• 05Jan

    I’ve been a bit obsessed with Mexico City recently following a trip in November. It’s pretty fantastic (if you can handle the smog  and speak at least a bit of Spanish) – great art, great culture, amazing food, etc. – I’m going back this month. But in the meantime, back up here in the cold, I wanted to bring myself  back to a bit of a warmer state of mind, and what better excuse to use everyone’s favorite  winter warmer, the slow cooker?

    So I decided to try a spin on a DF classic – al pastor. So I polled a couple Mexican friends  (ok, exactly two) for a recipe, and combining them got a semi-coherent list of ingredients
    with vague proportions. But it sounded good, and I’m not big on precise measurements anyhow.  Also note that al pastor is generally defined by use of the guajillo chili, which I didn’t
    have handy. I used chipotle. I also had no pineapple juice, so that got mucked about a bit,  and obviously I slow-cooked instead or spit-grilling.Tasty, not authentic

    You read the title, right?

    I also added the onion because I thought it seemed right. It was.

    I used:


    • 2lbs pork butt country ribs, separated and stabbed repeatedly
    • 1/2 yellow onion, quartered
    • 11 oz cubed fresh pineapple


    • 2 tbs achiote (anatto) seed, ground
    • 2 tbs ground chipotle
    • 1 tbs garlic powder
    • 1 tbs oregano
    • 1 tbs cumin
    • 1 tbs salt
    • 1 tbs pepper
    • 1c cider vinegar
    • 3/4c water
    • 1 tbs agave nectar

    Preparation is wonderfully simple: put all the ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl, cover and marinate overnight. In the morning before leaving for work, I poured everything into my trusty slow cooker, and set it on low for 9.5 hours (its longest setting, just because it’s not like I was getting home in less than 11) . I arrived home that evening to a gorgeous aroma from the pot, now happily keeping things warm, from which I heaped lovely, fall-apart tender pork. It was truly delicious alone, but over some rice (I suspect hominy would be good too) it was really awesome.

    The cooked marinade, by the way, is a keeper: this may become a go-to barbecue sauce for me: transfer it to a saucepan and let reduce. Thicken with cornstarch or flour, and toss the pork back in, you could make tacos. I’m just sayin’.

    Buen provecho!

     – MAW

  • 03Jul

    We had a wonderful DC Food Blogger Happy Hour  Wednesday evening at Mexican restaurant, Mission Dupont. My favorite items were the Spicy Chorizo Burger, Enchilada chicken with 3 sauces (Pasilla, mole and red sauce), chicken tacos (the chicken was phenomenal), and Jalapeno Margarita. I will definitely be back soon for those items and to try more of (Mexico City native) Executive Chef Rodrigo Albarran’s dishes.

    Next DC Food Blogger Happy Hour will be Wednesday, August 6th. Mark your calendars. More info coming soon.


    Mission on Urbanspoon

  • 02Jul

    A work friend invited me along to the soft opening festivities for MXDC, the new place at 14th and F from celebrity chef Todd English and local nightlife guru Farid Nouri (of 18th St Lounge fame). The space is gorgeous – open with high ceilings and an upstairs balcony-bar and what’s almost a terrace, and plenty of table space on the main levels. There’s enough separation between the bar area and the seated dining areas to suggest a difference, but they are integrated and easily flow into one for this kind of event.
    Local star Thomas Blondet provided the excellent soundtrack of the evening, spinning chilled-out dance tunes from the very well hidden DJ booth up above the bar (getting up there is a bit of a trip – winding through storage and machine rooms, this won’t be a place heavy on patrons’ requests – I say that’s a good thing).  Nouri said he doesn’t want it necessarily to be a ‘clubstraunt’ (my term), but one can easily see some dancing breaking out after dinner.

    Like any good party, the hosts were generous ensuring that champagne glasses stayed full, or at least everyone had one of the signature margaritas on offer. Of those, I tried the very good ‘traditional’ margarita, and another one made with hibiscus. Guests were treated to numerous hors-d’ouvres style tastes of presumptive menu items – various tacos, spoons of ceviche, and a variety of arepas.

