Cafe Azul y Oro, Mexico City
February 21, 2009
On February 19, 2009, Ruth, Linda and I had lunch at Cafe Azul y Oro on the enormous campus of the University of Mexico, UNAM. Its chef is the food historian Ricardo Muñoz Zurita. He has written an encyclopedia of Mexican cuisine and four cookbooks promoting Mexican culinary traditions. We ate at the outside café under umbrellas; there is also an inside dining room and a cafeteria for students.
Since Azul y Oro is on the campus, no alcoholic beverages are sold. I had a glass of agua jamaica, pink water flavored with hibiscus. Ruth had a tangerine juice and Linda had a bottle of water. There was a little bowl of candied hibiscus blossoms on the table which were more interesting nibblies than a bowl of nuts.
Ruth ordered for us to share as a starter a
Tamalito de acelga
Bañado con salsa de jitomate y queso fresco
This was tamale without the cornhusk, with a chard filling, in a fresh tomato sauce. It was a good, light starter.
Ruth’s first course was an
This was a small green salad topped with jicama, carrot sticks and tomato wedges. It was served with a small bowl of a green dressing that reminded me of pesto, although it did not have basil among its herbs.
Linda’s first course was
Sopa de tortilla
Aguacate, queso panela y crema espesa.
The soup brought out the flavor of fresh tomatoes. It would normally have been garnished with strips of “guajillo” chili, but Linda asked that they be omitted. This is a traditional garnish and for some an indispensable part of the soup.
I had the
Crema de cilantro
Con almendras y crema espasa.
The cilantro flavor came through nicely. It was interesting to have it for once as the dominant flavor rather than as a garnish. The almonds added a nice little crunch and the thick cream some body. Very nice.
Linda and Ruth went on to
Preperado con achiote acompañado con plátanos machos.
A filet of fish was wrapped around beans flavored with achiote, a flavoring derived from a Mexican shrub. It was garnished on top by avocado with diced tomatoes and onions. Under the fish is a base of delicious fried bananas.
My main course was
Ravioles crujientes rellenos de pato
Bañados en salsa de mole negro.
Tortillas, or perhaps wonton wrappers for crispy lightness, had been filled with shredded duck meat, rolled up, pinched into little purses and deep fried. The sauce was a liquid black mole with chocolate among its complex flavors. It was spicy, but not overly so. The dish was garnished with blackberries which went well, as fruit does with duck.
We skipped the interesting looking desserts. I had a coffee.
The lunch had been an interesting lesson in modern use of Mexican ingredients and techniques. We enjoyed all of it. The setting was lovely; the service was friendly and efficient. An extraordinary feature is that it cost less than US$15 each. Thank you, Ruth, for leading us to Azul y Oro.
Ruth’s website is