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Oaxaca Dining


marktynernyc
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True mexican food is something to behold. When I was 15, I spent one of the best summers of my life in Mexico with the Experiment in International Living. For 3 months I lived in Puebla, and in Celaya, Guanajato, as well as 2 weeks in Mexico city. I regretted not being able to try true Oaxacan food, though.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Curse you, Stella. I read this post just before going to bed. I wasn't hungry when I started reading it. Now I am. And London is a damned long way from Oaxaca.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Curse you, Stella. I read this post just before going to bed. I wasn't hungry when I started reading it. Now I am. And London is a damned long way from Oaxaca.

Is it even possible to get decent Mexican food in England? Like can you buy stuff in the stores and make your own? Any restaurants that serve anything close to authentic Mexican food?

I'm really a little concerned about y'all.

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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a ustedes-- por supuesto, por supuesto!

um...miguelito and i are planning to go into atlanta this week and thoroughly scope the ethnic hispanic markets. my guess is that it's possible to buy the dried corn and lime and make one's own masa--or buy masa dough, refrigerated or frozen--i'll update this when i find out.

i have a gas stove and the comal i purchased is fairly small--it needs to be set over flames--an electric range doesn't seem like it would work. again i tell you these things are miraculous--the heat distributes uniformly--the mexican comals often appear white [and/or charred] and this is more lime-- they are painted with lime for two reasons: it creates a non-stick surface AND it adds calcium to the diet--yet another example of the incredible economy of mexican culture--everything used, nothing wasted.

i also suggest buying yourself an olla if available--i plan to--too damn big to carry home on a plane, though. ususally the terra-cotta-colored ceramic, glazed on the outside, but not interior--used for simmering moles and boiling frijoles--another miraculous utensil as the heat distributes all the way up to but just short of the handles--which can still be grasped without pot-holders. many people are concerned about lead in cheap local earthenware pottery--but i was told by a very reliable source that, while inconclusive, studies suggest mexicans who use this pottery have lower levels of lead in their blood than we here in el norte--common sense dictates two cautions: don't cook highly acidic foods and don't store anything in them--otherwise they're fine to use, not to mention beautiful.

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Stella, thank you very much for this post...an excellent addition to these forums...great stuff.

I was really interested in the advice about buying chocolate - I had thought about this particular issue quite a bit...

strangely, since I'll probably never have the means to go there.

But thank you for going for us and especially for sharing.

...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

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  • 3 months later...

Thanks for your info!

I had been to Suzanna's school years ago and am returning now for a refresher course!!!

will be speding a week in Oaxaca and then off to the beach!

I hope to perfect my tamales!

will be stocking up on the chocolate... and perhaps even a comal.. it is hard to bring it back to Italy though!

Looking forward to tasting the mescals..and other goodies too!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great post, thank you for sharing. I can picture it all.

I received a brochure in the mail for cooking schools in Sicily and Oaxaca, I think it's called "Cooking in Grandmother's Kitchen," or something like that.

One of the available courses took place during mushroom-foraging season. The package included a guided mushroom-picking tour, cooking classes, and board in a guest house at the hosts' home.

My husband, a closet lover of luxury, did not understand why I was so charmed by the idea. His take: "You want me to go to MEXICO with you to PICK MUSHROOMS, COOK THEM MYSELF, and SLEEP IN THEIR HOUSE, not even a hotel???"

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  • 9 months later...

I just thought I d write to see if any fellow Egulleteers are in Oaxaca this week. I am here shopping for foodstuffs, exploring the markets, and taking cooking classes, if anyone would like to meet up for dinner.

Also, any questions related to Oaxacan cuisine, I would be pleased to answer.

Sincerely,

Jay

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I'm in Oaxaca most everyday, but physically I'm in Victoria.

I do have a few questions since we almost made it to Oaxaca at this exact time. So I would love to have a complete report.

What's the weather like?

Tourist count and type of tourist.

What's in season in the market?

Who's classes are you taking and what are you cooking?

Any new restaurants? What did you have?

Where are you staying?

Price increases?

Can hardly wait to hear from you.

