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¡Hola, Mexico!

Mexico

We’re back from two weeks in Mexico – tanned, tired and well padded out with cheese and chocolate. We spent a week in Mexico City and a week in Oaxaca – it was really good to see perhaps two extremes of the same country. Here’s a first bunch of photos and my thoughts on our first stop, Mexico City.

Mexico

We were almost put off Mexico City (known locally as DF, District Federal) before going, with the consensus being it’s too big, crowded, hectic and completely impenetrable for a short visit. Luckily I didn’t find that to be the case at all. I think that was partly the neighbourhood we stayed in, Condesa, and the lovely Airbnb we called temporary home (this one) which was a great base to return to and chill out for a bit in between scampering around. Condesa is a really nice quiet area, but with loads of restaurants, bars, shops and cafes. It borders the more buzzy Roma and Zona Rosa and isn’t too far from the historical centre either. It reminded me of London in the way each neighbourhood has a distinct vibe so you can choose where to hang out based on your mood. The Chilangos (inhabitants of DF) also reminded me of Londoners – they’ll generally stay out of your way but be friendly and helpful if you’re looking for it.

Mexico
Mexico

One thing that really surprised me was how green a city it is. There are lush tropical planted parks every few blocks which break up the concrete. Mexico City is pretty pleasant to take in on foot once you get used to the uneven pavements and, er, unorthodox approach to traffic lights and pedestrian crossings (we quickly learned to just go when a local crosses!). It’s very clean in terms of litter and it felt safe to walk around areas like Condesa and Roma after dark. Plus the weather in mid-late October was in the mid-20s, perfect for wandering around.

Mexico

Other options for longer trips include taxis and the metro. Taxis are very cheap and safe as long as you book them from the ranks situated every couple of blocks – $100/£5 will get you anywhere in the centre. The Metro is even cheaper – at $4/20p it’s amongst the cheapest in the world – and generally a safe bet. On the downside, it got hot and sticky at peak time (5-6pm and onward) and also had a tendency to make long stops with no announcements as to what’s going on. There are women and children only carriages at the front of every train but I didn’t feel the need to use them. There are also buses and hire bikes, which we didn’t try. I’ll show some of the other areas we visited a bit later on.

Mexico
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico

Like Ecuador and Panama, there’s colour everywhere, from handpainted signs to ornately tiled buildings.

Mexico
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico

Food is everywhere too, at all hours! Street food shacks and carts on ever corner offering every variety of corn + meat + cheese you can imagine – I’m now well-versed in telling a memelita from a tlayuda. If you were on a budget you could eat street food three times a day for about $50 pesos (£2.50). The pound is pretty strong right now, which made everything seem pretty bargainous to us anyway. We ate a vast variety of amazing food, from 50p street tacos to allegedly the highest-end restaurant in Mexico – I’ll post more about my favourites. We even found veggie restaurants! In fact eating veggie there was really quite easy: a fondness for cheese will definitely help though.

Mexico
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico

Another highlight for me was the volume of markets – my idea of heaven is walking around a fresh produce market; even if I can’t buy the fruit and veg I love to see what’s available and how deliciously vibrant it all looks. Plus of course there’s all manner of stuff we could bring home, like dried chillies, hot sauce, chocolate and crafts… I’ll write some more about specific markets later.

Mexico

Lots more to come soon on what we saw, did and ate!

A week with a veg box

veg

My cooking has had a boost lately, thanks to both a neighbour plying me with veg from her Norfolk allotment and Wholegood kindly sending me a veg box to try.

veg
It’s been nice to try some ingredients that I don’t often buy for myself, and it’s much easier to make a non-lazy carb-based dinner when you’ve got a veg drawer overflowing with this colourful loveliness.

vegbox1

Greens are some of my favourite veg, as long as they’re carefully cooked so as to keep their crunch and colour. The mix on the left is broccoli, chard and leek which I semi-steamed in a pan with a cup of hot water with the lid on. I served it simply with seasoning and lemon as a side dish (um, to macaroni cheese). On the right, a bit of a made-up tart of the same veg together with some stilton cheese in a quiche type custard nestled in filo pastry.

