Rick lands in the town that gave the world tequila and the metropolis that gave us mariachis and dishes like chilli con carne - Guadalajara.
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It was 1968, when I first came here to San Francisco.
I wanted to do my own road trip from the United States to the Mexican
border and beyond.
My dad had just died, I'd finished school,
and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
It was the year after the Summer of Love, and things like enchiladas,
burritos, guacamole I'd only heard of from the radio,
but they sounded wonderful.
But it wasn't just the food, I wanted to live a little bit dangerously.
And I did.
I can still remember how excited I was when I crossed the border into
Mexico, 50 years ago.
Looking back, it was a rite of passage.
As a chef-to-be, it was invaluable.
It influenced the way I have cooked ever since.
So this time, I crossed the border at Tijuana,
home of course of the famous Caesar salad,
and legendary fish tacos.
And a famous drink, allegedly invented in this bar,
and named in the 1940s, after a very attractive woman,
the daughter of a German diplomat - it's the margarita, of course.
I'm now making my way to the centre of the country,
and eventually on to Mexico City, but first, in the region of Jalisco,
there is a city I had to revisit, Guadalajara.
I'm not a great one for crowds,
but in a country that's got 130 million people,
it's pretty hard to avoid them.
I had to come back here.
It's the place that gave the world the image of Mexico, the big sombreros,
tequila, mariachi bands, and, of course,
the classic meat stews like carne con chilli
and never ever chilli con carne.
Oh, no, that would never do!
I love mariachi bands, I think there are so romantic, so joyous,
the music is infectious, and there are mariachis in Spain, Latin America,
Germany, I'm told, and in Japan.
I really like Guadalajara,
first and foremost because I love saying "Guadalajara",
it makes you feel very Mexican and Spanish.
Actually, the name comes from a town in Spain, north-east of Madrid,
and in fact, it's not Spanish at all, it's Arab.
Guadalajara means valley of stones.
Or maybe I like Guadalajara because my name in German means stone.
So here I am, in the valley of stones.
I think the other reason I really like it is that I remember Mexico City
as being terribly, terribly frenetic, terribly busy, massively impressive,
but a little overwhelming.
Whereas Guadalajara is on a human scale, this part is just lovely,
it reminds me of a European city.
In some senses...
I saw this little sign down the road that said "Jalisco is Mexico," and I
think actually, more than Mexico City, Guadalajara is Mexico.
I was 21 years old when I first came here.
Mexico to me then seemed exotic, warm and romantic.
Almost like some part of the southern Mediterranean.
I spent a couple of months travelling through the country,
and my love for Mexican food was born.
It's Sunday morning in Guadalajara, that means only one thing,
a trip to the Barratio market.
Barratio means "cheap goods"...
If this market was a brand,
they would say it's probably the biggest street market in the world.
I've never been in a street market like this before.
Apparently, it's 50 blocks big and 10,000 stalls.
It's like every flea market you've ever been to.
In one place!
Here we have spanners.
Over there we've got toys.
Over there we've got guitars, over there we've got speakers,
not like in cabinets, but just on their own.
We just passed tyres,
and we've got sofas over there and I haven't even got to the food yet.
It's so hot here, and time for a drink. Too early for a beer,
and no tequila until sundown, of course.
But the Mexicans do really refreshing drinks,
agua frescas are popular but this is something else.
I had to try this, probably the most famous drink in Guadalajara.
It is called Tejuino and it's actually made with fermented corn,
so it is probably a little bit alcoholic,
but only tiny, and piloncillo, hard cane sugar,
boiled down until it goes really hard and they sell it in cones.
It's bit like jaggery which you get in India and Africa.
It's interesting, actually,
that this cane sugar in Mexico is a very well-known soft drink which you
might have heard of.
And in California, in the smart places in California,
they only drink this very well-known soft drink from Mexico because it
contains real cane sugar.
This is then finished, as you probably saw,
with some lime juice and a lime sorbet, now,
I haven't met anybody in Guadalajara that doesn't absolutely adore this.
So, here we go.
I know I go on too much about stuff but it is really, really nice!
The thing I have found, I have already tried a drink called horchata,
which is often made with corn or rice.
But these drinks that are slightly thickened and chilled and sweetened
with things like corn and rice are very, very refreshing, as is this.
With the lime juice and cold,
and with this really nice man that has been making it, it is fab.
When the Conquistadors first arrived here in the mid-1500s,
they would have noticed tribal villagers gathering to barter goods -
squash in exchange for corn, tomatoes for chillies,
a turkey for a hand plough, and so on.
I'm just beginning to discover this, but avocados,
we all have avocados all over the world but Mexican avocados are a
different matter, they have this soft creaminess,
richness, which I've tasted nowhere else and this is a really good example
of them, they are big and fat and I'm beginning to taste in all the dishes
that when they put slices of avocado on the top,
it is a bit like putting a dollop of Cornish clotted cream on the dish.
