Raicilla, Mexican Elixir
: When listing Mexican drinks, tequila is sure to appear at the top; however, there’s a new spirit that’s set to beat, or at least compete closely with, tequila in terms of popularity and quality: raicilla. According to the Mexican Wine Association, raicilla is a spirited drink with a defined aroma that reminds us of the sunny and well-drained lands that give birth to the agave.
Molcajete at Your Table
: If you are looking for an authentic Mexican dining experience while visiting Puerto Vallarta, this molcajete salsa, custom made right at your own table is as close as you get to the real thing. A regular feature at Agave Grill (Morelos 589, El Centro) this salsa, served with tortilla chips or totopos, is a great way to start your meal. (Sound Slide Show)
Cravings: A Guayaba
: A very rich source of vitamin C (even more so than the ubiquitous orange), guayabas – or guavas, as they are known up north – are as delicious fresh as they are in their many widely available incarnations, from thick rolls of rich guava paste to bottled guava nectar. And since they can be harvested year round in warm climates, they are considered one of Mexico’s leading fruits.
Molcajete Salsa at Your Table
: A basalt (volcanic rock) tool traditionally used at home to grind spices and prepare salsas and guacamole, the molcajete, or Mexican mortar, is the big enchilada of kitchen gadgets here, dating back to Aztec times.
Earnestly Speaking Nonsense — In a Spanish-Speaking Land
: I doubt any gringos actually set out to make fools of themselves here. But speaking “Spanglish” certainly adds to the likelihood that it’s going to happen now and then. Personally, since my livelihood depends on a facility with language, I’m mortified to have an IQ that apparently slumps 80% when speaking what I’ve come to call “Silly Spanish.”
: Widely cultivated around the world today, this grain was originally domesticated more than 9,000 years ago in central Mexico and to this day remains one of our country’s staple foods.
: The tortilla has been a staple in Mexico since, as the Mayan legend goes, a peasant made the first dozen as a gift for his king in 10,000 BC. And ever since the 16th century, when the Spaniards came to Mexico bringing their tradition of soup, as well as the chickens and spices from which to make flavorful stock, there has been wonderful tortilla soup.
International Restaurants: In Search of Exotics
: Today, Puerto Vallarta’s international restaurant scene can satisfy even the most sophisticated bon vivant. Of course, chances are that if you are visiting Mexico for the first time, you will want to experience authentic Mexican cuisine with its broad variety of flavors first and foremost.
Craving: A Prickly Pear
: Both a fruit and a vegetable, the indigenous prickly pear cactus has been a diet staple and the source of legends, magic and healing in this part of the world since Aztec times.
Hold the Guacamole!
: Hold the guacamole un minuto! You’re in Vallarta with an intercontinental dining scene that beats any resort town in Mexico! Chefs from all over the world have come here and stayed to open marvelous restaurants reflecting their countries’ culinary heritages.
: Few can resist being seduced by this popular liqueur made from Mexican coffee, and many include it in their list of gifts to bring back home.
Traditional Jalisco Candies
: A visit to Puerto Vallarta would not be sweet enough without these delicacies.
: When is a Walmart not a Walmart? When you are in Puerto Vallarta, where along with "standard" fare you will find unexpected local treasures at this and other major supermarkets in town.
Hot Spot: The Marina Vallarta Malecon
: Peaceful and pretty and a world apart from the hurly-burly of town, yet just 15 minutes away, this is the perfect place for those who dare to dream.
: Take a close look at one of Mexico's most enduring traditions: freshly baked sweet breads available just about anywhere you go! (Slide Show)
Practice Makes Perfect: Staying Competitive in Puerto Vallarta’s Thriving Restaurant Scene
: Many of us have heard the joke in which a famous musician is stopped on the streets of New York by a passer-by with a question: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
: This now-classic dish is said to have originated here in Mexico on the busy Fourth of July weekend back in 1924.
One for All, and All for One
: If Alexandre Dumas’ musketeers were among us, Athos, Porthos and Aramis would most likely feel a strong kinship toward chefs Thierry Blouet, Roland Menetrey and Heinz Reize, their gourmet counterparts.
Cravings: A Papaya
: At its flavor zenith when 80% ripe and responding slightly to pressure, this indigenous pear-shaped fruit with juicy orange flesh can be enjoyed year round in Mexico.
: My first experience with it made me feel much more sophisticated, somehow. And while decades have passed, I still vividly recall my shocked delight upon tipping that creamy cold spoonful of vichyssoise onto my tongue.