Great food, friends and fond memories–Frontera Grill and Rick Bayless

Rick Bayless and Marilyn Tausend
Sooke Harbour House, Marilyn’s 80th Birthday Celebration
Photo by Bill Blair

One morning, over twenty years ago, when in Chicago, I wanted to meet Rick Bayless, as his first cookbook Authentic Mexican written with his wife, Deann, had only recently been published. We had previously talked on the phone and he expressed an interest in the regional culinary trips that I was leading in Mexico, so off I went to his first flagship restaurant.

The front door of Frontera Grill was locked, no one was inside that I could see, so my intrepid husband, Fredric said for us to try the back door. We did, banged on it, and when it opened, there was a startled Rick. He served us up some tasty soup and soft tacos and we proceeded to have a long, interesting discussion. That was the first of many times over the years that I have eaten at Frontera. I only wish I could be there to celebrate the 26th anniversary of its opening. Congratulations to Rick, Deann and their wonderful staff for their efforts to present such truly representative dishes from the region we both know and love.

Over the following years, we have spent many important occasions together, Christmases in Oaxaca, birthdays, and their daughter, Lanie’s quinceañera. Thank you for being our friends. You have all enriched my life by your friendship.


Mexico City Culinary Trip – Chefs’ Trip

For many years, I have been organizing culinary trips for chefs and other culinary professionals throughout the many culinarily and culturally diverse regions of Mexico, including Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Baja California Norte, Tabasco, Yucatán, Guanajuato and Veracruz.

Now for the first time, Mexico City will be our destination from September 22 to 29, 2013. The week will be crammed with classes, demonstrations, and discussions with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Munoz.

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Chef Ricardo Muñoz

Rick is the chef/owner of Frontera Grill, Topolabampo, and XOCO in Chicago, and Tortas Frontera at O’Hare Airport, and Ricardo is chef/owner of four Azul y Cafe Oro restaurants in Mexico City. Both have written numerous Mexican cookbooks.

In addition, we have asked some of the local chefs who are making waves with their innovative renditions of classic Mexican dishes, such as Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil, Jair Telléz at Mero Tero, Pedro Abascal from Düke’s, and, hopefully, Enrique Olivera of Pujol to demonstrate the preparation of some of their dishes. We also will be eating at their restaurants as well at other more traditional establishments.

Pujol, Enrique Olivera

Chef Enrique Olivera

Chef Enrique Olivera’s flagship Pujol restaurant is number 36 on San Pellegrino’s 2012 list of the World’s Fifty Best Restaurants.

The Red Tree House
Condesa, Mexico City

Our lodging will be at the intimate bed and breakfast the Red Tree House in Condesa, a great neighborhood and quite close to one of my now favorite markets, the Mercado Medellin. Space is limited on this culinary trip, so if interested in participating, let us know as soon as possible. The trip costs $4,200, excluding airfare and includes two meals/day, hotel and all fees associated with the trip. $400 deposit is required.

Arte de Mexico City

Here is the last installment by Kathy Martinides of our February Explorer’s trip to Mexico City. Enjoy!

Mexico City, Days Six and Seven

Today we had our class with Ricardo followed by a wonderful comida at Düke, as you will see by the beautiful pictures of our meal taken by Doug Martinides in this third installment by his wife, Kathy, of our video trip log. This is Chef Pedro Abscal’s first restaurant and one we think is going to do very well based on his offerings. Try the vodka, cranberry and rose petal cocktail, it is fabulous! There are a couple of great bookstores next door, too.

Here’s a short video of Chef Pedro talking about his restaurant.

That night a few of us brave souls went to Taqueria Calida for just a little more before bedtime. The next day we went to the historical Castillo de Chapultepec with its breathtaking views of the city, exquisite artworks and stained glass windows. It is a real treasure. From there, we walked to the Museo Nacional de Antropología admiring Jorge Marín’s sculptures on the way. What a fantastic public art installation by the City that we so appreciated seeing. The Museo tour with our guide, Jacinta was an overview of what is “the best” of this expansive museum.

Later, we had comida at Chef Jair Téllez’s MeroTero where we sat at one long table and had an excellent meal. And to end our journey, we had cena at Chef Jorge Vallejo’s Quintonil in Polanco. It was a spectacular finish to a wonderful week in Mexico City.

Days 3-5 Mexico City

Day three of our Mexico City explorer’s trip starts with a tour of Teotihuacan, what was once one of the largest cities in the world. We then had a lovely comida at a remodeled hacienda that is now the Monte Cristo restaurant. That night was our first class with Rick Bayless, ably assisted by his sous chef, Shaw Lash, and his wife, Deann Groen Bayless.

Day four began with breakfast at the legendary El Cardenal with its wonderful pan dulces and then a tour of one of the three largest public squares in the word, the zócalo where we walked quietly through the Catedral Metropolitona followed by a tour of the Templo Mayor, once the most important religious structure of the Mexicas (Aztecs), and then the Palacio National, the site of the Mexican government with its impressive Diego Rivera murals. Comida that day was at Ricardo Munoz’s Azul Historico where mezcal was free flowing……some of us managed to make the Museo de Artes Popular (not to be missed!) before it closed. Of course, there wasn’t enough time spent there for some of us. We raced back to our second class with Rick.

Day five began at the Xochimilco market with its selection of local herbs, vegetables and various ingredients for moles, as well as many premade mole pastes. There was a quick stop at UNAM for purchasing some of the those mezcals……then to Museo de Frida Kahlo followed by a visit to the magnificent Museo Dolores Olmedo Patino to see the collection of paintings by Frida and Diego Rivera that Olmeda gathered throughout her lifetime. Our very special comida was at the Coyacuan home of the esteemed chef Elsa Kahlo who is related by marriage to Frida.

Thanks again to Kathy Martinides for her video.

Culinary Explorer’s Trip, Mexico City Day One & Two

This wonderful video by Kathy Martinides captures day one of our culinary explorer’s trip in Mexico City with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Muñoz. From the first glimpse at the density of the city when landing at the airport, to the end of our first full day, Kathy gives you a visual synopsis of what the group experienced. We began in the Condesa neighborhood at The Red Tree House, voted the best B&B in Mexico City, hosted by Craig Hudson and Jorge Silva. After we met for cocktails to introduce ourselves, we were off to food stylist, Laura Cordera, and her husband, internationally known photographer, Ignacio Urquiza’s home where they offered a taste of Mexico City’s traditional foods and Nacho presented a powerpoint show of some of the foods that the group would see over the next few days. It was an exceptional night.

The next morning we went to the Medellin Mercado to do a little food scavenger hunt with a show ‘n tell afterward with Ricardo at The Red Tree House. Our comida was at the wonderful El Hidalguense restaurant for a little Hidalgo-style barbacoa and pulque and was voted as one of the highlights of the trip by many of our participants, as was a few hours later, a trip to the Ballet Folklorio at the neoclassical and art nouveau masterpiece Palace of Fine Arts, a center for opera, dance and theater. The art deco interior with the Diego Rivera murals are magnificent.

But wait, we aren’t done yet. This was followed by a “snack” at La Casa de Tono, a popular eatery opened 24 hours a day and so popular there are bouncers at the door that hold throngs of people back until there is room upstairs for them to sit.

You also can find The Red Tree House on Facebook.