Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Jewish Film Festival... in Mexico City!




In Toronto I went to many editions of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. I loved it because that meant a very international and diverse selection of films since, after all, Jews live basically everywhere, immersed in many different cultures, and in contact with many other groups. So how could such festival's offer not run the whole gamut?

Obviously, the moment I found info on Mexico City's Jewish film festival (Festival Internacional de Cine Judío de la Ciudad de México), going through its 12th edition, I got ready to buy plenty of tickets for as many screenings! Alas, Mexico City's was much smaller than Toronto's - some 10 films vs around a 100. Even worse, I had seen FOUR of those in Toronto's one! In the end, I got tickets for just two films. It felt so weird going to so few screenings, but at least these were two very fine choices!


Zeitoun

First of all, we were enthralled by this film because it was set mostly in Lebanon, and it was done well! I don't know where it was filmed, but it sure conveyed Lebanonness to us! It's not too dark a film, but it's not a happy one, either. With many layers to it, it really shows how Palestinians were truly in Limbo, from whichever side you looked at it. If you know just enough history, you'll realize how the story stops short of another sad episode in Palestinian history, perpetrated by the Lebanese no less. A very good film. 



My Awkward Sexual Adventure

And then, there was this one. Granted, I chose it partly because it was Canadian. But we found out only until it began that it was set in Toronto!  Man, we miss that city! and its people! and Canadian culture... We were really happy watching it. Plus, the way Canadians handle sexuality (in this case, the sexuality of an awkward Manitoban Jew who finds himself taking some life lessons from a stripper) is simply delightful. Loved it! Go Canada! 



Looking forward to next year's festival, and hoping they'll choose more films I haven't seen yet!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Porter and Monument

In Canada we solidified our love of porters and stouts, and that means that we're always on the lookout for places in Mexico City that can offer Mexican craft versions of these. Which took us to this place - Crisanta - a former car workshop in the historic centre right by the Monumento a la Revolución (Monument to the Revolution)!

A porter, a view, a former car workshop? Thumbs up. 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

authentic Chinese food - at last!

I've lived in China for some 7 years in total. After China, I lived in Canada some 5 years. Chinese food - good, authentic, northern Chinese food - is of the essence to me.  So, after 5 months of looking for a real Chinese restaurant - and after a number of epic failures - a friend of mine recommended this place in a most unassuming building: Mojing Restaurant (Mojing being a way to call Mexico City in Chinese).

Well, the moment we walked in, it looked like we might have hit the jack-pot: most of the tables were the round type with rotating glass centres! Yay!

Then, we looked at the menu. Chinese writing alongside Spanish strange translations? Awesome! And then, two tests.  First, we were dying to have Mapo Doufu, a spicy tofu dish from Sichuan province and which is extremely easy to make vegan.  And which wasn't on the menu. But if this was the real deal, the chef would most probably know how to make this, right?  Well, we asked... and they said "Sure!".  So, first test - passed with flying colours!  



Test number two? Dumplings! Vegan ones! Dumplings are relatively simple things. And therein lies the difficulty: making really good ones depends on getting every single thing perfect. We looked at them - they looked good.  We prepared the sauce for them - vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce. And tried them.   




Bingo! The dough was as it should. The filling was cooked precisely and contained the right amount of mushrooms and greens. The sauce had the right vinegar and the right chili. WE. WERE. SO. HAPPY!  Darn, I think I want to go for some more right now!  So good. So, so, so good.

For dessert we had some sesame balls filled with sweet bean paste. I guess this was an innovation by the chef, because they had a slight vanilla flavour, and they were not hollow like others we've had. They were good. But unexpected.



And just to confirm how Chinese this place was, we received a plate with tangerines and watermelon! In China, you don't normally order dessert (at least not the western kind, like cake, ice cream, and so on), but you usually get fruit, without even asking! And more often than not it's these two - tangerines and watermelon! It was such a nice surprise, and such a throwback to our China days!



I know where I'll be this February to welcome the Year of the Wood Goat!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Barro Total exhibition

Another one of those things that we simply bumped into. I love that! This time, we were walking around the Zócalo (Mexico City's main square), trying to decide what to do, and we caught a glimpse of a sculpture inside this nicely renovated old building. 

It happened to be the Gallery of the Ministry of Finance (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público), a most unassuming place, but with a very nice exhibition on pieces made from clay and ceramics by Mexican artists.

These are the ones that struck me as particularly moving or unique...


