Food is a universal experience. When you shop, cook and eat with people, it tends to quickly break down barriers and foster camaraderie.
Whenever we travel, we try to attend cooking classes as a way of learning about an area’s regional foods, culture and people. Over the years, we have had great experiences, learned to cook spectacular dishes and met some amazing people. The class that we took at Casa Jacaranda in Mexico City was no exception to this rule.
Casa Jacaranda is run by 2 native Mexicans with a passion for food (and mescal), Jorge and Beto. We started the day taking part in a guided tour of a tortilla factory and a local market (with a little food sampling along the way) then headed the school to start cooking. Casa Jacaranda itself is quite amazing. Part residence, part school, part art gallery – you can feel the love, dedication and exuberant energy that has gone into creating this space.
The focus of the class was the creation of the classic Oaxacan sauce, poblano mole. It took 8 of us a few hours to finish this rather complex recipe. (Worth every minute! Best mole ever!!) We also created several salsas, made fresh fried tortillas and tamles and samples tequila and mescal. By the time we sat down to enjoy our day’s labour on the rooftop patio, it was like sitting down with old friends for a meal (with really good, freely flowing wine).
If you are in Mexico City, love cooking and have the time, check out Casa Jacaranda – you won’t be disappointed. We will definitely go back to attend another class the next time that we are in Mexico City.
Berto and Jorge are the energetic and passionate owners of Casa Jacaranda.
Tortilleria and Market Tour:
The morning started with a tour of a tortilleria, a factory that only makes tortillas. We learned all about nixtamilization (alkalinizing and preparing maize to make it usable/digestible), grinding of the corn and preparation of the dough.
The Medellin market is a fantastic place to see what Mexico (and South America) has to offer. Mexican cuisine is quite regional and Medellin is well known for providing regional products. Every time you turn a corner there is another mouth watering food facing you (from regional produce to artisanal coffee, ice cream or chocolate to yellow chicken and drool-producing pork skin). Our favourite find was the pinata of Donald Trump – the group was thinking about drawing straws to see who would take the first swing and see what he is really full of…..
We picked up the ingredients that we need for our class including multiple kinds of peppers.
To ensure we were all well fed while the mole was prepared, we made tamales and chalupas.
Mole is a legendary Mexican sauce from Oaxaca. Most non-Mexican North Americans, think that mole refers only to mole poblano – a dark, rich sauce made with peppers and cocoa. In reality, there are many different kinds of mole, each with its own ingredients and distinctive flavour profile. Today we learned to make classic mole poblano. It was relatively complicated (actually it was not difficult, there were just a lot of steps.) but it was worth. Easily the best mole that I have ever tasted.
The Grand Finale:
To top off our amazing learning experience, we retired to the rooftop patio (covered by the titular jacaranda tree) to enjoy our meal. In addition to the mole chicken, we enjoyed our tamales and sweet Mexican pumpkin with ice cream. What a way to end the day…………..