Sunday, December 14, 2014
After crossing the US/Mexican border at Nogales, it’s another 14 or 15 hours to Mazatlan, so there’s always a decision to be made as to where to spend the night. There are many small cities along Highway 15 with a wide range of accommodations for sleeping, but there also are a few destinations of interest that are less than an hour off the road. Alamos is one such place that we always had heard about from friends, so one winter we took an extra few hours to fit it into our journey.
We turned east at Navajoa and drove for another 45 minutes before reaching this 17th century colonial town that is a winter home to many NOB (north of the border) ex-pats. With only a short afternoon and early evening for exploring before heading out the next morning, we did a quick drive-thru on the cobblestoned streets, and then set off on foot to look for some refreshment, sustenance, and lodging.
We eventually landed at Plaza Alameda, and here at this main square we found everything we were looking for. Hotel Los Portales allowed pets (our main criteria), and after getting settled, we found our way to the attached bar, La Corregidora, with outdoor seating overlooking the plaza.
Oftentimes, generous bar owners will bring a small botana with your drinks, typically chips and salsa. In this case, the chips came with a white, spicy spread that both Tom and I liked very much. Of course I had to ask how to make it, and now it’s a regular at our afternoon cribbage games.
I was told to use California (or Anaheim) chiles, but in Mazatlan, the wax chile (a bit hotter) is my choice. I turn on the burners of my gas stove and roast a dozen chiles, turning them until the skins are blackened. When finished, I put them in a plastic bag to cool. I clean them under cool running water (over a colander or strainer) by rubbing the skin, opening them gently and discarding the seeds.
I place the cleaned chiles, two-8 oz. packages of cream cheese, the juice of three small limes and a pinch of salt into a blender, and process until smooth. This is a delicious spread with traditional tostaditas or tortilla chips or even as a celery-filler, and of course a cold beer or margarita is always a perfect accompaniment. At Christmas time, I love to sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top for a festive look.
Our stay in Alamos was short-lived, but this recipe has been enjoyed by us for many years.