You can find the best and the worst horchata in Mexico City. This was pretty close to the best.
The outdoor market in Condesa (Tuesday Tianguis near Restaurante Lardo) had an abundance of tuberoses this week. Knowing that vendors run out of all the best stuff by midday, I buy all my favorite things early in the morning and ask the vendors to hold them for me while I run other errands around the city. A few hours later, I return to the market and go back to each vendor to pick up my goodies.
This week, my favorite flower lady, Cristina, had gorgeous tuberoses at 80 Mexican Pesos a dozen (that’s just $4 USD). These are the most beautiful tuberoses I’ve ever seen and their scent is divine. How does a dozen tuberoses that are 4 feet tall and absolutely perfect cost so little? It’s astonishing. And it makes me feel like I’m committing robbery. But that’s one of many wonderful things about shopping at the weekly outdoor markets or mercados: Everything is cheap. It makes me feel giddy about buying something for pure self-indulgence without feeling guilty about spending a lot.
Going to the markets all over the city is one of my favorite things to do. There are so many delicious fruits and vegetables I typically don’t get access to anywhere in the US or Europe. I also love getting to know the vendors. I always strike up conversations with them if they’re not too busy and pepper them with questions about what they do and where they come from. I learn a great deal from them and they seem happy to share information. For example, I learned that tuberoses are native to Mexico.
I’m deeply grateful for the privilege of having these rich and fulfilling experiences in my life as a gastronomad. Aimlessly wandering through the market, a thought occurs to me. Life in Mexico City is sweet like the wonderful scent of tuberoses.
It’s my birthday today and my tuberoses are making our bedroom smell like heaven. I am one happy birthday girl! -Amira
Everyone keeps asking me: "How’s Mexico City?"
I reply (with unbridled enthusiasm) that "Mexico City is so much fun!!!"
This city is all about genuine revelry, delicious flavors, bright colors and good old-fashioned friendliness.
Mexico City is also a city of rich history and culture, a vivacious urban landscape of unique architectural heritage. It’s modern and traditional; charming and sophisticated; quaint and gigantic -- rendering an incredibly eclectic style in every sense of the phrase.
We love it so much that we’re adding a Spring Mexico City Experience and also an Autumn Mexico City Experience (celebrating the magical Dia de Los Muertos celebration). Every season brings something anew!
Setting foot in this enchanting city feels surprising and shocking to the senses. And somehow, something about it feels familiar and endearing—whether you’re visiting for the first or tenth time.
Mexico is the ultimate mashup of Europe and Native America. And Mexico City, as both the capital of the Aztec Empire and later the capital of New Spain, is the origin point of the New World.
It’s one of the oldest urban capitals in the Western Hemisphere. Founded in 1325, and home to the Aztec Empire, it was later conquered by Spain and became the capital of the Spanish Empire in the Americas.
Mexico City's historic center is emblematic of the Spanish colonial period -- sometimes it feels like you’re in Spain. And then you’re reminded that once upon a time, before the Spaniards, this was the native land of Nahuatl speaking Mexica people. The Aztec ruins that still remain in the heart of the captivating historic center make this fact ever so palpable.
The historic center is the heart of Mexico City and its vibrancy is magically unique. It’s by far my favorite part of the city, vivacious and spirited as if it has a life of its own. You can’t help but feel the magic of the place as you meander among the thousands of people on the streets. And yet, it never feels overwhelming. You feel joyful and alive (similar to how New York City makes you feel).
There seem to be celebrations, festivals and lively markets all over the place. We keep running serendipitously into wonderful festivities of some kind or another. And music is always part of the cheerful revelry.
It’s hard to wrap your head around all you see and experience when you’re in this awe-inspiring city.
The seemingly endless urban sprawl has some beautiful European looking neighborhoods with streets laced with green lush and majestic tropical trees.
When you’re in Mexico City, you can’t help but fall in love with it because you feel loved by it, too. Being here while enjoying the company of wonderful friends is where the real magic happens. It’s an overwhelming sense of joy, exhilaration and exultation all at the same time with a bit of wonderment.
Put Mexico City on your bucket list! But for a truly unique and immersive visit that as a tourist you won’t have access to, click on this link for the next Mexico City Experience! You don’t want to miss the magic of our genuine, authentic, joyful and exclusive gatherings and exploration! - Amira
Mexico is expecting international visitor numbers to rise by 6% next year to a total of 45 million. They’re expected to drop $23.26 billion before leaving.
Overtourism? The fact is there’s no such thing as overtourism in a country, only specific cities and locations. Cancun, for example, was built on overtourism. But there are still hundreds of locations where people can go and stay in Mexico without arriving as part of a hoard.
