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Time in Oaxaca


JTravel
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We are a couple in our 70s who have decided we can't do tours any more. So we have settled on spending the worst, we hope, of NYS winter here. Right now it is quite cold at night, with no heat ( or a/c) in our tiny apartment. But days are warm and when the sky is blue, it is Blue.

You may ask why two people with some mobility problems chose a highland city (around 5000') with rough sidewalks, busy traffic and lots of walking.  Think sunny days, a great zocalo,lovely colors, and good Food. It's Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-Ha-kah), in southern Mexico, surrounded by craft villages.

 

This may be a bit disjointed as I am writing on my iPad, but pictures are on Windows phone. They do not play well together. So      posting may be in 2 sections.

We have been here about a month and have about another month to go.  We are still finding new sights and places to eat.

We eat mid range with lots of comida corridas, a few street foods and a couple high end places with specials.

 Food is plentiful and cheap for us.  I could almost live on the mangoes. We eat one meal out most days and eat in on great bread, leftovers, fruit etc. there is a large backup jar of peanut butter.

 

SO, let me see what I can do about the pictures and you can be sending questions while you wait.

Coffee, chocolate, a little beer, fruit, chiles ,and tlauyudas coming soon.

JT

 

 

Welcome to Oaxaca color

our first cart food...Hormiga Tortas in the park

 

 

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I have been there and agree the food is wonderful.  Much different and more complex then what many people consider to be Mexican food.  I would gladly trade places with you this very day.  We have reached our "high" of 14 degrees but, like you, are enjoying a very blue sky.  I would much rather settle in and learn about a place in depth than do the tour thing and just skim the tops off.  Looking forward to more posts and pictures.

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Thank you for posting the brightly coloured hanging toy (piñatas?) picture in particular. Having just gone through our latest blizzard - thankfully this time of the light white stuff, not the heavy variety - and with the winds having just died down enough for the world to begin to emerge this morning to start on the digging out process and to dust off what now looks like a hamlet of igloos up and down the street - I sorely needed something cheerful to perk up my spirits. I certainly 'get' why you are there.

 

I look forward to hearing much more about your eating adventures in Oaxaca.

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So many great memories of Oaxaca and especially taking the various classes of buses. If you get a chance, be sure to his up Itanoni. Its an eGullter's dream on the north side of town. And I remember great gelato in that part of town as well.

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Sorry about putting this in the cooking as opposed to dining section. I don't know how to move it, so here it is.

 

It's cold here now, evenings were warmer a couple of weeks ago. Thoughts may turn to a cup of hot coffee, or in my case, a mug of hot chocolate. You are in the Right place.  Known for both coffee and chocolate, the state of Oaxaca provides the capital city with both.

 

We are staying in a tiny apartment just west of Santo Domingo church.  It is a block+ off the main walking street so every area is not as busy. But let me introduce you to some coffee shops in our neighborhood alone.

The big player  in town (and country?) for chocolate is Mayordomo with several shops of various sizes. Side note...they all offer 15 peso chocolate milkshakes....just under a dollar. They are made with their powered Chocomio product plus frozen milk and cold milk. My husband can barely pass a shop without ver getting one.  They sell fresh ground chocolate, to your recipe, to hotels, restaurants etc.  Plus a little bag to me. Lots of tablets for mixing with water or milk.

 

On one corner of the Alcala, walking street, is a Brujula coffee bar, one of 4 in town.  We were having a hot chocolate (35p) a couple nights ago when we got talking to the guy next to us. After discussing our favorite eating places, coffee,and chocolate, he revealed he was the owner of the 4 shops. Came here from U.S. And started them one by one.

 

We have two new shops on our block that opened in the last week. Kid you not. Mezzaluna, a restaurant serving pizza etc. took over the corner spot where there was a nice bakery before. It's quite a large space with doors on two streets. Haven't checked it out.

 

Our sentimental favorite is just 2 doors down, don't even have to cross the street.  A nice Mexican man who lived in U.S opened last weekend. It's small but decorated very nicely and he is bi-lingual and very personable. A plus for us.

 

Of course every restaurant will serve you coffee, chocolate , and foods and every coffee shop cafe will serve some food...rolls from the bakery or sandwiches. Lots of crossover.

 

That's a lot on this topic. Now let's hope for pictures.

 

Our neighbor

New coffee truck by the park

another cafe

chocolate at Mayodomo...our 2nd favorite , 30 pesos, large, hot, rich....do not skimp on good stuff people. These people know chocolate.

 

 

 

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It was suggested we take the trek to Itanoni, and since it had been on the list since our trip last year we did it. Our landlord gave us taxi instructions and a thumbs up.  We got a taxi nearby and taxi driver gave thumbs up and "muy Bueno" and off we went to the N. Suburb of Reforma.  Taxi cost 50 pesoes, about $3. ( forgive me if you don't like things priced. I like to know so assume others do.)

