I’ll fully admit that I’m not a huge beer drinker. In fact, I’m not a huge drinker of alcohol. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good beer, especially when it’s paired with awesome food. So when Negra Modelo reached out to me for a food tour of the San Francisco Mission (my neighborhood) I jumped at the chance! It helped that there were tons of awesome people also going, including Rick Bayless, one of the leading authority on Mexican food. How could I miss out?
The first stop with a Mexicatessan in the deep Mission district. I had actually not been there before, which was great because now I have a new place to frequent! The bloggers crowded into the tiny kitchen in back as we watched the cooks make huaraches an oblong fried dough similar to sopes, but a different shape. Stuffed with cactus, we sampled the fabulous food as they explained to use how all their food was made completely from scratch, as they cook and grind their own masa (ground dried corn with lime and water).
Moving on from we walked over to a local Mexican butcher shop nearby. The butcher, who has been working for 56 years, explained different cuts of meat to us including flap meat to all us bloggers. We were enthralled with his stories! Flap meat, the unassuming cut of choice for carne asada wasn’t a popular piece of meat 40 years ago; in fact it was pretty much unknown to most people outside of Mexico. Of course now you can buy it at upscale markets like Whole Foods. But back then it was an undesirable cut that was marked mostly for ground beef. How things have changed!
Our last stop in the Mission neighborhood was La Reyna bakery. We were greeted by an enthusiastic college student who explained he was a third-generation baker in the family-owned panaderia (Mexican bake shop). He pointed out and told us about some of the more popular baked goods in the shop, including the bread pudding, the cuernitos (crescent dusted with cinnamon sugar) and conchas. Conchas, also known as pan de huevo are yeasted bread dough with a sugar icing on top with a shell pattern cut into them. It’s his favorite thing to bake and also one of the more difficult things to do properly but sadly they were sold out of them.
Once we had our fill of baked goods, we all hopped onto the party trolley (woo hoo! It’s like I’m a tourist in my own town) and headed over to an upscale Mexican restaurant in the SOMA district of San Francisco. There we were treated to some wonderful food, as well as a chance to tweet and play with Negra Modelo’s #ThePerfectComplement vending machine which gave us cool prizes. In between, Rick Bayless presented various tips and tricks about making Mexican food. Seriously, the man was an insane wealth of knowledge. His tool of choice for making guacamole is an old school potato masher (which is how he does it in his kitchen at his restaurant), if you use raw onions make sure they are white not yellow and rinse them before adding them to salsa or guacamole so they don’t give you indigestion, and it’s the white membranes in the hot peppers that are spicy, not the actual seeds themselves. I could have listened to him all night.
Of course Negra Modelo actually WAS a great complement to all the food we had. The lager looks darker because they slow roast and caramelize the malt in the beer but it’s not heavy like you expect a beer with a color that dark. It was awesome to see my friend Annelies there with a huge grin on her face drinking up the Negra Modelo. Apparently it’s her favorite beer and I can totally understand that. I went home pretty darn happy from the fun evening.
Special thanks to Negra Modelo for the San Francisco food tour of the Mission. For more awesomeness, connect with Negra Modelo on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or follow their hashtag #ThePerfectComplement. I was compensated for joining them on the tour and for this post but all opinions above are my own. An extra special thanks to Rick Bayless for taking time out of his busy schedule to join us and sharing with us his knowledge of Mexican cuisine.
If you want to check out some of the other fabulous bloggers and food writers that joined me in this group, here’s who I got to hang out with on that magical evening:
Amy of Amy’s Healthy Baking
Amy of Cooking with Amy
Amy of Very Culinary
Annelies of The Food Poet
Anita of Dessert First
Beth of OMG Yummy
Cassie of Ever in Transit
Gabi of Broke Ass Gourmet
Jane of This Week for Dinner
Jasmine of Simply Real Moms
Kimberly of Bake Love Give
Sara Deseran, cookbook author and restauranteur
Sean of Hedonia & Punk Domestics
Stephanie of Lick My Spoon
TerriAnn of Cookies & Clogs
Trish of Mom On Timeout