After years of wanting to go, I finally made the trek to Juchitan de Zaragoza and hid it in the old – we’ll take the non-mountainous way to Puerto Escondido which just happens to go by Juchitan – trick to get the family on board with this semi out of the way excursion. En route on the Pan American Highway, we got waylaid by a bloqueo (road block) and waited it out at a Pemex station for three hours. This meant driving in the dark and trying to navigate the streets of Juchitan, in the dark with google maps as our guide, until we finally arrived at the beautiful home where we stayed for two nights. Read more
Posts from the ‘Oaxaca’ Category
Isaiah, my 12 year old growing boy, requires a constant supply of sustenance. For a budding teenager, he has a pretty developed sense of taste, aside from a couple of major failings, number one being he does not like Oaxacan chocolate followed closely by his disdain of that oh so Oaxacan dish, mole negro. He will however chow down on a bag of chapulines and even has his favorite vendors at the 20 de Noviembre market. Read more
I know, I know, it’s almost February and we’re just writing about Christmas? I get it, it’s been a busy month what with the Fancy Food Show and setting up all the tastings over the coming months. But before February actually arrives here’s a quick recap of Christmas in Oaxaca. Read more
It was a fabulous three weeks in Oaxaca that now feels simultaneously like I was there for forever and that it was all a dream. I’ll just sum it up in five words– so much damn good mezcal.
Max did a great little write up about how the mezcaleria scene is changing, with differentiation coming in style and design and of course breadth of offerings. To my great dismay, I was not able to get to Cuish to see live and in person their newly revamped space. By all accounts, it is beautiful and is at the top of my list when I return. I have such high regard for what Felix Hernandez Monterrosa and Hilda Martinez Popoca have done for mezcal in Oaxaca. When they opened their doors in 2011, Read more
It’s a new calendar year and things are changing for mezcal. As we all hold our breath this Friday we do know a few things, and all of them have some impact on the mezcal world.
It’s never been so cheap to create a mezcal brand
There are more mezcal brands on the market in the United States than ever before. With the growing interest in the cocktail space and even the retail world, the business case is there and brands are being built to fill niches in the market. We routinely talk to distillers, brand creators, and others who are interested in creating or bringing a mezcal brand into the United States.
In Mexico there are even more brands, so many that it’s been difficult to even imagine what’s going on in the mezcalosphere. That points to one fascinating contradiction in our moment: The production is there, the business interest is there, arguably the consumer interest is also there. But there are some big questions. Read more
You know that with mezcal’s surging popularity Oaxaca is seeing lots of tourists who want to taste and learn about mezcal so you’d expect the town to boast some of the world’s best mezcalerias. That’s true in resplendent variety. There’s Mezcaloteca’s very structured tasting environment. In Situ’s rough and ready bar. Txalaparta’s mezcaleria within a hookah bar. Amantes’ old time store front replete with resident guitarist. And then there are all the restaurants that feature great mezcal selections. We could go on, just check our Where to Drink Mezcal in Oaxaca for a great guide. Here’s our latest updated map. Read more
We are tremendously sad to hear the news that Don Lorenzo Angeles, the patriarch of the Angeles family which is responsible for Real Minero Mezcal, has died of lung cancer. Anyone who met him can vouch that he was a fantastic human being and a link to a different era of Mexico and mezcal. He raised an incredible family which now operates Real Minero, the quality of their mezcal and the ethics they bring to the operation speak clearly to his own high standards. But more than anything their humanity speaks volumes about who he was. Always welcoming to visitors, working in the fields with his workers until very recently, in Yiddish terms he was a true mensch.
As word has filtered out through the mezcal community here in the U.S., folks have taken to Facebook to express their sadness. Pretty much anyone in the bar industry who has traveled to Oaxaca crossed paths with Don Lorenzo over the years, if not in Santa Catarina Minas, then certainly at the El Pochote Mercado where he could be found sampling and selling his bottles, always, always with a huge smile on his face that you wanted to crawl into.
Our world is smaller without him.
We send our condolences and best wishes to his family.
Max Rosenstock is from New Mexico, lives in the Bay, and knows the Oaxacan countryside so well I’m surprised when he hits a tope too fast. His project, Neta Mezcal, is soon to officially launch in the U.S.— and in the meantime he’s been traveling Oaxaca for years finding good mezcal. He reminds me of my Bay boy friends because he’s all brains and jokes under a hoodie and baseball cap, but unlike most of my friends, when Max rides up he’s got a trunk full of exceptionally good mezcal, ceramics and textiles. (I would like more friends like this). Here are some notes from heading to palenques with him.
I met José Luis Diaz at his restaurant, Chilhuacle Rojo, in the Oaxaca centro. He has a deep voice, two chile pepper tattoos on his forearm, and uses yadadayadayada to finish out many of his sentences, but never— as I noticed during our breakfast tasting menu— when describing a dish.
Breakfast here was one of my best meals in Oaxaca. It was thoughtful with the pacing, our palates, and especially in the selection of ingredients. Read more
The days of the week in Oaxaca are told by market days. Sunday is Tlacolula, Friday is Ocotlán, Thursday is Zaachila, and Wednesday is Etla. These are the days when there is tiangis, meaning people from the area come to surround the permanent market and sell anything from turkey eggs to cell phone cases. Usually you can find stuff to do afterwards in each town (artisans or murals to visit for instance). But usually there isn’t a textile mill turned arts center and a paper factory on top of the hill. Etla is 30 minutes from Oaxaca, and well worth the colectivo ride.