Shelora

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I too am eager to hear anything and everything about Oaxaca City, and the state, as I am now in the planning stages of a vacation there in late November. Especially interested in hearing about cooking classes.

Thanks for posting this thread! Looking forward to it.

Cheers,

Squeat

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Wow, Shelora, that is a heck of a lot of questions. I m going to have to wait until I get back to the United States to handle all of that. Talk to you soon. What I will do is refer you to Lonely Planets guide to Mexico and then supplement with some observations from this trip.

Jay

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Sorry for all the questions, Jay, but I'm hungry. We are ususally in Oaxaca at Christmas time - will be again this year - and had played around with the idea of going in August for a friends 50th. That fiesta was cancelled so here we are getting ready to explore the Oregon coast instead.

I'm very curious about the scene in oaxaca at this time of year. You don't need to refer me to the Lonely Planet, although that is very thoughtful.

I must tell you we had some great Spanish food in Oaxaca last Christmas, very authentic, at Casa d'Olivo across from the Camino Real. That is if you want a different flavour than regional Mexican.

And don't forget to buy some Salina Cruz sea salt in the market, it puts Fleur de sel to shame.

Waiting to hear more.

S

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I can tell you that the weather was superb, and even though this is supposedly the slowest month, there was wonderful activity and a lot of European tourists giving the town an international feel.

It's good that you have your hotel. I would have recommended the Hotel Trebol that is right by the downtown markets and still under the radar of most guide books. Typically a double at this time of year is $50.

Susanna Trilling of course still offers her day cooking classes beginning with a tour of the Etla market on Wednesdays for $75. And Pilar Cabrera offer classes at her bed and breakfast Casa de mi Sabores, for $60 per person or $75 for a one person private lesson. Both were taken by me and both were excellent.

One of the high points on this trip was discovering the mountain biking place and taking a four hour bike ride from the city that took me through Atzompa, home of the Blanco family pottery, and Arrazola.

Foodwise, my first stop upon arrival was to the area of Mercado 20 Noviembre fro some grilled cecina and tasajo. Restaurantwise, I ended up defaulting to Las Ollas, Pilar's restaurant, and El Naranjo. So many choices, so little time. Tamales from street vendors for my breakfast. Hot chocolate for my evening meal at Fonda Maria Alejandra in the 20 Noviembre market.

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For bicycling: Bicicletas Bravo at Garcia Vigil 409

For Shopping: I am so grateful that we began collecting our carvings, etc. in the 90's as prices have increased and quality has decreased. Carvings are smaller and the paint they are using now is not very aesthetically appealing. Still, the aniline dye carvings from La Union have their charm, although they also have gotten expensive. Carvings that we would have paid $20 for in the 90's now have an asking price of $60 and are not worth it.

The store, Chimalli, has moved across the street on Garcia Vigil from where it used to be and is smaller, no more large area in back for packing of your purchases. But his quality is still excellent and the prices are fair considering what others are asking for lower quality fair.

Hotels: My intention was to stay in a different hotel each night. My first night was at the Trebol, that still gets my vote for overall value in the $50 range. However, I ended up at a new tiny hotel called Los Frailes. The room was small, was $40 for a single, and the cable tv had 60 channels, so I caught up on a lot of movies. But the family that runs this place is so gentile, I just couldn't leave. I got to socialize with three generations. When people are this nice, you just stay and stay and stay. And the location was terrific, at Reforma and Constitucion.

Hotels: Trebol. Flores Magon #201. www.oaxaca-mop.com/trebol.htm

Casa de los Frailes. Constitucion #203. casadelosfrailes@yahoo.com.mx

Fonda: 20 de Noviembre Market for hot chocolate and Tlayuda Mixta.

Comedor Maria Alejandra, puestos 94, 95, 96

Cooking Class: Casa de los Sabores (also has a $70 a night bed and breakfast)

www.mexonline.com/sabores.htm

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  • 3 weeks later...

What was the class like at Casa de Los Sabores? What did you learn how to make and was it taught in English or Spanish? Was it hands-on? I'll be in Oaxaca at Christmas and would like to try someone else's class.

