Food tour – Foodgasms in Mexico City

It’s two weeks until my dear parents fly out to see us. Bloomin ‘eck, I’m excited!

I never expected for a minute they’d visit me here in Mexico. Beheadings and Cartels are the main source of (misguiding) news back in England.

Violence and drugs are not on my parents’ list of hobbies. I know you were wondering. Despite their concerns they bravely booked tickets and turned their backs on the usual two week venture to France.

Whilst my mother is asking questions like, “is it safe? “ and, “Do we need to bring our own towels and sheets?”

Yep, no and no. My mum has a strange obsession with towels.

My fathers’ only question was, “is the food good?”

Like father like son. Give us a delicious meal and a good glass of wine and we will probably marry you. Or at least co-habit then head off on an indefinite world adventure together.

Happily I can tell my father and everyone else who reads this blog. The. Food. Is. Flipping. Amazing!

It’s not just tortillas, nachos and salsa. This honestly was my limited knowledge before we landed here 6 months. I was fine with that, but we have since discovered much much more…

You can never know enough where foodgasms are involved, so we booked a food tour on a recent trip to Mexico City.  The day was spent mmmming and aaaahing as we drooled and devoured our way around La Colonia Roma, one of the Cities trendy suburbs. It was like THAT scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’.

Meet Rodrigo our passionate foodie guide, from Sabores Mexico Food Tours, who led us on a journey of oral ecstasy… so to speak…

Rodrigo food

Rodrigo is a trained cinematographer, with an impressive CV, but he adores food and wants to bring this joy to others. I love him for this!

Tours are not usually my thing. I try, but my brain tends to drift off and think of more important things like, ‘what are we having for dinner?’ or ‘would I rather have accordion legs or tambourine hands?’. Accordions for legs, it would be the happiest walk ever and like having the music to ‘Amélie‘ as your life soundtrack.

On this day, these life altering questions were kept at bay.

It turns out if you add a lot of food, to a little history, and a bit of walking, you will have my full attention for at least 4 hours! Anyone trying to impress me, you now know how…

Rodrigo explained the area was devastated by the earthquake of 1985, where thousands of people lost their lives and many others fled. Slowly but surely people returned and Colinia Roma is now the place to be for foodies, writers, artists and hipsters.

Despite the earthquake many buildings remained standing or have been faithfully restored, with art deco architecture on most streets from wealthier times in the 1920’s.

foodgasm green

The sweaty hectic streets portrayed by Hollywood are a far cry from the reality. The movies shout ‘come to Mexico City and get kidnapped’ where in actual fact we always felt safe and loved strolling down the surprisingly green streets and friendly neighbourhood. Travel is still teaching me that many preconceptions are pointless.

The time galopped away, as the food came and the conversation flowed, along with a glass of French wine and locally brewed beer. I think I have waited too long….

It’s food porn time!

Foodgasm sopesTres Galeones and the delicious sopes, our highlight of the tour. A delicate blend of textures and flavours, which had us returning for more day after day.

Foodgasm saladOrigines Roma, an organic cafe where the locals flock daily and the salads change just as often.

Foodgasm pate

foodgasm cheeseGalia Gourmet, terrine and red wine. I could have lived in their refrigerator happily for several days. The French as a nation are renowned for great food, and restaurants like this help demonstrate what a real cosmopolitan city it is.

Foodgasm beerBeing a Brit I think I am meant to have it written in my genes that beer is good. Being honest I’m not fussed by it, but La Graciela microbrewery might change my mind…

foodgasm.jpgMore Mexican flavours at La Tlayudería de la Roma. A first for me sampling the tlayudas. We were getting stuffed by this point so wrapped up our leftovers to enjoy later, my nan would be proud.

foodgasm coffeeEspressarte a café, which has contraptions that look fit for a science lab. They are the Kings of coffee and I learnt things that blew my mind, but I can’t mention them here because Rodrigo might be miffed about me giving away spoilers…

Foodgasms galore my friends and not a nacho in sight! My Mexican ignorance is reducing mouthful after mouthful…

*We were given a small discount on the tour but all the views our own. We’d only recommend something that we’d tried ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed. 

