About Our Programs
Workshops, Retreats, Expeditions. We offer hands-on, in-depth educational programs and cultural immersion experiences with experts in their field who know how to teach. In small groups, limited to 10 people, you develop skills and explore your creativity with lots of personal attention. We pride ourselves on giving you an authentic, affordable learning experience that is safe and inviting. Come with us to discover Oaxaca as you deepen your knowledge and enrich your connection.
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Category Archives: Dining and Lodging
Shopping in Puebla, Mexico during Saturday and Sunday Flea Market days is a treasure hunt. Vendors begin to set up on the sidewalk around 11 a.m. each Saturday on Calle 6 Sur between Calle 7 Oriente and Calle 5 Oriente. This is a pedestrian walkway lined with open-every-day, higher quality antique and folk art shops like Rene Nieto, where I found this great antique hand-painted angel figure that has a coin slot. Could it be a bank or an offering vessel?
Most of the fleas are aged, rusted metal corroded for interest, old coins and out-of-circulation peso notes, a mish-mash of old and new jewelry, posters, pottery, books, and rusted tools. A careful look can take an hour or more. Enjoy. Food vendors and musicians set up shop there, too. And, you can even say a prayer at the outdoor altar. Hollie bought old copper milagros for her mixed media art here.
The block between Calle 5 Oriente and Calle 3 Oriente is more upscale with antique and jewelry and clothing shops. Flower pots spilling over with color adorn the street.
Don’t miss the antique shops along both sides of 5 Oriente and 3 Oriente. Many have unusual pieces of furniture, lamps, redware handpainted pottery and old Talavera tiles.
This exquisite old chest of drawers is 12,000 pesos. That’s roughly $900 USD. If you can buy it, then you would need to figure out how to ship it. No small feat.
Old and new masks, table linens, embroidered blouses, shawls in various stages of use can all be found here, along with delicious fresh fried potato chip snacks drizzled with chile powder, limes, and salt.
When you plan your visit to Puebla, make sure you are here over the weekend! You won’t be disappointed. Hollie wasn’t and neither was I.
Where to stay? Hotel Real Santander, Calle 7 Oriente #13. This is my home away from home in Puebla where they take really good care of us. Ask for Carolina or Yolande if you want special service. 1,000 pesos per night double, 850 pesos per night single. Two blocks from the Zocalo and from the Flea Market, one block from my favorite restaurant El Mural de los Poblanos.
Immerse yourself in the food culture of Oaxaca during this all-inclusive, 5-day, 4-night eating, cooking workshop extravaganza from Thursday-Monday, February 21-25, 2013. Oaxaca is known for her chocolate, mezcal, organic maize (corn), fresh fruits and vegetables, abundant chiles, savory spices and family operated kitchens. Superb meals are around every street corner and in fine dining establishments. Hand to mouth. Market basket to kitchen. Pan to plate. We will explore it all.
Make this your perfect winter getaway! Limited to 6 people.
Come with us to enjoy meals in fine-dining restaurants. Sample some of the finest mezcal made in Oaxaca not available for export. Taste humble street and market food from trusted vendors. Participate in food shopping and tasting to learn about local ingredients. Roll up your sleeves and make one of Oaxaca’s famous moles with a cooking class from a noted local chef.
Cooking class includes a complete multi-course menu, from soup or salad through dessert. Your experienced cooking instructor has recorded traditional recipes passed down through the generations. You will receive complete recipes printed in English that you can adapt to available ingredients at home.
Taste Oaxaca is limited to 6 participants.
What Taste Oaxaca includes:
- 1 cooking class
- 4 breakfasts
- 3 tasting dinners
- 3 lunches
- 4 nights lodging
- Mescal tasting
- Market excursions
- Associated on-ground transportation
Day 1: Thursday, February 21, arrive in Oaxaca and check in to our hotel, overnight Oaxaca
Day 2: Friday, February 22, market shopping and cooking class, afternoon visit to Oaxaca’s biggest cooking supply store, fine-dining at one of Oaxaca’s top restaurants, overnight Oaxaca (B, L, D)
Day 3: Saturday, February 23, eat Oaxaca style, explore organic market food stalls, afternoon on your own with options of what to see and explore, taste great mezcal, and experience fine-dining, overnight Oaxaca (B, D)
Day 4: Sunday, February 24, travel to the famed Sunday market in Tlacolula, meet for lunch at a local comedor, travel to Teotitlan in late afternoon for a weaving demonstration, return to Oaxaca for a farewell supper. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Monday, February 25, depart after breakfast.
Cost: The base cost is $995 USD per person, double occupancy and private bath. Programs of this type and length cost more than twice as much! Single supplement is $1,295.
It does NOT include airfare, taxes, admissions to museums and archeological sites, gratuities, travel insurance, liquor/alcoholic beverages, some meals and some transportation not included in the itinerary.
In Oaxaca city, we will stay in a lovely upscale bed and breakfast featured in many travel articles and rated very highly. We will dine at some of my favorite restaurants.
Please indicate your preference on the registration form.