    Like I said, the ‘traditional’ Margarita de Casa was really good. I was afraid that the hibiscus one might be too sweet (given its bright red color, and my general wariness of flavored drinks), but it was also pretty good, striking a nice balance of sweet, tart, and boozey. The candied hibiscus garnish was fabulous. The third margarita, however, which involved coconut-flavored tequila and chilis, was not a winner. It was too sweet and tasted artificial (this is why I avoid flavored booze).

    Food-wise, the first standout for me was the huitlacoche taco. Earthy, sweet and a bit tangy, I could eat corn fungus all night. I was a bit confused by the addition of regular mushrooms, but they didn’t stop me from snatching one of these guys every time the tray came around. The steak tacos had great flavor, but I found them a touch mushy – I like my tacos with a good toothy flank, and while probably more elegant, these didn’t hit my spot perfectly.  The mahi-mahi tacos are nice, but a bit confused: fried fish and sweet pineapple-jalapeno chutney (but at least it’s not another aioli – I’m really sick of aioli), on a taco. Too sweet, but the fish was crispy and nice.

    The full menu will apparently have multiple types of guacamole, but at the open what we had was topped with bits of crab – a very nice touch, but one that didn’t entirely make up for the lack of heat and acid in the guac. Again, however, this didn’t stop us from polishing off tray after tray of little tortilla chips of the stuff.

    Speaking of full plates, we come to the soup-ish dishes. The scallop ceviche was fine, though nothing special, and the yellow gazpacho with tomato and habanero is also … just fine. I think a touch too much cilantro (and I love cilantro). The beet ceviche, on the other hand, left me asking: “why?” It’s too gingery and earthy, and beets without a nice unctuous companion (sour cream, olive oil, bacon) can be a bit dull. Maybe these soup-ier dishes just need full plating to get the right effect?

    Then there were the arepa dishes – identified by servers for some reason as “dumplings.” The first I tried was tuna tartare over a cheese-filled ball of fried dough…all warm. It was mushy and bland. I could see this maybe working (though fish and cheese is a hard sell even for me) if the tartare was very cold and the arepa hot, but not like this. The next one was  slow-roasted pork (arepas cochonitos). The pork is really (really) tasty, but I’m not sure it needs to be in a fairly dry profiterole-looking shell of fried dough. Oh well.

    All told, it seems like many of the things I didn’t find successful will probably work better as full portions and made to order, rather than passed as hors d’ouvres, and I expect that the actual food at this place will be good to very good, even if I question the levels of sweetness (too high) and heat (too low) in most of the sauces. Also, the space is gorgeous, and you know the music will always be on point.

    600 14th St NW
    Washington, DC 20005
    (202) 393-1900

    -MAW (Michael)

  • 14Feb

    I love Mexican food. What I don’t love are all the calories that usually come with it. So, when my heart tells me to go to a certain fast food burrito joint, my head tells me to make this recipe instead. Using the protein-rich quinoa as a substitute for rice keeps my stomach quiet through lab, and all the veggies make it guilt free. So cheap a college student can afford it, so easy and English major can make it, and so tasty it comes roommate approved! Enjoy!


    Mexican-Style Quinoa



    1 ½ tsp. vegetable oil

    ½ Yellow onion (chopped)

    1 clove garlic (peeled and chopped finely, add more if you’re a garlic fan!)

    1 cup uncooked quinoa

    2 cups vegetable broth (or more as needed)

    ½ tsp. ground cumin

    ½ tsp. Mexican chili powder

    1 cup frozen corn kernels

    2 (15oz) cans of black beans

    ½ cup chopped, fresh cilantro

    Salt and Pepper to taste



    1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium to large saucepan. Stir in onions and garlic until both are slightly brown (about 5 minutes).

    2. Add uncooked quinoa to the pan and cover with vegetable broth. Mix in chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.

    3. Allow mixture to come to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 15-17 minutes.

    4. Mix in corn and simmer for another 5 minutes until cooked. Stir in black beans and cilantro.

    -Guest Writter, Paige (EPC)


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