand picked as they offer a magical experience due to to their natural beauty, rich culture or historical importance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What makes Cuetzalan so magical? It is a stunning town characterised by its cobbled streets and rustic buildings. It offers a breathtaking setting amongst the hills of the Sierra Madre. Cuetzalan’s main town square (zócalo) is beautiful and offers a few market stalls most days. However the best time to visit is the weekend as Sunday offers the biggest market of the week with the local indigenous community selling all types of goods from fruit to meat to textiles. The food sold in Cuetzalan is delicious, just like in the city of Puebla, but somehow eating street food from a town makes it always that much tastier. The prices are very appealing too. For example the ‘gorditas’ pictures below would cost you approx. 2 pesos each (bargain!).

It is not only the town center that makes Cuetzalan so worth visiting, but also its surrounding area. Pretty much located amongst a jungle type environment, there are many hikes and trails which will lead you tobeautiful waterfalls like the one pictured below. I suggest you go to the tourism office, located in the zócalo, and ask for a local guide, who you can pay for the day to take you around to all the waterfalls. If it is a warm day, you can even go for a swim!

Where to stay? I stayed at a hotel called ‘Hotel La Casa de Piedra‘, which I highly recommend, it is about 2 minutes walk from the zócalo and offers a very rustic, intimate and hacienda-like setting. Prices start from approx. 800 pesos.

How do I get there? You can go from Puebla’s biggest bus station CAPU with the bus line, VIA, the trip takes 3.5 hours and costs 161 pesos. You can find the full bus schedule and costs here as well as how to get to Cuetzalan by car.

Any info missing? The town has a website which is a fantastic resource full of information about hotels, places to visit, restaurants and adventure trips. Check it out here. Be warned it is all in spanish, so if you need any help contact me here or on Soy Poblana’s facebook page.

¡Buen Viaje!

 

The Star of Puebla

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is ‘La Estrella de Puebla’

La Estrella de Puebla by day

At the end of July. 2013, La Estrella de Puebla opened. It is now a very present feature in Puebla’s skyline and a truly fantastic way to see the city.  Let’s not forget that Cholula offers a great view of Puebla too, but the view from this ferris wheel puts you right in the heart of the city. Pick a nice clear day and you will have a great view of the entire city and beyond including Cholula and El Popo.  A great plus is that this a cheap ride! It takes 30 minutes to go completely round only costs 30 pesos per person. It’s a fantastic piece of (german) engineering; just to look at it up close is worth the visit. Each cabin seats about 8 people and is very comfortable. If you want you can upgrade to VIP which gives you a more luxurious cabin (leather seats) which has 6 seats, it costs 300 pesos for the entire cabin, so if you are 6 people that comes to a very cheap 50 pesos each.

View from the wheel

Now to get some facts straight. La Estrella de Puebla which means ‘The Star of Puebla’ is actually not bigger than the London Eye. Puebla’s star is 80m high whereas the London Eye is 135m high. However ‘La Estrella de Puebla’ is the BIGGEST MOVEABLE/PORTABLE FERRIS WHEEL IN THE WORLD. And it is also the biggest ferris wheel in Latin America.  What implications does this have? Well it seems that it is in the works for the wheel to move location eventually to nearby Cholula and even Atlixco, so a very clever investment indeed.

German Engineering, in Mexico

 

Los Rudos Siempre Pierden

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

Recently I wrote about the Luchas and then happened to come across these photos (thank you Universe!), which perfectly capture the atmosphere of the luchas arena. The featured photographer is Iraís Fernández, a very talented local documentary specialist. One of our aims at Soy Poblana is to support local artists and businesses, by writing about them or publishing their work. Please check out Iraís’ facebook page andflickr!

