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Santa Fe, New Mexico Gala Supports Oaxaca Ceramic Arts

It was two days after the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market closed but the celebration continued.  Los Amigos de Arte Popular de Mexico hosted a gala fundraising dinner at a private home filled with folk art treasures within walking distance of the city’s historic center.

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About forty people attended to support Innovando la Tradicion ceramics cooperative. We were from all over, including Oaxaca, New Mexico, Texas, California. Of course, it was a huipil fashion show, too!

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The food was prepared in the Oaxaca clay cooking vessels made by Macrina Mateo and her family in the indigenous Zapotec village of San Marcos Tlapazola, just a few miles from where I live. I’ve visited Macrina and took photographs of the firing process, which you can see here.

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Susana Trilling, famed Oaxaca chef, cooking teacher and cookbook author prepared the multi-course meal. She was assisted by local culinary school faculty, students and friends. Everyone donated their time and talent!

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When Susana left Oaxaca for Santa Fe, her suitcases were loaded up with Oaxaca cheese, mole coloradito, sea salt, poleo, spices and condiments. Her bags just reached the weight limit, she said.

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The meal was spectacular, of course, because it featured these ingredients which were also available for sale under Susana’s private label.  If you click this link, you’ll get recipes, too.

Here is the Menu:

  • Corn fungus taquitos, pumpkin seed dip
  • Fondue of string cheese, pork, and purslane in green sauce
  • Ensalada de la milpa
  • Oaxacan coloradito mole with chicken, or
  •  Yellow mole with oyster mushrooms and vegetables (vegetarian option)
  • Baked, spiced potatoes from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec
  • Layered mango pudding or “charlotte”
  • Oaxacan chocolate chile truffles
  • Hibiscus flower and ginger cooler, sangria punch
  • Poleo tisane

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John Waddell, one of the organizers, said he made a liter of sangria for each attendee. We started off with huitlacoche tacos and finished with Susanna’s Oaxaca chocolate truffle paired with a mango raisin cream pudding.

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The first course was a pork stew floating in salsa verde, topped with Oaxaca string cheese, garnished with wild greens and served in one of Macrina’s handmade clay duck bowls.

chicken mole

The entree was chicken with mole coloradito served with Isthmus of Tehuantepec style tangy potatoes, mashed with peas, carrots and onions.

For dessert, we dove into the mango cream pudding and exhaled.

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After dinner, Susana and Macrina presented the culinary school with a gift of their largest cooking vessel. Then, Eric Mindling talked about his book, Fire and Clay, a bilingual journey into the traditional ceramics making culture of Oaxaca.

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The gathering was relaxed, informal and fun. We hung around to sip more sangria, visit with new and old friends, and just savor the experience of welcoming Oaxaca folk artists to Santa Fe.

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There was just enough remaining after the folk art market of the beautiful, lead-free black and red pottery to present tonight for sale at a free gallery opening at Santa Fe Clay gallery and workshop. If you are in town, don’t miss it. Call to check times.

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During my visit, I made a day trip to Taos to visit friends Jane and Adam. On the drive, you pass through the Rio Grande River canyon. It was so beautiful, I stopped several times just to get that special inspiration from the landscape. It is sacred space that offers renewal, healing and enlightenment.

See you soon in Oaxaca!

Where to find this pottery in Oaxaca:

  1. 1050 Degrees ceramics shop, Rufino Tamayo 800-c (Xolotl), 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Call us: +52 951 132 61 58
  2. Tlacolula Market every Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Find Macrina and her family at the intersection of the main road and church. They lay out a straw mat to display their work and sit cross legged on another
  3. At the family studio any day in San Marcos Tlapazola






Baking the Improvised Cheesecake: More Art Than Science

Cheesecake is becoming more popular in Oaxaca, Mexico.  Though it’s difficult to find springform pans here that are used to bake the traditional New York-style cheesecake.  I know one store, Pastigel on Calle Rayon near the Periferico that sells pastry baking supplies where you can buy one.  Called moldes, they are very expensive, about thirty-five dollars.  There are plenty of low-cost aluminum cake pans, though.  Line one with buttered parchment paper and it’s easy to improvise.

