This is not brunch.  This is an event.  This is an afternoon of dining, listening to music, visiting with friends new and old, sipping French champagne and spending the afternoon surrounded by some of the most scrumptious food selections in North America.  If you think we're exaggerating, read on and just try not to book a flight to The Four Seasons Mexico City. 

And this all brought to us by Chef Edgar Kano, who, simply put, is a charming, bright and talented man.  It was truly a pleasure to meet him, get to know him a bit, and experience his flair.  

He was born in Mexico to Japanese parents who schooled him at German speaking schools.  He speaks so many different languages fluently that his international cultural influences are present in all his creations.
Nothing can beat sitting in one of the most charming patio gardens while large umbrellas dot the walkway and festively dressed well-healed locals enjoy a gorgeous afternoon brunch that doesn't seem to stop with its selections and abundance.
As musicians stroll around the tables playing traditional Mexican music, we were like kids in a candy store with way too many options from which to choose.

It's difficult to differentiate between different types of guacamole in Mexico, but the Four Seasons has perfected the recipe by adding--get this--worm salt and grasshopper bits for that certain unspeakable spicy and crunchy flavor.  It sounds completely odd to our gringo sensibilities and palates, but we are here to report that it was an exceptional taste treat not to be missed, even if Scott was not as adventurous in the insect department.  

The chips too are incomparable with just the perfect amount of low salt and crunch.   

Add in a variety of fabulous French Taittinger champagnes and Micro Brewed beers (the pioneer of craft beer here is Gustavo Gonzales, creator of the legendary Cosaco "me gusta" ) and it's a satisfying meal in and of itself. Michael's new favorite drink the michelada (beer, lime sauce, added with spices and clamato, optional, but makes it for Michael) is prepared beautifully.

With so many ways to turn for food, we decided to start with the outdoor grill since the aroma was driving us crazy.  The grill was buzzing with activity of fresh fish, shrimp, meats and myriad sausages.

Again, what to choose became the question of the day.  We sampled the Mahi Mahi and the sea bass, which tasted like the fish had just jumped from the ocean onto the grill and then onto our plate.  A simple, no salt grilling proved to be a flavorsome and fresh dish, revealing a tender flaky fish inside the flavorful exterior.  We paired this with some of the best cole slaw we've ever tasted, containing just the right mix of mayo and spices. 

Scott just loves tacos, and not those wimpy soft designer ones either.  Upon his request, a dish of savory and mouthwatering perfectly-crispy tacos of myriad varieties ended up on the table.  We had no problem devouring them; all of them.

The traditional Mexican station was particularly festive, with a señorita dedicated to making fresh corn quesadillas with a vast assortment of ingredients from which to choose.  The interesting thing we've learned in Mexico (as compared to our version of Latino cooking in Los Angeles) is that the spices are vast, varied and regional.  Our gracious server (more on that in a bit) prepared about ten different varieties of quesadillas and although each was worthy of being written about, the bottom line is that they were all worth tasting and you'll just have to come here for yourself to experience the explosion of flavors and native spices that we've never experienced.

As if this wasn't enough food, we just had to sample the items from the Pasta Bar where two gentlemen prepared any combination of anything we desired.  Michael had the fusilli in a lobster sauce with bacon, which proved to be absolutely superb despite the seemingly heavy sauce that was instead quite refined.  Most of the pasta is house made and the selections are in large bowls for you to choose.  Scott sampled the spaghetti with a tasty marinara sauce and delicious cured bacon.  The pasta was served perfectly al dente and the flavors were divine.

So about the service and the waiters; just flawless.  We cannot stress enough the training that these folks must receive because it's all presented to us with aplomb and without complication. 

The Four Seasons simply invented top service and the Mexicans executed it with warmth and precision.  Usually with American buffets you barely see a server and if you do, it's a quick clearing of plates.  These folks were ubiquitous, but never in your way.  Plates were served with courteous and congenial smiles, and other plates were taken away while replacing napkins and clearing crumbs from the table. 

Someone kept pouring the Tattinger champagne over our protestations (This quality French champagne comes with the brunch) and bottled water, juices, coffees and the like kept coming to the table just when we were thinking about wanting them.  The smiles and warmth of the servers were genuine, and never did we hear "are you still WORKING on that" or an auctioning of food such as "who had the…."  Armando and Ricardo were particular standouts, offering to bring us items on the buffet so we didn't have to even get up and get them.  When we had hit the wall on alcohol, Ricardo even suggested the off menu item of a mango smoothie since mangos had just come into season in Mexico City; who could say no to that?

After all of this, we just had to indulge in the dessert bar.  A luscious chocolate fountain of liquid chocolate was perfect for dipping fresh fruits such as honeydew, cantaloupe and strawberries.  And how about that indescribably delectable fig and chocolate concoction.

Then there was the chocolate pear tart that was also a sensationally interesting standout amongst the many deserts available.  Honestly, there were so many from which to choose that we had a hard time doing so.  