It has that same sort of effect.
When Hernan Cortes first encountered Mexico's markets,
he remarked on their vast expanse.
The Spanish introduced many of their traditional dishes,
especially the slow-cooked meat stews.
They're a perfect marriage between the livestock introduced by the
conquerors, like pigs, for instance, cooked with local herbs and spices.
Guadalajara's stews take a lot of beating,
and there was one particular dish which I was very keen to try.
This is really a first for me.
It's called birria, it's a goat stew,
very typical of Guadalajara. First time I have ever tasted it.
That is really good, you would have sworn it had some red wine in it.
It's so deep in flavour.
Putting a few bits and bobs in it now.
A bit of chilli.
Excuse the noise in the background,
there is some knock-off videos going on on the counter behind us.
They're probably not knocked off... But they might be...
That is lovely. The goat is just cooked and is really, really tender
and then pulled off the bone.
Sometimes they serve it, I'm told, shredded up to put
in tortillas but this is in pieces and it's really, really nice.
Back home in Padstow, I wanted to cook one of Guadalajara's famous stews,
and the most popular one, without any shadow of doubt,
is the carne con chilli, and not the other way round,
thank you very much!
So first I'm toasting these chillies, it is normal in Mexico,
with any of the dry chillies, like guajillo, pasilla or chipotle,
to toast them first, not for too long, because if you burn them at all,
it gives a bitter flavour to whatever sauce you are making.
just turning those over.
This is carne con chilli not chilli con carne. The difference -
chilli con carne is a Tex-Mex dish.
It's made with mince and it always has red kidney beans with it,
and made with tomato, of course.
Carne con chilli is Mexican and is made with chunks of beef but sometimes
pork as well, and it never has beans with it,
they serve the black beans separately, so you can take the choice,
you can either have a bowl of chilli,
which you get in places like Los Angeles, which is just mince flavoured with chilli,
or you can have this, which is the real Mexican deal.
Out go those chillies, into some boiling water,
to soften for about 20 minutes.
Next, I'm using the hot pan for a very important process in Mexico,
to actually char tomatoes and garlic, sometimes onions as well.
Now this may be just a convenient way because they have always got
a hot plate to actually take the skins off things like garlic
but also I think it adds flavour to the finished sauce.
So I'm just turning these tomatoes over and you can see they are beginning
to burn on the skin and the garlic similarly.
And now I'm just transferring them over here
to quarter the tomatoes and I'm not going to take the skins off the
tomatoes - I don't think it matters
because I'm going to whiz everything up in a blender.
Tomatoes, then the garlic, and then this sote,
you can see the colour has come off the guajillos now.
And a little bit of the juice from the guajillo
to help things along in the blender. Lid on.
I was reading through some of the research for this, back in the 1800s,
some Spanish priests regarded chillies and chilli sauces in particular as
aphrodisiac, describing them as the soup of the devil.
Well, that's probably made the dishes even more popular!
Those are now blended into a really nice sauce.
That is so good, it's sort of smells like the heart of Mexico,
I think it's such a good idea to toast everything, tomatoes as well,
before blitzing them, it's got a lovely charry overtone to the sauce.
Now, lard in the pan, just melt that a little bit and then add the beef.
This is cubes of chuck steak.
My, that is a little bit hot.
OK, there we go! Just browning that nicely.
I was just thinking about putting lard in the pan...
I had this guy from Padstow, Richard Bate. I'd say,
"How do you cook salmon, Richard?"
And he'd say, "Get your pan, get it really hot...
"Put a bit of lard in the pan, and fry your salmon and then it's lovely."
And I'd say, "How'd you cook rabbit?"
He'd say, "You get your pan, put a bit of lard in the pan,
"you fry it up lovely."
Everything he cooked in lard in the pan.
I've only just remembered that since being to Mexico,
because they use lots of lard in the pan.
So, that's looking really nice and brown, that beef,
so now I'm going to add about one onion, chopped up,
I'm not a great believer in adding bits in stages in a stew like this.
You can add most of it all at once.
Now, just for some very Mexican spicing, first of all, oregano,
about a teaspoon, and now some cumin, very important in this chilli dish, cumin.
Very strong flavour.
And now some allspice, they use a lot of allspice.
Squish the allspice berries a bit, in that goes, that's really nice.
A bay leaf. And now this wonderful zapped sauce with the chillies, tomato, garlic,
stir that in. Look at that, that's looking absolutely lovely already.
And now this is my sort of secret ingredient, this is chipotle in adobo.
It's like a sauce that I've made up by whizzing up chipotle chillies
with garlic and tomatoes and a bit of vinegar.