 

Signs saying ask about photos, no luck there so no photos. BUT....Google Itanoni, look for Serious Eats article with Alice Waters. Way better than I could do.

 

Itanoni looks like a typical "front of house" Mexican place. Plastic lawn chairs and simple tables, cement under foot and colored streamers above.  Kitchen right in the front room.  I sat very close to one of their comal structures....large comal with another area for large pot to bubble away.

 

Ordering was confusing, no English and we didn't know the drill. But basically everything is wrapped in a corn wrapper of some size and crispness and made from a specific corn meal . The flavor of the corn was amazing....again, read what Alice Waters says.  We had two of the large, filled tetelas ,they had been opened along one side and filled with cool        cr ema, added to the hot from grill beans and cheese. Really the edges were so crisp and chewy and perfect. We had small open/topped tortillas, cheese and black beans with cojita.

 

DH had the lemon drink with herbabena? And I had the chocolate champurrado drink, nearly a pudding, very thick with corn meal. Tasty and interesting.

 

Mainly the experience was fun, the seeing everything made, the taste. I hope to go again and understand better what I have. Total 2 drinks, 2 tetelas, 2 small topped open faced tortillas, and a beef barbecue rolled in a large tortilla...           150 pesos about $9.

 

Fun outing, sorry I was not more prepared.

 

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Thanks, I didn't know how to do that.

Soon Susanna Trilling is going to speak on her book The Milpa at the Oaxaca Lending Library. The library is one of     center pieces of the English speaking community here.

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On ‎2‎/‎10‎/‎2016 at 0:46 PM, JTravel said:

It's cold here now, evenings were warmer a couple of weeks ago. Thoughts may turn to a cup of hot coffee, or in my case, a mug of hot chocolate. You are in the Right place.  Known for both coffee and chocolate, the state of Oaxaca provides the capital city with both.

.

The big player  in town (and country?) for chocolate is Mayordomo

 

 

Thanks for this.  I'm really enjoying the information, and the photos.  Wonderful.

 

As for Mayordomo chocolate - I sure wish it were easier to get in the US.  I haven't exactly spent countless hours and sleepless nights looking, but I have made an effort, and couldn't find it through any of my usual sources - like MexGrocer online, and the many Mexican markets here in Houston.  I've found it for sale from individuals on ebay, but at quite a hefty premium.  For years, I've dragged back several pounds each Mexico visit.  It keeps in the freezer quite well.

 

However, more recently, I have discovered the excellent stone-ground Mexican chocolate from Rancho Gordo, and no longer miss Mayordomo quite so much. 

 

http://www.ranchogordo.com/products/chocolate-stoneground-chocolate

 

Most norteamericanos do use milk to mix their hot chocolate drinks, but I prefer water - at least I do so long as I have some whipped cream handy.  That way, I can sip the strong dark chocolate up through the cool sweet cream.  For me, it's the best of both worlds.

Edited by Jaymes (log)
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I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Guest Speaker:

Tonight at 5 at the Oaxaca Lending Library local cookbook author, cooking teacher, cheese monger, and more , Susanna Trilling spoke. She is probably best known for her Seasons of the Heart series on PBS, with a book to  accompany it. Her cooking school, of the same name, is going to be joined by a cheese store with local and imported cheeses as I understood it. Also other local products from the villages, products that find it hard to find shelf space.

 

SO, all this leads to a book, bilingual, worked on by a committee , including recipes from the women who are wives of farmers. One message of the book is keep the heritage crops and find a market for the products.  Part of the profits go to a non-profit which helps the farmers with land and farming issues.

 

It is a huge book....maybe 10x14 inches, paper cover, thick, lots of pictures, shiny paper.. The few copies she brought, they are heavy, were snapped up by eager readers. She sells them locally for 500pesos, about $30. Will not be on     Amazon, but is on her website with a break on shipping. I plan to buy one locally.

 

Not shilling for book, but enjoyed her stories of village life and the idea of heritage crops.

 

A surprise treat for all attending, a little plate with 3 goodies, made at her school today. All local products.

1.A wedge of little ripe fig, a dab of white cheese, maybe feta, a dab of red jelly made from various peppers

2. A heart shaped (corn?) cracker, made in Oaxaca, topped with nopale salad, cubes of white cheese, cactus, tomato,onion?

3. A small corn husk wrapped tamale filled with tomato and cheese

 

All were delicious, people were smacking their lips. 

 

Pictures not working, will try from phone.

 

Big day tomorrow, cooking class in Zapotec village.  Stay tuned.

 

 

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Ok, now people in Western NYS understand why Mexico is attractive to us.

A big topic in our lazy days is where shall we go for comida today?  Sometimes we go out for breakfast, skip mid-afternoon meal, and get a sandwich in evening. Now our fridge has half a leftover Torta with chorizo plus half a pretty decent club sandwich from last night at Cafe Los Cuiles. 

