Why Not Start With Dessert? Snap Shot of Micro Xalapa ’18 Trip

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August 10th to 15th, we went to Xalapa, Veracruz to learn from Anthropologist and Cook Raquel Torres Cerdán. Raquel generously connected us with her students and peers.

These dessert photos reflect the new and traditional- from young Chef Alejandra Ramírez of Coatepec, infusing her creations with memories of childhood amidst coffee forests, Chef Luis Palmeros experimenting with his well learned local ingredients in Xalapa (check Instagram: ___whiteroom El Cuarto Blanco) to Pujol-trained Chef Erik Guerrero, revolutionizing fishing near his hometown of Veracruz and cooking up sophisticated delights with, again, local ingredients! Of course we have classic Xalapa with Raquel Torres and her superb flavors.

Below is a slide show of our trip which included Jim Maser of Picante in Berkeley, CA, Omar Rodriguez of Oyamel in D.C. , and Churchill Orchards of Ojai, CA.

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We Are Pretty Like-able, Modesty Aside. Join Us in Mexico!

Check us out! These photos speak volumes about camaraderie, conviction, passion and purpose– join us on one of our next culinary adventures as a guest traveller in our country, not as a tourist– where we share the best of our regions’ food people with you. From chefs trips to aficionados, enjoy our 33 years of culinary friendships and family!

 

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Looking Back on our Chef’s Trip to Mexico City…

“No es de donde es el ingrediente originario, sino lo que el ingrediente representa para una cultura” .      “It’s not the origin of an ingredient that’s important, but what that ingredient represents for a culture.”                 –Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita

These words by Ricardo caught my attention before leaving to our Mexico City Chef’s Trip in January.   They got me even more excited for the trip; the reunion with both Ricardo Muñoz and Ana Elena Martínez, our shared sense of purpose, the smells, sounds, colors of people, of foods, structures, skies–everything that makes your land of birth sing to you, always calling you home. These words especially got me looking forward to seeing our guests fall for Mexico and, “getting” the importance of what an ingredient can, indeed, represent for a culture.

And fall they did. Some- once again, others- for the first time, others still- through our viewpoint. A marvelous combination of food people, from different backgrounds and cultures and culinary experiences. They soaked up the subtle difference of a cooked- as opposed to an uncooked- tomatillo in a “raw” salsa, our delicious mestizo food world and it’s class differences- visible in our cuisines, a joyful miscegenation of ingredients and techniques; the depths that corn reaches back into our culture, the soul food of Tlaxcala, a warm northerner’s rock and roll edgy cooking, the happily “surreal” idiosyncrasies of our country and their influence on a chef and perception of  color, a  chef’s conscientious quest to go back- and bring forward- old styles a la slow foods….Chefs Ricardo Muñoz, Josefina Santacruz, Irad Santacruz, Cooks Nicolas Hernández and Dalia Rodríguez, Chefs Antonio de Livier, Martha Ortíz and Gerardo Vázquez Lugo outdid themselves and REALLY showcased those ingredients and what they represent to our multi cultures of Mexico. I can’t thank them enough.

We will be posting photos of the trip now and then between sending out a cry for Oaxaca, which we shall visit in September at the end of the abundant harvests of rainy season. More to come on that fabulous trip!

I had Ricardo’s words in my mind on the way to Mexico City.  But they came back to me while reflecting on Marilyn Tausend’s departure and what she means to me, her unplanned influence on so many people over 30 years, her stubbornness for Mexico, for cooking, writing, learning and, connecting people.  Her lost soul as a child, found again perhaps in Mexico, makes me  realize that it is not her origin that is important, but what she means and represents to the Mexican culture and the world she created.

Mil gracias, Marilyn, q.e.p.d.

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“Tu Ausencia” -not just another bolero, this one is for Marilyn.

A newer bolero, written by Martha Rangel and Alberto Elorza in the ’60’s begins,

“Es tanta la pena que tengo, que no puedo ni cantar…”

I feel so much sorrow, that I cannot even sing. “Tu Ausencia“- Your Absence, is the title.

That is how I feel at this moment, so I shall not attempt to write for a few of days.

But I will again, very soon, with great joy and purpose.

