Nitro Coffee in MZT

 

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The beautiful Hailey Fontes with a glass of Rico’s Nitro Coffee

You are more hipster than me if you have heard about Nitro Coffee, invented in 2012 and evidently taking the world by storm. I’d never even heard about it until this morning at the Mercado Orgánico, where Rico’s Café had an icy cold keg of the nitrogen-infused, cold-brew coffee that’s creamy, frothy, and a beer lookalike. In fact, when Marianne (owner of Rico’s) offered me a glass, I told her I couldn’t drink alcohol so early in the morning!

Nitro Coffee debuted in Austin in 2012, when it was served by Cuvée Coffee on tap at the Slow Foods Quiz Bowl. Draft beverages are all the rage these days—wine, kombucha, sparkling tea—and it’s great to see that Marianne and her brewmeister husband Rogelio are keeping Mazatlán up with the times. When you fill a glass with Nitro Coffee, it’s beautiful: foamy, with waves of color filling the glass. Check out the video below to see:

A keg of Nitro Coffee

 

I normally drink coffee with cream, but Nitro Coffee is so smooth that I thoroughly enjoyed it served black. It was almost like drinking a glass of Guinness, but with a caffeine kick! Rico’s is not yet offering Nitro Coffee at their cafés, but it will be at the Mercado Orgánico, and I suggested they make it available by the keg for private parties (I was sad not to be able to get a keg of Tres Islas Beer for the holidays, but fortunately for them demand outstripped supply).

By the way, Rico’s is planning to get their expresso machine to the Plaza Zaragoza so we can enjoy their organic, local-roasted coffees any way we want them. They just need to figure out the electricity and water situation, which is taking a bit of time with the turnover in municipal government.

 

A REAL Sushi Place!

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About 90 pesos worth of great fresh food!

Yes, really. If you read this blog, you know of my ten-year quest to find authentic sushi in our beloved land of fresh seafood. Sushiko does, to my chagrin, serve a few rolls with cream cheese (“gotta give clients what they want”). But Ko, the owner from Morioka who worked for years in the US and speaks English and Spanish in addition to his native Japanese, also serves real nigiri (traditional palm-made sushi, served in pairs) made with good quality rice, wasabi (it’s powdered, but just try to get it on sushi most places here in town), and served with shohga (pickled ginger root). 

Ko has been a sushi chef in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Switzerland before coming here to Mazatlán. OMG, I have died and gone to heaven! My prayers have been answered!

Sushiko has been open just one week, though Ko has been living in Mazatlán since September. Ko’s wife, Martina, is from Chihuahua. They have a 22 year old son who lives in Japan, and she has two older daughters and grandchildren also living here. Welcome! 

Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The nigiri offerings are few though outstanding, as you can see by the whiteboard, below. But, as time goes by, I’m sure Sushiko will serve a greater variety of fresh seafood. And it’s incredibly affordable, as you can see! Ko’s offerings vary by the day according to what’s been caught. I can’t wait till scallop season! Ko has already gotten Toyo Foods to stock a few things I’ve long been wanting, so all is, indeed, good. I may even get shime-saba, eventually!

In addition to nigiri and a few Mazatlecan-type rolls, Sushiko serves a few traditional Japanese rolls: tekka maki with tuna, umekyu with plum and cucumber, and nattoh maki with fermented soy bean. There is also cooked fare, including tempura and kushiage (Japanese kabobs).

And more good news: Ko actually has purchased and installed a professional refrigeration unit for the fish, so we can see what’s fresh and how fresh it is, and so that it can stay fresh! Not exactly common here in Mazatlán, and a wonderful sight! You other sushi shops want one? Call Alberto, the technician at Maz Refrigeration, 6691-11-5880.

Sushiko is located on Paseo Claussen in Playa Norte, in front of the fishermen, just south of Pescadería del Mar and Chikkowi—three of my favorite places all in one short strip! Sushiko is a small place with only four or so tables, but if my dream comes true, it’ll soon be popular and have much better digs.

It’s closed on Mondays, but open the other six days per week from 1-11pm. Telephone is 6691-42-5501. They are not doing delivery or take out, so be sure to come in or order to-go to enjoy this wonderful food. And tell them I sent you!

New Eats to Check Out!

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Chef Jaime Llanos at his new food truck stand, Casita María

My mouth’s been watering since May of this year, when I discovered the incredibly appetizing photos that Jaime Llanos has been posting on Facebook. He is a Mazatleco-born, Los Angeles-trained chef who was working out of his grandmother María’s home in La Juarez. Trouble was I was traveling so much, I couldn’t check him out. But, oh! The food! It looked soooooooo good! So completely different than anything we normally see here in Mazatlán and yet, at the same time, so typically Mazatleco. (Photos in the set below are all Jaime’s. Click on any pic to view larger or watch a slideshow.)

Then, in late August, he started titillating us. “Coming soon!” “Próximamente!” “Cada día estamos más cerca!” What? What was coming soon? What was I waiting for?

I could tell from the pictures that he was making wine—his own label, artisanal wine. As if great food weren’t enough?

Despite the fact that he never said, “We’re open!”/”Ya abrimos,” I got Greg to head up towards Marina El Cid with me today to check out Jaime’s Casita María in the new food truck area, La Trockería. Luckily for us, Jaime was there, getting set up for his soft opening this evening.

