A tisket, a tasket, what's in that basket? Obleas, glorias, chiclosos, alegrias, pepitorias, ates, cajeta, piloncillo, tamarindo, canela and much, much more. Even if you don't know what these are, you can enjoy them as if you did, no translation needed.
But if you really want to know, they're assorted Mexican candies, fruit pastes, brown sugar cones, tamarind pods and cinnamon sticks--all slated for La Casita Mexicana's brand new gift baskets.
Chefs Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu came up with the idea of baskets for Latino tastes after Arvizu noted that his mother wasn't exactly thrilled with an assortment of olive oil, pasta and other Italian ingredients.
They hunt out the best quality treats they can find, like oval wooden boxes of cajeta (thick milk candy) from Sayula in the state of Jalisco. And they make some of the components themselves, like packets of Mexican sea salt combined with selected chiles. And a sack of café de olla, which they've blended from ground Mexican coffee, sugar and cinnamon. And rare diente de perro (dog's tooth) chiles, the hottest they know of, from Del Campo's garden.
The bigger the basket, the more elaborate the contents, with Mexican pottery mugs, wooden spoons and molinillos (wooden chocolate beaters) joining a seemingly endless variety of snacks and sweets.
The baskets debuted for Mother's Day. For Father's Day, on June 20, the two chefs are thinking of things Dads like to eat with beer or while watching football. Possiblities go all the way from a guacamole kit to chapulines (grasshoppers).
And for the Day of the Dead in November, they're planning a basket with the components needed for the traditional altars set up in Latino homes, including candles, incense and sugar skulls.
But the regular baskets will be available all year. They're in three sizes, priced at $29.95, $39.95 and $69.95, which is a real whopper.
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SHOW ME HOW
You can order them online and they'll be shipped to their destination. But the best option is to pick them up at the restaurant, because then you can taste the chefs' innovative Mexican dishes, such as fish wrapped in hoja santa leaves, white chocolate mole or a botana (appetizer) of fish chunks coated with their own flavored salt.
La Casita Mexicana: 4030 E. Gage Ave., Bell; (323) 773-1898.