Divine Redirection, Latin Style

Divine Redirection

Unlike last time, upon last-minute notice to host a tour, it did not occur to me that magic would happen.

An interruption to my being “in the zone”, working on another project this month, made me grimace, but … there I was. Driving to East LA to host our Latin Flavors Tour, very early on a cloudy, warm&humid Thursday morning … expecting the best because, there I was.

When I host this tour, my tradition is breakfast first, at Philippe’s. Really yummy pancakes + coffee = about $5 and I get to be at a favorite place on the planet with some of my favorite worker-bees in the land. Soul food.

That morning, intuitively I heard beautiful noise insisting that breakfast instead, be at Primera Taza Coffeehouse – the last stop on our East LA tour. I’d yet to meet the cafe’s new owner.

Boyle Heights for breakfast

I never dis(miss) my intuition. Boyle Heights for breakfast it was.

Walking in to Primera Taza, owner Chuy’s warm smile and greeting immediately let me know I was in the right place at the right time. Chuy is from Jalisco, Mexico, where I had travelled in June. Boyle Heights, the site of our tour, is LA’s center of the Mariachi culture and other Jalisco-born traditions.

Once we were kindly acquainted, we discussed breakfast. When Chuy said they had a special bread that was directly from Guadalajara, I asked if I could please, 

just have that with my coffee?

“You gotta order the whole sandwich.”

He was referring to his father-in-law’s sacred tortas-esque recipe, to be prepared by his beautiful wife, Rosa. It is very special pork loin sandwich (see photo, above left)  that Chuy is honored to offer on his menu, because he never met Rosa’s father, who passed away 7 years ago.

Tovar family“I’ll take the whole sandwich.”

I watched Rosa lovingly toast the bread, then craft the sandwich. Their lovely daughter Maria delivered it with such grace and joy, I can’t even begin to express how touched I was, to have it set before me.

It was truly one of the most delicious foods I have ever enjoyed. I knew I’d be writing about it, so Chuy listed its ingredients: tender pork, pickled jalapenos and carrots, tomatoes, onions, avocado. Finished with Rosa’s special 3-chiles salsa and crema Mexicana, the heat was still at the back, which I loved.

A world-champion Barista

It was also my pure joy and pleasure to sip an iced coffee made from beans roasted by Fabrizio Sencion. This fine gentlemen is Chuy’s good friend, a world-champion Barista, and partner at Palreal, the only coffeehouse I went to in Guadalajara. Chuy is the first to bring these Cafe’ Sublime gourmet coffee beans from Jalisco (packaged as Cafe Estelar).

That one idyllic afternoon I’d spent at Palreal, will live in my heart forever. Now I’d been divinely “redirected” to visit Palreal’s good friend, and reconnect with those sweet memories, right here in LA.

Later on, I brought in my tour guests, to fall in love with Chuy’s Primera Taza Coffeehouse. Of course.

My point ~ Other people were working that day.

Me? I was – yet again – experiencing heaven brought down to earth, this time with a touch of homesick. For Jalisco.

By the way, mine was the last sandwich on that bread. Maybe someone needs to bring more of it from Guadalajara, to LA.

I hope that someone is me.

(PS ~ Chuy has announced that that is the last week (10 August) the sandwich will be available until further notice. Visit them here on Facebook and their website to learn more.)


Until next time, I remain ~
Your Chef and Tour Maestra

Diana Scalia