Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy New Year! In Search of the Perfect Tamarind Mezcal Margarita

Today I woke up thinking I MUST write a blog post about my search for the perfect Tamarind Mezcal Margarita.  What could be more fitting than this just-in-time musing to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  So let’s celebrate 2013 as we say goodbye to 2012 and as we raise a toast to good health, prosperity and peace, let’s also raise a toast to Oaxaca, land of beauty, mystery, and creativity.

In actuality, the quest for the perfect tamarind margarita began years ago when I tasted my first in Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara where tequila is king.  Recently, it became more serious when I began comparing those made with mezcal at Cafe San Pablo with the Los Danzantes and Casa Oaxaca versions along with fellow Day of the Dead photography expeditioners Bella, Helene, and Deby.


Back in North Carolina, Deby and I met for lunch at Dos Perros Restaurant in Durham (with Lynn Pownell, left).  The bartender was willing to give the tamarind mezcal margarita a try because they had the ingredients even though they didn’t have it on their menu.  We agreed the result was more than passable considering we were not in Oaxaca anymore.  A few weeks later Deby and I met for dinner at the cafe in Fearrington Village where, again, the drink wasn’t on the menu, but they were willing to make it.  Bless their hearts (as we say in the South).  After we each had a sip or two, we agreed it needed something more and the waitress willingly brought us more tamarind concentrate to intensify the flavor.  Much, much better.

If you are up to it, here’s Rick Bayless‘ version from the Frontera Grill.  Salud!  and Happy New Year.  We’ll be celebrating at the Pittsboro Roadhouse where I’m certain they won’t have mezcal and certainly not tamarindo.






Radishes are not just for eating: Oaxaca Radish Festival

With tongue-in-cheek, National Public Radio retorts, Survived The Mayan Apocalypse? Here Come the Radish People.   In three days on December 23 and just in time for Christmas, Oaxaqueños and visitors from throughout Mexico and the world will queue up around Oaxaca’s Zocalo for the annual ritual of the Radish Festival.  If you are in town, don’t miss it!


Crowds are huge and often fifteen or twenty people deep to get sightings of giant radishes carved into still life sculpture that depict nativity scenes and the themes of village life.  The spectacle officially begins at sundown, but my “trick” is to get there in early to mid-afternoon so I can get a closer and unobstructed view.


There’s even a section for a children’s carving lesson during the afternoon.  It’s fun to watch the kids put their hand to this craft. DSCN4536

You might ask, do radishes really grow this BIG?  Gosh, yes.  The farmers in Ocotlan, where these special radishes are grown, have cultivated a variety that are dense with a ruby-red skin and carve up beautifully.  Oaxaca is known for her crafts and why not carved radishes, that now join the ranks of alebrijes as a folk art.


Radishes as cathedrals, stepping stones, horse-pulled carts, dancers and musicians.  They are kept fresh with regular mists of water.

I took these photos in 2007 with a really crummy point-and-shoot camera but you get the gist.  This Christmas I’m in North Carolina staying toasty warm in front of the wood stove listening to my husband practicing his cello, reminiscing about Oaxaca.

Warmest wishes for the holidays and a joyous, healthy, content and peaceful  new year.

Shop Mexico The Artisan Sisters: Frida Kahlo Silver Earrings

Mexico is filled with Frida — the icon of South-of-the-Border Style harkens us back to a big, bold fashion statement that signals femininity, pride, and a look that says I’m worth noticing.  From floral designs embroidered on blouses to fantastic, dangling earrings that move with you, Frida knew how to wear the clothing and jewelry that symbolizes Mexican design.  Here, we have earrings that translate that antique look into contemporary fashion.

Frida Style Filagree Silver Earrings

Friday Kahlo loved her Oaxaca earrings.  Here is a selection for you to wear and enjoy or for holiday gifting!  Order today and I will ship tomorrow morning, December 18, by USPS Priority Mail.

Doves adorn these are handmade silver and filagree earrings from Oaxaca embellished with either pearls (left), coral (center), or turquoise (right).  The posts fit snugly on your ear and dangle dramatically!  From top to bottom the earrings measure 2-1/2″ and are 1-1/2″ wide at the widest part.  $125 each includes shipping and handling.  Please specify the color you want.  I can get these to you by Christmas if you order today!

SilverGarnetEarrings These are also artist-made silver earrings by Cesar Ramirez Torres from Nayarit, Mexico, adorned with garnets.   They are 2″ long from the bottom of the hook and 1″ wide.  $75, includes shipping and handling.  And, yes, I can get these to you by Christmas if you order today!

Happy Holidays, Discounts and Taking a Break

Felices fiestas de la temporada: Hanukkah feliz, feliz Navidad y feliz Año Nuevo.  Happy celebrations of the season!  I am in Santa Cruz, California now and will have lunch today with Debbie Mayfield and Bella Jacque, two Day of the Dead Photography Expedition participants.  Bella is coming back to Oaxaca in February with her sister to take the Felted Fashion Workshop with Jessica de Haas and Eric Chavez Santiago.

In celebration of the season and five years of Oaxaca Cultural Navigator blogging, I am offering a

15% discount on all workshops scheduled through August 2013 — when you register by December 25, 2012. (Except Felted Fashion Workshop.) Gift Certificates available.  Tell me you want the discount when you register.

Tonight, there will be a Oaxaca Trunk Show at my sister’s home.  I had a very successful show in Atlanta last week (thanks to Kim Drader Noeltner and Robin Blocker who hosted) and still have some great “leftovers.”  When I get back to North Carolina next weekend, I’ll be offering more as part of Shop Mexico: Artisan Sisters.  So stay tuned.

Then, I’ll be taking a blogging break until 2013!  Maybe, I’ll post something if it’s important enough to share.

Enjoy the season — and let’s honor its universal reminder to hope and pray for a peaceful world,  well-being and good health care for all.  Let us practice compassion, generosity, understanding and forgiveness.  Our time here on this earth is finite.  Let’s make the most of it!

Abrazos fuerte,  Norma

Young Oaxaca Weavers Honored and Encouraged

Faye Sims, a textile friend from Salt Spring Island, Vancouver, BC shared a blog story today about the new exhibition at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca and I wanted to pass the gist of it on to you!  The story refers to Eric Chavez Santiago, our close family friend and we are incredibly proud of his accomplishments to preserve the textile traditions of Oaxaca. When I was in Oaxaca recently Eric was spending most of his time traveling to the remote mountainous regions to film documentary footage about young weavers, many of them as young as eight years old. He traveled with noted textile curator Remigio Mestas. Then when Eric returned to Oaxaca he spent most evenings and weekends this autumn in the office editing to produce a final video in time for the November 10 opening. The show runs through March 2013.

Eric is also teaching a private 2-day natural dye workshop in Teotitlan, January 21-22, 2013. If you are interested please contact me. We will be working with cochineal, indigo, wild marigold, moss, and more!

New from Oaxaca Cultural Navigator

FELTED FASHION WORKSHOP with Jessica de Haas & Eric Chavez Santiago
February 2-9, 2013
3 spaces left! Dye merino wool with natural materials, then design and sew your own felted garment using indigenous Mexican textile patterns.
Jessica is a fashion designer from Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, Canada

I hope you’ll go to the textile museum’s websiteto read more about this extraordinary exhibit.