It's one of those essentials in a Mexican kitchen,
I'm just going to top that up with some of the juice from soaking my
and now a bit of salt.
You might think there's too much salt, I couldn't possibly comment.
There we go. I'm going to leave that to simmer that for an hour and a
half, with a lid on.
I'm going to take it off towards the end just to reduce the sauce.
People told me in Guadalajara that this is something they love to eat any
day of the week, and any time of the day.
I think it tastes even better cooked ahead of time and then at the table
you add sour cream, mature tangy cheese that's easy to crumble,
fresh coriander, and thin slices of radish.
I think if I was from Guadalajara this would be my ultimate comfort food,
my roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. It's lovely.
This building is affectionately known as the Hospicio,
and it's a true landmark in the city.
It's famous because it contains a series of frescoes from one of Mexico's
most renowned muralists, Jose Clemente Orozco,
and it depicts the darkest moments of Spanish rule.
Orozco's embellishment of the chapel in the 1930s is seen as one of the
greatest masterpieces in Latin America.
And it doesn't shy away from the tyranny unleashed by the Spanish invaders.
And the suffering of the masses.
I always look for little details like a bowl of food or a view
of some peasants eating. But these are just glimpses from hell.
I must say, when you first come in here,
you start looking up at these murals, it's quite shocking.
Orozco said himself that the things that he saw in the Mexican Revolution
were too horrifying, bestiality of man, the hypocrisy, the lies,
the terror. And all of that is up there.
They have called that dome the Sistine Chapel of the Americas and if you
think about the fact that Orozco lost his arm
in a gunpowder accident when he was about 20,
and he painted 16 metres up from the ground, also with a dicky heart,
he painted those murals, it is quite special.
This was a hospice, and coming here really makes you think.
Although most of what you see is to do with the Spanish occupation,
it's also, to me,
a reminder that Mexico is still a place of tragic undertones.
I was just jotting down a few notes about the Mexican muralists,
Rivera and Siqueiros were the other two famous ones,
but I think Jose Clemente Orozco says it all in this little piece here,
"the highest, the most logical,
"the purest and the strongest form of painting is the mural.
"It is also the most disinterested form, for it cannot be hidden away
"for the benefit of a certain privileged few.
"It is for the people.
"It is for all."
Orozco was not all about doom and gloom.
There is a little gallery nearby featuring some of his other works
and there is one famous painting,
rather pertinent to a curious travelling chef.
I saw this mural in a guidebook, La Buena Vida.
I had to have a look at it.
I make it a bit of a thing of mine to find works of art that contain
lots of food. This one contains lots of food.
You got lobsters, pig's head, prawns, crabs, chickens,
loads of wine and cheese and pineapple.
A happy-looking fish being held up by the chef, and some flying chickens.
It was painted in 1945.
What astounds me,
having seen other Orozcos, is this is a little bit jolly.
But I do notice, down in the bottom, sort of shadowy figures,
like some Hogarthian men with wigs.
And up on the left here,
she looks a bit like Sally Bowles in Cabaret,
Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye To Berlin.
So, it just has that little tincture of not being totally fun,
but for Orozco it is a bundle of laughs.
I think it's true to say that Guadalajara's heart beats for tradition,
but in a city passionate about its food,
it's not surprising to hear about chefs using that legacy to create
something even more spectacular.
This is Alcalde, a must-try restaurant, if you happen to be in town.
Not necessarily because you will try dishes that can be easily cooked
at home - it's not that -
but because Guadalajara has produced a young talented chef who is taking
familiar Mexican ingredients and turning them into some very tasty dishes.
For his efforts, Alcalde is now in Latin America's top 50 restaurants,
and his name is "Paco" Ruano.
You describe your cooking, I have read it,
you describe your cooking as a bit weird...
Well, let's define weirdness.
I would define it as not like other people's food
-and therefore a little, you know...
-I try to...
..take references, and what I learnt and
what I like to eat and what
has influenced me as a cook...
as a Mexican, and I just try to do it my way.
Sometimes it means to put ingredients that are not supposed to be in
For me, it's important to put a little piece of myself into what I do.
We are selling food, so it's important...
You want to feel personal about it.
Yeah. It's very important that every single dish tells a little bit about
-I feel the same way.
When I'm cooking, it's like,
I want them to enjoy eating it because I eat it and I enjoy it so much.
It sounds like a very overdone speech and but it's the way it is, you know.
It's the truth.
Yeah. It is.
Paco is making one of his most popular dishes.
He calls it a gordita dumpling.
It's made from the traditional paste used to make the famous tamales.
You often buy them on street corners wrapped in corn husks.
And as the famous blues singer Robert Johnson said,
hot tamales and they're red-hot, yes, she's got them for sale.