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Oaxaca Trip 2018 – DATE CHANGE: September 2-10, 2018! by Carmen Barnard

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Due to a situation beyond my control, I had to cancel our February Trip to Oaxaca two weeks ago. I did let everyone signed up know right away, of course. And just a while ago, I have let that same kind group of people know the new dates that Ricardo, Ana Elena, and I worked out. And now available for our public at large…

Our new dates are: September 2-10th, 2018!

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With a large population of culturally and linguistically diverse original people, plus the variations on Spanish, African and other mixes, Oaxaca is probably one of the easiest parts of Mexico to “see” and get a sense of our how culturally diverse our country truly is.

Attention to detail in a very distinctive manner is a truly oaxaqueño trait, no matter the cultural background. Complex detail is part of the Oaxacan people’s arts; whether culinary, handicraft or plastic (“fine”): the countless textiles, pottery and handicrafts with beautiful detailing, the wondrous and prolific graphic arts school and painting too, the music, and of course, our focus, the cuisine. The market stalls, local herbs, complex combinations, finely ground ingredients, sophisticated methods, delightful breads and nationally famous cheese make Oaxaca a food lover’s dream come true.

 

Between Chef Ricardo Muñoz’s expertise and knowledge, Ana Elena Martinez’s culinary and travel know-how, our friendship of years with local cooks, artisans and guides, and my bi-cultural perspective to help bridge gaps and queries, your trip to Oaxaca will be intimate, guest-like, non-intrusive, delicious, addictive and truly memorable.

We all look forward to seeing you in Oaxaca.

¡Hasta pronto!                                       [musical link: https://youtu.be/lOugXvfi2yw]

Carmen


We stay in a local hotel in the heart of the colonial city of Oaxaca. The zócalo, or main square, is lovely for people watching or enjoying coffee at a sidewalk cafe. The grid layout makes it easy to explore the city and shop during your free time. The nearby market is beautiful, filled with local produce, food, and kitchen utensil stalls. There are endless amounts of cultural things from traditional to contemporary to see, hear and enjoy in Oaxaca, and of course, to taste!

We have limited space on our culinary trips, so if interested in participating, let us know as soon as possible. Celebrating our 30 years of pioneering culinary travel in Mexico, our Oaxaca Trip 2018 is $3750 and includes classes and demos, hotel, two meals a day and all fees associated with the trip, excluding airfare.

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“Chefs’ Trip January, 2018–Celebrating Culinary Adventures Return!” by Carmen Barnard

We are starting off with a brand new Chefs’ Trip to Mexico City and all its splendor this coming January 22 to 28, 2018.

This trip is for food professionals ready to take on as much information as possible during a week filled with classes, demonstrations, and discussions with Ricardo Muñoz and a wide gamma of chefs with stupendous talent like Martha Ortiz, Juan Cabrera, Josefina Santacruz, Israel Gutiérrez, Pilar Alonso, Gerardo Vázquez Lugo, Diego Niño, Jorge Vallejo, and Jair Téllez.

Chef Ricardo Munoz
Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita

Ricardo Muñoz Zurita is chef/owner of the Azul restaurants in Mexico City. As pioneer chef of Mexican cuisine and ardent researcher of Mexican foods and ingredients, he has written many Mexican cookbooks; Los Chiles Rellenos en México, (UNAM 1996), Verde en la Cocina Mexicana [Green in Mexican Cuisine], (HERDEZ 1999), Los Chiles Nativos de México [Native Chiles of Mexico](DGE/EQUILIBRISTA 2015), to name a few. His Diccionario Enciclopédico de Gastronomía Mexicana [Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mexican Gastronomy] (Larousse, 2012), is awaiting final editing from the University of Texas Press for its English version. Along with the national respect garnered, I now note the younger generation of Mexican chefs and cooks reverence of Ricardo, and in August, 2016, the “Chevalier de l’Ordre Mondial de L’Académie Culinaire de France” was awarded to him.

Our lodging will be in La Condesa area, a ‘happening’ neighborhood right near our cooking classes, and close to one of Marilyn’s favorite markets, the Mercado Medellín. We will also try traditional spots of all sorts in the city and environs.

We have limited space on our Chefs’ culinary trips, so if interested in participating, let us know as soon as possible. As a thank you to our chefs who have been with us all these years and to welcome new chefs joining us, your trip costs $3750 and includes 7 classes, hotel, two meals a day and all fees associated with the trip, excluding airfare.

¡Hasta pronto!

Carmen Barnard