Campeche Chefs’ Trip

September 20-27, 2015 This year’s chefs’ trip is to Campeche, a seldom visited state on the Yucatán Peninsula. The capital, also Campeche, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and will be our destination for the chefs’ trip September 20 through the 27th. Campeche, formerly named Ah-Kim-Pech, which means “Place of Snakes and Ticks,” is an ancient settlement from the magnificent Mayan culture founded in 1540 by the Spanish.

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Chef Ricardo Munoz

The week is filled with classes, demonstrations and discussions with Chef Ricardo Muñoz and various local chefs who will teach Campeche’s local specialties such as muc bil pollo.

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Malecon in Campeche

We will be staying at the Best Western Hotel Del Mar just across the street from the Gulf of Mexico and the colorful 3.5 kilometer malecon (boardwalk), for you running and walking enthusiasts. The location is just blocks away from the historic centro with buildings ranging from the 16th to the 20th centuries, including military, civil and religious structures. The folklore and history of this legendary city are still alive in its streets and one can easily imagine the Spanish conquistadors and pirates that once roamed here.

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Photo by Ana Elena Martinez

There will be demos at the Panderia La Huachita bakery, and in the small town of Becal we will see how the jipilapa hats are woven by families and made in limestone caves to escape the Yucatecan blistering heat. There are some wonderful pictures here by Lukas Vacovsky of the process.

Next up is a demo on making muc bil pollo at the Hacienda Blanca Flor before driving to Uxmal where we will spend the night. In the morning we will tour the site before visiting the Eco Chocolate Museum, and returning to Campeche and more classes with local cooks.

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Chefs Ana Elena Martinez and Ricardo Munoz

The trip starts and ends in Campeche and costs $4,000 with an additional $300 for a single room. The costs include two meals per day, hotel accommodations and transportation and fees during the trip. It excludes airfare to/from Campeche. The trip is limited to 20 chefs and food professionals (as of 5/5 there are 7 spots left). To sign up please use the contact form listed below.

Chiapas Explorer’s Trip

Here is a visual summary of the February explorer’s trip to Chiapas. The videos were made by Kathy Martinides.

A Culinary Adventure in Chiapas, Mexico with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Munoz

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A lesson in making tamales in San Cristobal, Chiapas
Photo by Igancio Urquiza

8/25 Trip is full and a waiting list has been started.

Chiapas and Tabasco here we come! We finally decided on these two very southern states for our February culinary adventure with most of the time being spent in Chiapas, a state with a very interesting cuisine, including an incredible variety of different types of tamales—at least fifty that I have tasted, seen, or heard about. We still are not sure if we will start the trip in Villahermosa, Tabasco or Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. I did, however, wanted to give you a heads up on what will be included no matter where we may start the trip.

Rick Bayless in San Cristobal, Chiapas

Rick Bayless in San Cristobal, Chiapas

We will be exploring many of the different regions of Chiapas, from the rugged mountains and cloud forest surrounding the 6,900 feet high colonial city of San Cristóbal, to the lowland rain forests where we will spend a night in cabins in the region where many of the Lancandóns live, just one of the many groups of indigenous people in Chiapas.

Most tourists come to this state to visit the spectacular archeological sites, especially Palenque, however my favorite is the isolated Yaxchilan which we can only get to by boat on the Rió Usamacinta that forms the border with Guatemala.

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Yaxchilan

 

 We will explore these as well as Bonampak with its vivid Mayan murals inside one of the temples.

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Murals in Bonampak Archeological site, Chiapas

The first time my husband, Fredric and I were here years ago, we had to hike and climb several really rough miles on a muddy, virtually impossible trail, but now there is a paved road all the way.

 

We hope to have our classes at Casa Ná-Bolom, the former home of Frans Blom an explorer and archeologist, and his wife Trudi Blom, a photographer and anthropologist who explored this region. Trudi is famous for her work on Lacandón culture and her photographs are on display at the house museum which we will visit.

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Church in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas

 

We also will be visiting several of the nearby villages including San Juan Chamula and its very unusual church with pine needles scattered on the floor, and sometimes chickens are in attendance. Close by is the village of Zincantán, where we are hoping to schedule another traditional meal like we have had in the past with a local family who also are known for their weaving.

 

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Family in Zincantan, Chiapas

 

 

 

 

On our way to Palenque and Tabasco, we will stop at a very special small cheese producer of the local cheeses, including Rick Bayless’s favorite “doble crema,” and visit the dazzling waterfalls Agua Azul as the water tumbles down the numerous small cliffs.

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Olmec head in Villahermosa, Tabasco

In Tabasco, we will spend time in the fascinating La Venta where gigantic 6-foot tall carved stone Olmec heads weighing at least 20 tons are interspersed throughout a jungle-like setting.

Both Chef Rick Bayless and Chef Ricardo Muñoz will be with us to give classes and share their culinary knowledge and one day, Ricardo’s aunt, an excellent home cook, will give a demonstration of some of the regional foods of her area.