It's basically ground corn paste, curd cheese,
melted butter and milk that's cooked for half an hour.
Now, the base of the dish.
It's spinach cooked with finely chopped onions and garlic
in a little butter.
Then, the juice of half a lemon.
And now finely chopped tomatoes.
Paco is adding a couple of ladles of stock to a sauce that is already
pre-made, and it's made with anaheim chillies, more ground corn, butter,
cream and lemon juice.
Now, for the plump tamale dumpling, the gordita, the little fat one.
So, this is what you get on your plate, here.
A bed of spinach and tomatoes, then the famous gordita,
the chilli butter sauce,
and a sprinkling of some unlikely bedfellows - toasted macadamia nuts,
dehydrated mushroom powder, and corn ash.
Ash is becoming a really popular accompaniment in lots of restaurants.
It's very nouveau vague.
That looks fab. Can I take a picture of it?
Yeah. Please. Go ahead.
Lovely, I love the dish.
The plate, it looks like volcanoes, it looks very Mexican.
But what you've got there is pretty adventurous.
Because you've got the ash from the corn.
It's one of the tools that Mexican -
the young Mexican chefs are using.
Try to take a bite with all the spinach and sauce.
Do you like it?
I love it. Cos, what, to me is...
It's modern cooking, but it unmistakably Mexican.
For me, it's very important that food tastes like the food that
mark my life, makes me want to be a cook in the first place.
-You know, you're in the top 50 Latin American restaurants,
and I can understand why.
Because you get... A lot of chefs, they say,
it's rooted in the traditions, and it's not,
you've just got lots of sort of bits all over the plate.
I'm not Mexican, but I can taste a lot of traditions in that.
-Thank you, Rick. It's a pleasure.
I'm told this plaza is very important.
It was the spot where the Spanish first pitched their tents all those
years ago. I can't help thinking that they must have done their homework,
or they just might have been very lucky.
Because this place was surrounded by enormous silver mines,
which would have pleased the folks back home - ie the King and Queen -
very much indeed.
Not to mention the pirates they would undoubtedly have met on their way back to Spain.
The French took over the place for just three years,
enough time to stamp their culinary mark with the baguette.
I heard about this bakery on the back streets of Guadalajara,
just outside the city centre.
Such is the love of this bread here that it's about to be awarded
its own denomination of origin.
It happens to be named after a Belgian baker in the French army,
Camille Pirotte, who arrived here in 1863.
He managed to produce a type of sourdough perfect for this climate,
and gave away day-old scraps, not favoured by the French troops,
to the poor. And this is where the locals got their taste for it.
I've finally managed to get my first...
..hold of my first birote that's cool enough to handle,
because they're baking them all the time. So...
it is wonderful.
It's got a true sourdough taste to it.
Now, I've been sitting here,
waiting for this bread to come out and thinking about this bakery.
Because, as you can see, it is so easy on the eyes. You just think,
great bread would have to come out of a bakery like this and that doesn't
come from industrial processes,
it comes from families working doing the same thing,
day after day for generations.
Long may it last. Just looking round here,
I was thinking rather cynically that all of this -
the tables and all of the planks that they are making the bread on,
in Britain would probably turn up in antique shops, now.
Bought by middle-class people for lots of money.
What do you think of that?
This isn't where the story ends,
because the birote helped invent Guadalajara's favourite street food, torta ahogada.
Basically, it's a birote baguette packed
with slow-cooked pieces of pork
and topped with an explosive chilli sauce, freshly chopped onions,
which Mexicans seem to put on practically every dish,
and then literally drowned with spicy tomato salsa.
This hole in the wall, the oldest in the city, incidentally,
was started by Don Jose,
who began selling the sandwiches from a bicycle.
I must say, I'm beginning to get rather peckish.
Although wet, soggy, bread?
Do you need this? Gracias.
HE SPEAKS IN SPANISH
"Pierna" means the leg meat of the pork.
Media means I only want half chilli, I don't want it blindingly hot.
I wonder what they did before plastic bags came along?
Well, this should be interesting.
I don't know how I'm going to eat this without it going all over my shirt.
I've been watching other people, there's different techniques,
but thank God for the plastic bag.
I tell you what is really good about this, it's the fresh tomato.
It's actually raw tomato, coupled with the chilli.
It's slow-cooked leg of pork.
One more attempt...
It is heavenly.
It's really, really lovely.
But I may not eat any more with the camera onto me,
because I look a complete idiot covered in tomato sauce.
I love our drives in the crew van,
especially the all-encompassing conversations,
covering subjects like beer, tacos, who's got control of the CD player,
what we want for dinner that night, and of course,
for some inexplicable reason, Plymouth Argyle.
I noticed this football stadium at the top of the road.