He was embarrassed to have me take his photo, as he wasn’t dressed for work; we caught him setting things up. Even though his kitchen wasn’t ready, Jaime greeted us, explained his menu, and gave us a tasting of his white and red wines. They are both sweet but so refreshing; the red is a mix of Cabernet and Tempranillo, the white a blend of Chenin Blanc and uva de mango. There is nothing “mango” about the white wine, so I assume that is just the name of a grape variety. The wines are made for Jaime by a friend who owns a vineyard in the Guadalupe Valley.

Despite not yet being open, Jaime proceeded to cook us up a cazuela of mushrooms. OMG! They were awesome!

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His food truck menu is obviously simpler than the full Casa María menu. He’s aiming for that homemade Mexican taste, with two different cazuelitas or casserole dishes, one with octopus and the other the mushroom dish we ate; and a tuna tostada with Moroccan spices. Jaime gave us a taste of the spiced tuna that goes on the tostada, which he explained was not yet fully marinated. Even half-marinated, it was GOOD! He will change up the menu regularly, and he’s planning to add more of his artisanal wines, as well.

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Casita María officially opens at 6:00 this evening, and will be open evenings Wednesday through Sunday (Monday and Tuesday off). We had the honor of being his first customers! It is located in the new food truck area just south of the bowling alley, across from Marina El Cid. The official address is 1802 Marina Mazatlán (Camarón Sábalo).

Also in the Trockería food truck area are 4to Burguer from the Machado, the hot dog van that used to be in front of Gavias on the malecón, a shrimp place, hot wings, and a taco truck. Provecho! And mucho éxito to Jaime and Casita María!

If You’re Ever in Cartagena…

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Last night Greg and I were very excited about dinner. He’s traveling with me in Colombia, where I am on business. We’ve made a side trip to Cartagena, and he took the time to research the best restaurants and pick  out one that he was confident we would love—Carmen’s, in the gorgeous Hotel Ananda. Click on any photo to see it larger and view the full description, or to view a slideshow.

The meal so did not disappoint! We paid for a 7-course tasting menu with wine (about US$80 per person now with the low valuation of the Colombian peso), and received TEN courses and SEVEN wines.

The restaurant is based in Medellín and owned by Diego Angel, a former video game entrepreneur. Executive Chefs and proprietors Carmen Angel and Rob Pevitts are graduates of the Cordon Bleu San Francisco. The chef here in Cartagena, Jaime Galindo, is an incredible talent! He does not have a culinary arts degree but, rather, has learned on-the-job and through sheer raw talent or the don de cocinar. Having worked with chefs with degrees from the top cooking schools in the world, Greg was very impressed by the passion and talent that Jaime demonstrated.

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Chef Jaime Galindo – Job well done!

His brother Yonatan is the sous-chef. Not one course was less than spectacular, and we only felt one wine pairing was less than ideal: the rosé with the crab. The wine was just so acidic and overwhelmed the flavor of the food.

Kudos, Jaime and staff!!! The kitchen is small, and open to the diners. Everyone working there was nose down and focused on making every plate perfect. The restaurant serves not only the tasting menu that we had but a full a la carte menu and creative cocktails as well. In addition, front-of-the-house service was impeccable thanks to our terrific waiter, Juan Carlos, who took special care to ensure his Spanish-language explanations of the food and wine made sense to Greg and me.

Molcajete Loco: Something a Bit Different

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Greg and I were looking for a simple, local place yesterday, as it was a bit too cloudy for our traditional “Palapa Friday” on the beach. Greg had run errands in the Golden Zone the day before, and a very energetic abuelita had invited him into her restaurant. The place looked interesting and seemed to have a great menu, but he had just eaten. So he promised the lady he’d be back.

We went today, and the place is called El Molcajete Loco. It is located right next to the Oxxo on the northbound side of Camarón Sábalo, across the street from the Cinemas Gaviotas movie theater near Valentino’s. They have a raw bar street side with all the seafood you might expect (scallops, oysters, clams, shrimp, octopus), the expected local seafood dishes (ceviches, aguachiles, cokteles), cold and hot molcajetes (served in lava rock/pumice), plus they’ve got a cooked menu that offers some unique and very tasty items. Click on any image to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

We sampled two things we’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Greg had dorado/mahi mahi served over a grilled pineapple slice and covered with poblano sauce, and I had a dorado filet covered with seafood and a coconut cream curry. There was so much food that I ended up bringing half home with me, but never ate it for cena as I was still full!

Christian is the chef. He told us he worked in a restaurant in Bakersfield, California; when he returned to Mazatlán he worked at Señor Frog’s, and then came to the Molcajete Loco. He obviously knows how to make sauces! There were three young men waiting tables, plus the lady Greg had met the day before who keeps things clean, and we were attended like royalty.  The owner was not around during our visit.

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Chef Christian

 

If you like local, simple places with good food and value, El Molcajete Loco is a solid choice. It is open-air, rustic, with the kitchen at the rear. In addition to beer they offer a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks, including agua de jamaica, horchatapiñadasnaranjadas, congas, and limonadas.