Part 1: Killing two birds with one stone in Mexico: Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s day.

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Part 1, Mexico City:

Today I’m off to one of my favorite cities in the world to research the real estate market for my new restaurant project in Mexico City. It will be a nice change going to the warm weather of Mexico after a week of freezing cold in Canada. It’s the 5th of May, which, in the US, is a big celebration of the Mexican independence “Cinco de Mayo”; the irony is that NO one celebrates this holiday in Mexico; it’s just an American manufactured holiday for the purpose of selling beer and tequila. Oh well…I guess no one here needs an excuse to drink beer and tequila…the least, me!

I’m exited to stay, once again, at my Mexican ”Brother from another mother” Eugenio Lopez’ amazing Polanco penthouse, surrounded by one of the best art collections of contemporary art in the country. I’m a little concerned about the news that Mexico City is experiencing one of the worst air pollution in its history; something like smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day just by breathing the air….I’m glad I stopped smoking! To try and contain this urgent problem the city has come up with a system of allowing only half the cars in the city to operate on certain days of the week and the other half on the remaining days of the week. Pretty cleaver if you ask me; it forces people to use public transportation…not that I would be happy with that!

I immediately notice the difference when Eugenio’s driver picks me up at the airport and there is no traffic on the way to his home. Mexico City is renowned for one of the worst traffic congestion in the world and today it took us only 15 minutes to get to our destination, a trip that usually takes one hour and a half. I’ve been a guest at Eugenio’s home several times before, so Its always fun to come back and see all the friendly faces that work for him, especially his personal chef Lupita who always spoils me with the most delicious Mexican specialties during my stay. Eugenio is in full form and I am quickly updated on our busy schedule of dinners and parties and who know what…it’s never a dull moment with my Eugenio!


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They have really big spiders in Mexico…bring bug spray!

 

IMG_9085Amazing contemporary art just outside my bedroom

 

After a quick change of clothes, we are going to one of the city’s best restaurants: La Rosetta (www.rosetta.com.mx) where we are meeting up with his Mexican contingent. The elegant restaurant is spread through several rooms in a stunning old mansion house in the city’s Roma district, in Colonia Roma and it is renewed across town for its delicious and simple Italian food with a Mexican influence by chef Elena Reygadas. Dinners are very long in Mexico, just like Europe, they loooove sitting at the table for hours and hours. At the risk of sounding rude, I must take my leave; I’m beat from getting up at 5am in LA to travel to Mexico, so after my 5th Vodka Tonic, I excuse myself and retire in my fabulous Polanco penthouse.


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The beautiful 18th century villa turned into the restaurant Rosetta

 

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More Rosetta Restaurant

 

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The hilarious Christian Hannig and Claudia Zacarias

 

My morning starts with one of the best possible treats I can think of: Lupita’s famous Chilaquiles…in bed! There are no words to describe how good this classic Mexican breakfast dish is, with fried “Totopos”, green chile salsa, roasted chicken, Crème Fraiche with a side of beans and Mexican cheese…YUMMY! As I mentioned before, I am here in Mexico City to look at locations for my new restaurant project, so I have my brother David picking me up to spend the day driving around Polanco and La Roma to look at potential spots. It’s amazing to see how many high-end American restaurants, such as Nobu, Morton’s and Mr. Chow, are popping up everywhere in the rich areas of Mexico City, a definite sign of the emerging upper-class starving for luxury goods and services and high-end restaurants. For lunch we stop at one of my favorite cafés in Polanco, the darling Maison Belen (www.maisonbelen.net); a charming café where you can enjoy all sorts of Mexican and American brunch dishes on a lovely, sunny terrace.

 

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Lupita’s famous Chilaquiles…in bed!

 

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Nobu in Polanco

 

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Mr. Chow…opening soon in Polanco

 

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Uriarte, my favorite Mexican pottery store in Polanco

 

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Maison Belen in Polanco

 

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The lovely display of pastries at Maison Belen in Polanco



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Two “Packing” gentlemen fixing my bedroom TV…only in Mexico!

