So, I am pretty sure that by now you have realised that my recent trip to Puebla wasn’t just about exploring a relatively untouched-by-tourists archeological site. Or learning about (and buying) beautiful ceramics. Or even just about learning how to make authentic mole with Chef Alonso Hernandez. No, this trip to Puebla coincided with the recent release by the Mexico Tourism Board of their new “The Gastronomic Routes of Mexico” programme.
Mexican cuisine is famous around the world for its distinctive ingredients, rich heritage and incredible diversity. Traditional Mexican cuisine was, in fact, one of the first cuisines or national food offerings to receive UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity status. Through this new programme from the Mexico Tourism Board, international and domestic tourists alike are invited to explore the many unique flavors of Mexico, from the vineyards of Baja California to the cacao plantations of Chiapas.
The Gastronomic Routes were developed out of the “Routes of Mexico” programme which highlighted Mexico’s cultural attractions. Eighteen Gastronomic Routes covering Mexico’s 32 states offer even the most well traveled gourmet new culinary experiences. Each route is unique and has been designed to showcase the best and most distinctive traditional dishes and ingredients of the region. Each Route will be supported with a Gastronomic Guide including suggested itineraries, hotel and restaurant recommendations, key sites, gastronomic events, information on cooking classes, vineyard tours and local festivals and tour operator details. The Gastronomic Guides will be available in English from Summer 2012.
Our trip to Puebla was designed to showcase some of the best the region has to offer, beyond mole poblano and I have to say that for a “gastronomic destination” this trip did not disappoint! Here are a few highlights, starting with the food on offer at our base hotel, the Hotel El Sueño in the heart of Puebla.
Chilaquiles: lightly fried corn tortillas topped with green or red salsa (or mole sauce!) and simmered until the tortillas start to soften. Pulled chicken, avocado, cheese (queso fresco), Mexican sweet cream (crema) and beans are served on top of the tortillas and sauce.
Chalupas: A platter of tostadas (deep-fried masa corn fritters) topped with red or green salsa and filled with beans, shredded chicken, beef or pork, chopped onions and sometimes queso fresco.
More chilaquiles from La Quinta Luna hotel in Cholula:
A highly recommended fine dining experience awaits you at El Mural de los Poblanos restaurant in the centre of Puebla. Featuring striking murals by Antonio Álvarez Morán, located in the courtyard of a 17th century mansion in the historic center of Puebla, El Mural features traditional Cocina Poblano (cuisine from the Puebla region).
My favourite dish of our tasting menu? Pan de elote – a sweet cornbread pudding served with a lovely crème anglaise. Surprising and outstanding.
If you visit El Mural, you’ll definitely want to try the escamoles – fried ant larvae served with corn tortillas and spicy salsa. I swear you can’t tell they are ant eggs. The gusanos – grubs – caused quite the stir at our table of bloggers! (I declined these….)
With a wide selection of mezcal and tequila and an impressive wine list, El Mural is somewhere you’ll want to visit at least once during your stay in Puebla.
For another elegant dining experience, you’ll definitely want to dine at Meson Sacristía de la Compañía. After our mole class, we headed to the restaurant where we were fortunate enough to try another tasting menu. I am a huge fan of the tasting menu – I’d rather a lot of little dishes (even though sometimes they aren’t so little!) than one big one – more variety!
Another standout dish came from the Casa Reyna hotel – Sopa de Esquite (corn on the cob soup). The white bits floating are not queso fresco as I first thought, but mayonnaise. And the red bits? Chili flakes. Yes, this soup has quite a kick! I’m looking forward to trying to recreate this one soon!
These are but a very FEW highlights of what we ate in Puebla. You’d need another week or so to really take it all in (literally!). But don’t forget to check out the food and drink shops as well as the restaurants – and especially don’t miss the Calle de los Dulces (yes, Sweet Street!!) where you’ll find all manner of tasty treats!
Borrachitos: “Drunken” fruit jelly candies.
Camotes de Frutas: Soft flavoured caramel-type candies.
Rompope: A drink like eggnog made with eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. Other flavouring ingredients can be added including coffee, pecans, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, pine nuts or berries.
Disclosure: My trip to Puebla, including transportation, accommodation and all meals, was sponsored by the Mexican Tourism Board. I was not required to post about this trip and was not compensated for doing so. All opinions are my own.