vegbox2

Left, a filling tea of a sot of tartiflette (oven-baked patties of grated potato and courgette with taleggio cheese – I modified this recipe) with a saucy chickpea, tomato and spinach side. Right, a surprisingly filling solo dinner of Portobello mushrooms topped with stilton, breadcrumbs and parmesan. I didn’t need anything else with them – truly the steak of the veg world.

vegbox3

I love tomatoes at this time of year, especially when roasted to concentrate their flavour. Left, using up the last of the filo with a roasted tomato, onion and mozzarella tart (with some of Josh’s chilli chutney smeared on the base). Right, a roasted tomato soup which did me for three work-at-home lunches. I also used a huge glut of spinach for more soup, which is waiting in the freezer.

veg

Of the new things I tried, two things I’ll definitely buy again are leeks and chard. They are both robust enough to last a good week or more in the fridge, which is important as I really don’t like to throw food away. Leeks give that oniony savouryness to any meal, but can also be the star of a dish when griddled or roasted. I use chard rather like spinach: chucked into anything saucy near the end of cooking to give a bit of texture and bump up the veg count. What are your veg box favourites?

Veg box supplied by Wholegood for review

Gratuitous cat update

Cats

It’s been a while since I posted about the cats! I snap photos of them every so often when they’re being extra-cute so thought I’d share some of them here.

Cats

Yoni is fully recovered from his ordeal over a year ago – he got an all-clear from the vet and no further issues since, which we’re so grateful about. It’s just possibly made him even more of a demanding diva than he was previously.

His favourite things are…

Cats

Looking ponderous while half-upside down.

Cats

His grey stripy cat friend and grey blanky

Fabric cat

Napping in my fabric stash

Cats

Napping while holding his tail

Cats

Napping rolled in a snail-like ball… napping anywhere really.

Cats

He still likes to potter outside but doesn’t venture as far any more.

Cats

Our cats are basically opposites in terms of personality – which might explain why they still don’t really get on at all. Lila is super laid-back and likes to tuck herself off in a lesser-used room (currently Josh’s study, often under the radiator in the hallway) and snooze to herself all evening. On the occasion she does want some attention, she raises her little paw in the air and purrs like crazy.

Her favourite things are…

Cats

Rolling around getting grubby

Cats

Chilling in plant pots

Cats

Wearing hats

Cats

Napping flat on her back, tail and paws in the air

Cats

Her rainbow. She also, less adorably, loves to pounce on fabric and pattern pieces when I’m sewing.

Ah cats. They keep life interesting at least!

In partnership with Argos Cat Insurance

Just Good Friday

friday

1. This article about the ‘real’ history behind the Madewell brand is a fascinating and balanced long read.

2. Photos of Indian cinemas.

3. ‘At the turn of the century, Louis Wain became a household name as The Man Who Drew Cats’… I like him.

4. We had a brilliant dinner at Finks last weekend – the kind of neighbourhood restaurant you’d always want to live near.

5. Sewists recreate childhood clothes for their own daughters. My mum used to make matching clothes for my sister and me… maybe I should dig out some photos and try to remake them.

Home refresh with John Lewis

John Lewis home

When John Lewis offers to send you vouchers to pick some homeware goodies to share their Copenhagen range, you say yes please! We haven’t really done anything to the flat lately… we are waiting for a builder to be available as we’re planning a bit of wall-knocking-down, which is quite exciting. But in the meantime it was nice to select a few new accent pieces to give the living room and bedroom a bit of a new look.

copenhagen

John Lewis created the Copenhagen edit to highlight products with that lovely Scandi mix of warmth and texture but with a clean and minimal finish. Modern monochrome sits alongside natural woods and calming neutrals. My whole flat is in this style already, so it was great to pick out some complementary pieces.

John Lewis home

In the living room, I chose a new table lamp to replace a tired old Ikea one, which perfectly matches the greys of our sofa as well as echoing the tripod shape of the Tu floor lamp in the corner.

John Lewis home

I’m keen to add a bit of graphic monochrome to sharpen up the look in here, so picked the Copenhagen cushion.

John Lewis home

For the bedroom, I picked a new duvet set. It’s a lovely silky cotton, and two-sided so you can switch it up.

John Lewis home

I also chose the Devon lamp, which throws lovely shapes across the room when lit and matches our tree wallpaper perfectly.

copenhagen

Here are some more of my favourite items from the collection. What would you pick?

Goods supplied by John Lewis for review.

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