With my last trip to Oaxaca in November of last year, I realized that as much I love Mexico City, Puebla, Querretaro, and Guanajuato, my future excursions will be solely to Oaxaca. I had gotten into the habit of saving some money by flying into Mexico City, taking the bus from the airport to Puebla for a night and continuing on to Oaxaca the next day. But, factoring in the time (which has always been pleasant) and the hotel cost in Puebla, I think in the future I will bite the bullet and take the direct Houston Oaxaca flight.
My last stay was at the Casa Lidia, which, although owned by the same family which owns Posada Chencho is very reasonable. I loved being outside of the main part of town, so I could do more walking. My Spanish classes were convenient. I will probably always stay here. I used to like the Hotel Trebol because it was directly across from Juarez market, but the tiles absorb a lot of heat which then radiates at night and the rooms can be very warm.
I had to decide if I was going to do some biking and take some cooking classes or take Spanish classes. Opting for the latter, I did squeeze in one class through the school. But I was very close to the small market that Luisa Cabrera visits and I spent some great hours walking, talking, and shopping there.
One of the high points was a night of Lucha Libre which I truly love.
Even though this was the quietest time of year, there was still so much activity, including a nightly festival celebrating the music of the west coast of Oaxaca.
The zocalo is rebuilt, I approve of the changes they made.
Now, I have been coming here since the 80's. These days I buy kilos of chocolate, a few comales, and that's about all. Our house is too full of handicrafts. This time however, I went to Atzompa and bought some ceramic angels which were unique.
I am currently teaching two Mexican cooking classes and one is based on Mexican chocolate, including truffles, German chocolate pie a la Mexicana, a bourbon chocolate genoise, etc. The trick with Oaxacan chocolate is, because it has such granularity from the sugar, and since it would be difficult to temper in one's home, you need to dissolve the sugar with just enough liquid to do so, but no more.
The organic market is indeed wonderful, the organic jamaica, coffee, and chocolate are first rate.
Vanilla. I use the vanilla extract that Susana sells as flavoring whenever heat is not involved. However, based on an article in Cooks Illustrated and my own experimenting I have decided that Adam's Best, which is a blend of natural and artificial results in the most intense vanilla flavor whenever heat is involved.
Chocolate, well, for hot chocolate, it is always Chocolate Mayordomo, but I increase the quantity per cup. For baking, I default to one of the lesser chocolates that don't contain almonds, those from the North like Nestle's Abuelita for example.
And that big bag of SAF yeast from the convenience store in 2004? I am still using it. Everyone should put this on their shopping list. :>)
Edited by Jay Francis, 27 February 2006 - 07:29 PM.