Live the Life You Love

“I have the urge to go to New Zealand,” I say to Kellie as we make our way through the cobbled streets to our morning Spanish class.

Unusually it’s a chilly start to the day here in San Miguel and the grey clouds on the surrounding hills have triggered a happy memory from a not so recent time spent travelling New Zealand.

All of a sudden I want to climb a mountain, watch the seasons change and swap my flip-flops and shorts for a big cosy jumper and thick socks.

live the life you loveMy mind drifts back to pretty New Zealand

“But that’s not the sensible option is it?” I say, probably more in hope, than the belief that she will share my feelings.

Already I’m weighing up the costs of flights and dismissing the idea.

We should stay safe and continue with our journey through Central and South America. It’s just frivolous leaping to the other side of the world on a sudden urge.

Kellie interrupts my thoughts and says, “let’s do it then. Live the life you love.”

This simple sentence “live the life you love” makes me stop and give her a huge rib-crushing hug.

It means so much to me.

A few years ago I was training to be an accountant, with a mortgage on a house and all the other sensible things you ‘should’ have to be happy. But I wasn’t happy, I was miserable.

In fact I was numb. During the week I went to work, came home, went to the gym and then got drunk at the weekends. Life was on repeat.

The day I chose to ditch the sensible option was the day I actually felt like I started to live.

It was the realisation that THIS is what I am meant to be doing. Living life for experiences and not materials, or a mortgage or safety.

I sold my house and quit my job, then booked a one-way flight to New Zealand. I had no grand plan, but felt excited by the unknown.

I used to be scared by everything, and this frightened the hell out of me, but it also felt so right.

It was the first stage of living the life I loved.

Fast forward 7 years and I’m stood on a street corner crushing my girlfriend’s ribs in affection.  I have found someone who shares my passion for travel and from time to time says ‘forget the sensible option, let’s live and see what happens’.

Despite the drastic changes I made to my life all those years ago, sometimes I still need to be given permission to follow my dreams.

At the moment we love living in Mexico. But after our current house sit ends we have created a life where we are free to go anywhere we please.

Maybe we will run out of money in New Zealand, maybe we will hate it, but then again maybe we won’t. It could be the best thing we ever did.

I’m not saying everyone should sell their house, quit their job and go travelling. But, you cannot live life scared to step away from the sensible route.

Give yourself permission to take a risk, whether it is big or small. If you are sick of being single, join a dating website. If you want to travel, save like a mo fo and pack your bags. If you are shy, talk to a stranger on the bus, it could change your life.

Good luck and if you want me, I will be busy searching the Internet for cheap flights and house sits in New Zealand, ooh or maybe Canada!! Yeah that sounds nice.

Where we will end up is anyone’s guess, but we’ll keep following our gut and live the life we love.

live the life you love sky dive

Skydiving in New Zealand, a literal leap of faith!

A Feast in Oaxaca – Mexican cooking course

Since starting out our adventure we have learnt a lot about ourselves both individually and as a couple. We both get grumpy when hungry (which means we always carry nibbles to stop any tantrums) and anything that involves eating, cooking, looking at or shopping for food makes us the happiest people around.

Often we quickly leave the crowded must see sights to find a little coffee shop with strong lattes and sickly sweet cakes. You can judge us for that if you like, but we don’t mind, we will be too busy stuffing our mouths to care.

We visited Oaxaca recently, which is renowned for being the food capital of Mexico, making it the perfect opportunity for us to do a food course. It is our mission to do a food course in every country we visit to really learn how the locals make their meals.

After looking at all the options we settled on Seasons Of My Heart cooking school, where you shop, eat, cook, and do some more eating from 9am – 6pm. Heaven!! It turned out to be one of our favourite travel days so far.

We started our day at the market.