Pete, the sound recordist, who knows everything about football,
said he wondered whether this, in 1970,
was the stadium of the famous World Cup loss
between England and Brazil.
We love, we love claiming fame to just one thing,
and actually it was the most spectacular goal save by Gordon Banks from a header from Pele.
Pete says, "Of course, you wouldn't know anything about that because
"you're a rugby man". "Wrong", I said, "I do watch the World Cups!"
I'm after something sweet that can only be found in the evenings,
specifically at a stall outside Guadalajara's famous sanctuary
dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
These crispy discs of sweet batter are called bunuelos.
The sugary syrup is flavoured with guava.
It reminds me of a dish that was very popular when I was little.
It was Yorkshire pudding with syrup poured over it, served as an after.
I never had it because I was too posh,
but I always wanted it and this is it, or very much like it.
It's funny how the memory works and what comes up,
but with me it's always to do with smell and food.
It's very satisfying, it's a lovely syrup.
mispronunciation - don't write in -
they're popular all over Mexico but only on special
high days and holidays but in Guadalajara you get them all the time.
Very Guadalajara thing, I think.
Once you get a taste for this dessert,
you just have to make it and that's exactly what I did back home
So, to make the pastry dough, I've some flour in this bowl here,
adding some caster sugar, not a lot,
just an edge of sweetness to the pastry.
Some baking powder, about a teaspoon of baking powder.
Just mix that around.
Forgot the salt! A little pinch of salt always a good idea in a pastry.
Now, just going to make a well in the centre and break an egg in.
There we go, and just a little bit of melted butter.
A teaspoon of vanilla essence.
And now to add the water to bind all the pastry together.
In with my hands now.
And now it's coming away from the bottom of the bowl,
so out onto the pastry board and now to knead it.
Fold that over a bit.
Nice Mexican towel to let it rest, and there we go.
Now we'll make the syrup and poach the fruit.
So, I've got a pan with some boiling water in it and I'm going to make a
really fragrant stock syrup.
So first of all I'm adding a star anise and four allspice berries
and then a large piece of cinnamon stick.
Just going to bring that to the boil and let it simmer.
And here we go with some orange zest, about four pieces of orange zest.
And now some brown sugar, to give it a nice deep colour.
You may be surprised about the amount of brown sugar but it really needs to be sweet, this sauce.
Mexicans love sugar.
And now some lime juice.
Waste not, want not...
Just squeezing the juice out of that orange that I took the zest off.
And now there's just a little thing I always do, a tiny bit of salt in there,
just brings up the sweetness a little bit.
I may not be an expert, but this is how I slice a mango.
Take a flexible knife and then just cut easily right against the stone.
That's why I'm using a flexible knife.
See, that comes off in a nice clean piece.
Then just cut the flesh away from the skin.
Slice that up into bite-sized pieces and in that goes, into my stock.
I'm just going to leave that to poach for about ten minutes now.
There's my rested dough,
I'm just going to roll that out as thinly as I can.
The whole point is you drop it in the fryer and it all puffs up
and you want it as fragile as possible,
so that when you put the syrup and the mango on there,
it just breaks up and just melts into the juice, but not all of it.
There we go. I pick that up on my rolling pin, just drop it into the oil,
Just leave that for about a minute on one side,
and then I'm going to turn it over.
Look at the way that's puffing up,
that's the baking powder in there really doing its thing.
It already looks really light and airy and delicate.
Now to make the dish up I've got this rather pretty Sicilian dish with
octopus on it. It might have had fruit on it, but it's got octopus.
OK. So, in that goes my bunuelo.
Just smack that up with a ladle so that it breaks up a little bit,
and about three ladles full of this delicious, gloopy, sweet-scented stock.
There we go. You can see it's already starting to melt the dough
but there's nice crisp bits left in there, too.
That is delicious.
And if you like, a dollop of ice cream on top - vanilla of course,
in honour of Mexico.
This is one of those places where people will say, "Oh,
"you've been to Guadalajara, you must have had the menudo" - tripe soup.
And I would say, "Well, of course, you'd be crazy to miss it!"
I know tripe's not to everyone's taste, but, like me,
the Mexicans love it.
The soup's prepared in their home kitchen,
just a few doors up from the restaurant.
What makes Guadalajara's menudo so distinctive is its reddish broth,
flavoured with local chilacate chilies and lots of garlic.
Why is it so loved in the mornings, I hear you say?
Well, I think it's fair to say that the Guadalajarans love to drink,
and this soup is the perfect antidote for the night before.
I was tipped off about this place by Raul Hernandez,
who runs food tours in the city.
So it's all locals?
It's all locals, as you can see.
Let's get stuck in, then.
Let's get started, yeah, before it gets cold.
So... Well, we have a little bit of... Is this chilli?
-Chilli de arbol.
-OK, tell me what to put in.
