Cinco de Mayo: Say “olé”—and stay—at home

By Dawn Warden

If you’re not into reveling with the masses (and don’t mind cleaning up after your friends), a DIY fiesta can be a lot of fun. Start with a basic party package of Mexican beer, a few pitchers of seasonally inspired margaritas, a hearty spread of Mexican eats such as enchiladas, sweet and savory empanadas, tamales, chorizo—just throw on the grill, throw on warm tortilla and top with a piquant salsa verde—tacos, guacamole, chips and salsa; rice, pinto beans and black beans for sides, grilled papaya, mango and pineapple; and a grand finale of “Pastel de Tres Leches” or “Tres Leches Cake,” a flour-egg-sugar-oil-vanilla based cake, soaked in three types of milk. Fajitas lean a little Tex-Mex, but if given a little twist, such as tilapia, halibut or a smoky-spicy grilled pork loin, no one’s going to call you out on a technicality.

Afterwards, you can really wow your guests with a chaser of Kahlua and coffee, followed by a nightcap of your favorite—and not too insanely priced—sipping tequila such as Cazadores Añejo, El Jimador Añejo, Corralejo Reposado or Herradura Reposado (all available at PLCB stores).

Maria De Jesus Mexican Grocery (610-436-7456) in West Chester, El-Sombrero Grocery Store (610-268-3553) and El Nayarit Mexican Food Store (610-444-3412) in Kennett Square are three great outlets for your provisions, especially for unique salsas and homemade chips. And if you really want to impress guests, you can pack a cooler full of ice and stop at La Michoacana Ice Cream (610-444-2996)for some cucumber chile, corn or other crazy-flavored handmade flavor. Trust us, follow this footprint, and you’ll earn the right to wave a Mexican flag in your kitchen, and you’ll successfully secured your status as the go-to destination for Cinco de Mayo.

Don’t forget to amp up you iPod with some mariachi music, and your deck, patio, garage, basement or whatever party space you’ve got with bright lights, colorful streamers and sombreros, a cactus or two, a few arrangements of zinnias, sunflowers or Gerber daisies and what the heck; a piñata filled with candy.