 

It’s now 4pm or otherwise know as siesta time! I’m dropped off at Eugenio’s home so I can rest for a few hours before getting ready for Charro Salinas’s birthday party tonight. Charro is the son of the ex president of Mexico Carlos Salinas, and he’s having a sit-down dinner at the iconic Mexican restaurant Cicero Centenario, in the Zona Rosa of the city (the naughty area…), a breathtaking 18th century building decorated in colonial style with amazing traditional Mexican food…right up my alley! We arrive at 10pm, on a 9pm dinner invitation, and we are the only ones at the restaurant beside the birthday boy and his girlfriend; That is typical Mexican behavior: 9pm means 11-12am; don’t try fighting it, it’s not going to change…ever!!!!

 

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Cicero’s amazing dining room

 

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The bar at Cicero

 

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Cicero’s dining room

 

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Delicious ceviche at Cicero’s


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Alvaro and me drunk

 

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Mariachis playing all night long behind me

 

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Cake time for Charro Salinas’s birthday

 

By 11:30pm the party is in full swing and I get to meat the most wonderful people, starting with Alvaro Ariza, a local restauranteur and the gorgeous, club owner Karla Deregil among many others. I will say, Mexicans are so incredibly polite and charming and always going out of their way to make you fell welcomed and comfortable. Four hours later and 8 margueritas in, my new best friend Karla, kidnaps me, along with Alvaro, from Charro’s dinner and whisks us through the streets of DF in her chauffeured Cadillac to her night club: M N Roy, named after Manabendra Nath Roy, the Indian born revolutionary and founder of the Mexican communist party. Of course, M N Roy is the hottest underground club in Mexico City and within an hour it is packed to the hilt with beautiful people, dancing to the tunes of DJ “Gordo”. Though plenty of fun, I manage to escape around 4am, totally exhausted and desperately ready to get into my comfy bed back at Eugenio’s. Buenas noches amigos!!!

 

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The gorgeous Karla and DJ “Gordo” at N M Roy night club

 

It’s morning again, or should I say, almost afternoon and I’m just waiting to see what will appear at my bed for breakfast today; after ringing the bell my the bed (I know…super fancy!), a tray with Huevos Rancheros arrives and they are as delicious as the Chilaquiles from yesterday; I could get used to this really easily!!! It’s time to get out of this bed, pack and get ready for my brother David who’s picking me up to drive to Cuernavaca to surprise my mother for Mother’s Day on Sunday. It’s been a wacky 48 hours and I’m so thankful to my dear friend Eugenio for treating me to yet another great time in his beautiful city!!! I can’t wait to open a business here so I have a reason to come here more often.

 

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Huevos Rancheros in bed…as one does!

 

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Amazing view of Chapultepec Castle and park from Eugenio’s penthouse

 

Part 2, Cuernavaca…coming soon.

Throwback Post: Museo Jumex Grand Opening weekend extravaganza, Mexico City, 2012

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Since I just wrote a post about my friend’s Museo Jumex, I think it’s appropriate to do a throwback piece on the grand opening of the museum back in 2012.

My friend Eugenio López Alonso, the man behind the amazing Jumex Collection, was the host for the two-day extravaganza where international art world figures, celebrities and Mexico’s who’s who rubbed elbows in a series of fabulous events. To say that it was one of the most spectacular and memorable events I’ve been to, is an understatement.

The weekend celebrations kicked off with a cocktail party for the international guests on Friday night at the historic 19th century mansion: Casa de la Bola, where the Hollywood set, such as Eva Longoria and Will Ferrell, mixed with art luminaries, such as Sydney Picasso, Klaus Biesenbach and Jeffrey Deitch. My posse included my dear friend and travel companion James Moore, David Cooley and Paolo Marini; we all flew into Mexico City together and joined a very large LA contingent attending the weekend extravaganza.

Saturday afternoon, after a delightful lunch at Tori Tori in Polanco with James, David, Paolo and Brooke Davenport; the doors to the museum opened for all the awaiting guests including Darren Star, Simon de Pury, and Frieze New York’s Amanda Sharp mingling with Mexico’s Soumaya Slim, Fernando Romero, Paulina Rubio, and Gabriel Orozco, to name a few. The Kass friends included: Waldo Fernandez, Eduardo de la Vega, Loree Rodkin, Yuri Bradak, Isa Jonay, Nicky Haskel, Wendy Stark, Miriam Rothbart, Ahmed Ashmawi and so many more!