 

But  most days it is "main meal" between one and 3.  

Featuring El Huateque, 901 Alcala...the

main walking street.  It is a walk Up for us, but husband says I walk best for food.

 

Comida Corrida Tuesday- Friday 75 pesos, about $5.  open Sat. And Sunday with al la Carte menu....still a deal. It's probably going to be our Sunday choice.

 

With looking for comida you always search for the blackboard, in doorway, or on sidewalk. Then appraise look, clean, busy, pleasing. Choices?  El Huateque  has one choice for set meal, and al a Carte. Many places only have set meal choices during comida hours.  How much do you get? Do you like the choices? ( I might pass on squash or squash blossom soup).

If good plunge in.  When we can't decipher the menu we choose one of each, if offered. Sometimes we point at people's plates, sometimes we nod and hope for the best. Haven't had a bad meal in a month.

 

I do realize you Mexico hands will know all this...maybe there are new people reading.

 

What does El Huateqe (means Fiesta) have? First visit I went for just tortilla soup. Large filling bowl. DH had meal with real juice, soup , pork in tamarind sauce, lovely salad, and we both got really roasted plantains. Taste of pork convinced me to always get set meal.

 

But on 2Sundays we got aka Carte including, tortilla soup for him, mixed salas which was huge and had lots of goodies, sandwich and an almond mole and mole nego. Both good, almond outstanding.

 

pictures to follow

 

more meals later

 

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El Huateque, Oaxaca. Continues with pictures

soup and mixed salad...almost a meal

Chicken and apple sandwich on house made bread

Mole Negro with large chicken breast

Salad again...you can eat salad in Mexico

 

Coming soon more comidas

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A few market pictures while I organization some new stuff.

Breakfast at a new to us courtyard...white and pleasant. Literally $2. With that cute mug of chocolate and a good roll for dipping.

Choice of plates, ours were good.

yayi's cafeteria on Garcia Vigil.

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Those photos are what the heart of Mexico is to me.  All the vibrant colors and inviting food displays just call to me.  In your last group of photos, the restaurant has what I think was a hat or coat rack.  It was painted every color of the rainbow and more. We have been to restaurants in Mazatlan where the chairs are painted like that.  I loved the idea so much that I bought a  miniature wooden chair and did a Mexican paint job on it.  It hangs on the wall and lots of memories  stop by and sit on it.  I am really enjoying my trip down memory lane as I travel with you.

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Looking through my blog, I found this entry about Itanoni:

http://www.ranchogordoblog.com/2009/08/bean-tamal-in-oaxaca.html

It's a great place. 

 

I have a bunch of photos somewhere from a roadtrip I did with Diana Kennedy throughout Oaxaca. I wish I were more organized! 
 

re the corn, I don't have the same passion for corn that I do with the beans. Chiles, however......

 

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Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Oaxaca has 2 Organic Markets called Pochote, one quite far south of the centro area and one quite far north. Of all the places mentioned when talking about places to eat the market was a common theme.

We set off on a Friday (also open Sat.) for the hike north.

Up we walked alongGarcia Vigil which eventually goes along the side of the aqueduct. There are houses built on top of the aqueduct , and some built into the arches. 

The market is in the walled courtyard of a church. It was cool and breezy and lovely.

i got honey and goat cheese right off....been looking for those. Goat cheese is on and in things here but hard to find.

We started with a large cup of orange /Ginger agua....lovely and refreshing. 

I got a Tlayuda like thing from a busy vendor. It had black beans,chicken Tinga, queso, tomatoes and was very good. Vendor had plastic wrapped little bowls to show choices. Easy.  Sat in the outdoor food court chatting with other gringos. Everyone liked what they had.....next time a corn husk tamale.

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First 3 are aqueduct along route to market. Spanish brought water to the city from the mountains.

This market does have crafts, but more sedate scarves etc. not the bright things.

Food is mainly comal cooking, and tamales.

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Just a color shot first. Hadn't spotted this before. We can call it a food God and make it food related.

On a food related theme....yesterday's mid afternoon meal.  DH wanted Chinese buffet, I didn't ,so we went to restaurants next door to each other. I went to a restaurant known for it's healthy food. Started well with a basket of bread and the best fried corn chips, along with tomatillo sauce, cream dip, and those  killer peppers.

 

i ordered a strawberry fizz or some such with fresh juice and sparkling water. Tasty and refreshing.

For main I ordered a pad Thai like dish. It turned out to be Lots of broccoli, some clear noodles dipped  in some soy sauce stuff, and peanuts. Not very tasty, no hint of lime or pepper, things shared by both...no zip. But it was edible and broc was cooked perfectly.

DH may have done better.

 

Going to lunch nearby, slow food, unique spot.

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