Can you believe it? It seemed that no sooner had last month’s Oaxaca Sabe culinary adventure concluded, than the seventh annual Saber del Sabor: Festival Gastronómico 2015 kicked off. This past Friday, the Plaza de la Danza was tented and decorated for a buffet dinner prepared by cooks from the eight regions of the state of Oaxaca.
For only 300 pesos (approximate $18.50), one could feast on a mind-blowing and waist-expanding galaxy of gastronomic delights.
The dinner seeks to recognize and promote Oaxaca’s traditional cuisine. Always a highlight are the maestros of barbacoa, who brave blistering heat and eye-stinging smoke as they turn and tend the spit-roasted piglets, lambs, and chickens. Alas, this year by 8 PM the line was too long and I elected to miss these always succulent and mouth-watering delights. However, I was in no danger of starving!
1:15 PM – skewers hoisted onto the makeshift barbecue
6:56 PM – another hour of roasting left
Of course, the chefs were the stars of the show and young and old alike savored their creations.
This year El Saber del Sabor is honoring two regional chefs: Young chef, Ixchel Ornelas from Tlaxiaco, in the Mixteca Alta region of Oaxaca and Teotitlán del Valle’s own, Abigail Mendoza, who has done so much to promote and bring respect for Oaxaca’s traditional indigenous methods and flavors.
The festival continues with lectures, workshops, and gourmet meals prepared in the kitchens of Oaxaca’s top restaurants by celebrated chefs from all over Mexico — as well as a couple from Spain and the USA.
Posted in Culture, Food, Travel & Tourism | Tagged barbacoa, barbecue, cuisine, culinary traditions, dining. El Saber del Sabor, food, food festival, gastronimic festival, gastronomy, Mexico, Oaxaca, photographs, photos, popular travel destinations | 2 Comments »
When I moved to the new and improved Casita Colibrí two and a half years ago, there was a sorry looking hibiscus in a huge green clay pot (probably from Atzompa) on the balcony. It was obvious the plant had been water deprived for quite some time. I made it my mission to bring it back to life and this year it has rewarded my efforts with a continuous procession of peachy pink flowers.
However, yesterday I noticed it was playing host to a caterpillar having comida.
I looked in the aforementioned, Butterflies and Moths book, but it doesn’t provide many caterpillar stage photos with which to identify this incredibly decorative guy/gal and, after a couple of pages of Google images, I gave up. However, I did learn enough to know those flower-like hairs ringing its body probably sting like nettles, so I’ve kept my distance. Anyone have any ideas as to my fuzzy friend’s identity?
Posted in Animals, Casita Colibrí, Flora | Tagged Oaxaca, Mexico, garden, flowers, photos, photographs, Casita Colibrí, hibiscus, caterpillar | 11 Comments »
One night, several weeks ago, one of my neighbors called me to come outside to see a beautiful moth on the wall. Searching my trusty Butterflies and Moths book, it looks to me like a Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia). Whatever it was, beautiful it is!
Earlier that same day, while walking home, I discovered this little grasshopper. It was the first day of Oaxaca Sabe and I’m sure he was glad to have escaped winding up as an appetizer. Perhaps he will find fame and fortune as an alebrije model.
And, then there are the lizards that skitter along my terrace and around on its walls doing “push-ups,” munching on less welcome insects, and entertaining me as I putter in the garden.
Just some of the city “wildlife” in my neighborhood!
Posted in Animals, Casita Colibrí | Tagged Chapulines, Giant Leopard Moth, grasshoppers, insects, lizards, Mexico, moths, Oaxaca, photographs, photos | 2 Comments »
Festival fireworks in Oaxaca are usually 3-part affairs, consisting of toritos (little bulls) and/or canastas (baskets) wired with fireworks and worn on top of the head by daring-do guys (toritos) and gals (canastas). This is followed by a castillo (castle) and then the more familiar rockets-exploding-in-the-sky fireworks most of us have craned our necks and oooh-ed and ahhh-ed over since childhood. Sometimes the order of the latter two is reversed.
