"How on earth did you finagle hanging out with Rick Bayless?!" my mother texted me last Thursday evening, after seeing a slew of photos in my Instagram feed of the world-famous chef out and about with a group of Bay Area food bloggers and myself.
"I'm not really sure!!" I texted back, giddy. In truth, I was invited by Negra Modelo to join a blogger tour of the Mission District in San Francisco with Bayless, culminating in a party/cooking demo wherein he would talk about Negra Modelo and working with Latin American ingredients, but in a looser sense, I really wasn't sure how it all happened. How did I get so lucky as to get to do this kind of thing---for a living, no less?
(I should probably also say here that I am a total dork when it comes to meeting celebrity chefs. Introduce me to a famous actor and I am totally cool. But put me in aroom with a Michael Chiarello or Alex Guarnaschelli and I will flush like a tween meeting One Direction for the first time. So needless to say, meeting Bayless in person made me a little bit nervous, and a whole lot excited.
Fortunately, Bayless could not have been more down to earth, which put me immediately at ease. The tour also could not have been more delicious.
We started at a fantastic Mexicatessan, where we sampled fresh huaraches, which are thick, often stuffed, corn tortillas, similar to pupusas.
We ate them with Mexican crema and plenty of fresh cabbage, and, of course, cold Negra Modelo. So delicious.
Next, we headed to an incredible Mexican butcher, where we learned about the local history of "flap meat", also known as carne asada.
And what's a tour without dessert? Obviously, we had to make a stop at Reyna Bakery, a long-standing family-owned Mexican bakery, where we tasted several different Mexican pastries. These, which were filled with sweet berry preserves, were outrageous.
Our next stop was a Mexican restaurant in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco, and just as we begun wondering how we were going to get there, a trolley showed up.
That's right. A trolley. (I know it looks like a cable car, but I assure you, there were no cables in sight.)
As you can see here, Bayless is definitely participating in Movember. (Also pictured here, sitting next to him, is his super-cool culinary assistant, Katy.)
Then, we were off to the party portion of the evening (as if the tour hadn't been fun enough!). There, I was greeted by two awesome things:
My cute boyfriend.
And a cold Negra Modelo.
The night was incredibly fun. We learned about several Mexican ingredients, including avocados, chiles, onions (as it turns out, there is a difference between white and yellow onions--use white ones when you want raw onions for salsa or guacamole, and rinse them first!), and, yes, beer.
I've long been a fan of Negra Modelo (which I can honestly say goes with just about anything) and the opportunity to drink it while eating delicious food AND hanging out with the great Rick Bayless was just too wonderful to pass up.
As we nibbled tacos and sipped our Negra Modelos, I looked over at two of my dearest food blogging friends, Amy and Sean, raised my glass, and declared, "We have a good life."
Also wonderful, was the awesome group of food bloggers I got to spend the day with. Some of whom I knew, and many of whom I got to meet for the first time. If you want to check them out, here they are:
Special thanks to Negra Modelo for making this incredible day happen (Negra Modelo on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or follow their hashtag#ThePerfectComplement), and to the great Rick Bayless for joining us and sharing such wonderful kitchen wisdom! I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are my own.