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Mexico -- One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless

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"Eat your veggies" - it's a line children from Mexico to Morocco hear from their parents. In this episode, we meet a pair of chefs who took that advice seriously. As Rick discovers, chefs Israel Montero and Alfredo Chaves of Kaah Siis Restaurant aren't just eating their vegetables, nor just cooking them - they're growing them at Xochimilco, Mexico City's ancient floating gardens. The chefs give Rick a tour of the chinampas, small man-made islands amongst the canals, where some of the city's chefs are growing organic and specialty produce.

Chefs can get excited over the littlest thing. For Josefina Santacruz, that thing is beans. She believes every cook should know how to cook beans and rice before venturing any further in Mexican cuisine. For an example of beans done right, Rick and Josefina head to Nico's Restaurant, which has been cooking perfect beans since 1957; their bean soup proves a thing of beauty. Rick and Josefina likewise admire the perfect barbacoa made daily by Chef Moises Rodriguez Vargas of Hidalguense restaurant in Mexico City.

WGBY Create
Thu May 16th, 7:30am
Thu May 16th, 1:30pm

In Yucatan, cooking over fire is a way of life. Rick meets up with chef Juan Pablo Loza, who ignites the wood-fire grill for octopus with local pineapple. At Zama Beach Club in Isla Mujeres, Cancun chef Federico Lopez fires up his seaside grill to make tikin xic, a Yucatecan grilled fish dish smothered with achiote, the region's hallmark spice paste. And chef Eric Werner shows off his all wood-fire kitchen at Hartwood in Tulum.

Many of us experienced our first Mexican beer on a beach with a squeeze of lime. Now we're happy to see a beer revolution rumbling in the Baja peninsula. Rick takes us from the Tecate brewery, which started in 1944, to the Tijuana brewery, makers of several microbrews. At Ultramarinos, an Ensenada bar with a penchant for pairing specialty beers and local seafood, Rick enjoys an oyster taco with owner Alain Genchi. Finally, Rick meets two expatriates brewing beer in Los Cabos - perfect for enjoying with their beer pizza.

Everywhere Rick goes, he asks chefs about Mexico's up-and-coming talent. These days, Mexico City's chefs all have the same answer: Pablo Salas. The odd thing? Salas doesn't work in Mexico City - his restaurant, Amaranta, is in Toluca, about an hour's drive away. Undaunted by the trip, Rick meets Pablo at the Santiago Tianguistengo Market to get a look at the traditions that inspire Pablo's modern Mexiquense cooking - from the myriad of chorizo choices to the pasilla chiles and vegetables. The chefs also visit a local carniceria for a peek at Toluca's famed chorizo.

Maybe it's the water, maybe it's the desert, but there's definitely magic in the charming Baja town called Todos Santos. It all starts at Art & Beer, a funky roadside bar on the outskirts of town that serves generous cocktails and outstanding appetizers. Then Rick checks into the Hotel California before meeting up with his local buddy, Sergio Jaurequi, for a history lesson about the town's disappearing and reappearing water supply. Together they taste the local sweets and get a lesson from local cook Dona Ramona, in transforming dried beef and cactus into delectable dishes.

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