Mexico / Perfect Days

Celebrating Oaxaca (Part 2)

The second day of festivities to celebrate Origen’s 6th & Los Danzante’s 20th Anniversaries started Saturday morning. I was invited to attend the daytime activities for the Chefs, other special guests and attending media. Omar, aka “Oaxacking” gave me very little details as to what we’d be doing for the day, only a “just come, you’ll enjoy”. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to participate in something I didn’t know the full details of,  but from past experiences, Omar has never been wrong.

I was feeling a bit “crudo” from the evening before, but I focused myself for an adventure, which started bright and early with breakfast on La Olla‘s lovely terrace, hosted by Chef Pilar Cabrera.

La Olla Oaxaca Breakfast

Memelas and tetelas on the comal.

La Olla Oaxaca Pilar

Chef Pilar presiding over pots filled with brightly coloured soul-soothing delights, just the cure for over-indulgence from the night before.

 

La Olla Oaxaca Diego Fuego

DJ Diego Fuego from Los Angeles, enjoying the wonderful spread.

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Sitting at this table with such talented and creative people, I felt fortunate to have been included in this day.  To top it off? The view from La Olla’s patio is one of the best in Oaxaca. photo credit: Los Danzantes

Our first stop on our adventure was the Agrobiodiversity Fair in Union Zapata, just outside of Mitla, around 30 minutes outside of the city. Farmers from all over the state of Oaxaca gathered to promote the conservation of ancient crops and traditional farming techniques, which have been nourishing indigenous people for over ten thousand years.

I had no idea what to expect when I got off the bus in the middle of what seemed like nowhere but was astounded by the beauty of the artisan produce on display.

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Agrobiodiversity Fair corn

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Hugo Ortega Oaxaca

Chef Hugo Ortega wandered through the fair enthusiastically speaking to the families representing their products.

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Chef Rodolfo sampled the tamales.

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Omar enjoyed his jicaleta.

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My treat was a scoop of nieve, corn flavoured of course!

We got back on the bus and were off again a short ride away to the bottling plant of Los Danzantes.

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The different types of agave were represented in a garden outside the facility.

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Seeing the different type of agave and being able to compare and contrast was a great visual educational experience for me.

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Bottling and packaging taking place inside. The nearly all-female staff at this production facility didn’t go unnoticed by me.

For all mezcal’s popularity, I sometimes worry about its sustainability. When you talk about espadin being the fastest growing agave, at 7 years, it’s not hard to understand why there’s a concern that the popularity in mezcal cannot keep up with the supply.

I was happy to see Los Danzantes’ efforts being put into the conservation of different species of agave and that so many different species of agave are being cultivated.

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Victor Perez from Los Danzantes took us through a tour of the facility, which ended outside, where a variety of agave seedlings were growing in beds. photo credit: Los Danzantes

 

We hopped back on the bus to our main destination for the day, Los Danzantes’ distillery located in Santiago Matatlán.

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The long table was set for our afternoon feast to celebrate Los Danzantes’ 20th Anniversary.

Jose Luis Leon cocktail Los Danzantes

Jose Luis was at work again behind the bar mixing delicious mezcal cocktails for us.

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Jamaica (hibiscus) mezcal cocktail with cardamom, cloves and lime juice, topped with an orange dipped in sal de gusano.

In the production area of Los Danzantes, we were taken through the process of making mezcal by Karina Abad, the production manager. I was shocked (but not really) to see how small the facility was, given Los Danzantes mezcal’s wide distribution throughout North America, (and the rest of the world).

 

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The horse working to pull the tahona (stone wheel) that crushes the roasted piñas.

 

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Copper pots in the midst of distillation.

Los Danzantes mezcal distillery

A streamlined production area from mashing to fermenting then distillation.

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The ageing room where French oak barrels hold mezcal ageing to become reposado and añejo mezcal.

After the walkthrough was complete, we sat down to start the party!

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We started with some Los Danzantes mezcal of course.

 

 

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¡Salud! photo credit: Los Danzantes

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Our lunch on the spit out back. photo credit: Los Danzantes

 

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Memelas topped with black bean and cotija cheese.

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The frijoles were rich and loaded with pork flavour.

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The lovely spit-roasted pig. I delighted in its crispy skin and succulent meat. Combined with the black beans, I think this may have been my perfect “one bite” of my trip.

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A table filled with delicious food and drink makes me so happy.

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And there was a band!

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Los Danzantes special 20th anniversary mezcal was a luscious and smooth sip.

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What happens when there’s too much fun, food and drink…

I was exhausted from the fun-filled day but knew there was still one more event to go for the anniversary weekend. What pushed me through to the evening’s events was my enthusiasm to see how the space I’d seen the week before would be transformed for this party.

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Consejo cervercero beer Oaxaca

I had to start the evening off with my favourite Oaxacan beer of course!

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Elotes! I finally got to satisfy my desire to eat Mexican street corn in a “safe” environment, (I’ve stayed away from since I got sick from it off the street many years ago). I think Alex thought hers was as delicious as I did!

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Jose Luis was at it again, this time with a delicious Sexy & Famous cocktail with Los Danzantes mezcal, aperol, Chartreuse and lime juice.

 

 

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DJ Diego Fuego mixing up the cumbia sounds.

 

 

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Gracias Chef Rodolfo for including me on this wonderful anniversary weekend!

 

The evening was filled with delicious food and drinks, hugs and laughter and so much dancing. Cumbia is on my list of “things I want to do more of”. Lucky for me, around this group, I think I will be presented with more opportunities in my life.

I am so honoured to have been included in the anniversary celebrations of both Origen and Los Danzantes. Through this, I had the opportunity not only to learn more about Oaxaca, but I was introduced to amazing people, who were generous with their time and minds. Oaxaca continues to inspire me, not just for the food, drink and culture, but from the creativity and positivity it fosters. The Oaxacan spirit is something I strive to keep with me in my regular life, and maybe with enough continued visits, it will one day be something that becomes engrained in me as natural.

 

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