The subject of today’s blog post is the castillo that was constructed and executed this past Saturday by “los maestros pirotécnicos los C. Rigoberto y Dagoberto Morales” for the festival in honor of the Santisima Virgen del Rosario (Sainted Virgin of the Rosary) in Teotitlán del Valle. They and their crew went about the business of constructing and wiring this “Erector Set” type castillo out of wood and carrizo in the church courtyard.
I couldn’t resist playing with the saturation on this photo. In my mind’s eye, this is the way it looked.And, de-saturating this one against the backdrop of El Picacho, the sacred mountain that watches over the village.The result of the work by these maestros and their crew? A spectacular castillo, accompanied by the band, Herencia Musical. It was quite a show!!!
And, if you want to see some inside action from a torito, check out the video Chris made, Torito Danza – Dancing with Fireworks. He actually attached a POV (Point of View) camera to the torito!!!
Posted in Celebrations, Culture, Religion, Travel & Tourism | Tagged Banda Herencia Musical, C. Rigoberto y Dagoberto Morales, castillos, celebrations, culture, El Picacho, festivals, Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario, fireworks, Mexico, Oaxaca, photographs, photos, popular travel destinations, Teotitlán del Valle, video | 4 Comments »
Yesterday, we slowly but surely wound our way around a major blockade and made our way 20 miles southeast of the city to Tlacolula de Matamoros. The reason for our tenacity? Their calenda (parade) in honor of la Virgen del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary) was happening. A major feature, not to mention highlight, of Tlacolula festivals are the marmotas.
Little boys begin by carrying little marmotas; big boys carry big marmotas; and men carry gigantic marmotas. As for the latter, the guys definitely must rely on a little help from their friends.
Time for change of shift…
New guy is helped into position.
That didn’t last long…
Time for another shift change.
Posted in Celebrations, Culture, Religion, Travel & Tourism | Tagged calenda, Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario, marmotas, Mexico, Oaxaca, parades, popular travel destinations, Tlacolula de Matamoros, Virgin of the Rosary | Leave a Comment »
September 29 was Día Nacional del Maíz (National Day of Corn) in Mexico. Corn was first cultivated approximately 8,000 years ago in the valley of Oaxaca and native varieties are still grown by the descendants of those original farmers. This was a day to, not only pay homage to Mother Corn but, as Mexican painter Francisco Toledo reminded those along Oaxaca’s Alcalá, to continue the struggle to defend native corn against impending invasion by Monsanto and its genetically modified seeds. The year revolves around the cycle of corn, which is planted in the same fields as beans and squash to make a perfect growing environment.The cornstalk grows, the bean plant crawls up the corn, and the squash vine sprawls out and shades the ground to keep it moist… Some of the corn is harvested in August and eaten fresh, while the rest is left on the stalks to dry.All parts of the corn plant are used — kernels, husks (for tamales), cobs (pig feed), and stalks (cow feed). The dried corn is stored and used in many ways throughout the year.Text in italics is from the Seasons of My Heart cookbook by Susana Trilling.
The artists of the above, used the signature “olote” which is derived from Nahuatl word, olotl. In English, it translates to “corncob” and “a nobody.” Thank you to a couple of “nobodies,” Coral Saucedo and Ricardo Aeme, for such an expressive and beautiful piece of art honoring the sacred corn.
Posted in Celebrations, Creativity, Culture, Food, Travel & Tourism | Tagged agriculture, Coral Saucedo, corn, Día Nacional del Maíz, food, Francisco Toledo, graffiti, maíz, Mexico, mural, National Day of Corn, Oaxaca, Ocote, photographs, photos, Ricardo Aeme, Seasons of My Heart, street art, Susana Trilling, wall art | 6 Comments »
Yesterday, we ended our Oaxaca Sabe journey at Origen, the creation of celebrated owner/chef, Rodolfo Castellanos. Here, we had a choice between three items for each course. Hmmm, we should have invited a third person to join us! I began with a salad filled with tiny wild and incredibly flavorful mushrooms. The combination of textures and flavors was brilliant.