Overtourism ruins the very qualities that the tourists come to experience. Authentic food is replaced over time by replica food that squeezes out artisan and local producers.
I fear that Mexico City is headed that way. Walking around in the city, great food is harder to come by than it use to be; and there are slick, expensive and chain restaurants taking over.
Still, our Mexico City Experience later this month will explore the best and most authentic food experiences this city has to offer (and they’re incredible).
Mexico City is somewhat burdened by overtourism, but it has a long, long time to go before it reaches Barcelona levels.
Everyone should spend some quality time in Mexico City. If you haven’t been, I can tell you that Mexico City is not what you expect, and that you have to experience it to understand it.
Our Mexico City apartment is the perfect place to work: Tons of space, fast WiFi, great table, fully stocked kitchen, etc. We have fast WiFi because we specifically requested it. Our host contacted their provider and cranked it up, and we’re paying an extra $30 per month for the upgrade.
Pro tip: Always ask if internet speeds can be increased when you rent a house or apartment abroad.
Discovered a new chocolate bar. 99% cocoa, 1% sugar. Understated packaging.
Mexico City is a big city with a huge population and yet it feels quaint and intimate. Some districts can feel chaotic but not in the overwhelming way that other big cities around world do.
Of course, like other large cities, impoverished communities coexisting with posh neighborhoods is part of the reality here. Mexico City has everything in between these extremes in the socio-economic scale. Homelessness also exists, and it’s heartbreaking to see here just as it is everywhere else in the world.
Day and night, Mexico City seriously bustles with life, thriving commerce, superb street food vendors, splendid mercados (including night-time markets), bohemian nightlife, sumptuous fine dining restaurants, opulent luxury brand stores, magnificent museums, impressive art galleries, brilliant traditional artisans, wonderful bookstores, world renowned chefs and one of the largest and most spectacular urban parks in the Western Hemisphere. Chapultepec Park is the second largest park in Latin America. And It’s a world of its own. The park even contains some of the most majestic museums I’ve seen.
Music is everywhere, and it seems like it’s always festive party music!
I don’t recall ever seeing a city that’s so genuinely awe-inspiring, intricately diverse, totally unique, and wonderfully vibrant as Mexico City.
Mexico City is cosmopolitan and sophisticated -- but it also conveys a sense of simplicity and authenticity with the down-to-earth and laid back friendliness of a charming town. It’s hard to understand how a city with a population of 21.3 million can feel so delightful and enchanting.
I love many places on this beautiful planet and I’ve had the privilege of encountering exceptionally kind and generous human beings in all our travels. But I have to say that Mexico City is a place dear to my heart. Its impressive culture and amazing cuisine are second to none. But there’s something about Mexico City that I find especially endearing: and that is the people. Everyone we encounter is extremely polite, genuinely welcoming, helpful, warm and friendly. They really make us feel at home. - Amira
Big businesses in Mexico City tend to close on Sundays. But many of the smallest businesses and street vendors stay open everyday, including Sunday.
I spent my Sunday yesterday meandering through small markets that sell agro-ecological products.
These small open markets are wonderful to explore. You can find fruits, vegetables, flowers, cheese, mezcal, chocolate, tacos, supplements, handmade shoes, clothes and much more.
The food producers grow or make everything using organic practices, but they’re not necessarily certified organic. The sellers of non-edible products tend to make them by hand as well.
Most of these markets are pretty new, having started only in the past couple of years. And they're popular and growing.
I’m noticing a lot initiatives in Mexico City to promote and support ecological agriculture as well as clean air -- from electric bikes and scooters to special privileges for bike riders to support for these agro-ecological markets.
So great to see! - Amira
This is a lovely place to work. The apartment is on the third floor, and my window overlooks a pleasant, tree-lined street in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City. - Mike
Mexico City has bookstores everywhere — many of them are tiny specialty stores trading in rare or niche books. Other bookstores, like this one, sell a great selection of books, plus offer coffee and snacks and nice areas to sit and read.
Best of all, for at least one gringo, this bookstore has an entire section of libros en Ingles!
Wait, remind me again why we’re all so eager to get rid of spaces like this in favor of Amazon? - Mike
Google Translate is one of those apps that has been around for years, and which therefore everyone mostly ignores. But Google is constantly improving it — on the backend, with the artificial intelligence — where it really counts.
Their visual translation feature, which used to be another app called Word Lens, is still miraculous. (Google bought it years ago and integrated it into Google Translate.) I love how it translates printed words while retaining their contextual place in your visual field. - Mike
I don’t often work in co-working spaces, mainly because they’re too expensive and also because I prefer the coffee and food at a coffee shop.
