It’s always fun to explore and find new things in your home area. That’s especially true when you live near a city like San Francisco, a place that’s full of diversity and hidden gems. Together with Negra Modelo and Chef Rick Bayless, our group of bloggers had the opportunity to taste some local specialties during a mini food tour in the Mission District. My family has enjoyed Negra Modelo for decades (everyone except me because I can’t seem to get accustomed to the taste of alcohol) so I was excited to learn all about what types of dishes it best pairs with.
As you probably know, Chef Rick Bayless has become quite an authority on traditional Mexican cuisine and for the television series Mexico: One Plate at a Time airing on PBS. So, for him to personally handpick a few places that truly represent the culture he’s so familiar with was quite exciting. Due to legal technicalities, I can’t mention specific venue names but you can probably guess where we were by the photos and food offerings (or you can ask me when in person 🙂 ).
SF Food Tour Stop 1: Fresh Masa & Huaraches
Our first stop had me stumped. The front entrance looked like nothing more than a small neighborhood grocery store/deli. However, when entering through the kitchen door in the back, we found an entire production line inside. This little shop produces fresh masa from scratch everyday and tends to have a never-ending supply to sell and cook. We had the chance to sample the three varieties of filled huaraches made here (masa cooked in the shape of a sandal, where it gets its name) with overflowing toppings. It was delicious and I only wish I was able to try them all!
SF Food Tour Stop 2: Arrachera Flap Meat
Here, the owner shared a detailed and somewhat sad story about his involvement with the cut of meat known as Flap Meat, better known as Arrachera in Mexico. This cut of meat is found around the rib cage and it was not commonly used in this area except for ground beef. The owner knew the real value of this Arrachera Flap Meat but accidentally introduced it to what is now one of the largest meat packaging companies. Now they are profiting from this Flap Meat (a term the owner said he coined) and not this humble butcher/catering shop. From the plate of cooked short ribs and carnitas they gave us, I could detect the quality and care that went into its preparation.
SF Food Tour Stop 3: Three Generations of Artisan Pastries
To save time and money, many bakeries have passed much of the work to machines. However, La Reyna Bakery continues to keep it traditional artisan roots through three generations of bakers. Unfortunately, one of their best-selling pastries was, well, sold out so we couldn’t try any. However, the other Mexican sweets we had were amazing and I had to restrain myself from buying out the store!
Negra Modelo & Chef Rick Bayless
After our tour was done, we all hopped on a trolley/cable car (yes, an actually San Francisco one) to the after party. There we were able to snack on appetizers, drink some beer, and try the specially programmed vending machine. Just write a tweet, have it sent to our phone, push it through on Twitter, enter a code, and a prize came out. My tour buddy, Jasmine of Simply Real Moms, won a nice gift basket of dried chilis while I got a signed cookbook from Chef.
We also got to hear from Chef Rick Bayless about key ingredients like avocados, chiles, and onions and how they are used in Mexican cuisine. Check out what he had to say about avocados, guacamole, and the use of lime.
It was also interesting to learn how he came to work with Negra Modelo and how the smooth, malt flavor really drew him to the brand. Not only is it a good beer to cook with but it’s also the perfect drink to complement many Mexican-inspired dishes. You can read more about his story and check out his recipes at negramodelousa.com.
Here are a few facts about the Negra Modelo:
- Negra Modelo has been brewed since 1925
- It is a Munich Dunkel style lager by slow roasting caramel malts, a technique that makes the brewing process last twice as long as other beers.
- Negra Modelo is the perfect complement to great food. With the partnership with Chef Rick Bayless you can see how Negra Modelo is great either as an ingredient in cooking or a beer that pairs so well.
Finding the Perfect Complement
It was such a pleasure to check out the history and the culture of the neighboring country of Mexico, right in my own backyard (kind of). Who knew?! Chef Rick Bayless was very down to earth and it was so fun to see how passionate he got when talking about food and the richness of Mexican cuisine. And, while I still couldn’t bring myself to drink the Negra Modelo, I have a much better idea of why members of my family enjoy it so much.
Which part of the trip would you have been most interested in – the food tour, hanging with Chef Rick Bayless, or drinking a ton of Negra Modelo?