Ellen Returns To Mexico!

Ellen Bennett

I went back to Mexico City after not having been there for quite some time, and I was over the sun, moon, and stars to get back to my somewhat-hometown! I call it "somewhat" because technically I'm not from Mexico City, but I like to say that I am because I lived there for some years, from ages 18 to 22.

This time I went with my sister from another mister, Daniela Soto-Innes, who is the chef and partner at Atla in NYC alongside Enrique Olvera. They have Alta, Pujol and Cosme. Pujol is one of the best restaurants in Mexico, and they just opened a new one which Dani calls Pujol 2.0. And we got to go there on our grand adventures! I was there for 3 days for an event on biodiversity in Xochimilco

This is one of the last remaining, super amazing ecosystems left in the area and these canals are surrounded by super rural plots of land. Enrique is teaming up with a farm called Yolcan.

They brought in chefs from all over the world including Dominique Crenn, and Mike Mazuric. The really cool thing about it is they took a plot of land and all of the produce for Pujol is now being grown there along with a bunch of other really great restaurants from Mexico City.

So Enrique had the idea to bring everyone together to this biodiversity conference, teaming up with the Basque Culinary Center, and he brought a ton of press. Basically the whole idea was to bring people together to understand what biodiversity means here and beyond and how we can all do our part.

So we spent the day in Xochimilco and some of my takeaways were: 

Seeds are incredibly important!! And each seed is infinitely replicable. So you can take one seed and one seed can produce 10,000 seeds and so on and so forth. The amazing thing about seeds is that they're incredibly adaptable to different ecosystems.

One way to maintain biodiversity is by consuming and demanding different products and not just green zucchini or one simple product. Buy varieties and eat varieties. As a restaurant owner, don't just buy one type of fish. Demand more from your stores. Fishermen sometimes catch a ton of fish and get rid of a bunch because nobody will buy them. Just think.. what if the stores bought every fish that the fishermen catch?? That would help the fishermen and provide more variety to the stores. We need to use the ingredients that our fish providers bring us, not just what we know, but what the ocean offers us. We have to go outside of our comfort zones and learn and experience new products that we're not familiar with. This is one of the ways we can maintain biodiversity.

Crop diversity is dropping drastically because we are focused on a few fruits and veggies and aren't thinking of the loss of seed diversity. Just how animals go extinct, so do plants, if we do procreate them. It's on us restaurants, chefs and others in the food world to promote this cause so we don't lose more foods from the loss in seeds! 

Another fun fact: 5 companies control 60% of the seeds in the US, which inevitably affects the crop diversity and it's dropping drastically because of that. Yet, it's thanks to guys like Dan Barber and Michael Mazuric who create seeds for everyday people.

They had the kitchen crew from Pujol cooking there. Daniela and I made handmade tortillas with the most wonderful ladies from Mojaka. They grind up the corn there from a company called Masienda, an LA-based company who gets non-GMO corn called nixtamal. Those were some of the best tacos I've ever had!!

So here's my mega hit list for where you need to go eat in Mexico City: 

-For pastries, Rosetta. Get the guava pastry!

-El Maque - get the cornbread! It's the most moist, delicious, gooey frickin bread you'll ever have in your life. 

-El Califa - my favorite taco place in Mexico City. I always get the rib eye taco and ask them to make it a little crispy.

-El Kalifa De Leon - also amazing tacos! 

-For posole - go to Los Tolucos.

-For amazing coffee, go to Buna.

-For a delicious, little bit fancier meal, go to Amaya.

-Máximo Bistrot is another epic restaurant!! One of my favorite meals in Mexico City. 

-El PujolEnrique Olvera's restaurant that is absolutely mind-bogglingly delicious. In case you don't know who that is, he's basically the most famous chef in Mexico in one of the world's 50 best restaurants! (number 20 to be exact!!)

-La Docena, awesome spot to go get oysters and it's super fresh and so delicious! 

-Carlota, amazing and super cool little spot! 

Places to stay:

-La Roma or La Condesa. One of my favorite hotels in Mexico City is called Condesa D.F.

-Hotel Habita

Please visit Parque Mexico and rent a bike and go around the streets of Amsterdam in La Condesa! Visit all the museums and go visit Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's house! Also visit the Barragán Houses as well! He's one of the most famous Mexican architects in history. There's so much more, but that should give you a good grasp into Mexico City. 

From a local at heart, forever!!