Fiestas in Chicago, LA & upstate New York

Sometimes women cannot live by dessert alone.  We need tequila. As Cinco de Mayo dovetails so nicely with Mother’s Day this year, ladies, let’s get served.


This wall of tequila is the artistic centerpiece of Frontera, Rick Bayless’s flagship restaurant in Chicago.  Perfect bar food (mini-enchiladas with guacamole and spicy red sauce by the hearty spoonful, fish tacos with salsa fresca just right) balances the strong Margaritas and allows you to order two.  Bayless also popularized authentic flavors of Mexico through books and television. After the quick culinary tour I did with him and chocolate culture expert Elaine Gonzalez in the markets of Tabasco I realized how much respect he receives in humble kitchens preparing honest, irrepressibly spicy cuisine from southern Mexico. Appreciated by me and my friend Jeff @ContentCarnivores, a regular.

I don’t know of many academic programs that offer degrees in tequila, but I spent a few years of study with Jackie’s 21-year-old daughter, Emma, as bartender at Destino’s in Chatham, NY.  She helped me perfect the daringly-strong Margarita.  Emma: I am ever your student but I think the recipe below is close to yours, yes?


Well-known both for its dynamic food truck scene and its devotion to the authentic Mexican taco, LA serves up both traditional (carne asada; spicy chicken or lightly fried fish) tacos, and also a new array of fused flavors like those rendered by French-trained Chef Wesley Avila of Guerrilla Tacos.  Track him and find out why he is stalked on the food truck circuit. All of those hipsters in the Hollywood Hills can’t be wrong, either.  They have been devoted to Yuca’s and Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada for decades and now they are lining up for a fusion taco joint (Tacos Tu Madres) newly opened on Vermont next to the movie theater. The line is long and the spicy kim-chi tacos with avocado are cheap.  And don’t forget Mexico City when it’s hearty comfort food you are after.


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No ordinary sweet potato taco from Guerilla Tacos


Daringly Strong Margarita

(1 pitcher – about 6 drinks)

Juice of 6 limes & 2 lemons

3 cups Margarita mix or citrus simple syrup or agave syrup

1/2 cup Triple Sec or other citrus liqueur

2 cups clear tequila (such as Patron Silver)

Lime slices for garnish

rock salt & ice

Squeeze the lemon & lime juices into a large pitcher.  Add the mix/simple syrup/agave syrup (and it is OK to make a blend of all three), Triple Sec & tequila. Prep the rims of your glasses by usin the lime rinds and coating each rim with salt. Fill each glass with ice and pour the margaritas in.  Serve with extra lime wedges.


these lilies bloom just before May in California

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Mother’s Day Fiesta Menu:

Pinto & Black Beans in Cilantro Gravy

Rojo Spicy Enchilada Sauce with Sun-dried Tomato

Spinach & Feta Enchiladas

Spicy Kim chi Tacos with Avocado


Daringly Strong Margaritas

Mexican Wedding Cookies (for mamasita Susan H.)

8x60ld blue

Howl into the night on Cinco de Maya



Diana Kennedy




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