The wise, elegant, and delightful Carmen 'Titita' Ramírez Degollado, since 1972 the guiding hand and shining light behind Restaurante El Bajío.
A little over two months ago, Mexico Cooks! received an email from Restaurante El Bajío: would we kindly accompany Titita Ramírez, her family and staff in celebrating the restaurant's 40th anniversary? We would, we most definitely would! El Bajío is one of our favorite restaurants in Mexico City; the original location in Azcapotzalco is warm, charming, folkloric, and generally a home-away-from-home for many of us who treasure honest renditions of traditional Mexican dishes.
The day we were guests at El Bajío, two large rooms of the restaurant were reserved for Titita's friends, neighbors, and family. Left to right at our table: Fernando Cordero, Titita Ramírez, and Delphine Kachadurian LeBlanc. Bibs are always muy de moda (very much in style) at El Bajío!
Three little clay pots of soups! At left, chilpachole de jaiba, made with crab. At top, xonequi, a soup of wild greens thickened by beans and masa (corn dough). At right, chileatole verde, made with chile poblano, tender fresh corn, and epazote.
The menu listed six different main dishes. While the guests at our table were still deciding which to choose, the wait staff started serving the first: mole verde con verduras (green mole with vegetables). We all giggled greedily as we realized there was no choice: we were each to have all six dishes!
Cuete de res mechado (a cut of beef that is typically pierced and stuffed with a variety of other ingredients such as capers, olives, bacon, etc., and then baked).
Mole blanco con pechuga de pollo y tamalitos (white mole with breast of chicken and little tamales).
Among the several possibilities for drinking were pre-dinner aguas frescas (fresh fruit waters), mezcal, or tequila with sangrita, followed by white or red wine with the meal. This 2009 Chardonnay from Casa Baloyán (Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico) was an excellent companion to each of the main dishes.
Mole de Xico con pato (mole in the style of Xico, Veracruz, served with duck). When the waiters noticed that the guests at our end of the table had snarfed down one platter of a particular main dish, a second platter magically appeared. Occasionally, even a third platter materialized! Somehow all of the platters left the table completely clean--another guest and I threatened to lick this platter of mole Xico!
I neglected to photograph two of the main dishes: pipián de semillas de chile con costillitas de cerdo (pipián [a thick, seed-based sauce] made from chile seeds with little pork ribs) and pipián de Coquimatlán con nopalitos (pipián from Coquimatlán, Colima, served with cactus paddles).
Two desserts were on the menu, and again there was no choice: we each had both. This plate holds a macarrón de chamoy "Huehue", a small pepitoria (at the top, partially covered by the macarrón), and a trio of obleas (wafers). The "Huehue" comes with no explanation, but it was at once crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, deliciously sweet and refreshingly tart. The pepitoria is a larger oblea smeared with syrup which acts as a 'glue' for the protruding pepitas (pumpkin seeds). The oblea is then folded, the halves stuck together with the syrup inside.
Our second dessert: small bolitas (little balls) of nieve (sherbet). The orange one was mamey (a fruit) and the other, mango. The sherbets were sprinkled with chamoy, a Mexican seasoning based on apricot, plum, or mango that combines sweet, salty, spicy, and sour flavors.
Each guest received a commemorative Recetario de Sopas (wet and dry soup cookbook) that Titita compiled for the restaurant's 40th anniversary. In Mexico, soups can be either aguado (wet, as in a broth or cream soup) or seco (technically either rice, pasta, or other starch course).
We had a marvelous time. The food was just as delicious as it looks and the presentations were just as lovely. We were honored to be included among Titita's friends. And by far the nicest surprise was the companionship at our meal. Randomly seated with friends of Titita's whom we had not met prior to the event, we had a lovely afternoon and have already made arrangements to spend time again with some of our table mates. It could not have been a better afternoon!
Restaurante El Bajío
Av. Cuitláhuac 2709
Looking for a tailored-to-your-interests specialized tour in Mexico? Click here: Tours.