But I discovered a place here in Mexico City called Coffice, run by the couple you see here.
Their prices are astoundingly low. And they also make delicious home-made food. (I haven’t tried their coffee, but I’ll bet it’s good.)
How low are their prices? Well, their “Basic” plan is $1.50 an hour. The “Quickie” plan is only $5 for three hours and comes with a snack. And the “Workaholic” option charges only $9 for the whole day, with a 10% discount on food. And all their plans come with all the coffee you can drink.
Crazy, right? I don’t know how they do it.
They also offer very fast WiFi.
If you’re familiar with Mexico City, you’ll know their location. They’re right in front of La Cibeles Fountain in the middle of La Roma.
Amira and I had a lovely and adventuresome dinner at the posh and innovative restaurant, Lorea. As you can see from our photos below, the place is really thinking outside the box with ingredients, plating and flavors.
In recent days I've been working almost nonstop on the Mexico City Experience, which starts December 28th. All that nonstop work means Mike and I have been having fun almost nonstop as well.
I created the Gastronomad Experiences to share my passion: Finding food visionaries, tasting everything and deeply understanding every local food culture wherever we roam.
That I'm able to do this is the result of what can only be described as: luck. I'm lucky. We're lucky. And I'm filled with gratitude for it.
I wrote an article on my Spartan Diet blog about how I try to cultivate the life I want to live based in the wonderful concept of ikigai (which roughly translates to the realization of one's purpose). It's really our philosophy of life and what drives us.
Sometimes I feel guilty that we get to experience so much joy. Of course, our lives also contain big helpings of adversity and sadness. This is universal. But there is also so much joy.
I often wake up and realize where I am. (This morning, I realized I was in Mexico City.) And when I realize this, my heart is immediately filled with gratitude for the privilege of living in so many wonderful places.
We've been traveling for more than 12 years. That may seem like a long time. But the more we explore this beautiful planet the more certain we are that we never want to stop.
What is life but the sum of one's experiences?
Here's to living life fully and deeply! - Amira
Wandering around Mexico City, I'm reminded of other cities depending on the neighborhood.
Sometimes it reminds me of Brooklyn. Sometimes Granada. Sometimes Istanbul. Sometimes Manhattan. Sometimes Madrid.
But then the friendliness of the people, the food, the murals, the architecture and the atmosphere remind me that it can only be Mexico. Come with us.
We spend months planning every Gastronomad Experience.
Right now, we're here in Mexico City, where we'll spend most of the rest of the year working on our New Year's Eve Mexico City Experience (December 28 - January 2).
This is the phase of our research where we taste everything.
We're exploring Mexico's nascent natural wine movement, starting with Bichi Wines' No Sapiens red table wine.
This wine is made from mysterious grapes of unknown variety, but which could be dolcetto grapes (an Italian variety commonly found in the Piedmont region). The vines, which grow in San Antonio de las Minas in Baja California, are 70 years old.
The wine is low in sulphites, and is made without added yeast or other additives and without filtering, according to the winemaker.
The wine was very nice!
(Also: The label is pretty funny. The front label shows a luchador (masked Mexican wrestler) who's naked. The back label shows the same luchador from the back.)
Mexico City is such an incredible foodie city, and now has a rapidly emerging modern, hipster international food scene.
(We still have room for one more couple, if you'd like to join us on this gastronomic adventure of a lifetime!)
Mexico is one of the greatest food hotspots in the world. It's the country that’s gifted the world with chocolate, vanilla, corn, avocados, tomatoes, chili peppers many other delicious and essential foods.
While all Mexican foods are found worldwide, we believe the most delicious and authentic expressions are found in their country of origin. And all regional Mexico foods, which differ greatly from one another, are available in the nation's capital. Eating in Mexico City is like eating everywhere in Mexico.
Mexico is the land of tacos, Frida Kahlo and mariachi. Mexico City was the capital of both the Aztec and Spanish empires and today is home to the world's highest concentration of metropolitan museums.
During our Mexico City Experience, we'll dine at Mexico's best and most famous restaurants. We'll visit the city's top markets and food producers. We'll taste mezcal, tequila, pulque and sample the country's emerging wines. We'll picnic on boats, floating through otherworldly Aztec canals. We'll ring in the new year with a spectacular New Year's Eve party in a true Mexican style fiesta. And lots of secret surprises!
We'll take professional-quality photos of the whole experience for you to keep and share, so you can focus on having the time of your life.
Here's how the whole thing works. We'll pick you up from the Mexico City airport. Our small group will stay together in a wonderful spot in a cool neighborhood in the city. And We'll drop you back off at the airport at the end. Everything (except your airfare) is included -- food, lodging, transportation and activities -- in the price.
