Alambron Tacos y Guisados: My Dad & Tijuana Airport Food (Live-Blogging)

I never really realized but my father, little sister and I have kept an unofficial tradition of going back to Mexico City every summer for the last four years. The reason? To persuade my dad’s friend Don Aurelio to maintain the remnants of his lost empire for yet another year, a couple of dingy apartment structures in the ghetto Ahuizotla region of town. And although I can’t really get past even a single conversation with him without blowing his dynamite short temper, he always decides to bring me back with him for some reason. In his defense, he is 70 years old and is always right anyways.

Anyways, so this year is the first that we flew out from an airport other than L.A.X. Tijuana International Airport to be exact. Oh, how exciting! A bonus round of delicious authentic Mexican food! After all, we all know that Tijuana is no joke when it comes to good food and drinks thanks to the relentless documentation of it that Bill Esparza of Street Gourmet LA has done recently. Well, yeah…but not so much when you come with an overly paranoid father who deems it absolutely necessary to check in no later than noon for a flight that takes off at seven in the afternoon.

My poker-head brother has been rubbing off on me. The guy plays online poker for entire days sometimes. Although I’m not as addicted as he is, I did find myself killing a fair amount of time on pokerblog.com, this new internet café that is pretty cool.

We took the first “Crucero” bus (8 AM) out of L.A and way sooner than later we found ourselves at the airport and hungry for some lunch. My mind was lucid with suggestions for lunch, perhaps some Aguachile de Callos de Hacha (raw scallops in a green spicy sauce) from Mariscos Ruben? Maybe a quick torta to go from the famous Tortas “WashMobile” that I’ve read so much about? With six hot and humid hours to kill, in true parent fashion…my dad would say otherwise.

menu signange

My sister and I walked up and down the tiny Tijuana airport terminal desperately. Anything that wasn’t cold and refrigerated between two pieces of soggy bread would suffice. We eventually went with the only place that had any aroma at all coming out of it, Alambron Tacos Y Guisados.

salsa bar

Alambron ambiance

A display counter filled with a golden brown taco strata and a huge sign bearing “Barra de Salsas” couldn’t be wrong, right? Score! And there it was on the menu, the Tijuana exclusive, highly elusive Tacos De Marlin.

tacos de marlin

The one food that I miss most from our local frontera town is smoked marlin. The meaty big fish is smoked, sold in chunks then usually rehashed with tomatoes, onions and spices. You can’t really get it in the U.S unless you smuggle it in yourself but in Tijuana it is an just another average taco filling. Lucky!

The order here came with three griddled, grease-slicked beauties and a delicate salad of chopped iceberg lettuce, peeled cucumber and a zesty creamy aderezo (dressing). Combined with the all-you-can-suffer salsa bar’s accoutrements of chunky green, red salsas and the brined purple onion-habanero slaw…like my compa chuy would say “amanos chikiadoooo!” The tacos were bomb as expected, imagine a peppery bacon if it was made of fish.

An honorable mention goes out to my dad’s Lengua en Salsa Verde guisado dish, probably the best tongue dish I’ve had thus far in my life when I think about it. It was as tender as braised short rib. My little sister’s Tortitas de Carne con Nopales were not bad either. The tiny, egg cakes whipped with shredded beef were meaty, stewed with sour cactus strips and a surprisingly delicious red chile concoction it was downright impressive. The overall excellence of the meal was aided by the tall stack of steaming tortillas, al-dente rice and wonderfully seasoned paste of beans that come with every plate, “aqui si te dan tortillas a llenar, no como en Los Angeles que no mas te dan hay lo que sea”. Yeah dad I can tell you liked it; you finished my sister’s plate too!