-I've got to have that.
-This is raw onion.
Is the avocado to go in there too?
-That's kind of a specialty here.
-And this is tomatillos?
This is tomatillos.
I like to put a little bit of lime with my onions, sorry.
And then, you know, the broth is going to give it the last kick.
-I put a twist.
-Well, here we go.
-Knock yourself out with some tortillas.
You almost have to do one and one.
-Well, that's how I like it.
Now, some people take
the tortilla and make a taco out of it, or you can just, you know,
wrap it, like this.
It's delicious. It's not everybody's cup of tea, tripe,
but I'm a big fan.
Nothing beats a traditional, good menudo place.
Every Sunday, I used to go with my grandfather,
with my father to the same spot.
It almost became like a family thing, right?
Maybe my dad would have a little more spice, a little more kick to it,
maybe my mum would add a little bit more lime and oregano.
At the end, you know,
the colour and the smell and taste of each dish is different.
-So we'd go around and say, "Oh, my broth is amazing,
"you should go and try it". And people would just basically compete
amongst each other, to say, "Oh, that was really good,
"you really nailed that one".
So it's a family thing, it's a traditional thing.
It's something that's really close to your heart.
It's extraordinary really, because there's nothing...
When you taste tripe, right, apart from perhaps the smell,
there is nothing unpleasant about it.
It's like soft, it's very easy to chew,
you sort of feel it's good for you, it's not fatty,
and yet people have this aversion to it.
My wife, I just couldn't get her to like it, and that's fine, I guess.
It's not for everybody.
Yeah, I don't... No, my wife doesn't care for it either.
She tried some in Greece and then said, "No, I'll have the chicken soup".
You should bring her to taste menudo.
I'm heading out on the Ruta del Tequila and it's packed with fields of blue agave.
They stretch out for miles.
It's true, when you see them on this scale,
they do give out a sort of turquoisey-blue haze.
Just an hour out of Guadalajara is the town that put tequila on the
world culinary map, and, unsurprisingly, its name is Tequila.
The Aztecs began fermenting agave juice in these parts around 2,000 years ago,
and when the Spanish arrived,
their distilling skills created an elixir that's said to have had sent
your spirit to talk to the gods.
For that reason, tequila is known today as el Pueblo Magico -
the magical town.
Well, here I am in the centre of Tequila.
I must say, from previous trips to Mexico I just remember these little
squares in the centre of Mexican towns are sometimes so pretty.
I must confess, I didn't even know Tequila was a town,
I just thought it was a sort of generic name for the drink.
But now I'm here, I'm thinking about little towns.
Every little town needs a reason to be.
I remember a few years ago,
I was filming in Mississippi and I came to this town
called Leland and it said, "Home of Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog".
Maybe not such a big attraction.
And another time, years ago filming in Queensland, Australia...
.."Home of the big pineapple", it said.
And yes, you could climb up this big pineapple and look at the pineapple
fields all around you.
But when it comes for reasons for being,
I think Tequila's a pretty hard one to beat.
And it's not for no reason that this is perhaps the most perfect little
Mexican square I've seen.
There's plenty of money to keep it very, very smart.
Tequila has a designated area of origin and produces 60 million gallons a year.
The Sousa family are veteran producers here at Tequila Fortaleza.
Like vines, agave plants flourish in adversity,
and this red volcanic soil is ideal for them.
The owner is Guillermo Sousa.
So this is where it starts with the agave, then?
Yes, these fields are six years old.
This one's maturing at six years, most of them take 7-8,
so we have to come in and get the most mature,
and this one's matured, had a quiote, this one's ready to go.
the bloom's been kind of cut off here and our harvester, jimadore,
he's ready to harvest.
So if it was allowed to bloom and flower, it would die then?
-It would die, yes.
We're going to use everything above the ground.
Right now, he's cutting off the roots.
So that's what, how heavy's that?
I think it's approximately 50 kilos.
And how many bottles would you get out of that?
We'll make about five bottles out of that.
-Out of the one?
This distillery opened in 1873,
and the processes are still very traditional.
The steam oven can take up to 15 tonnes of agave at any one time.
Heating up these massive bulbs helps to bring out the natural sugars in
the fibre. It takes nearly 30 hours of cooking to soften the flesh.
So, it's cooked?
Cooked agave, yes.
Here we chip it up and then we stone crush it and then we wash it.
We're trying to get the pulp off the fibre,
and that's the step they're on right now,
washing to get as much of the pulp off, which is the sweet part,
which we call our mosto in Spanish.
We drain and we're able to pump up to our fermentation tanks.
What a smell, what am I smelling, is that just the juice?
The juice, the sugars.
Fantastic. And what's the difference between tequila and mezcal, then?
Well, different agave, there's over 250 agave species.