I love getting lost in Mexican markets! They are full of overpowering colours and smells. You get whiffs of spices, fresh herbs, citrus, bbq chicken, raw meat, flowers and more, whilst traders quietly go about their day.

It’s rare that you get harassed as you make your way through the stalls, which gives you time to take in the full spectacle and have a mooch. But to be honest when it comes to buying more than a banana I’m a bit lost. It was great to have an insider’s view, which was provided by our lovely guide for the day, Yolanda.

cooking course yolandacooking course - kid in a box

cooking course bright redcooking course - cerveza lady.jpg

Traditional people in Mexico don’t like their photo being taken as they say it takes their soul. Rob asked asked this lady if he could take her photo and she replied that her soul would cost just 10 pesos (45p). He handed it over and just as he did the lady said “Cerveza!!” with a huge grin appearing across her face. She clearly didn’t believe the superstition but had found a good way to make beer money!

cooking course meatcooking course - more meat.jpg

photo (6)

In a couple of hours we learnt so much, from herbal hangover cures, to how to get rid of worms (the Mexicans really know their remedies), to what is the right chilli to use in your meal. The best bit is that as you learn you sample the goods!

Bring your sexy elasticated trousers because once you have sampled, cheese, bread, several varieties of delicious tamales, ice cream, hot chocolate, salty worms(!!!) and more, which I forget now, you then sit down for lunch in the market.

Have I mentioned we were still to cook a 5 course meal?

We left the market feeling we may be in need of a nap, but were soon perked up at the cooking school with a shot of passion fruit flavoured Mezcal (a  local alcoholic beverage). Here we discovered what we would be cooking for the mammoth sized meal and then it was down to business!

First the group had to choose the course they would make. I have to say we got a lovely bunch of people on the course and we met our first ever dealer of pet jellyfish amongst them!

I love these situations, a group of strangers together, trying to be all-polite, whilst secretly wanting to just shout out what they want. In these situations I tend to just wait, I’m never the first to say something and I’m quite happy for those with bigger personalities or stronger desires to go first.

Of course I knew the dish I wanted to cook was the main course, chicken mole. I’m no expert but I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing in the kitchen, so I wanted to challenge myself and add a new dish to my repertoire.

Lucky for me no one wanted to cook this besides Rob, but he is a gent, so it was all mine.

cooking course kel ingredients

cooking course - kel triangle.jpg

There are a million (I might be exaggerating slightly) ingredients in mole and I can honestly say I’ve never fried almonds, raisins, onions, cinnamon and oregano together, but my goodness do they create a taste sensation!

The ego boost of the day came when Yolanda asked, “are you a chef?” I resisted the urge to do a celebratory dance and run around high 5-ing everyone!

What followed can only be described as a Mexican banquet…

photo 4 (1)

The meal stated with Triangular corn turnover stuffed with red beans with a salsa verde. The salsa was hot, but my, was it good.

photo 5 (1)

The next course was Garlic and Squash Blossom soup. Apparently it’s known as penicillin soup as it contains enough garlic to kill off all the bacteria in your system. It’s so good, but if your on a hot date that night I’d give it a miss.

photo 2 (2)

Next up was a salad, with an incredible dressing, the jalapeno jelly gave it a nice kick. The crispy things on top are like English pork scratchings, but a billion times better!

photo 3 (1)

Then the mole, chicken in red mole to be exact. I’m not one to blow my own trumpet but this was good, really good. It has a rich flavour similar to an Indian curry, and was served with rice flavoured with chepil. Despite being full to bursting I could have cleaned up a second plate.

photo 1 (2)

For dessert we had layered mango pudding, made by Rob. If you like your desserts sweet, perhaps even verging on the sickly side then this is for you!

The cooking course has definitely been one of the highlights of our trip so far, I just love eating and learning about food! It was a real eye opener discovering authentic Mexican food, rather than the average Tex-Mex we get back home.

Seasons for my Heart gave us an amazing experience; the day flies by and they really know their stuff about Oaxacan cooking. We’d thoroughly recommend them.

