As today is December 13th, and as December 13th is just twelve days from Christmas, today is the day we start celebrating Los Doce Dias de Navidad–twelve days of all the Christmas-y things we do here at Frontera. First up: buñuelos.
Like almost everything in Mexico, buñuelos vary by region. In Oaxaca the fritters are made only around Christmas; elsewhere, such as Morelia, they’re made year-round. In many places they are thin and crisp; in Mexico City, you’ll often find buñuelos de viento, which are thicker and shaped like a flower.
We’re serving them both ways. At Frontera, miniature versions of thin buñuelos are paired with guava, cinnamon ice cream and lime-scented meringue. At XOCO, buñuelos de viento are plated on ganache and topped with ice cream and cajeta.
The buñuelos at Frontera.
Can you make these at home? Sort of. Buñuelos de viento require a specially shaped iron, which is kept hot, dipped into the batter, and then immediately dropped into the fryer, where the buñuelo crisps up and releases. Hard to replicate at home, for obvious reasons. But if you’re up for a project (maybe we a few other people to help), you can make the flat version at home. We’ve put the recipe (originally from Fiesta at Rick’s) on the site. Get organized now–Christmas is in only doce days.
For our second day of Los Doce Dias de Navidad, we present a salad. A salad with sprinkles on it.
The ensalada de noche buena is traditionally served on, well, noche buena, a.k.a Christmas Eve. Aesthetics are crucial here: The salad is designed in the Christmas color palette of green (lettuce), red (beets, pomegranate seeds) and white (jicama).
Of course, if you Google the salad, you’ll see that some people leave out the green—that is, the lettuce—altogether. And some people go crazy with the white, adding, um, mayonnaise. Our version at XOCO sticks pretty traditional, with romaine, roasted beets, jicama, orange, peanuts and a piloncillo-sherry vinaigrette. True, we left out the pomegranate seeds. But we kept the sprinkles, which are the ornaments on this Christmas tree of a salad. By any measure, that’s a fair trade-off.
It’s Los Doce Dias De Navidad. Day three. Time to talk about rompope.
The big question about rompope is, is it eggnog?
The answer: Basically.
It’s true that eggnog often incorporates egg whites that have been whipped but not cooked, and that, in contrast, rompope is usually cooked fully. But in all other ways the two are twins.
Sometimes this sweet, custardy drink is spiked with booze, sometimes not. Sometimes people buy it at the store, where it’s available year-round (despite having strong ties to Christmas); other times, people make it at home.
It goes without saying that we like rompope much better when its made from scratch. Our housemade version is being sold in adorable little bottles at XOCO. Alas, those are meant to be consumed in the restaurant only. (If you want rompope at home, there’s a recipe right here.)
But wait. There’s a third option: Come to Topolo, order the Fiesta de Rompope and eat your rompope instead.