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Eating around Oaxaca

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

Eating in Oaxaca

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

No mezcal, gracias — por favor, destilado de agave

What do you call it?

Editor’s Note: This contribution comes to us from Lou Bank, a mezcal aficionado and force of nature in the mezcal world who organizes tastings, fund raises for causes in Oaxaca, and generally spreads the good word about mezcal. He’s based in Chicago and travels frequently to mezcal country.

We’ve had a variation of the conversation below with Lou ever since we met him. While in so many other areas of the world appellations have worked to the advantage of most people involved in creating traditional agricultural products, the world of agave spirits in Mexico has left people and traditions behind. Read more

Cala SF launches mezcal dinner series

Call this perks of the job… I recently was invited to the kickoff for a new dinner series at Cala, Gabriela Camara’s Mexican restaurant outpost in SF, centered on mezcal. We’ve written before about the restaurant and its focus on not only sustainable food, but also sustainable mezcal. This was the dinner that really brought it together in a fantastic way.

The brainchild of Cala bar manager Marsilio Gabuardi, the idea is to pair a mezcal with each course. It’s not new, the difference here is that there is only a mezcal pairing – no cocktails, no wine, no beer, just mezcal. This first dinner highlighted Mezcal Amaras, which is pretty much the house mezcal at Cala. The surprise of the night was being able to taste new Amaras expressions, including a tepeztate and cenizo, along with three different espadins and their cupreata. We were joined by Amaras U.S. brand rep Sofía Acosta Rascón and, to the delight of all of us, Gabriela Camara herself. Read more

A very Oaxacan Christmas

The remains of the holidays

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

Can mezcal learn anything from wine?

The tasting and menu.

In early November I was fortunate enough to attend a Sagrantino de Montefalco tasting at Perbacco. Sagrantino is the grape, Montefalco the region within Umbria in Central Italy. This small appellation doesn’t get much exposure outside of the wine world. Not much is made, the price point reflects that, and the structure of these wines cries out for the cured meats, wild boar, and pastas particular to Umbria. That shouldn’t deter you from trying it because Sagrantinos are truly fantastic and unique. But this is a mezcal blog so what do they have to do with mezcal? Read more

Oaxaca notes: An encuentro of (many) Maestros del Mezcal

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

Where Fancy Food and Mexico collide

The Mexico pavilion at the Fancy Food Show 2017

Monday Susan and I spent much of the day wandering the cavern known as Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco attending the annual Winter Fancy Food Show. There are hundreds of vendors hawking every food item imaginable, after a few hours you can’t help but be overwhelmed by all the pitches. It’s easy to drift into thoughts about late capitalism and commodity culture because so many of the foods are so similar and just one of them will probably break through, if any. Read more

Open questions

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

As mezcal goes, so go mezcalerias

Murgia

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