Finally the grand event took place at the Deportivo Estado Mayor Presidencial, where a 1920 Hollywood style grand set was built to host the 1500 or so guests attending with a grand orchestra and gold gilded stairs on all sides of the square space emulating an inverted Aztec pyramid. Shortly after midnight, DJ Mark Ronson took over and got the dance floor rocking, bringing the party to its peak. Guests, including Michael and Eva Chow, Stavros Niarchos, Vito Schnabel, Julio Santo Domingo and many, many others, danced well into the early hours of the morning. The after party was at Eugenio’s penthouse in Polanco, but that part of the evening is off limits!

So many insane things happened over the course of this mad weekend…but thankfully, it’s all a blur!!!

 

DSC00608International guests party at the historic 19th century mansion: Casa de la Bola

 

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Robert Kass, David Cooley, the lovely Miriam Rothbart and Nicky Haskel

 

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Isa Jonay, David Cooley, Paolo Marini and Robert Kass

 

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Vanity Fair’s Wendy Stark and friend

 

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Robert Kass, David Cooley and Paolo Marini at Tori Tori

 

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Brooke Davenport and friend, James Moore, Paolo Marini and David Cooley

 

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The LA Gang: Robert Kass, James Moore, Brooke Davenport and friend,Paolo Marini and David Coooley

 

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Robert Kass and James Moore looking dapper

 

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Opening of Museo Jumex

 

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The LA boys: Paolo Marini, David Cooley, James Moore, Isa Jonay and Yuri Bradac

 

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Robert Kass and Isa Jonay

 

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Robert Kass looking super dapper

 

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Outdoor view of Museo Jumex

 

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Main event at Deportivo Estado Mayor Presidencial

 

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Grand Orchestra’s director

 

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Grand Orchestra

 

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Golden stairs and guests

 

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Being smothered by Yuri Bradac

My “Hermano” Eugenio Lopez’ Museo Jumex

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This gallery contains 52 photos.

This morning starts extremely well; I wake up in at my dear friend’s Eugenio Lopez’s gorgeous penthouse in Polanco, to the most beautiful view of Mexico City from the 20th floor! After a one hour swim and steam room in … Continue reading

Here Kitty Kitty… “Black Jaguar White Tiger Foundation”, Mexico City, Mexico

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After an easy, quick flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City on a much-improved United Airlines (www.united.com) I’m finally here! Mexico is a real paradox and a bag of mixed emotions; It’s chaotic and extremely disorganized, everything seems to be an afterthought. Buildings and freeways seem to raise as they go with no specific engineering or planning of any sort; a real opposite from the many gorgeous 17-18th century Spanish and Colonial towns that pepper the entire country. And yet, this urban jungle is on of the most vibrant cities in the world, not to mention the biggest. If you can look beyond the chaos and the brutal traffic, you will find a true metropolis filled with amazing energy, stunning neighborhoods, top notch museums, incredible history, restaurants of every kind, amazing artisan markets, more history and shopping galore. It’s not for everyone…but I love it!!!!

I’m staying at my dear friend’s Eugenio’s spectacular penthouse in Polanco, overlooking the Woods of Chapultepek (which is Mexico City’s version of NYC’s central park). I’ll be staying here for a few weeks, including a visit at my mom’s house in Cuernavaca, which is just 1 hour outside the city. There are several museums I want to see on this trip, most of all, Eugenio’s Jumex Museo that I followed through all of it’s stages: it’s inception and design, construction and the spectacular opening weekend just about one years ago, which I will report on as a “Throwback” post at some point.

But today I’m doing something totally different from my usual comfort zone, something I’ve never done before and I’m soooooo exited!!!!!! A dear friend of mine: Eduardo Serio, started a foundation some time ago in Mexico that dedicates itself to saving, healing and providing shelter to felines of all types that are left behind by private people, circuses and zoo’s. The operation is divided in two parts: the baby felines, from birth to a few months old, are hosted at his own home in Pedregal de San Angel; once grown, they are moved to the larger sanctuary for more space, protection and supervision.

