Vail Valley Seasonal: Hhandcrafted tortillas elevate Mexican dishes |

Vail Valley Seasonal: Hhandcrafted tortillas elevate Mexican dishes

Sue BarhamVail, CO Colorado
Sue Barham/Special to the DailyHuevos rancheros, a popular Vail Valley dish, combine corn tortillas, black beans, cheese, eggs, salsa, guacomole and sour cream a hearty breakfast dish, indeed.

VAIL, Clorado The popularity of Mexican, New Mexican and Tex-Mex food in the Colorado’s Vail Valley is no secret. However one well kept secret is about to be exposed. In a small storefront near the Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum, Patricia Montes has been making corn tortillas, tamales and pastries for 10 years. Manuelitas is a family business, run by Patricia with her brother and their mom. Big buzz words in the food world right now are artisanal, local, organic and handmade. Manuelitas tortillas embrace those four descriptors, and one more: value. Mike Regrut, executive chef at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, seeks artisanal shops like Manuelitas to develop his menus. We are serving these fresh, handcrafted tortillas at Avondale and supporting a local entrepreneur, he said. Its community. Regruts hearty huevos rancheros are one of the most popular items on the breakfast menu, and Manuelitas tortillas elevate the dish to a higher level. He likens the tortillas to a fashion accessory, saying Every lady has a little black dress in her wardrobe, but what makes it special is the jewelry or shoes she wears with it. Thats what these corn tortillas are to our huevos.Corn tortillas are becoming more and more of a staple in American diets. Fish tacos, tortilla soup and enchiladas are found on menus in all genres of restaurants. From a nutritional perspective, thats no wonder. The average (6- to 7-inch) corn tortilla contains about 60 calories, a gram or so each of protein and fat, 12 grams of carbohydrate and 44 milligrams of calcium. Since they are made exclusively of corn flour and contain no wheat gluten, they are an ideal bread alternative for those who are gluten intolerant.The Aztecs of Mexico used corn tortillas centuries ago. When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico in 1519, they were intrigued by a food they had never seen before. The main staple of the Aztecs diet was corn, which they ate at every meal, often in the form of unleavened bread. The Spaniards enjoyed the tortilla, which they named from their own torta, meaning round cake. Now, hundreds of years later, Americans have fallen in love with this wholesome and versatile flat bread. If you like to cook, especially South of the Border style, you may already know the delight of freshly made, warm corn tortillas. Theyre easy to make, but who has the time? Instead, stop by Manuelitas and enjoy handcrafted tortillas, made fresh every day. Theyre located at 501 Highway 6 in Gypsum and are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call 970-524-2227 for more information.

4 corn tortillas1/2 cup salsa rojo (or enchilada sauce)1/2 cup black beans1/4 cup queso fresco1/4 cup shredded white cheddar4 eggs1/2 cup pico de gallo (or salsa)1/4 cup guacamole1/4 cup sour creamFlash fry the tortillas in hot oil till just crisp. Set two on each serving plate. Top with black beans and enchilada sauce. Combine queso fresco and white cheddar and layer on top. Place under the broiler till cheese melts and starts to brown. Fry eggs to desired doneness and place on top. Garnish with pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. Serve at once. Serves 2. (Can be easily multiplied for more servings.)

1 medium onion, diced2 garlic cloves, minced1 poblano chile1 anaheim chile1 red pepper1 green pepper2 quarts chicken stock1 can diced tomatoes1 can hominy8 corn tortillas1 lime1/4 cup chopped cilantro1 Tb. Cumin seed1 Tb. Coriander 2 avocadosAllow 4 tortillas to become dry by setting out uncovered overnight. The next day, pulse in a food processor to a powder. Set aside. Roast the poblano, Anaheim, red, and green peppers till the skins are blackened. Steam in a paper or plastic bag till cool. Remove the skins and seeds. Chop coarsely. Saut the onion and garlic in a large sauce pot till translucent and fragrant. Add the roasted peppers and heat through. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes and hominy, reduce heat to simmer. Add the reserved tortilla powder and simmer about 20-25 minutes to thicken. Toast the cumin seed and coriander in a skillet till fragrant. Add to soup and remove from heat. Cut the remaining tortillas into strips and flash fry till crisp. Reserve for garnish. Coarsely chop avocado and season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with avocados and crispy tortilla strips. Serves 8.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant. Avondale recently opened in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. The restaurant features a West Coast inspired, seasonal menu and the chefs use time-honored cooking methods, such as slow roasting and braising, to create simple dishes rich in flavor. The wine program focuses on small production wines to compliment the straightforward cuisine. For more information visit

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