In Dublin’s Portobello neighborhood, an easy bus ride (or walk) south of the main tourist areas, Picado, a small Mexican grocery and kitchen goods boutique, offers the perfect hangover cure after a night in the pub – a kind of breakfast club/class on making chilaquiles, those salsa-laden, cheese-dappled breakfast plates with strips of fried tortilla that add just enough crunch and grease to wake you up and absorb the previous night’s transgressions.
For me, breakfast has always been the best meal. It bestows on us the freedom to mix sweet and spicy, crisp and soft, light and heavy in ways that aren’t allowed at any other meal. And after living in Los Angeles for seven years, I came to love Mexican breakfasts. I’ll do almost anything for a good breakfast burrito. And the endless varieties of huevos rancheros make them the ultimate home game for Mexican breakfast fanatics. But there’s just something about chilaquiles that stands out and makes them special. The cool tomatoes are a wonderful foil for the tart, slightly tangy, crumbly Mexican cheese (queso). And the crunchy fried tortillas provide a solid crispy, slightly oily base that’s softened and tied together by the moistness of the salsa. And with an egg somewhere on the side for protein and yolky goodness, proper chilaquiles are a wonderfully balanced melange of flavors and textures.
One dreary Sunday morning in April, as the rest of Dublin slumbered, Lily Ramirez-Foran and her husband Alan Foran welcomed our intimate group of six into the small storefront they’d cleverly converted to a dining area and teaching kitchen.
With introductions out of the way, and non-alcoholic drinks offered, Lily took us by the hand and taught us the tips and tricks of making chilaquiles. Our club was split about 50/50 between those that knew what was coming, and those less fortunate.
Not wanting to take up time slicing and frying the tortilla strips, Lily had already done that, somewhat greasy and labor intensive part, in advance. But she gave us a good bit of background on the dish, when it’s eaten in Mexico, and by whom. Then as anticipation reached a crescendo, she showed us how to prepare the salsa, queso, onions, a side dish of refried beans, and ultimately how to assemble the final product.
Then, we sat and enjoyed our chilaquiles, and the quiet of a Sunday morning in Dublin. Afterwards, with our initial morning hunger satisfied, we passed around baskets of fresh, warm tortillas and fashioned our own breakfast tacos with the remaining ingredients. We then settled in and took our time chatting with Lily about food, Mexico, and the roller coaster life of an “all things Mexico” foodie entrepreneur in Dublin.
While Picado’s chilaquiles class is informative and filling, it’s a bit less hands-on than some of Lily and Alan’s other classes (like the enchilada course), and that’s why Lily refers to it as her “breakfast club”. Because while you learn a lot, she does most of the work, and you simply relax, soak up the flavors, spices and information, and then clean your plate. What could be a better way to start your day?
Text and photos by Glenn D. Kaufmann
Picado Mexican Pantry
44A Richmond Street South
(01) 479 2004
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