I’ve been salivating over Eduardo’s Instagram page for a while (@blackjaguarwhitetiger), watching all his posts of the cutes panthers, lions and tigers I’ve ever seen and videos of the amazing relation he has with these animals. I promised myself that on my next trip to Mexico I would beg him to give me the grand tour; So here I am and after a few texts later, Eduardo has agreed to show me his fascinating new world. Our super cool driver: Jose Luis, picks us up in the morning for the 30 minute drive to Pedregal de San Angel, a wealthy suburb of Mexico City, to go to Eduardo’s own home to visit the baby felines. There is really nothing I can say to describe the amazement you experience once I am taken in a room with three baby tigers; I guess the photos will do more justice than anything I can say.

I am so happy with these little fluff balls that they have to drag me out by force. We move to the gardens where they keep the adolescent cats, one month to 6 months old, depending on the breed. Here that cats are definitely larger and very playful, I’m shocked at the strength they have at such a young age. It’s rough and painful some times, specially when one of the lions though my ankles was a lamp chop and pounced on it…teeth and all!!! It’s extraordinary how these cats have such different personalities from one another.

 

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Driving to Eduardo’s “Black Jaguar White Tiger Foundation” sanctuary with Raphael Tessier, our driver Jose Luis and Coronas

 

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Being viciously attacked by two white lions and a tiger

 

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Adolescent tiger

 

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Panther hug…literally

 

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Trying to hang with the Puma but the jealous Panther won’t have it!

 

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The time has come to drive to the actual sanctuary hosting all the big cats, just 45 minutes away. Eduardo has purchased over a 100 acres of land in an area just off the highway to Acapulco and has built a state of the art sanctuary for his growing number of adult cats. There are no cages just fenced areas to separate the different animals; each one has plenty of space to roam around, they have pools to swim and cool down and they are fed individually according to their health needs. Here I see fully-grown panthers, white tigers, tiger, lions, jaguars and more. They all arrived at the sanctuary sick, diseased and bone-thin, but you would never know, because they have all been treated and brought back to a healthy life.

We are all mesmerized by the beauty of these animals and the incredible efforts made to built this oasis and give these felines a second chance; suddenly Eduardo asks me if I want to play with two adult lions…before I could even think it through, he opens a gate to one of the enclosures and two fully grown lions come charging in our area and plop themselves just next to my feet. The combination of sheer terror and adrenaline was paralyzing, but I after a few moments I am compelled to pet the 500 Lbs. beasts and finally relax enough to start taking photos with my mates…equally terrified. That, of course, is until one of the lions decided that, yet again, my leg looks like a delicious snack and in a split-second movement, the lion turns around and locks his jaws on my ankle (in a playful way of course, if the cat was serious he could snap my leg apart with no effort at all). Eduardo, who consistently keeps a watchful eye on all of us and the animals, doesn’t miss a beat and quickly grabs the lions jaws and pry them open releasing my skinny and now dented ankle. I’ll take that as a sign that it’s time to leave before I turn into a meal; but not before watching Eduardo lying on the ground playing with 1-2-3 lions on top of him as if they were house cats!! It’s definitely not for the light hearted and things can easily go south in a split-moment; I am so impressed by Eduardo’s work, his courage and dedication to these animals.

After spending 5 hours with the kitties, it’s time to go back to the city. Thank you Eduardo for such an amazing experience…I’ll never look at a cat the same way from now on. Now it’s time to get ready for tonight’s opening of Becco restaurant at the newly redone Four Season Hotel in Mexico City.

Meow!


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In the cage with two full grown lioness

 

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Stunning white tigers

 

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White tiger sucking Eduardo’s finger

 

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Lion sticking his tongue out at us

 

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Cielo the Panther

 

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Robert Kass, Raphael Tessier and Raul Olivo in the cage with two lions

 

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Having a screaming match with the white tiger

 

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Eduardo playing with two full grown lions…insanity!

 

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Robert Kass and Eduardo Serio at his sanctuary in Mexico City