Tag Archives: Talavera de la Reyna

Talavera de la Reyna, Puebla Revisited January 2010

The ADO GL bus left Oaxaca at 7 a.m. and got us into Puebla by 11:20 a.m.   After checking into the Camino Real Puebla for the third time this year (www.hotels.com rate of $88 per night), I was on a Talavera ceramics buying mission for my sister.  We were leaving Mexico the next morning to return to North Carolina and I needed to make this partial day in Puebla count.  With order and photos literally in hand on my iPhone, I walked the few blocks to the Museo Amparo, corner 9 Oriente and 2 Sur  where Talavera de la Reyna (our favorite) has a small retail shop and was greeted by manager Sra. Letitia Perez Ramirez  (tel. 222 229 38 53).  They did not have the pattern that sister requested so I got directions and a map to the Cholula workshop about 25 minutes away.

Stepping out onto the sidewalk, I eyed two taxi cabs on the street.  One was a little shabby, had a dent or two, and the driver looked like he needed a hot shower.  The one directly behind was spit and polish clean and the driver, a middle age man, had a warm and friendly look to him, so I hailed him and got in.  This was Mauro Ramirez Cuhuetle, cellular # 044-2221568948.  Between my basic Spanish and Mauro’s bit of English (he spent five years in Nueva York some years back), we managed quite well and it was a great way for me to practice my Spanish.  For the next two and a half hours he drove me, cheerfully, to the Talavera de la Reyna factory store in Cholula, waited forty minutes for me while I did my shopping, and then drove me back to Puebla and the Uriarte talavera shop at Calle 4 Poniente 911, waited for me there and then deposited me and a two big shopping bags full of pottery at my hotel.  I gave him $320 pesos, about $26 USD, for which he was delighted.  I want to point out that I did this alone and felt not in the least bit at risk for my personal safety.

Directions to Talavera de la Reyna:  take the road to Cholula.  Just before getting to town, still on the main highway, there is a Domino’s Pizza, a pyramidical office building and a Pemex gas station.  This is Camino a la Carcana.  It is a narrow street between the Pemex and the office building.  Turn right and go half way down the block and the Talavera de la Reyna is on your left.  It is marked with a sign and there is a bouganvilla vine covering the high wall.  Ring the bell and they will let you in.

Talavera de la Reyna, Camino a la Carcana #2412, Recta a Cholula, Tel: (222) 225 40 58, www.talaveradelareyna.com.mx or email talavera_de_la_reyna@hotmail.com

If you pay with cash, there will be an eight percent discount.  They are incredible generous with their bubble packing materials whether they pack and ship or you carry the wrapped pieces with you.  You may also be lucky and there could be some seconds in the back room.  My recommendation is to hand select every piece that you want because there are variables in the intensity of paint color and precision of pattern execution from piece to piece since everything is handmade.  I also discovered that there are patterns there at the workshop that are not on the website, to it is worth the trip just to see the extensive collection.

Puebla Revisited November 2009

Puebla is growing on me!  This is the third visit this year and each time, it is a new discovery, a new food to savor, and a return to favorite spots.  I am traveling with my sister who lives in the Bay Area and this is her first visit to Puebla, so I get to play tour guide!  I arranged our stay at Camino Real Puebla, booking online using HotelsDotCom.  The rack rate is about $250 USD per night and we paid approximately $85 per night based on a 13.1 exchange rate.  This hotel is a former convent located two blocks from the zocalo and around the corner from my favorite restaurant El Mural de los Poblanos.  We have a lovely room that was likely a cell for nuns who occupied the 17th century space.  The décor is colonial with elements of the baroque.  The breakfast is an exceptional buffet.  This morning we had egg white omelets made to order stuffed with huitlachotle (mushrooms and organic corn) and cheese, fresh papaya, guava and orange juice mixed, delicious aromatic coffee,  chilaquiles with salsas verde and rojo, fork tender roasted pork, and black beans.  We started at 9 am and didn’t finish until close to 11 a.m.   Thank goodness this was going to be a walking day, and it turned out that we didn’t sit down to dinner until 5:30 p.m.

