A week or so ago I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Oaxaca Mexico. It’s a beautiful city located up in the mountains (5,000 ft elevation) in the Southern part of Mexico in the state that is also called Oaxaca. The city itself has been designated a World Heritage site, which means that, in order to honor the history of the city, the existing buildings are not allowed to be demolished or changed in appearance.
It really is a stunning city with a thriving art and music community, great food and huge, beautiful churches everywhere you look. And just outside the city (at 7,000 ft elevation) are the ancient ruins called Monte Alban and,nearby, you can find the world’s largest diameter tree and another site of ancient ruins in Mitla.
There was plenty to do every day, including visiting artisanal weavers spinning their own wool and making all natural dyes and touring the production facilities of artisanal makers of mescal, an alcoholic spirit made from agave and made nowhere else in the world but Oaxaca.
But, out of all of these adventures, the thing I enjoyed the most was taking a cooking class with Chef Oscar Carrizosa of Casa Crespo.
It was hands on all the way, starting with a trip to the local grinding shop that grinds flours, grains and corn to order, and where we had corn ground to chef Oscars specifications for making our masa dough.
And then walking on to the market where Chef purchased and explained the foods that we would be using to make the meal that our class had agreed to make together…things like avocados, cheese, peppers, plantains and chicken.
Then it was back to the restaurant to make and cook fresh masa tortillas filled with squash blossoms, chicken and cheese and corn husk wrapped tamales with masa, chicken and a dark mole.
The ingredients below were used for our lighter chicken mole recipe…olives, almonds, cinnamon, raisins, tomatoes, onion, garlic, bread, bay leaf, thyme and chicken broth.
Here’s a lentil soup made with bacon, pineapples and plantains that inspired a lentil soup I made on Cooking at Home with smoked ham, sweet potato and pineapple.
Oh yeah, there’s the bottle of mescal that we used to make a mescal sorbet to finish the meal.
The chef's kitchen staff helped a good bit too, and actually finished cooking some of the longer cooking dishes, and we retired to the rooftop patio and enjoyed having our homemade meals served to us in stages.
I’m embarrassed to say that the camera didn’t make it to the dining table – you’ll just have to trust me that everything was really, really good!