-And they're not cactuses, are they?
-No, they're not cactuses.
We only use the blue, the agave weber tequilana,
is the only one we use for tequila.
Mezcal can use any of the other 249, approximate, agaves.
So this is the fermentation, these vats, are they?
Not many people using wood to ferment any more.
Would that make a difference to the taste, then?
In my opinion, it's one of the touches that contributes
to the flavour profile we have.
This is our old boiler.
-Call it in Spanish a caldera.
It was born the same year my grandfather was born.
-So this generates the steam.
It's for cooking the agave but it also generates for distilling the
fermented must and making tequila.
My grandfather closed this distillery in 1968.
It was too inefficient and it was mothballed.
We brought it back to life.
It's been 11 years now.
Wow! So if he felt it was too inefficient,
what have you changed to make it more efficient, then?
Nothing. It's still very inefficient.
-And I like to make always an example of a baked potato being made
in an oven versus a baked potato being made in a microwave.
They taste completely different.
-So we decided we wanted to take it,
make everything the old way and that's our unique taste.
I like your voice.
-Thank you very much.
-Sounds like you've been drinking a lot of tequila.
I do, yes, I do!
You caught me there!
So we're going to try some of your product.
Yes, you'll love it. We have a beautiful cave here.
It's actually got bats in it too.
-But they won't bite you.
Well, what a bar.
It has a touch of a bandito's hideaway or Zorro's hidden cave.
Perfect in every respect for tasting a precious tequila.
So this is the Blanco.
The Blanco is basically out of this still and I like to say it's a true
fingerprint of a distillery.
As you can see, it's got a favourable, very nice aroma.
Very nice aroma.
-There's nothing quite like tequila, is there?
It's when you smell it. It just...
You wouldn't miss it for anything else.
There really isn't.
It's just such a sort of taste of Mexico, to me.
It seems a stupid thing to say but I sort of think no wonder it's so
There's something really distinct about it.
It is very unique. Two things I mention.
I had a very famous movie star come here.
He asked me to make tequila for his brand and I told him, I'm sorry.
We don't make tequila for anybody and he's a very famous guy.
But that told me that we were at a point where people are coming to us
and they see us as the pinnacle of the products that are out there.
You know, I'm very, very fortunate and very,
very humbled to be able to walk in the footsteps of my abuelo,
my bisabuelo, and my tatarabuelo.
I'm the fifth generation in my family to make tequila and I'm very,
very fortunate to walk in their footsteps,
very few people get to do what their great-great-grandfather
got to do over 100 years ago and I get to do it.
Plus, I have a nice bar!
That cave was very seductive.
I could have stayed chatting to Guillermo for hours but I suspect
we'd already had a few sips too many and I was keen to get back on the road and
head posthaste towards a personal favourite holiday destination,
Life on the road.
Our support vehicle's broken down.
We're trying to start it with the other one.
But so far, not so good and I was just noticing, actually, behind here,
there's a little tacos el pastor place so we won't die of hunger,
except it says "malos pero baratos".
It says bad but cheap!
So they're obviously not going to be too good.
Well, we've got some sort of solution.
We're all going to have to cram in the one vehicle, like little mice,
with equipment on our knees!
It's quite incredible to think that less than four hours out of Tequila's
you end up in a tropical paradise on the Pacific West Coast.
What started once as a humble village for fishing folk and pearl divers
has ended up as one of Mexico's top tourist destinations.
This area, Gringo Gulch, as the name suggests,
became a magnet for Americans wanting to live here in the 1950s
and this house was rented by film director John Huston, but its claim to fame is as
the romantic hideout of Hollywood's golden couple,
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Huston had brought Burton to Puerto Vallarta to star in his movie,
Night Of The Iguana.
This wasn't long after the famous Burton/Taylor love affair on the set
of Antony and Cleopatra.
Local hotels clearly had no appeal for Hollywood's highest-paid star
and shortly after her arrival,
Huston received this message from Burton.
"My friend, if we don't find suitable accommodations for Elizabeth,
"I'm afraid I won't be able to star in your film."
So without further ado, Huston moved out and the Hollywood stars moved in.
They loved the house so much that Burton bought it as a birthday gift
for Elizabeth and the house opposite for himself,
to show a bit of respectability, so to speak.
Well, that was Richard's house and I'm just walking into Elizabeth's,
and he built this bridge so that the two houses could be connected.
There was a lot of scandal,
because they were both married to other people at the time.
But the sort of thing that occurs to me,
because I remember seeing around the same time,
Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
And it was Richard and Elizabeth virtually playing themselves,
rowing all the time and I sort of think,
maybe this was a bit of a bolthole for Richard.
The house is now a hotel and serves some Burton/Taylor favourites.
That is a chocolate martini, Elizabeth Taylor's favourite drink.
