Give Your Staycation Some Mexican Flair

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This August marks the very first Mexfest (August 7-17) in the city of Toronto, an event that brings the heritage of this Spanish-speaking nation to the great white North.

“We want to promote the Mexican culture in general. Not only food, not only music, and not only tequila. We’re promoting the culture and the richness of the Mexican spirit,” says co-event organizer Ernesto Rodriguez.

But can the city handle anymore fiestas in an event calendar already packed with street festivals, parades, and the CNE?

The answer is yes, especially if you’re looking for some fun and inexpensive staycation activities. This Sunday the whole shebang culminates in a free celebration at Dundas square, complete with musical performers (including Mariachi bands, naturally) and a Mexican market.

But, if you’re not in town for the event, here’s how you can bring some Mexican flair to your neck of the woods:

First, make a cool plate of aguachile…
Aguachile is the perfect dish for a hot day lounging in the backyard. “Think of it as a cousin of ceviche, but a little more punchy — stronger acid, stronger heat, and a little more salt,” says Chef Howard Dubrovsky of Fonda Lola restaurant. “And the fish is a little bit more on the rare side. It’s always cured per order, where as ceviche you can let it sit for a while. But this has a 5-to-10 minute acid cook, and then that’s it.”


2 cups of diced trout
3 cups of lime juice
4 jalapeños
1/4 chopped cilantro
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 diced onion
Salt, to taste

1. Blend the lime and jalapeño, add salt and strain
2. Add the liquid to the remaining ingredients
3. Leave for 10 minutes, then serve

Then, turn on some classical music…

Give it a play: Any of the Musica Mexicana collections led by conductor, Enrique Batiz

Finally, relax while sipping a glass of Baja California wine
The northern end of Baja California is one of the New World’s oldest wine-growing areas featuring wineries that were founded as early as the 1500s. Just across the border from San Diego in the US, the Valle de Guadalupe now has a burgeoning wine trail tourism scene. Give it a sip: L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2010, $12