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Later this summer, we will have the exact dates, but I expect it to be on or around the week of February 14-22. At that time, we will let you know the total cost. Do let me know if you are interested in joining us on this trip. It will truly be a culinary adventure.

 

Rick Bayless’s Extensive Library

www.culinaryadventuresinc.com; http://eater.com/archives/2014/03/28/rick-bayless-cookbook-shelf.php

Photo by Paula Forbes

Paula Forbes recently wrote this great article on Rick Bayless and his extensive library and how it is utilized, and how Rick creates an environment for ongoing education for himself and for his staff as they research foods for their menus. It is one of a series in The Cookbook Shelf, in which Eater talks to food professionals about their book collections.

I thought I had many, many Mexican cookbooks but obviously not as many as Rick. My books are erupting all over the window ledges and even the floors so I have donated many to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at San Antonio, Texas where they are teaching students from all over Mexico and Central America. It is a very special place with a very dedicated purpose.

And by the way, I am the one now editing Ricardo Munoz’s book that Rick mentioned. A mutual friend of ours, Carmen Barnard Baca, my former coordinator in Mexico, was one of the three translators, along with her brother, Roberto Barnard Baca and Cristina Potters, and now I am editing it and working with the University of Texas Press so that it will soon be available.

Chefs’ trip 2014 – Yucatán with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Muñoz

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This September 27 to October 5, we will have our twelfth chefs’ trip to Mexico, and this year we will return once again to Yucatán, where we last did one over 10 years ago. As you can see from the photo, it can be quite intense.

Besides Rick and Ricardo, other local cooks and chefs such as Roberto Solis will be sharing their knowledge of both the traditional foods of the Maya and the more modern renditions, all quite unlike those in the rest of Mexico and their more modern renditions.

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achiote

Many of these dishes will have green, black or red recado seasoning paste with achiote for flavoring such dishes as cochinita pibil, originally prepared with the native peccary cooked in a pit. You will sample my favorite dip, sikil-pák, made with pumpkin seeds and dzotobichay, a huge tamal stuffed with chopped hard-cooked eggs and wrapped with chaya leaves.

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Cochinita bibil

I always like to combine the rather intense cooking classes and other food related experiences with some time to learn about culture, especially in Yucatán so one day we will visit one of the major archeological sites, but, of course, eating some interesting food along the way.

These chef trips do fill quickly, and I always like to leave spots for those who haven’t been with us before so do let me know if you are interested in joining us in September. We have not yet confirmed the schedule so do not have a cost as of now, but I should know soon and will let you know. I expect it to be approximately $4,200, the same as last year. To hold a space, please contact us and we will send you the necessary paperwork for you to send back with a deposit.

Update:  We have had cancellations on this trip, if you are interested, please contact us. The final price for this trip is $4,200 and the dates are Sept. 27-Oct. 5.

Final Jalisco video, Viernes

Pictures by Kathy Martinides

Yet another tequila stop at Tapatio and final dinner at El Sacramento.

Group Dinner in Guadalajara

It’s always a pleasure to have Doug and Kathy Martinides travel with us because Kathy does such a wonderful job of documenting our trips. Here is her first video from our recent trip to Jalisco. This particular video is from the first group meal prepared by Maru Toledo.

One of the special treats on this year’s February trip to Jalisco was when Margu Toledo a local expert on the traditional foods of this state was with us. In one class she did with Chef Ricardo Muñoz in the village of Ahualulco, Noah, her husband had built a cooking area with a comal like the ones used in the early part of the last century. She and the women helping her had prepared some typical but unusual drinks for us to drink including an agua fresca with mint and chilacayate, a melon-like squash. There also was an horchata with guava and my favorite was the aguameil curado with pineapple, as the acidity of the pineapple blended into the rather sweet sap of the maguey.

Then we were served antojitos made on the comal: two different versions of dobladas, which are stuffed doubled-over and fried tortillas, one with garbanzos with a strong hint of anise, another with a paste of garbanzos, radishes and chayote. Also served were delicious but hard to describe gorditas stuffed with fermented mushrooms. Accompanying those were a salsa of tomatoes, fresh corn, and one of reddish maguey “worms,” actually larvae of a moth that lays their eggs on the maguey, where when the larvae emerge, and tunnel into the plant.

In case anyone was still hungry, there now was a buffet of some very tasty special dishes that everyone just had to try. There were tamales of the type made by the local Huichole indigenous people, served with a peanut mole. Another mole had tortios made with flour grown from fresh corn mixed with eggs and fried. The list goes on and one. I remember the chicken with a salsa of local fresh beans and a squash dish with pulque. Just when we could eat no more, we did. In this village, they prepare a dessert called piedras bolas or “stone balls.” I usually do not even like sweets, but this was so outstanding even I wanted more. All in all, a very good satisfying glimpse into the earlier foods of this region.

Day two of our intrepid culinary explorers’ trip in Guadalajara.