After visiting the Museo Amparo, that had an extensive exhibit on performance and political art, strong enough to bring us both to tears (artists expressing themselves about the disappeareds in Chile and Argentina, or the AIDS epidemic, or the environmental degradation of our planet), we hopped a cab needing lighter fare and made our way to Uriarte Talavera.  This was after we had spent a goodly amount of time ogling the beautiful work in Talavera de la Reyna shop that is part of the Museo Amparo.  Next, a taxi ride to the Exconvento Santa Rosa where the famed talavera kitchen is the last part of the hour-long guided tour.  The entry fee is 35 pesos each, and one cannot meander alone or take photos.  Today, our guide only spoke Spanish, so I’m not sure what would have happened if our understanding was more limited.

The Dominican nuns sequestered there in the 17th century took vows of silence and participated in the rituals of mortification of the flesh.  The superior slept on a wood platform without a mattress dressed in heavy, rough homespun wool year round, and wore a crown of thorns during the day.  Life was interesting then.

Then, we hailed a cab to the area near the new convention center.  Our destination was La Purificadora hotel and restaurant, designed by the famed Mexico City architect Legoretta.  This is a stunning contemporary space amidst historic Renaissance and Baroque buildings, a punctuation mark in spectacular city resplendent in Moorish influences.  This is where we had a unique and innovative dinner:  a trio of appetizers that we shared – tiny squash blossoms stuffed with cheese and deep fried in tempura batter, octopus in a spicy tomato sauce on a homemade tortilla , and an organic mesclun salad with truffle oil dressing served with avocado, grilled tomato, and fresh grilled baby corn.  For the entrée, Barbara had this chef’s version of the same stewed goat in tomato broth that we had the night before at El Mural.  This version was definitely different.  (The great chefs in the city prepare this special dish, Huaxmole or Mole de Caderas, once a year in honor of an ancient pre-Hispanic tradition.)  My entrée with a sea bass steamed over corn husk, topped with onion slivers, chopped red pepper, fresh nopal cactus, and spinach bits.  The sauce was a golden delicate scent of fish broth and cream.

After all this, we decided to walk back in the chill of the evening, strolling in sisterly arm-in-arm, as you soon women do together in Mexican cities, comfortable in their relationship.  It was about ten blocks back to the zocalo and it was a perfect night for strolling, brisk, cool, a bit breezy.  Lots of people were on the street and we felt no sense of being at risk.  Tomorrow morning, we will get up early, take the bus to Oaxaca for our final evening in Mexico before flying home on Saturday.

10 Puebla Favorites:

  1. Talavera de la Reyna (Museo Amparo or fabrica/factory in Cholula)
  2. Ex Convento Santa Rosa and the Talavera tile kitchen
  3. El Mural de los Poblanos restaurant
  4. El Camino Real Hotel
  5. La Purificadora Restaurant
  6. Talavera Uriarte
  7. Talavera Armando (request DO4 only)
  8. Strolling Cinco de Mayo
  9. Everything in the Zocalo, including the Templo Angelopolis
  10. Capilla de la Virgen del Rosario (incredible gold leaf and Talavera)

Puebla: Talavera de la Reyna, Hidden Gem

Off the highway to Cholula, near the University of the Americas, is the factory and showroom for Talavera de la Reyna, an extraordinary maker of ceramics that equals the work of Talavera Uriarte.  The location is off the beaten path and you will need a taxi to get there.  We negotiated 100 pesos with a driver to take us to Cholula with a 30 minute stop at the talavera tile factory.  He didn’t have any easy time finding it … you have to really want to get there.  The address is Camino a la Carcana 2413, which is discretely marked with a tile on a high vine covered wall that faces the street.  Inside is a stunning courtyard surrounded by rooms displaying the work.  The workshop is in the back.  This is where we purchased the sink for our Teotitlan del Valle casita bathroom after looking at Uriarte and other fabricas.  Here’s a photo of our sink and the ceramics at Talavera de la Reyna (they have another smaller shop at the Museo Amparo).