Reservations, and Cancellations
A 50% deposit ($800) is required to guarantee your spot. The final payment for the balance due (including any supplemental costs) shall be postmarked by January 1, 2012. We request Payment with PayPal. We will be happy to send you an invoice.
If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email. After April 1, no refunds are possible; however, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space. If you cancel before April 1, we will refund 50% of your deposit. We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.
To register or for questions, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This workshop is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. For more information, see: http://oaxacaculture.com
This is Day Six of our program! Between Good Friday and Easter Sunday was Saturday, a day of rest and reflection for the pueblo of Teotitlan del Valle. There was only one five o’clock mass and no processions. That meant we could leisurely edit the hundreds of photographs we had taken in the days before and get ready for an afternoon portrait photo shoot with Carina Santiago Bautista and her daughters Diana (below left) and Alicia. Diana is in medical school and Alicia is almost fifteen.
This is Semana Santa vacation week and the daughters were in the kitchen helping their mom with food preparations for the Restaurante Tierra Antigua that Cari operates from the front of the family home and rug gallery on Av. Benito Juarez #70. It is a busy weekend. Our scheduled photo shoot was postponed so that Cari could prepare lunches for a steady stream of visitors who came to Teotitlan de Valle for the day.
We sat down ourselves, ordered a pitcher of agua de sandia (puree of watermelon, water, sugar to taste, a tad of lime juice) and some quesadillas stuffed with quesillo cheese, a smear of black bean paste and flor de calabasa. We then started to wander the gallery to scout suitable locations for the portraits. This way we could experiment with the camera settings to make sure we were taking advantage of the natural lighting that flooded the spaces because of the high ceilings. Matt suggests starting first with the light meter on sunlight, the ISO at 400, and to look for layering opportunities in the composition.
I meandered into the kitchen to see what was going on. Then, to practice, I took a shot of Cari’s niece, Jessica Santiago Bautista (below), a photographer and poet, who was assisting us for the day.
Matt Nager, our instructor, started to wander as we waited for the hungry customers to be sated. Next door, he found another perfect photo opportunity and a great diversion. The man, below, works for a weaving family as a dyer of wool for hand-woven rugs.
Now, it was late afternoon and between hungry customers we were able to get Cari and her daughters back together to pose. We knew that it was important for them to serve their restaurant clients first. There are very few ways that women can earn income independently from their husbands. This is one acceptable way that is supported by the community.
Now, they could take their aprons off, take a breather, and become our beautiful models for the afternoon! After that, we sat down to order a great lunch (by this time it was five o’clock in the afternoon, so it was really bordering on dinner). My favorite at this restaurant is garbanzo bean soup. Cari toasts her own garbanzo beans and takes them to the molina (community grinding center) where they crush the dry beans. This is then reconstituted into soup seasoned with yerba santa. Yummy.
You be the judge! Is Pechuga de Pollo (breast of the chicken) distilled by El Cortijo in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca, the best of the best? At 1,500 pesos (that’s $118 USD at today’s 12.65 exchange rate) for a 750 ml bottle in fine Mexican restaurants and far more in the U.S.A. (so I’m told by my in-the-know brother-in-law), this organic mezcal is a knock-your-socks-off fruity drink with a hint of poultry earthiness. It packs a wallop at 38% alcohol content. This is a sipping drink, not a slug it back, down-it-in-one-gulp followed by a beer chaser beverage.
How do I know? During our last evening in Puebla this week, before my return to Oaxaca and her return to Santa Cruz, California, Barbara and I went back to El Mural de los Poblanos where we love what Chef Lizett Galicia Solis does with seasonal and indigenous food (click on her name and see the makings of Pipian Verde).
After a satisfying and healthy sunflower sprouts salad mixed with walnuts, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, peeled green apples, garnished with avocado and dressed with a lime-olive oil vinaigrette;
after Mole de Olla, a beef shank stew simmered with carrots, onions, zucchini, green beans (vegetables so fresh and crunchy that they tasted just picked), epazote, and other mysterious local herbs;
after the Regalo de Quetzal, a crusty Mexican chocolate cake oozing creamy goodness accompanied by an intensely vanilla homemade ice cream that we shared, we took a deep sigh and finished off our one glass each of an Argentine malbec — a good, basic wine. (The three-course meal with wine came to 450 pesos [$36USD] per person including tip.)
Across the restaurant, the Captain Enrique Garcia was setting up for a four-flight mezcal tasting. When we asked him about what was on the tasting menu, he brought over two shot glasses filled with Pechuga de Pollo and gave us a sample.
Zowie! I think I flew back to our lovely little Hotel Real Santander, which was around the block. Barbara wanted to buy a bottle on the spot to take home to George and then thought better of it.
El Cortijo web site indicates the retail price for a bottle is 650 pesos. Of course, that’s in Mexico. If you can find it in your wine/liquor store, give your own mezcal tasting. They only distill 300 bottles a year. (Another great reason to visit Oaxaca!) Fortunately, Santiago Matatlan is 15 minutes from where I live so I had to buy two mezcal shot glasses at the last Talavera workshop I visited, just in case.