Travel Diary: Mexico City Culinary & Cultural Weekend
Members spent five days in Mexico City exploring one of the world's most exciting food cities.
Our first day in Mexico City left a wonderful impression on everyone as the weather was perfect, the birds were singing, and this unique area of the city is calm and easygoing. We arrived at the St. Regis Hotel, situated on a busy and wide avenue lined with jacaranda trees blooming with purple flowers. Since it was International Women's Day, the avenue was taken over by a parade of women marching in purple through the city. It was the perfect opening scene and everyone felt excited and happy to be there. We started the night with an al fresco cocktail hour overlooking Mexico City's beautiful cityscape.
With the full moon on the rise, we made our way to private dinner number one at the famed restaurant, Bajel, for a mezcal, wine, and tequila-tasting dinner. Bajel’s menu reinvents itself every three months and complements its innovative creations by collaborating with renowned international Chefs. True to its concept of sincerity and transparency, diners can enjoy a creative show through the open kitchen of this exquisite restaurant. We were dazzled by the long table, open kitchen, impeccable service, and delicious food.
Our second day in Mexico City began with a morning excursion to Xochimilco, the outer reaches of Mexico City where "floating islands" were carved out by the ancient Mexica (Aztec) peoples. This area is seven times the size of Central Park and the canals are navigated by trajinera boats decorated with flowers.
We toured the canals, enjoyed a mixology class, and had a multi-course lunch served using only produce grown on the little islands — a true farm-to-table experience.
The evening was a highlight for many. We dined at the world-renowned restaurant Pujol — one of the top ten restaurants in the world. The chicharrón de pulpo was incredible and the atún plate exceptional, but the fig dessert stole the show. Served with carajillo (espresso with Licor 43 served over ice) this was the best end to an incredible dinner (and day!).
Friday began early with a trip to Teotihuacan, an ancient site predating the Aztec people. Our tour guide was passionate and fantastic as he explained all about the "Teotihuacan Tradition" — how they refer to that society and the people because not much is known about them since they vanished in the 6th or 7th century AD. What is known is that the Aztec people migrated to the valley, found the remains of Teotihuacan, and accepted it as the City of the Gods, believing only Gods could have constructed and inhabited it. Aztec tradition carried on the legacy giving way to what is modern-day Mexico City.
Continuing with our history lesson, we had an after-hours, private tour of the Anthropology Museum led by a guide who had such gusto for the culture and knowledge of the past it was magnificent to experience.
Friday's dinner was a group favorite. Members had a private dining experience at Quintonil (another restaurant in the top ten en todo el mundo!). The flavors were deeply rooted in Mexican traditions and were complimented with drink pairings that ranged from mezcal to wine from France, to Mexico's Ensenada wine region, to cider from Normandy. The flavors, presentation, interiors, and service encompassed a true culinary masterpiece.
On the final day, we kept to the city with a courtyard brunch in an old hacienda. We enjoyed some leisure time and visited the bazar del sabado where the local art scene was on full display. Nearly everyone purchased artwork and locally made souvenirs to take home. Buskers were playing banjos and accordions and the cobbled streets were alive with weekend shoppers. It was truly a scene to behold.
Our last night and farewell dinner took place at Melliseme - located in the St. Regis. We gathered in what seemed to be a stale white office with fluorescent lighting and two desks — very bleak decor for what promised to be an epic final culinary send-off. But we entered a secret code and the wall slid open to lead us into a speakeasy restaurant with warm lighting, appetizers, and drinks awaiting our arrival. We had a cooking lesson followed by a three-course dinner.
After dinner, we gathered at the terraced hotel bar for farewells, goodbyes, and see you soons.