The Mexico City Experience takes place December 28, 2018, through January 2, 2019!
We still have two spots left!!
Go here to grab your spot today!
Come celebrate with us in astonishing, unique and delicious Mexico City!
The Prosecco Experience starts in just one week! I’m sooo excited! It’s going to be epic!
Also, I’m super happy that all The Gastronomad Experiences for 2019 have sign-ups already, even though they just recently went up on the website! (Don't worry -- they all still have availability as well!)
Hooray! And thank you to all who did and will sign up and join us on one of our adventures next year. Special thanks to those of you who have sign up for two or three Experiences! Thank you for appreciating what we do and for continuing to believe in us.
Next week’s Prosecco Experience is actually the first Gastronomad Experience we’re hosting for a second time, and it’s a great feeling!
And, of course, it’s going to be different than the first one! Each Experience is unique!
For example: We'll host the amazing and talented food writer, photographer and cookbook author, Valeria Necchio, who will join us for The Prosecco Experience next week!
A local Venetian who’s currently spending time in Piemonte, Valeria will join our small group for a day of cooking and chatting. She’ll talk about her book, her life growing up in a multi-generational Venetian family, and she’ll even teach us about food photography! We’ll conclude the day with a magical long table dinner gathering by the fire!
Veneto, Valeria’s beautiful cookbook, will be the inspiration for a day of handcrafted food from the book’s recipes, including her delicious handmade pumpkin gnocchi with sage butter and walnuts! She also has expertise in Gastronomic Sciences and History so we’ll get to do some deep learning about Venetian cuisine and the Veneto region in general.
Her book is more than just a cookbook -- it's a beautiful composition of family recipes, food anecdotes and wonderful storytelling through food inspired by her own upbringing and her family traditions in the Venetian countryside.
I’m so incredibly happy to have Valeria join us for a day of authentic Venetian revelry with food, wine and a dinner gathering to remember for the rest of our lives!
The Gastronomad Experiences are about learning, connecting, appreciating and enjoying life in the most profound way through meaningful and fulfilling gatherings with inspiring people in the world most beautiful places!
We only have one life to live. And it’s up to each of us to create the life we want. That's been our Gastronomad philosophy for 12 years, and we're sticking to it!
If you’d like to experience life in the land of Prosecco, the next Prosecco Experience will happen in May 2019. But space is limited so sign up soon!
Earlier this year, our friend Claudio invited us to his winery's harvest party, which took place yesterday. So we made a point of being here in Italy for it in advance of our upcoming Prosecco Experience.
The winery is L'Antica Quercia, a shockingly beautiful organic winery and vineyards on the Prosecco Road in Conegliano between Venice and the Dolomites.
Back then, Claudio and his winemaker Umberto told us about a wine he was working on -- a singular and pure prosecco.
To oversimplify, sparkling wines are made more or less like still wines. But then they're made to sparkle with a secondary fermentation, which almost always involves the addition of yeast and sugar. For champagne and most sparkling wines, this carbonation takes place in the bottle. But for most proseccos, it happens in pressurized steel tanks.
This new sparkling prosecco is unfiltered and unfined, and acquires its bubbles without the addition of yeast or sugar. Of course, carbonation requires yeast and sugar. But the yeast is from the vineyard and the sugar is from the grapes.
Long story short: This kind of wine is very hard to make. And very risky for the winemaker.
While we were standing there before dinner, Claudio showed us the brand-new labels for the new prosecco (the designers had brought it to the party). L'Antica Quercia labels form a Japanese-inspired inky “mural” when you line up the wine bottles in the right order.
The winery is named after an old and perfect oak tree (the tree is highlighted in medieval church records). After dining with Umberto and his family and colleagues at the party, we were invited to try the new prosecco under the oak tree!
The friendship, the scenery, the shade of that majestic oak tree -- and the prosecco! Wow.
The wine is actually hard to describe, but it bears all the marks of its sublime origins and natural processes.
This prosecco represents the rare ability of the winemaker to maximally insert himself into the process in order to maximally remove himself from the product and let you taste the work of the microbial world, the grape, the vineyard and the region.
It was a magical moment, and we were filled with gratitude to have been able to enjoy the party, the meal, the incredible wine and, above all, the company of such wonderful, soulful and skillful people.
Claudio told me that he might not actually sell this wine. But if he does, I'll be sure to post about it and tell you how to get some.
And, of course, our Prosecco Experience gastronomads will be tasting this wine in a special and exclusive tasting with Claudio. I can’t wait for them to try it….