Tortitas de Carne at Alambron
Tortitas De Carne con Nopales at Alambron
lengua en chile verde
The Lengua Plate is Killer at Alambron Too

The only downside is that this little place is at an airport; the food for all three of us came out to nearly thirty bucks! Leave it to a random restaurant at the Tijuana airport to show up most Los Angeles Mexican food as a whole and to prove to me yet again that my dad is always right.

pops
The Pops

Tijuana International Airport
Carretera Internacional
Tijuana Baja California
Zip code 22300

Its Here: “Mexico Feeds Me: Exploring Mexico’s Culinary Heritage” My First Cover Story on Saveur Magazine

7-SAV138-gorditaszacatecanas-400x600
Photo Credit: Todd Coleman

Its here.

My first 2,390-word cover feature for freaking Saveur Magazine, including 14 (painstakingly-acquired!) original Cabral family recipes and a 500 word “Kitchen Glossary” story on my favorite fruit, Mexican Tunas (prickly pears) …is out on newsstands nationwide now.

Read the full story on www.saveur.com if you can not wait, but please go out and buy the print edition and support the print cause!

What else can I say? Other than thank you to everyone who has read and supported me over these last five years of my coming-of-aging through food writing. A big thank you to everyone at Saveur that made this whole thing happen, especially James Oseland for granting me the opportunity and Todd Coleman for making everything look lovely. Check out his tasty slide-show on the trip, here.

It is the greatest accomplishment for me thus far in my twenty-two year old life to have my mother and father’s recipes from los ranchitos Zacatecas up there in the cuisine pantheon of the world. This article is a turning point in my life as I vow to keep following my dreams…no matter what. This magazine finally made my parents understand what exactly I do.

As I dig deeper into the craft of writing and discover myself along the journey, I hope all of you will be there next to me, both the new and old readers alike!

To many more cover stories in the future and a long life full of humble writing!

Salud!

Subject: Tequila Expo this weekend in Tijuana…wish me luck, seriously

Disfrutalo!

http://www.expo-tequila.com/

two day’s and two nights of educational debauchery!

…all for the sake of knowing my roots of course:)

I wish at least one of my homiez from the hood had their passport so they can join me though!

get your passports now!

NO EXCUSE!

Hasta Luego.

From Elago to a Purple Tlayuda: La Gastronomia del Mexico D.F

My dad decided to have a last minute vacation to Mexico City, if anyone was wondering. And in an attempt to make it a REAL vacation, I left my laptop at home.

Y la gastronomia? (the food?)

Well, I didn’t really eat in an actual restaurant much seeing how there is so many artisans vending truly comida casera(homemade street food.) From purple corn Tlayudas, a kind of Gordita stuffed with either lard seasoned pureed fava or pinto beans and topped with stewed nopal strips (cactus strips), mesquite grilled fresh ears of corn sold off of carts with little bbq’s on them or even smoked sweet potatoe’s sweetened with Pilloncillo (brown sugar). And of course the occasional chapulin(grasshoper) here and there.

But when I did decide to eat out…I ate out, in Elago of Chapultepec. Apparently, Mexico’s most expensive restaurant! (should of done more research!). The food was….well…sadly overlooked. It is more a case of lexury, extreme lexury might I add (For the first time, I truly felt out of place here; my scraggly, long haired self in a restaurant of that stature). The plate of Barracuda Tikin-Xac(Barracuda marinated with Achiote and Roasted in a Banana Leaf) was definetely not worth the 2+ hour expedition it took rummaging the forest of Chapultepec for it, the Chilaquliles Dulces were interesting though.

Tao on the other hand was a whole different strory. Mexico’s only fully Macrobiotic establishment, the japanese style and all. I thought I had that whole “enjoy every morsel of food” thing down, but then I came here-the relaxing japanese music, the low Kotatsu tables just inches away from my face, the different courses of TOOTHSOME healthy food, not “cardboard” -easily my new favorite restaurant at the moment. Especially for that chewy, Pastel de Higo (Fig Cake), incorporating both fresh and dried figs for t that perfect texture and sweetness.

Oh Mexico, when will I be back.

Elago Restuarante
Chapultepec Lake, Chapultepec Forest
Mexico D.F

Centro Macrobiótico Tao Cozumel
76, Col. Roma. Mexico, D.F.
06700