Ensalada de hongos serranos, toronja, pepitas y manzanita criolla (Wild mushroom salad, grapefruit, local apple puree and pumpkin seeds)
Though the spaghetti and meatballs tempted me (who wouldn’t want to see what a renown Mexican chef does with this Italian/American classic), Chris took care of that. Besides, I’d already decided on pozole, a Mexican comfort food that dates back to Pre-Hispanic days. And, it was sublime!
Pozole verde de pescado (Fish of the day in green hominy soup)
My dessert wasn’t very photogenic but it tasted divine and those meringue wafers melted in the mouth.
Sopa fría de durazno, espumoso, merengue y yogurt (Chilled peach soup, fresh fruit, meringue wafers and frozen yogurt)
We were seated upstairs in a light and airy dining room at a table affording a view of the comings and goings along Avenida Miguel Hidalgo.
Origen provided a lovely and delectable conclusion to our journey through Oaxaca city’s finer dining scene for only 250 pesos (US $14.62) per meal, including beverage. Now, when asked, I have more restaurant recommendations to give — and that’s what restaurant week is all about!
However, I’m looking forward to getting back to the mercados and street food. ¡Buen provecho a tod@s!
Posted in Culture, Food, People, Restaurants, Travel & Tourism | Tagged food festival, Mexico, Oaxaca, Oaxaca Sabe, Origen, photographs, photos, popular travel destinations, restaurants, Roldolfo Castellanos | 8 Comments »
Dare I admit… It took a couple of phone conversations with blogger buddy Chris on Sunday to motivate us to keep our Oaxaca Sabe restaurant-a-day streak going. Who knew it would be so tiring to dine, photograph, and write about diverse and delicious meals???
We decided to rendezvous at Sabina Sabe — a restaurant that we knew nothing about, but was casual and offered interesting menu choices. I chose the vegetarian and, while not on the menu, its starter was a light and flavorful salad.
Mixed greens with apples, figs, and dried cranberries
I love huitlacoche and my main course did not disappoint.
Gratín de papa con huitlacoche y adobo de chile guajillo (Potato gratin with “corn smut” and dressing of guajillo chili)
The meal concluded with a yummy dessert. We spotted the smiling chef Miguel Jiménez in the kitchen as we left and gave him a thumbs up for our delicious meals.
Gaznates rellenos de mouse de almendra con salsa de chocolate amargo (Cannoli stuffed with almond mousse with dark chocolate sauce)
By the way, I gather that Sabina Sabe used to be on the zócalo, however now it is located on 5 de mayo, across the street from Mujeres Artesanas de las Regiones de Oaxaca (MARO) — you can’t miss the building’s aqua color!
Today, there is no question, we WILL be going to our eighth and final restaurant during Oaxaca Sabe. Stay tuned…
Posted in Culture, Food, Restaurants, Travel & Tourism | Tagged food, food festival, Mexico, Miguel Jiménez, Oaxaca, Oaxaca Sabe, photographs, photos, popular travel destinations, restaurants, Sabina Sabe | 2 Comments »
Yesterday, albeit with flagging energy, blogger buddy Chris and I climbed the narrow winding staircase that looks down into the tiny kitchen, making our way to the rooftop terrace of Casa Crespo for day six of our odyssey through Oaxaca’s Oaxaca Sabe restaurant scene. However, we perked up when our personable and efficient waiter brought up the fixings for my starter course and a show began.
Table side preparation of a Prehispanic soup unique-to-Oaxaca
Hot river stone dropped into the broth
Seafood cooks and vegetables wait to be added to bubbling broth
Caldo de piedra (Stone soup)
Yes, it was as delicious as it looks, as was my entrée.
Estofado de bodas con pure de papa istmeño (Wedding stew, accompanied by mashed potatoes in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec style)
And then came the divine dessert…
Helado de chocolate de metate (Chocolate ice cream, ingredients ground using a metate)
You can check out Chris’s blog for the spectacular rooftop view and the alternate menu. And, yes we shared! Another day, another tasty meal…
Posted in Culture, Food, Restaurants, Travel & Tourism | Tagged Casa Crespo, food, food festival, Mexico, Oaxaca, Oaxaca Sabe, photographs, photos, popular travel destinations, restaurants | 4 Comments »
It has been one year since 43 normalistas (student teachers) from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero were disappeared and several of their fellow students were murdered.
