Another glorious weekend – full days, quiet nights. We woke up early Saturday to see an apartment that we both love (fingers crossed!!) in Roma Norte, and then hit up Lalo!, a brunch spot I’d been wanting to try. Dope chilaquiles and a fried egg dish with huitlacoche, smoky salsa, avocado and queso fresco. The vibe felt a little hipster and the service was weird (there’s a thing here about clearing your plates and glasses too soon), but then I spotted two guys in the back rolling out fresh squid ink pasta and piping tiny dumpling-shaped pastries on a butcher block and I couldn’t hate.
The day’s goal was to visit the San Angel Bazaar, an artisan market open on Saturdays in the plaza of San Angel, a peaceful part of town that felt like leaving DF. We took the bus there (first time), encountering a taste of that Fuck Mexico feeling when the one machine selling tickets was broken and there was nowhere else to get on. The passenger we offered our pesos to wouldn’t take them – he swiped us both through and offered directions. Thanks, Mexico.
A mercado right by the bus station was our first stop, this one much better laid out and less hectic than Mercado de Medellin. We looked but didn’t buy, passing crates of fresh and not-so-fresh fruit, piles of spices, whole fish with shiny eyes.
I wanted to visit the bazaar because I’d read about a pottery school in Coyoacan run by Alberto Diaz, a craftsman responsible for Pujol’s ceramic tableware, who had a booth at the Saturday market. I’d tried emailing without any luck, so I thought I’d bring my translator in person. The outdoor part of the market was sort of chintzy, like the Union Square craft fair – lots of bad paintings and bright handmade toys, people still getting their faces painted for Dia de los Muertos – but featured a bunch of streetside food vendors making stuff we hadn’t seen before, like a ground meat and potato stew that almost turned me to the other side.
Inside the market building, booths for higher-end clothing, jewelry and tableware vendors flanked a central fountain and restaurant area. We spotted a guy ordering a drink and followed suit – michelada for Robbie and tamarind margarita for me. Nothing like a cocktail and shopping trip to start a Saturday … thanks for playing, Robbie. I kept it quick – we found Alberto Diaz’s booth and got a brochure: $75 for 24 hours of lessons! I’m hoping to start soon.
Mission complete, we took a 20 minute amble down cobblestone paths towards Las Casas Gemelas, the adjacent houses of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera connected by a little bridge. The architecture in San Angel is absolutely incredible – sort of midcentury modern meets Spanish colonial, if that’s possible – brightly colored stucco houses with blond wood details and big bursts of bougainvilla creeping overhead. We stopped by the swank San Angel Inn (French and German tourists plus fancy Mexican families dolled up for Saturday lunch) to enjoy coffees and a pastry. I ordered a café de olla, coffee brewed with cinnamon and piloncillo sugar, so sweet and spicy I didn’t need the big piece of coconut cream cake we shared but who’s complaining?
The houses were blocked from the street by a cactus fence, and shared a lot with the home of Juan O’Gorman, a Mexican muralist, architect and friend of Rivera’s. Diego’s red house and Frida’s blue, designed in the Functionalist are connected by a bridge, and both are oddly ridden with staircases – must have been difficult for her. The art in the two homes represented mostly their private collections – lots of pre-Hispanic sculpture etc. Diego’s studio was the real beauty: full of light streaming in from a floor-to-ceiling window, paper mache skeletons hanging on the walls, canisters of colored paints lining shelves.
For two reasons now – the ceramic studio and Museo Frida Kahlo – I’m itching for our next weekend trip to be Coyoacan.