Mexico City, revisited!

Mexico itself is a country full of contrasts, and truly evident in the city.  Grandiose architecture and magnificent art galleries alongside signs of poverty.  In that I am sure every major city in the world is similar.  What is very different are the smells – walking down any given street you have the contrast of delicious meat grilling, fresh cucumber being sliced or …….sewage.

fullsizeoutput_4770

The contrasts between old church spires, modern buildings and electrical mayhem are everywhere!

If you haven’t been to Museo Soumaya yet, then please try to get there.  Built by Mexico’s wealthy Carlos Slim in honour of his wife the entire structure is amazing itself, but once you get in and have the opportunity to view the largest collection of art work you simply won’t believe it.  His son in law designed the place and it is as elaborate inside as out.  The different floors wind up along inside the building so you are either slanting in or out, depending on which floor you are on.  The displays change somewhat too, the last time we were here an entire floor was devoted to Sophia Loren.  Better still, it is free admission!

Sculptures by Rodin, paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir & Matisse to name a few, you can wander here for hours.

fullsizeoutput_477a

The “Gates of Hell” was a particularly masterful piece, and just huge.

We were pretty fortunate to be in the city for longer than we have before so thoroughly enjoyed both eating out and touring art galleries and museums.  It is literally impossible to not eat well in Mexico City.  From spending mere pesos for a street taco to dining in one of the more elegant restaurants it is always less than we would spend at home and the food is fantastic.

fullsizeoutput_477e

Try a roadside tostada, in this case shrimp ceviche.

Or – if you are fortunate enough to have a cozy place like we did, just pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner.  This Columbian chicken dinner was 110 pesos, and fed us for 2 nights.  Not only that, it was incredibly delicious.  Under the skin they had rubbed an amazing herb blend and that skin was something Auntie Brigitte would have fought for ….

If you can’t find what you need at a mercado, then you either don’t need it, or you aren’t in the right mercado.  Smiling vendors are raring to sell you whatever you need, at a very reasonable price and guaranteed to make you smile too.

fullsizeoutput_4790

In case you haven’t tried it ….. these large sheets below are pork fat.  Yep, pure pork fat fried up in all its goodness.  Mexicans eat it by the sheet, and as tasty as it is, we find a few crumbles on guacamole or in a soup are enough to hit the spot.

fullsizeoutput_4794

Palacio de Bellas Artes – or the Fine Arts building.  Inside it is even more impressive with murals and incredible art galleries.  We have yet to make it to one of the traditional folk ballets they feature here, but one day ….

dsc03396

Viewed from what was at one time the tallest building in the Americas, the Latin America building:

fullsizeoutput_4783

Take the elevator to the top of the Latin America building and you just won’t believe how far you can see – particularly on a clear enough day when the smog isn’t too troublesome.

dsc03398

Is there anything better than travel with family?  We think not!  Our youngest granddaughter Liv is already loving Mexico City as much as we do…

fullsizeoutput_476c

Take some time at Chapultepec Park and Castle, well worth it to wander around, enjoy both the park and the walk up to the castle.

fullsizeoutput_4786

These little guys are everywhere, hoping to catch the popcorn or peanut you drop.

fullsizeoutput_4787

At the top of Chapultepec Park is the  Castle, as you can see not an especially brilliant day – smog combined with cool cloudy weather.

dsc03283

Not sure if I was meant to live in a more elegant time or not, but I sure could have become accustomed to my bedroom and bathroom looking like this ….. Who am I kidding though, I would have been one of the servants!!  ha ha

dsc03298

Imagine playing hopscotch or soccer inside these hallways … the stained glass is just incredible.

dsc03295

Museum of Anthropology …… take a day.  In just over 3 hours we managed to view one side of the 3 you see here…. it is a touch overwhelming, but absolutely amazing and a must see.

fullsizeoutput_4788

The reproductions of actual structures of ancient cities are so well done it is easy to imagine civilization as it was.  Just love the colours – and can picture how vivid the homes were.

fullsizeoutput_478b

Amazing murals everywhere telling the stories of each civilization.

museum-of-anthropology

And …. once you are worn out from walking your feet off (on this particular day we walked 13.3 kms….) it is entirely justified to stop and have a pastry … our favourite is La Boheme, situated next to Mercado Roma and serving up the most amazing pastries along with a perfectly Vivian size mug of hot chocolate.

la-boheme

In Mexican culture, the mid day meal is very important … they linger over it, usually taking hours, and they certainly enjoy their alcoholic beverages along with it.  In fact, in a busy lunch spot like this, I think we were the only table without!

business-lunch-in-df

Hungry for a light lunch or just a snack?  This tuna tostada is light, refreshing, and absolutely delicious. Contramar is one of the seafood restaurants in Mexico City that you must try to get in to.  Like many great places, they are only open for the main meal of the day, from noonish until 6ish.  Yes, that is how long lunch can be ….

tuna-tostada

Oyster Bar in Mexico City?  Definitely!!  La Docena Oyster Bar has an impressive array of seafood choices and these oysters were so fresh and sweet we had 2 plates.  Incredibly delightful and this plate of raw oysters probably cost about the same as a small plate of chicken wings at home.  The crunchy oysters on top of the salad were a perfect crouton, and the sandwich a treat.

oyster-bar

dsc03344

Reforma is one of the busiest streets, and yet every Sunday morning they close it to vehicle traffic and it is full of Mexican families out exercising, bike riding, roller blading or doing dance classes.  Such a great idea, and I just wish we thought to do that in some of our major cities as well.

fullsizeoutput_4771

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are much loved in all of Mexico, and the museums dedicated to their lives and art are plentiful.  This particular one is in San Angel, which is a beautiful neighbourhood in the city, very artsy and upscale.  Saturday market holds some of the most tempting pieces you will find anywhere.

dsc03313

fullsizeoutput_4768

Every neighbourhood has a spot like this to sit and enjoy peace and quiet.

dsc03307

The Frida and Diego museum is actually one of their former homes- in this case they each had their own home, created by an architect friend.  See the walkway above to join the two?  Small bedrooms but huge art studios! (Frida’s house was the blue one, no surprise there, given the Blue House Museum in Coyoacan)

fullsizeoutput_476b

Diego’s art studio sits as he left it …..fullsizeoutput_476a

Time for another snack in the park ….

dsc03314

dsc03279

Well, it’s taken me some time to get this blog on Mexico City completed, but it is time to move on to the beach at Puerto Escondido.  We always seem to find a lot to do in DF, so I’m sure we will be back.