That didn't stop us from visiting the gentleman who was scooping out homemade ice creams from a cart.  They were made with all sorts of herbs, spices and seeds, all particular to Mexico, making the tastes so interesting and unique.  Yogurt with chia seeds and caramel flavored cream were our favorites because of their appealing flavors.  We just forced ourselves to finish with chocolate mousse from Oaxaca which floated a dark rich chocolate on top.  We paired those with some homemade chocolate truffles and life was sensational.

All this and more for only approximately $50 ($80 with unlimited Tattinger champagne) and we thought it to be of great value with a sensational sense of place.  We ordered up another latte and espresso and we were on our way to see the sights of D.F.  But wait, before we could leave, they thoughtfully brought over a cotton candy  

as a thank you for coming to spend the day with them.  Viva Mexico.  Viva Four Seasons.  Life is so good here that we can't wait to come back to the warmth, grace and style this is just so Mexico, so Four Seasons. Gracias y Bravo!

Dining in Mexico City outside of the Four Seasons Hotel

Our experiences in Mexico City were dream-like. We were transported to a bustling metropolitan foreign experience just hours from Los Angeles. As you have read in all three parts of this story on Mexico City, The food was sensational, especially at each of the venues at the Four Seasons.  Suffice it to say, Michael is now addicted to Mexico's chilaquiles with habanero (the Four Seasons won on this dish as well). It is a traditional Mexican dish where typically, corn tortillas are cut in quarters and lightly fried. Green or red salsa or mole is poured over the crisp tortilla triangles, called totopos. The mixture is simmered until the tortilla starts softening.  Eggs (scrambled or fried) and pulled chicken are sometimes added to the mix and then topped with cheese and sweet Mexican cream and is served with refried beans.  Hungry for more?  Read on.

When venturing beyond the courtyard of our hotel, our finest experience was Dulce Patria (Anatole France 100, Polanco, Miguel Hidalgo, Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal, Mexico), and it was our best.  We wanted to take it all in--the vibrant red decor that screamed Latin passion, and all of its myriad nuances--so we decided not to take notes on the many fabulous items we experienced.  We are not going to write about it in detail for a couple of reasons; the first being that they do not have an on line menu and secondly, for some inexplicable strange reason, they would not allow us to take a copy of their printed menu with us.  That written, you will see a few great photos of the divine cuisine here, but we can say without reservation, their many taste creations were extraordinary. Located in the hip and happening Polanco neighborhood, this elegant dining locale is a must.  As for the food, pick anything off the menu, you won't be disappointed.

The sister restaurant to Dulce is Anatol, and they share space at Los Alcabos, a small and beautiful boutique hotel.  We viewed the rooms before dinner and it's a hip and chic alternative to the elegance of the Four Seasons, but be prepared for very small rooms.  In any event, Anatol is more casual than Dulce and although it was smartly tailored, it's more casual atmosphere also meant that it lacked the magic of Dulce.
The two stand outs on the menu were the Spring Crab Toast ($190 pesos) which burst with flavor from the lump crab and the jalapeno marmalade; with just the right amount of kick for both of us. The Chiapas Black Bean soup is a must, especially for Californians, who have been unfairly denied foie gras.  This dish is accompanied with a generous portion of the sacred foie on top of this sensational soup ($175 pesos).
Also give the Fried Squash Blossoms ($160 pesos) a try, filled with piping hot ricotta cheese, a reckless indulgence which we loved.

For one of the most fun dining experiences, especially if you're bringing the family, you must try Porfirio's (Presidente Masaryk 214, Miguel Hidalgo, Polanco, 11580 Ciudad de Mexico, D.F., Mexico), the space is contemporary and welcoming and their Chile Relleno de Picadillo were a stand out, very authentic and well presented. 
They bring all sorts of interesting things to the table which house the food preparations.  Right in the restaurant is a Senora preparing hand made tortillas.

Don't miss downtown Mexico City and the best way to experience it is at Azul  (Isabel La Católica 30, Cuauhtémoc, Centro Historico A, 06000 Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal, Mexico ) in the Downtown Hotel.  Situated in a massive courtyard with trees climbing to the heavens, Scott had the chance to try Guacamole with grasshoppers.  Although he resisted at first, he savored every little crunchy bite, proving that it's those special ingredients that make the guacamole south of the Border oh-so-yummy. The stuffed Duck Fritters ($190 pesos) bathed in Oaxacan mole where outstanding because despite the mole, you could taste the duck that had been baking for hours.  Washing it all down with margaritas and Negro Modelo beer, this is a perfect place to spend an afternoon doing absolutely nothing but eating, drinking and enjoying the company of the locals.

Sadly, we ran out of days with plenty of other hot spots to try in this gracious, old and impressive city.  We made some new friends who exuded the warmth of the heart of Mexico City, and so without hesitation, we will be back for more.

Hasta Pronto y buen provecho,

Michael and Scott
El Dining Dos

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