Los hijos dormidos del Dios (The sleeping children of the God), 1998, by Gerda Gruber



Mujercita acostada (Resting woman), 1993, by Javier Marín



Untitled (2008), by Pilar Bañuelos



Untitled (no date), by Jorge Marín

Monday, January 26, 2015

dancing it out at Patrick Miller

Friday night I finally got to go to the legendary Patrick Miller. A club that's existed for some 20 years or more, and one of the few places where you'll find an amazing diversity of people, from hipsters to bureaucrats to older people to you name it, 'cause the main reason is to go there to dance, and dance, and dance some more to 80's and 90's music and, if you're good, you can join a dance battle and show everybody what you're really made of!

Loads of fun. And quite an experience. Especially if androgynous Ursula allows you into her dance battle circle. You better please her! Gotta start working on my moves, eh?



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central

Right at one of the corners of Mexico City's Alameda park is the Museo Mural Diego Rivera. The museum was built specifically for a mural of Diego Rivera that was in a hotel that was damaged during the 1985 earthquakes.  That mural is Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday afternoon at the Alameda Central), and pictures dozens of characters that populate Mexico's history and imagination.

These are three shots from the mural, which is too long for a single image with my camera. This one has the Catrina (right in the middle) or death, Frida Kahlo (to the right of the Catrina), Diego Rivera himself (in front of Frida), and "La Revoltosa", one of Rivera's lovers (in yellow, to the right).



The (un)holy Inquisition also hit Mexico, and here's an image of - according to Rivera - the first Jewish woman who fell victim to this horrible period in Mexico and who was burned at the stake.



Finally, a very simple one: a kid enjoying his sandwich (Mexican style, called a "torta") bought on the street.



There's other stuff at the museum. But it's absolutely worth a visit just for this mural alone.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Torta de Tamal

Caution - do not try this at home. Hypercaloric content warning. 

Contains:

Bolillo - Mexican variation on the French baguette
Tamal de mole - steamed corn dough mixed with chicken and a spicy dark sauce made from various kinds of chile peppers, nuts, spices and chocolate.
Tamal de dulce - a tamal with pink-coloured sugar and, sometimes, raisins or other sweet dried fruit.

Origins:

Well, the real real ancient origins? Who knows! For us, this was something the huz had at a couple of times during his childhood (and hence the reason it made a [brief] reappearance at our table). Because that sweet and spicy mixture is pretty unusual. And filling as hell!    


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

dancing at Plaza de la Ciudadela


This city keeps springing surprises on us! Saturday we were just walking towards one of our favourite cafés. It's quite a walk, but then by the time we get there we feel no guilt about having muffins and the like, right?

Anyhow, we followed a different route, to keep the walk interesting, and we got to the Plaza de la Ciudadela, which is a couple hundred years old.  And what did we find there? Dancing! Hundreds of people dancing in groups! Though there were some younger couples, most everybody was older, and plenty were dressed in their finest!




We stayed quite a bit there because, well, the music was pretty enjoyable, and it was wonderful to see all these people just enjoying a Sunday afternoon dancing in public, rocking their now-considered-vintage clothes and being pretty sensual.

Super happy when these things happen to us!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

El Perro Negro

I've been to the Pizza del Perro Negro (the Black Dog's Pizza) in the historic part of town a number of times, how could I have failed to notice their Perro Negro (Black Dog) statue! Pretty cool, I'll say.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Udon - finally!

Finally! we found it! a Japanese place with simple delicious authentic fare that won't kill your wallet! Mikasa, a Japanese grocery shop in the Colonia Roma Norte, also hosts a most basic outdoor food-court where you can get a number of goodies, mostly grilled. And you can also get one of the most simple staples of Japanese cuisine - udon! Beware, though. They may be simple, but that makes it super tricky to get them right, according to my most unqualified opinion.

Whatever, now I know where to get my udon, and onigiri, and tempura! Super nom nom!



Thursday, January 01, 2015

a mish-mash of traditions to usher in the new year!

From Lebanon - champagne to celebrate.  From Lebanon as well - a mezze style dinner.  From my dad's Spanish side - a table-full of pre-dinner edibles.  From Japan - food to cleanse your palate. From China - our dinnerware.  And from a life of gypsies - an intimate celebration for just the two of us and a Spanish-English-French trilingual dialogue once drunk.   



A very happy ushering in of the new year.  And a very bubbly one, thanks to the beau!