Basically, it's a martini glass dipped in orange juice and chocolate
powder and filled with a cocktail made with two measures of vodka,
one measure of chocolate syrup and one measure of creme de cacao.
I didn't come here to Puerto Vallarta when I was first here in Mexico in 1968,
I went to Acapulco instead but I'd certainly heard of Puerto Vallarta,
but what really put Vallarta on the map, Puerto Vallarta,
was this sort of scandalous but amazingly romantic relationship between
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Elizabeth Taylor at the time was,
just to give you an idea of the enormousness of this relationship,
she was the richest star in the world so the whole thing was, well,
I think it virtually started the whole idea of paparazzi and they
came here slightly to get away from all that.
It would be a bit fanciful to say that Rich and Liz would have cooked
this dish for themselves, but Eduardo, the head chef at Casa Kimberley,
told me I simply had to try it.
It's called chillies en nogada, chillies with walnuts.
So to make the filling,
Eduardo is combining a pre-sauteed mirepoix of celery,
carrots and onions to which he adds fried minced beef and minced pork.
Next, a good slug of sweet sherry
and a generous helping of candied fruit,
apples, raisins and citrus, some beef stock to loosen the sauce,
a handful of flaked almonds and the same amount of chopped pecans.
This dish is a particular favourite on Independence Day,
because the colours of the finished dish reflect the Mexican flag.
Now come the final flavours - thyme, oregano, and cinnamon,
some salt and pepper and that's the filling done.
Next, the pepper itself.
Eduardo is using fresh poblano chillies rubbed with olive oil and he chars
them on a naked flame,
to give the finished dish its characteristic smoky flavour.
He then lets the peppers sweat under clingfilm to make the peeling easier.
And now the sauce that gives the dish its name -
into a blender goes milk, pecan nuts, the walnuts,
or nogada as they're called,
and then a mix of both cream cheese and fresh curd cheese.
To finish, the charred pepper has been deseeded and is now filled with
the minced stuffing.
A generous helping of that creamy walnut sauce and last but not least
comes the final essential ingredient,
and the reason it can only be made in the cooler months,
a glistening garnish of pomegranate.
Well, I've just been watching this being made quietly in the corner,
taking some notes but with interest.
But I didn't realise it's actually served at room temperature.
I thought it would be hot.
I think it's quite a good dish to take home,
because you can make a lot of them,
probably put them in the fridge overnight,
and then just bring them up to room temperature.
It's really very nice and I'd just like to congratulate you.
Also, he's got a lovely kitchen.
I've just been looking around.
It is a lovely spot.
Actually, truth to tell,
this has become one of my all-time favourite holiday destinations.
I wish I'd known it in the '50s,
when it was changing from a sleepy fishing village to the place it is now.
But when I think of Puerto Vallarta,
I don't think about food exactly but this coffee,
that all after-dinner coffees should be measured by.
I'm just about to have a Mexican coffee.
It's going to be a flaming wonder.
I've seen pictures of it all happening and it's just spectacular.
Naturally, it's made with tequila,
kahlua or a similar type of coffee liqueur,
cinnamon, caramelised sugar,
and Chantilly cream.
I've never had much luck sampling flaming drinks before.
There's been more than one occasion I've gone home with a fat blister
on my top lip.
However, I feel I'm in safe hands here.
Now most important, wait, wait for it to cool!
That's the mistake I made.
The impatience of youth.
Wow! That is really special.
I mean, all that theatre and the taste is just wonderful.
I just have this bit of a problem with these hot after-dinner coffees.
The crew love them.
You know, Irish coffees, a bit of warm whisky and some cream,
whatever it is. I always say no.
I just think they're a bit sort of down-market, really.
But this is spectacular!
Well, salud, Puerto Vallarta.
I'll be back again soon.
Next week, Mexico City.
I try the famous pulque, a working man's drink.
I go to the serene chinampas,
the floating vegetable gardens of Mexico City...
..and in Puebla, I discover the joys of Mexico's most iconic dish, the mole.
Leaving the Baja Peninsula, Rick explores the western mainland. He lands in the town that placed tequila - and probably Mexico - on the world map and the metropolis that gave us mariachis and dishes like chilli con carne; a city so loved by its people that they insist on repeating its name twice - Guadalajara Guadalajara.
But Rick is no stranger to Mexico, and for family holidays he often flies to the tropical beaches of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico's Pacific coast. Nothing matches the view from these picture postcard beaches as waiters create theatre with the famous Mexican flaming coffee, its flames blending with the evening sky as the sun sets over the Pacific. Being a hopeless romantic, Rick can't resist a visit to Casa Kimberly, bought by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor, where they still serve her favourite cocktail - a chocolate martini - as well as Mexico's favourite celebratory dish, chiles en nogada.