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Everyone here loves cake.  And, cheese.  RequesonQuesillo.  Queso fresco. Cream cheese, known as Philadelphia, can easily be bought but it’s also costly. More than two dollars a package at our corner tienda in Teotitlan del Valle.  So, we make the best of it and improvise once more.


To prepare for our cheesecake cooking class, I gave Janet and Diana a shopping list in advance.  Six eggs, one cup of sugar, real butter, a large container of sour cream, four packages of Philadelphia, and one lemon for each cake.  In Spanish, lemons are called limas.  That makes me think of Lima, Peru, which I just realize is named for a citrus. Diana arrives with six ripe lemons picked this morning from the tree in her garden.  It’s not even February.  

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Janet needed my pan and forgot eggs.  I used a deep dish casserole, also buttered, lined with a parchment paper circle partly cut into pie wedges and overlapped.  Improvise, I say.  We redistributed the thirteen eggs between us, so they used five each.  I used three.  Another improvisation. I had two packages of Philadelphia, so I added a cup of Requeson and creamed it along with the cheese and sugar. Then, I added one cup of sour cream and reserved the rest for the topping, which we later adorned with a flor de jamaica (hibiscus flower).  I told the girls that cooking is more of an art than a science for me.


It took us four-and-a-half hours to make and bake three cheesecakes. As we prepped, Janet translated the steps into Spanish for her family.  Most importantly, we had a lot of fun.

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Many, many years ago, when I owned a gourmet cooking school and cookware shop in Indiana, I baked and sold whole New York-style cheesecakes for twenty-five dollars, three dollars a slice.   I had commercial equipment. Today’s lesson employed a hand-mixer and a food processor (lucky to have them here), which we used to make a cookie crumb crust with Marias instead of graham crackers.

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We are at six thousand feet altitude, so baking is slow.  What usually takes forty-five to sixty minutes in North Carolina is closer to an hour-and-a-half here.  I had to bump up the Celsius temperature on my oven to get a cooked cheesecake.  Translated here: 400 degrees F. instead of 350. Another improvisation.

For the Oaxaca Cheesecake Recipe, click here.

Shop Mexico: Artisan Sisters — Week 5

Today the Artisan Sisters offer for sale two beautiful indigo-dyed pillow covers and a classical Spanish-style hand-carved mirror covered in luxurious gold and silver leaf.  These are from our Oaxaca collection.  Please email first to check availability before making your PayPal purchase.  We will calculate shipping costs based on your address and send you an invoice.  And, be sure to see our other items for sale from earlier weeks — click on Shop Mexico.

1.  Indigo-dyed pillow, hand-woven from churro sheep wool in the village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico.  Design is Zapotec diamond.  Notice the lovely variegation in the weaving.  See the companion pillow below.  Black cotton back with zipper closure.  Measures  11-3/4″ square.  Item #1-6112012.  $25 USD.  Buy both for $45 USD.

2.  Pillow cover, churro wool dyed with indigo.  This piece has a green cast to it from dyeing and over dyeing.  Either a stand-alone or a companion piece to the one above. Black cotton back with zipper closure. Measures 11-3/4″ square. Item #2-6112012.  $25 USD.  Buy both for $45 USD.

3.  From the village of Santa Ana Zegache, we present this extraordinary mirror in a hand-carved wood frame embellished with gold and silver leaf, and cochineal red paint by Proyecto Zegache.  A stunning addition to foyer or wall still-life assemblage.  This is a recreation of original 16th Century workmanship with fastidious adherence to classical Spanish motifs.  Measures 6-1/4″ high x 6″ wide.  Item #3-6112012.  $135 USD.

Don’t forget to contact us first by email  to see if the item you want is still available.  We will send you a PayPal invoice after we calculate shipping costs based on your Zip Code.  Many thanks, The Artisan Sisters.

Come see Oaxaca for yourself during Day of the Dead and attend our Photography Expedition, October 28-November 4.


More Than 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico — Shopping & Galleries

Where to Shop and Galleries

The list that I sent to Freda Moon, The New York Times travel writer who created the feature 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico, included some of my favorite places to see art, shop and explore.  Of course, it would have been impossible for Freda to include them all.  Nevertheless, I’m sharing with you what I sent to her.