S

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  • 1 month later...

I'm a college student who will be spending a semester (4 months) in Oaxaca this spring - the original post in this thread has some great info but since it's about a year old, I was wondering if anyone has any new/updated info on food in Oaxaca (or any other useful general info)? I'm most interested in finding out about cheap, casual places & food. As I'm pretty unfamiliar with Mexican food right now, I can't wait to try some of the delicious-sounding things I've read about in this thread! Thanks in advance.

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Comales.

I usually bring back several clay comales when I go to Oaxaca. However, even in Oaxaca, they have a short life before cracking and needing to be replaced. I bury the halves in the garden, upright like little monuments. Now, the best comales are the thinnest ones, as more heat is transmitted and, if you have to use charcoal as in the villages you want to maximize your heat efficiency to keep costs down.

There is nothing wrong with using a metal comal, a cast iron griddle or skillet. This is typically what is used by street vendors in many Mexican cities. There is a nice authenticity about clay comales coated with cal, but it isn't really a necessity. I use cast iron all the time, and save my clay comales for when I want to impress someone.

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Markets.

True, the Abastos market is phenomenal. A religious experience as it were. But one shouldn't bypass the two markets downtown. At 20 Noviembre, you'll find your best fondas for eating, and an area where you buy meats that are then charcoal grilled right there. The first place I head toward when I get to Oaxaca.

Luisa Cabrera who owns Cafe de Olla and teaches cooking classes starts her class with a trip to her local market, which, like the Etla market, is full of many surprises, ladies she has known for years who specialize in one product such as cheese. Her classes run about $60 for the day, and I made one of the most delicious mole colorados in her class. Classes are held at her bed and breakfast which I believe is called La Casa de mis Sabores. You can get all the information at Cafe de Olla or probably doing a web search.

And other surprises. One day, waiting for my bus to Puebla at the 1st class bus station, I popped into a convenience store across the street. I ended up buying a kilo vacuum pack of SAF brand yeast for a couple of dollars. In a convenience store!

And chocolate. Chocolate Mayordomo has captured the market share of the chocolate business in Oaxaca and the other competitors do not do the business that they do. However, this is because Chocolate Mayordomo has worked hard to provide a superior product at competitive prices. Using two kinds of cacao (Tabascan and Chiapan) and further breaking those two into fermented and unfermented, they have developed a blend that is superlative. Also, their black mole in glass jars is top quality. Don't think that just because they are the biggest that they are too corporate.

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  • 1 month later...

Mayordomo Chocolate is indeed the best Oaxacan chocolate (though Susana Trilling's chocolate is also wonderful). I first met the owner, Salvador Flores Concha, about 15 years ago. At that time his factory was very rustic, totally unlike the one he's in now. Though he has brought in heavy-duty machinery to roast the beans and refine and temper the chocolate, the factory still produces a traditional line of table chocolates. I'm happy to report that Mayordomo Chocolate is now available here at www.mexichoco.com.

I feel honored to be allowed to escort people who accompany me on my chocolate tours to Mexico through the factory. It is an amazing experience.

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Elena,

Welcome. I'm so glad to see you posting (specially since I'd lost your contact information). And I'm sure all the regular posters agree that it would be great to get you chipping in with your chocolate knowledge on the Mexico forum.

Alll the best,

Rachel

Rachel Caroline Laudan

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Oh, I forgot to say Elena that there is query about the chocolate of Bariloche in the Latin American forum. As I remember this chocolate it would not make Bariloche a destination spot for chocoholics. But perhaps I'm wrong. Have you run across it. Maybe you could post an answer.

And of course there are many other wonderful reasons to go to Bariloche.

Best,

Rachel

Rachel Caroline Laudan

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Oh, I forgot to say Elena that there is query about the chocolate of Bariloche in the Latin American forum.  As I remember this chocolate it would not make Bariloche a destination spot for chocoholics.  But perhaps I'm wrong.  Have you run across it.  Maybe you could post an answer.

And of course there are many other wonderful reasons to go to Bariloche.

Best,

Rachel

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