They are still missing and the truth of what happened that horrifying night has yet to be revealed. The question remains, What happened to the 43 Ayotzinapa students?
Cristian Tomás Colón Garnica of Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oaxaca; his 42 fellow students; 215 other Oaxaqueños, and 26,000+ other Mexicans missing since 2006, are not forgotten by their families, their friends, the people of Mexico, and the world.
We don’t have weapons sir! Why are you aiming at us?
— from the above video, narrated (in English) by Lila Downs.
And so, Mexico Marks One Year Since Disappearance of Students…
Posted in Creativity, Culture, People, Politics, Tragedy, Travel & Tourism, Violence | Tagged 43 students, art, Ayotzinapa, Ayotzinapa Justicia video, commemoration, Cristian Tomás Colón Garnica, Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos, graphic arts, Guerrero, Iguala, normalistas, Oaxaca, photographs, photos, remembrance, student teachers, students Mexico | 3 Comments »
Yesterday was day five of Oaxaca Sabe and restaurant number five for your intrepid foodies. Yes, we are still on a-restaurant-a-day pace. Our choice? Tres Bistro, or as the sign says, Tr3s 3istro.
We had watched as this second floor space above Del Jardín was renovated two years ago and a visiting gal pal and I had eaten there in July 2014. While the food was delicious, the cacophony coming from the occupied zócalo (pirated CDs blasting, amplified speeches blaring, etc.) through the balcony’s giant open sliding glass doors made it a less than pleasurable experience.
However, currently all is quiet on the zócalo front, save for the occasional marimba players, and the menu beckoned. Thus we decided to give it a try. We climbed the beautifully designed curving wooden staircase under the portales and were seated at the second from the left table above. Chips, salsas, and herb butter for our choice of flavorful breads soon followed.
Choices made from the Oaxaca Sabe menu, the fun began! My first course…
Laminado de pulpo con mojo verde, aceite de cacahuate, rábanos y cilantro (Rolled octopus with green sauce, peanut oil, radishes and cilantro)
Risotto de gorgonzola con camarones (Gorgonzola risotto with shrimp)
And, my dessert…
Panacota de frutos rojos y coulis de fresa (Panna cotta of red fruit with strawberry coulis)
For Chris’s menu choices, see his blog post, Oaxaca Sabe – Oaxaca knows….. food!… Day 5 – Tres Bistro. I’ve got to say, the portion sizes were more generous than we’ve become used to and we pushed away from the table feeling quite sated.
Many thanks to chef Fermín López Damián, who was born in the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca, for a delicious, relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyable dining experience.
Posted in Culture, Food, People, Restaurants, Travel & Tourism | Tagged Fermín López Damián, food, food festival, Mexico, Oaxaca, Oaxaca Sabe, photographs, photos, popular travel destinations, restaurants, Tr3s 3istro, Tres Bistro | 4 Comments »
Another day another Oaxaca Sabe lunch. Yesterday, along with a couple of friends, we celebrated the ## birthday of blogger Chris at Luvina.
The “gifted” birthday boy!
As you can see below, the menu chef Carlos García created was beautifully presented, imaginative and, I can assure you, muy sabrosa. Our first course was out-of-this world, in my humble opinion.
Arroz cremoso con legumbres, calamares y mollejas asadas (Creamy rice with vegetables, grilled calamari and sweetbreads)
Ahhh… Which main course to choose? I chose the rabbit and, naturally, sampled a table mate’s sea bass. Both were delicious.
Conejo chimeco con verduras rostizadas con manteca de pato (Rabbit with roasted vegetables and duck fat)
Robálo al pastor con chichilo negro (Sea bass with chichilo mole)
The dessert got mixed reviews, but I liked the lightness of the brioche. And, yes, the birthday boy’s came with a candle!
