The MUNCHIES 2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Daniel Hernandez
If you love mezcal, look no further than our host Daniel Hernandez's picks for our the MUNCHIES Gift Guide. And don't fret, teetotalers—there's Oaxacan hot chocolate, too.
To spread MUNCHIES-style holiday cheer and play Santa for our valued readers, we've put together a gift guide that showcases some of our trusted hosts' favorite things. Behold: the five things from the land of Mexico that Daniel Hernandez wants to see under his tree.
1. Perfect Oaxacan Hot Chocolate
Real Oaxacan hot chocolate is one of the most perfect pleasures of Mexican food, right up there with sopa de lima from Yucatán and chiles en nogada from the grand, learnéd nuns of the colony. A cool gift for those who love real xocolate would be the wooden molinillo frothing tool and the ceramic pozillo with the tall mouth, meant to permit the maximum broth possible to rise to the top. Remember, Oaxacan chocolate can be made with milk or water, de leche or de agua. I'm a vago soul, so I always add cinnamon. (Taza Oaxacan chocolate sampler, $11.50) Buy Now ›
2. Cuish Mezcal
Few things say holiday posadas better than a good mezcal. The best mezcal, of course, will be right at the source, at any palenque in Mexico or direct from the hands of the maestro who made it—or through a good independent mezcal dealer. But for their value, their honest textures, Cuish and Alipus are my favorite imports available to buy in Mexico City. I get Cuish at their apartment-block storefront in Oaxaca whenever I pass through. (Prices vary) Buy Now ›
4. Alipus Mezcal
The Europea liquor emporiums in downtown Mexico City carry Alipus varieties such as San Baltazar and San Juan, and at a good price. I have no idea if they're exporting to the United States yet. These mezcales are just what I buy for the people I love, and for my own holiday nights, for sips that remind me of those hot months living in the Centro Histórico. The best mezcal is 100-percent agave, hits you in the gut, and makes you dance with your demons the moment it touches your throat. Just keep that sensation in mind if your options are limited. ($39-$71) Buy Now ›
4. Jicaras (For Drinking Mezcal)
One day, my dear friend Homero had us over for some mezcal he had just acquired in Oaxaca and he insisted we drink it in little jícaras, the dried-out gourds from the calabash tree, because it tasted better. Mezcal can be served in simple shot glasses, but the jícara, I've discovered, really does enhance the flavors and notes in mezcal. Something about the oblong shape and the rough organic material makes mezcal dance with the air and then with your lips. (Nelstar small jícaras, $2 each) Buy Now ›
5. Simple Mexican Ceramics
Never underestimate the Mexican supermarket if you're in a last-minute holiday-buying crunch. Many good Mexican mercados in cities large and small have smartly curated ceramics sections where a lucky shopper could find a beautiful set of bowls or a serving dish often hand-painted or designed with the swirls and colors of abuelita's kitchen. Show up to the holiday office fiesta with homemade capirotada pudding in a brown ceramic olla from Super Home-Mart and let the praise rain down. (Prices vary. Handpainted Mexican bowl, $25 on Etsy) Buy Now ›