Galeria Fe y LolaNEW Av. 5 de Mayo #408, authentic, beautiful weavings (rugs, wall hangings, handbags, scarves) made only with natural dyes.  A family-owned, small production workshop is located in Teotitlan del Valle.  Most rugs available in city gallery. Weaving demonstrations can be scheduled.  Most days you can find La Dueña Dolores (Lola) Santiago Arrellanas there.  Call ahead to be sure they are open. (951) 524-4078 or  044 (951)130-2481. Not in any guidebook.

Call painter and assemblage artist Humberto Bautista for an appointment to personally visit to his studio on Porfirio Diaz.  (951) 516-0100. Not in any guidebook. Humberto and his colleague Mari Seder teach Oaxaca arts workshops.

“Tirso Cuevas” HojalataNEW hand-hammered tin boxes, picture frames, sculpture, lamps, mirrors, hearts, and trinkets along with contemporary art gallery by some of Oaxaca’s best young artists, tucked into old 17th century historic building needing renovation at the corner of Reforma and Abasolo (enter on Abasolo).  Tirsocuevas-hojalata@hotmail.com.  Open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 4 p.m.-7 p.m.  Closed 2-4 p.m. for lunch.

Talleres Comunitarios de ZegacheNEW hand-carved wood mirrors embellished in gold and silver leaf in traditional European technique.  Gallery supports young people in Santa Ana Zegache, Ocotlan.  Open M-F, 10a – 8p,  Av. 5 de Mayo #412, Plaza Lucero, (in the back of the patio) behind Black Box Gallery. www.proyectozegache.com

Museo Textil de Oaxaca, NEW Hidalgo #917 at the corner of Fiallo, two blocks from the Zocalo, open 7 days.  This is the ONLY textile museum in Mexico. Includes a preservation/restoration unit. The best of the best!  Rotating exhibits, openings, great gallery shop. English-language tours offered.  (951) 501-1104.  Opened in 2009.

Los Baules –Remigio Mestas Collections, fabulous textiles from throughout Oaxaca state; in the courtyard of Los Danzantes restaurant on Macedonio Alcala.  Enter next to Oro de Monte Alban.  Like a museum collection.  Remigo is the “go-to” curator for the best of the best. cbram@prodigy.net.mx

El Nahual Gallery, NEW Av. 5 de Mayo, right next door to Galeria Fe y Lola.  Great collection of carved alebrijes, pottery, textiles, sterling silver jewelry personally selected by proprietors Alejandrina Rios and her husband award-winning Saltillo-style weaver Erasto “Tito” Mendoza. (951) 204-2381 or 516-4202 or elnahual75@prodigy.net.mx

Oaxaca State Artisans Collective, Av. Garcia Virgil, up the hill almost to the ancient aquaduct, past the restaurant Casa del Tio Guero.  If you can make it this far, it’s worth it.  Great selection, great quality handcrafts, good prices, but out of the way.

Step down into the little shop Artesanias, owned by Senor Francisco Jesus Hernandez Perez,  on Constitucion between 5 de Mayo and Reforma. Ask to see the tissue paper collages. They are whimsical, colorful, special.

Fabricante de Joyerîa Oaxaqueña in the Mercado de Artesanias, corner J.P. Garcia and Zaragoza. Margarita Pérez Antonio and her daughter Luz Esmeralda Bautista Péres sell exquisite back-strap loom-woven and needle-point embroidered huipiles and other textiles, plus a great selection of antique-style silver filagree earrings. Norteño women in the know shop here.  Good price to quality ratio. email: joyasdeoaxaca_2000@yahoo.com.mx or cellular 044 (951) 516-6375.

As of this writing, the exchange rate is 13.2 pesos to the dollar.  Everything is a fantastic buy.  In my humble opinion, there is no need to bargain in this environment that is favorable to the tourist.  Bargaining tends to be a more acceptable practice on the street that from a gallery owner or shopkeeper!  However, keep in mind, that prices are low to start with and we are doing our part to help support artists and artisans whose work is extraordinary.