A Taste of Mexico : Los Angeles

I heard about Taste of Mexico with less than twenty four hours to spare. Usually my last-minute plans are the best ones, though, and Friday night was no exception.

In it’s third year running, Taste of Mexico is put on by an organization of authentic Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles. It’s grown from just four founding restaurants (La Casita Mexicana, Frida Mexican Cuisine, Guelaguetza Restaurant, and La Monarca Bakery) with just 850 guests, to twenty-six restaurants and 2000 guests this year!

Walking into the courtyard of La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown Los Angeles, we were greeted with sensational smells, energetic mariachi, and throngs of smiling guests underneath the twinkling lights and starry sky. I felt like I died and fell into my culinary dream.

 

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

 

Happy to be there, but feeling the need to take the edge off after battling LA traffic, we headed straight to the mezcal tastings. For those of you who don’t know, mezcal is made from the maguey agave (while tequila is made from the blue agave plant). It’s usual sipped straight-up and has a similar taste to tequila, but is generally a bit more smokey. Hence: it’s freaking delicious.

We tasted samples from Wahaka and Illegal Mezcal, both paired with little chunks of Cacique cheese (like wine tasting!).

It only took a couple of shots on an empty stomach to quickly move on to beer and go in search of some delicious tacos. Victoria and Tecate cervezas in hand, we were reading to get our samplin’ on!

 

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

 

Everywhere you looked there were tacos, ceviche, albondigas, salsas, tiny margaritas, grilled pulpo (octopus), big pink prawns, MORE tacos. I don’t know how we ever settled on where to taste first. The Ceviche Project definitely caught my eye. They were serving up kampachi and erizo ceviche with chives, pineapple, avocado, jalapeno, onion, and escamol salt. Um, can you say DELICIOSO!? I tried but my mouth was too full of epic flavors.

 

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

 

On to the next one, on to the next one! We continued to take down tacos like it was our job. Stand out plates were from Yuca’s for their signature conchinita pibil with pickled red onion (Taco ‘Bout Good!), Guerrilla Tacos for a freakin’ amazing taco of swordfish belly with heirloom tomato and pickled radish, and of course Tacos Punta Cabras for the cauliflower and ceviche tostada with cashew and pineapple salsa.

 

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

 

I can’t name our favorites of the night, though, without mention of La Monarca Bakery. They had a ridiculously amazing caramel latte flan, insane flakey bunelos, and a big ol’ basket of delicious sweet buns. They have four locations, but thank god one of them is in Santa Monica because Mike and I are dying for more!

 

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

 

Full to the brim, we ended the night by nursing a few more cocktails and enjoying the mariachi. We have so many new restaurants to try next time we get a craving for Mexican food (um, basically every night), and had left very inspired, very full, and very happy. Until next year!

 

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

TASTE OF MEXICO, Los Angeles // hourglassandbloom.com #foodblog #lifestyleblog

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Cinco de Drinko

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriba!

 

Hibiscus Margarita    // hourglass & bloom

 

Cinco De Mayo, though a thoroughly Americanized holiday, is one of my favorite days of the year. Ever. For sure.

Mike and I are headed down south to spend Sunday with two of our favorite drinking buddies: my parents. I’ve been planning and practicing the menu, salivating over Pinterest, and gathering ingredients. Today I’m sharing a delicious little Cinco de Drinko libation with you: the Hibiscus Margarita.

 

Hibiscus Margarita    // hourglass & bloom

Hibiscus Margarita    // hourglass & bloom

Hibiscus Margarita    // hourglass & bloom

 

Hibiscus flowers are packed with vitamin C, aids in respiratory health, and promotes good blood pressure among other benefits. For this recipe you can use dried hibiscus that have been soaked in hot water, or a hibiscus tea. The rest is easy-peasy….just whip up your favorite classic margarita (I prefer mine with a gold tequila for a richer flavor) and top the cocktail with a float of hibiscus tea!

The sweet, floral notes of the hibiscus are such a refreshing addition to this classic Mexican cocktail. And….you get all the added health benefits. Which is a pretty tasty bonus…

 

Hibiscus Margarita    // hourglass & bloom

IMG_6026Hibiscus Margarita    // hourglass & bloom

Hibiscus Margarita    // hourglass & bloom

 

What are your plans for the fifth?

 

 

 

 

Herbaceous

Ok so here’s the deal. Our wedding venue allows us to bring in as much beer and wine as our little hearts could possibly desire, but we are limited to two cocktail choices for our guests. TWO. And they have to be “pre-mixed”.

To some this may be a bit of a dilemma, but to Mike and I, it’s just another excused to pretend we’re mixologists and get sloshed………….you know, for the sake of the wedding. We’re on the hunt for something refreshing and flavorful that embodies the general atmosphere of the venue. The central Californian foothills will be blanketed in golden September sun, a light salty breeze will drift in from the coast, the lemon groves will rustle gently in the background as they soak in the last of the daylight, and a crimson sunset will illuminate the old Spanish barn, filtering in through the gaps in the sideboards as we dance the night away. It will be an absolutely gorgeous, emotional, thrilling day. But what will we be drinking?

Contestant number one: The Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic

 

 

Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic // hourglassandbloom.com

Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic // hourglassandbloom.com

 

 

The Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic enjoys seersucker pants, long afternoons spent toiling in the garden, and being served in a monogrammed pitcher with plenty of crushed ice. CRG&T has a refreshing personality and is adept at maintaining a light, airy conversation about horse breeds of the world or perhaps an article in the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living.

To make your very own Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic, you will first need to whip up a batch of rosemary simple syrup. Don’t be scared. It’s easy.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

5 sprigs fresh rosemary

 

 

Rosemary Simple Syrup // hourglassandbloom.com

Rosemary Simple Syrup // hourglassandbloom.com

Rosemary Simple Syrup // hourglassandbloom.com

 

 

Place the water and sugar in a pot, then heat gently on the stove until boiling. Once the mixture begins to boil, give it a quick stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Now, remove from the heat and throw in the rosemary sprigs. Let the mixture steep for two hours on the kitchen counter. Once it’s cooled, pour into a jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a month! Easy peasy!

 

 

Rosemary Simple Syrup // hourglassandbloom.com

Rosemary Simple Syrup // hourglassandbloom.com

 

 

Okay so now that you’ve cooked up a little herbaceous simple syrup, let’s get back to the cocktail, shall we? Great.

The Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic

Dry Gin

Rosemary simple syrup

Cucumber, peeled and sliced

Tonic water

Crushed ice

Place two or three thin slices of cucumber and one sprig of fresh rosemary in the bottom of a glass and muddle with the back of a spoon. Pour in equal parts gin to tonic, and two tablespoons of rosemary simple syrup. Stir in the crushed ice and serve!

 

 

Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic // hourglassandbloom.com

Cucumber Rosemary Gin & Tonic // hourglassandbloom.com

 

 

Isn’t she lovely?

So I need your help again. I know I know I’m soooooo helpless. It’s just that you guys are so good! Everyone chimed in with such awesome, clever suggestions for a bouquet toss song that I can’t help but coming back to you for more advice….

What would be your cocktail of choice on a balmy September afternoon in an old barn nestled in the central Californian coast? Tell me! I’m getting thirsty already…