Taqueria La Esquina

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Courtesy of  soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

Taqueria “La Esquina”

This is Tacos de Alambre

I love tacos. And what you realise living here is that there are so many to tempt you. You’ve got Arabe, Pastor, Asada and a personal favourite – alambre. Taqueria La Esquina is my favourite taco place. Their specialities are tacos al pastor and tacos de alambre. Tacos de Alambre are made my combining certain meats, vegetables and cheese, from which you can make your own tacos. The dish below called ‘alambre’ has: Chuleta (Cutlet of pork), Tocino (Bacon), Cebolla (Onion), Pimiento (Pepper), Queso (Cheese). It is prepared by first cooking the chuleta on a large hot ‘comal‘ (flat griddle) followed by adding the bacon and veggies, then the taquero, mixes all the ingredients together, continuously chopping and mixing.  The last step involves adding cheese which melts on top. Then the plate is served, at which point you can make your taquitos (they are smaller corn tortillas) and add salsa (my favourite being the green one). The deliciousness is hard to explain, so just trust me on this one.

In a recent study, we tested how many taquitos could be made from one alambre portion (that costs 50 pesos), and managed 16! This is a great dish for sharing. Nothing brings people together like tacos. 

one alambre and tortillas

Taqueria ‘La Esquina’ (‘the corner’), which funny enough isn’t on a corner, is located on Boulevard San Felipe at the intersection with Avenida 15 de Mayo. This is most definitely a night visit! Tacos are always best when eaten in the evening.

one taco de alambre made by Soy Poblana

¡Provecho!

Vamos a Atlixco

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Courtesy of  soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Atlixco

The zócalo in Atlixco

Atlixco, is a small city in the municipality of Puebla, 25 km from the city of Puebla. It is most famous for its incredible flower markets, and its climate.  Its full name is actually Atlixco de las Flores (Atlixco of Flowers) and it is home to ‘the best climate in the world’ according to its tourist office. The town has a very pleasant temperature, perfect for the cultivation of flowers.

So why visit Atlixco?

First of all it’s a great new place to see that is not far from Puebla. Everyone enjoys a fun day trip. Secondly if you are living in Puebla, you can buy a huge array of plants, flowers, and tress for very low prices, to pimp out your garden or house. Thirdly, I recommend checking out the town center where the local ice cream shops sells delicious Avocado ice cream and ice lollies, amongst many other peculiar (and conventional) flavours. It sounds weird, but its delicious. Remember, you are in Mexico, this is the time to be adventurous and try new things.

Many many flowers.

A great place to buy flowers is ‘Viveras Cabrera La Unión’, the address is Ave. 20 Poniente 2501-B Colonia Cabrera. You won’t find plants cheaper than this.  For example a huge bamboo tree will only cost you 70 pesos (£3.5!!).

Palm trees

Ice creams like the one showed below can be bought at ‘La Rosita de Atlixco’ in the zócalo.

Avocado ice lolly

 

Vamos a las Luchas!

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

Lucha Libre, which literally means ‘free wrestling’, is like WWE Wrestling but much more entertaining. Puebla has its very own lucha libre arena that hosts wrestling every Monday night. This is an experience you can’t pass up on. The wrestlers known as luchadores, bring their charisma, energy and unique costumes to create a fantastic night of entertainment. Most people will recognise luchadores by their distinctive colourful masks, though not all choose to use them. Throughout the night you will see different wrestlers fight each other, and not always 1 vs 1, but also 3 vs 3 for example.

There are three different ticket prices, according to where you sit: 70 pesos (high up), 80 pesos (middle area) and 150 pesos (ring side). In the picture below you can see the three seating areas. Personally, I would recommend the ring side seats, because in other seats it is harder to get chelas (beers)! Much like going to a baseball game, having a beer makes the experience that much more fun. Also like baseball games, there are vendors who come around selling different foods, but Mexican style. You will see cemitas being sold, for example, rather than hot dogs.

The Luchas are located at the ‘Arena’ in El Carmen (very close to the historical center): 13 Oriente 402, El Carmen, 72530 Puebla. The arena hosts ‘lucha libre’ every Monday starting at 9pm. Tickets can be bought on the spot at the ticket booth, or in advance at ticketmaster.com.

This is a quintessentially mexican experience that you shouldn’t pass up on. Soak up the atmosphere and be ready to use those vocal chords!

 

entrance to the luchas

Luchadores