*We were given a small discount on the course but all the views our own. We’d only recommend something that we’d tried ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed.

Oh la la! A guide to San Cristobal – In photos

It started with a stunning view. Actually that’s not quite true, first there was a prison and a grumpy man (me). But let’s forget the past. I am of the firm belief that the bad/average times make you appreciate everything else in life more so.

Anyway back to that view…. Swoon!

view

San Cristobal De Las Casas, an arty little town with a history of rebellion, pretty cobbled streets and a beautiful church around nearly every corner.

Towns like this are increasing my love of Mexico to a level which would probably make it freak out and say, “things are moving too fast, we need a break.” Next up comes the inevitable restraining order.

I have to get a grip on myself. But I won’t, maybe we will never leave this country…

We explored San Cristobal for 6 days and barely scratched the surface. Mostly we we roamed the streets, stumbling across Semana Santa (Holy Week) events more by luck than any planning from us. Unsurprisingly we ate and ate and ate, and learned a little of the tension between the Government and the Zapatista, a local rebel group that led an uprising in the town as recently as 1994.

The military quashed the revolution but that’s not the end of it, though there is too much of this colourful history/future to go into right now, poverty and equal rights are the backbone of this struggle.

We didn’t step foot in the local villages that house the indigenous communities, Zapatista and their sympathisers. Some are open and friendly to tourists others are not, and shrouded in secrecy. We hope to visit the more welcoming places in the future and learn about the fascinating local cultures and history.

But in our 6 day visit we were purely tourists and enjoyed every minute of it…

Oh La La! The food…

So many restaurants, so little time. Oh La La was our favourite cafe, I think we went there everyday to consume cake and coffee, making up for calorie withdrawal from our recent jungle days.

oh la la oh la la signoh la la lemon tarte
It seems we embraced the French whilst here. La Chalet was the perfect French restaurant with a passionate foodie owner/chef. Red wine and Beouf Bourginon, heaven! Rated No.1 on TripAdvisor for good reason.

la chalet
I like pizza… El Punto Pizzeria, recommended by Sarah Somewhere, didn’t disappoint.

happy pizza san cristobal
We did eat some Mexican food. Pollo Asado (BBQ chicken), so cheap so delicious! Eat in or out. We did several times at Pollo a la Lena.

pollo asado
We were gasping for a decent brew. Lum had a huge selection that got us very excited. Kel had Darjeeling, mine was infused with Maple Syrup. Carrot cake, the essential side kick to a good cup of tea. (trying to look posh in a vest)

tea Lumlum posh

Semana Santa (Holy Week)

By chance it was Holy Week during our stay. We had the privilege of seeing huge parades and entertainment. The normally camera shy locals were only too happy to pose for pictures. The older more traditional generation believe you take their soul when snapping their photo…

On Good Friday many churches re-enact the crucifixion, some more casual than other. It ranges from tracksuit clad folks, to processions involving full Roman armour suits and a Jesus actor being put up on a cross.

semana santa groupSemana santa greenSan Cristobal dancers Mask san cristobalsan cristobal bodyguardkids san cristobalPainter San Cristobal


The markets…

Busy, noisy, colourful and claustrophobic. Normally I am bored to death in a market, but I loved exploring them here in San Cristobal! You can pick up most things at the markets, fruit, meats, textiles, clothing etc and they are so cheap I often had to ask twice to make sure I had heard right.

market chickenmarket fruit san cristobalMarket beans san cristobalThe churches

Honestly you could do a church crawl there are so many. They are beautiful and despite my none beliefs I became slightly obsessed with seeing them. There was something calming about the peace and coolness inside, a nice relief from the afternoon heat and time to stop and think I guess.

pretty churchBlue Church San Cristobal
church san cristobal

The streets

Whether on a mission or rambling aimlessly San Cristobal is beautiful place to explore… Mountains, cobbled streets, and stunning architecture = happy bearded Yorkshireman.

streets kid san cristobalMountains - San Cristobal