Centro Historico 14 Nov 2014

With a day to play in Mexico City, we decided to head down to the Centro Historico area – the main zocalo. Initially we weren’t sure about that with the unrest in the area – but we kept checking the webcam and all looked peaceful so we decided to give it a go.

Love these pedestrian streets in Mexico City - leading from Zocalo all the way to Palace of Fine Arts

Love these pedestrian streets in Mexico City – leading from Zocalo all the way to Palace of Fine Arts

Luckily for us – it was peaceful! I’m afraid we don’t follow my brother Bruce’s mantra ….”Wouldn’t you rather be ON the news than watch the news?” No, Bruce.

Our tour guide Grant took us to a bead shop, and a fine gem shop.

Everywhere you look is something to see!  Grant and Wilson are enjoying a coffee break sitting on a massive wood beam.

Everywhere you look is something to see! Grant and Wilson are enjoying a coffee break sitting on a massive wood beam.

and … right above Wilson and Grant is this gorgeous light fixture!

and … right above Wilson and Grant is this gorgeous light fixture!

We wandered about the zocalo, toured the magnificent cathedral and enjoyed the beautiful buildings along the way.

Just one of the many sights to view inside the Grand Cathedral in the Zocalo - hand carved wood overlaid with gold leaf.  So impressive.

Just one of the many sights to view inside the Grand Cathedral in the Zocalo – hand carved wood overlaid with gold leaf. So impressive.

Along the way we stopped for tacos and headed to the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes. The building itself is a phenomenal site, but once you get in the murals on the walls and the art in the galleries is incredible.

Palacio de Bellas Artes - as breathtaking inside as out.

Palacio de Bellas Artes – as breathtaking inside as out.


In one gallery alone we saw artwork from Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock, Diego Rivera, and too many more to mention them all by name.

Just one of the many Diego Rivera murals inside the Palace of Fine Arts

Just one of the many Diego Rivera murals inside the Palace of Fine Arts

Having written a couple post cards for Chloe, Owen and Sloan we stopped in to the post office to buy stamps and get them posted, although we will probably get home before the post cards get there! Even the post office is the most palatial building – we can’t even imagine such a thing at home.

Even the post office is worth a tour - built in the 1500's and so elaborately finished.

Even the post office is worth a tour – built in the 1500’s and so elaborately finished.

A little siesta time at home before deciding where to go for dinner – during siesta the skies literally opened up – the rain was torrential! We tried to wait it out but when it didn’t look like that was possible we ventured out with bags over us and umbrellas held aloft. We got SOAKED. The thunder was crashing overhead – no taxis to be found, and even if we had found one the roads were totally gridlocked with every taxi in use.

Poor quality photo - but these hardy individuals are braving the torrential rain with thunder crashing overhead to find a restaurant in Mexico City!

Poor quality photo – but these hardy individuals are braving the torrential rain with thunder crashing overhead to find a restaurant in Mexico City!

My (well, our) dream has always been to return to Maximo Bistro – an amazing place we ate at a couple of years ago. The chef, Eduardo Garcia has become one of the most famous chefs in the city with his success and reservations are made months in advance, which honestly is just not our style. We weren’t too far from his place, so looking like drowned rats (literally) we took a chance that others would have been held up by the rain and we stopped in …… I was so excited that we got a table!!! Then when I took a photo of the chef he even stopped to give me the thumbs up and chat with me for a minute. Never mind that I was kind of standing in the bathroom to get the shot!

Eduardo Garcia Chef and Mastermind behind 3 successful restaurants in Mexico city Maximo Bistro de Mar a Mar Lalo

Eduardo Garcia
Chef and Mastermind behind 3 successful restaurants in Mexico city
Maximo Bistro
de Mar a Mar
Lalo

People wait months for a reservation at Maximo - we wandered in out of the rain, looking like the drowned rats we were and the empathetic Maitre D gave us a table.  We were thrilled and proceeded to enjoy a fabulous meal!

People wait months for a reservation at Maximo – we wandered in out of the rain, looking like the drowned rats we were and the empathetic Maitre D gave us a table. We were thrilled and proceeded to enjoy a fabulous meal!

Just a sampling of our feast, scallops on a langosta foam chicken on a bed of papas cream short ribs octopus ceviche

Just a sampling of our feast, scallops on a langosta foam
chicken on a bed of papas cream
short ribs
octopus ceviche


I was twitter pated with excitement. By the time dinner was over the rain had also stopped and we had a leisurely stroll home.

Today we wake up to brilliant sunny skies and perhaps a last walk around here before getting on the plane for Oaxaca.

It is only possible to attach 2 photos to each email, but JUST IN CASE anybody is interested in seeing more, I have tried to use more photos when I blog these updates:

http://www.chattykathychatsandcooks.com

After all, I have only been using my blog for the cooking part. This morning I opened up my inbox to see a flood of people now following my blog!!