Espuma de requesón con bizcocho de pan brioche (Foam of ricotta with a cake of brioche)
It’s somewhat out-of-the way location (off Republica on the block-long Mártires de Tacubaya and across the street from the Kiss the girl goodbye mural) shouldn’t hinder a visit to this light and airy restaurant. By the way, the service was excellent.
Posted in Culture, Food, People, Restaurants, Travel & Tourism | Tagged Carlos García, Chris Stowens, food, food festival, Luvina, Mexico, Oaxaca, Oaxaca Sabe, photographs, photos, popular travel destinations, restaurants | 4 Comments »
It’s Wednesday and day three of the Oaxaca Sabe restaurant festival. Yesterday, we dined at Pitiona, one of Oaxaca’s most sophisticated and innovative restaurants. Chris, my partner in blogging and food-fest dining crime, beat me to the punch in posting photos of our meal, so I will let his entry speak for both of us.
Today, our Oaxaca Sabe choice was La Olla, one of Oaxaca’s best known restaurants with one of her best loved chefs, Pilar Cabrera at the helm. Here, we were offered an either/or choice for each of the three courses, so I ordered “either” and Chris ordered “or.” Thus, I began with a salad that tasted as delicate and flavorful as it looked.
Ensalada de durazno y queso istmeño (Salad of peaches and cheese from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec)
I’m a sucker ;-) for octopus and this was cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection and saucing it with the “usually reserved for special occasions” chichilo mole, provided the taste buds an unexpected flavor explosion.
Chichilo servido con pulpo y arroz (Chichilo mole served with octopus and rice)
And then there was dessert. I opted for the tiramisu, which is an old favorite of mine. It did not disappoint and its layers looked lovely served in a glass, garnished with coffee beans and a single viola blossom.
Tiramisú oaxaqueño (Self explanatory, methinks)
Our compliments to chef Pilar Cabrera and muchisimas gracias for a delicious dining experience. We are sorry to have missed you!
As our meal came to a close, we poured over the Oaxaca Sabe list of restaurants and their menus. More to come. What can I say? This is yummy and fun!
Posted in Culture, Food, People, Restaurants, Travel & Tourism | Tagged food, food festival, La Olla, Mexico, Oaxaca, Oaxaca Sabe, photographs, photos, Pilar Cabrera, popular travel destinations, restaurants | 4 Comments »
Yesterday, Oaxaca Sabe kicked off a week of delicious dining; three-course meals, including beer, mezcal, or wine, for only 250 pesos per person at some of the top restaurants in the city. As readers of Oaxaca-The Year After already know, blogger buddy Chris and yours truly couldn’t resist and we were first to the table at Las Quince Letras. No sooner had we been seated in the lovely shaded patio, than chef Celia Florian came out to welcome us.
With every course, she continued to check in with us, explaining the ingredients and asking our opinion. She also turned the tables on us and took out her smart phone to take our picture!
Sopa de tortilla de tomate de milpa (Tortilla soup with tomatillos and little balls of quesillo)
Camarones flameados en mezcal con mole negro de chicatana (Shrimp flambéed in mezcal on a bed of black mole made with the rainy season insect, chicatanas)
Helado de maracuya con buñelos con miel de piloncillo (Maracuya sorbet with buñuelos drizzled with a honey of piloncillo, which is similar to brown sugar)
Every dish conveyed Chef Florian’s pride in her heritage — from the fresh locally sourced ingredients to her original interpretations of traditional Oaxacan cuisine — and then there was the love and joy she radiated.
By the way, this is what it looks like to sit across the table from a blogger…
Chris photographing his Chile en Nogada
If it’s Tuesday, it must mean another Oaxaca Sabe restaurant to try… ¡Buen provecho!
Posted in Culture, Food, People, Restaurants, Travel & Tourism | Tagged Celia Florian, food, food festival, Las Quince Letras, Mexico, Oaxaca, Oaxaca Sabe, photographs, photos, popular travel destinations, restaurants | 2 Comments »
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