Four Days in Puebla: Part Three or Stairmaster to the Sky

Packing it in once again, this third day in Puebla began with breakfast once again at Hotel Royalty (yes, we like it) and then a stroll around the Zocalo toward the Museo Amparo.  I had arranged with our taxi driver earlier this morning to pick us up at the Zocalo at 1 p.m. and take us to Cholula where there is an archeological site and some remarkable churches.  The Museo Amparo has an outstanding pre-Hispanic art collection, stone carvings, Mayan stele, ceramics, jewelry, funerary objects, and traditional European 17th and 18th century home furnishings fitting the Spanish nobility that settled the city.  A lovely gift shop of Mexican handcrafts, a coffee shop/cafe, and a retail shop for Talavera de la Reyna that makes produces some of the highest quality pottery in town can also be found.   A Diego Rivera portrait of Sra. Amparo graces the lobby space of what was once her majestic home.  An exhibit of the work of contemporary Mexican artist Betsabee Romero captured our attention, especially the tires carved in Aztec patterns and then used to print designs on cloth.  We spent about two hours browsing through the galleries.  At noon, Sam and Tom decided to stroll around the Zocalo while I caught a taxi to the Uriarte Talavera gallery and factory at 4 Poniente 911 at Calle 11 Norte.  I promised to be back at the Zocalo by 1 p.m. for our taxi trip to Cholula and I was!

I wanted to see for myself if there was indeed a distinction in quality between the work we saw yesterday strolling the Parian district and this pottery house that has been touted as one of the best in Puebla.  Indeed, Uriarte Talavera is of exceptional quality and also carries the mark DO4.  And, the prices reflect this.  Pieces of equivalent size were double the cost of what we saw previously.  But, I discovered the two rooms with the “seconds”  which were marked down 50 percent from the original price.  Okay, there were flaws.  The glazes weren’t even or ran and blurred or skipped.  Maybe the foot was imperfect or a piece had a missing lid.  In hunting through the piles of plates, soup bowls, sinks, serving pieces, demitasse cups and mugs, I managed to find some treasures where the flaws were barely noticeable if at all.  I found one lovely large globe handsomely painted in varying shades of deep and light blue, the glazes thick and juicy that distinguish fine Talavera, and made the purchase.  Original price, 650 pesos, sold to me for 325 pesos.  Now, it was 12:45 p.m. and I stepped out in front of the shop, hopped in a taxi seconds later, and easily made it to the Zocalo for the 1 p.m. reunion with minutes to spare.

We had negotiated a 90 pesos taxi fare to Cholula and it took a good 30 minutes to get there.  We are finding that taxi fares in Puebla are more reasonable than in Oaxaca, but we have seen very few European visitors during this trip, also unlike Oaxaca, where there is a mix of travelers from the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Cholula’s main attraction is the Mixteca archeological site that was once a pyramid like those we see in Oaxaca however, without the fine detail.  However, this one is unique in that there are tunnels running up, down and sideways throughout the interior of this structure.  Walking through the tunnel after paying the 35 pesos admission fee made me wonder what would happen if there was an earthquake (Puebla has frequent quakes).  The walls are narrow and the ceilings are low, shaped like a pointed vault.  We twisted and snaked through the underground passageways for at least 30-40 minutes before seeing daylight.

The other attraction is the extraordinary church built over this pyramid, something the Spanish did repeatedly to lure indigenous people to the new religion.  To get there is like taking a stairmaster to the sky.  I must have stopped 10 times to catch my breath as I climbed nearly vertical stairs to the top.  But the effort was well worth it.  The gilded sanctuary is remarkable and behind it lies another smaller sanctuary (don’t miss it, it’s a gem) totally covered in gold leaf with stained glass windows of cherubs.  The 360 degree views of Puebla and the valley are spectacular from this vantage point far above the town, and I could see the curl of steam coming out from the Popo volcano in the not too far distance.  I spent a good 45 minutes at the top before going down.  Otherwise, Cholula is a small market town, as much as I could see, with vendors selling candies, Guatemalan textiles, knock-off Talavera, and cheap jewelry.  Worth a half a day if you have the time.

Our taxi driver returned to pick us up exactly at 5:30 p.m. as arranged, and by 6:00 p.m. we were sitting under the arcade of the Hotel Royalty.  Corona for Tom, margarita for Sam, and a mojito for me.  We each had our own huge bowl of guacamole and chips for dinner, and now adequately zonked, we headed back to the hotel for R&R.

The commotion, hubbub, honking, cacaphony of music, noise, traffic and rush of people is beginning to overwhelm me, and I’m now ready to get back to Teotitlan del Valle for a shiatsu massage with Annie, the comfort of the Zapotec countryside and village life.  Four days in Puebla is definitely enough for me.