MAGICAL OAXACA Culinary, Art & Cultural Tour
September 22 – 28, 2021
Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca is a magical place that is a feast for all the senses. It is known for its concentration of incredibly talented artisans who weave, sculpt, carve, paint and embroider, not to mention that it is home to one to the world’s most complex and exciting cuisines. In Oaxaca, the mercados (markets) are the heartbeat of each village and city; it is where locals and chefs still gather daily to buy and barter centuries-old food staples as well as exotic produce that is both beautiful and delectable. Come to Oaxaca and experience living history through her people who proudly embrace and cling to their traditions of dress, language, foods and arts.
It is simply a fascinating place to explore. Join us in September 2021 as we return to further learn from and experience the riches of the central valley of Oaxaca, Mexico. We’ve hired Oaxaca’s best chefs, traditional cooks, artisans and guides to lead us through several days of hands-on classes and workshops. Please contact us directly for more information or to register (208) 676-8784.
Price of Oaxaca Culinary, Art and Cultural Tour: This time around our home base in Oaxaca will be the newly opened Grana Bed & Breakfast. This charming property is a “love declaration to Oaxaca, to daydreamers and to poets who’ve decided to turn their lifestyle into art”. It is set in an 18th century mansion, filled with succulents and several elements and special touches that are dedicated to enhance each travelers’ experience. The quality, comfort and spectacular location that this hotel provides pairs perfectly with the emotional wonder and discovery you’ll experience while on this journey. Every detail that can and will make your week that of a lifetime has been thought of and will be prepared just for you. We are offering three room categories and our package prices range from $2,880 per person (double occupancy) to $3,990 per person (single occupancy).
- 8 Nights Accommodation at Grana B&B
- Airport Transfers upon arrival and departure
- Transportation while on the tour
- Welcome Dinner at one of Oaxaca’s finest restaurants
- Daily breakfasts, most lunches and two dinners
- Cooking Classes
- Art Workshops
- Reusable Water Bottle
- Covid-19 test for re-entry into the Unites States
Below is a sample itinerary of our tour.
We’ll begin by gathering in the courtyard of our bed and breakfast where we’ll become acquainted with one another through a brief tour orientation. Next, we’ll head out to get acquainted with Oaxaca’s historical city center by way of a walking tour. We’ll be led down the city’s colorful streets to its impressive churches, restored mansions and past galleries, shops and restaurants all while learning about the culture and fascinating history. After our tour you’ll have a bit of time to wander and find your bearings.
This evening, you’ll find yourself feeling like Oaxaca’s main event as you take part in a truly Oaxacan VIP welcome party! A CALENDA is a colorful dance troupe that represents celebration and good fortune in Oaxaca. Our very own calenda will help us celebrate the joy of being present in this city and of being on this great adventure. We’ll finish our festive evening with dinner on the terrace of one of Oaxaca’s finest restaurants.
Reyes Etla is the birthplace of stringy, melty, delicious Oaxacan cheese and today we’ll visit with a family who will teach us the art of Quesillo making. After a hands-on quesillo class, we’ll eat if of course! Our instructors will help us prepare fresh corn tortillas and salsa to accompany all of that melty goodness.
After our cheese-fest, we’ll head to the studio of Jose Cruz to learn about how this young artisan is refining and transforming his village’s traditional art of gourd carving.
Tonight you’ll experience the grandeur of Oaxaca’s 8 regions through an exciting feast for the senses! We’ll walk to Hotel Quinta Real where we’ll dine on traditional Oaxacan foods, then we’ll be dazzled by an evening of folkloric dances. Beautiful women and whistling men will bring the stage to life while showing off stunningly vivid dresses and dance moves while they tell the stories of each region of Oaxaca.
Today will be a fabulous day because today, we head out to the ancient Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle to be taught all things mole by Reyna Mendoza. Some years ago, Reyna worked under chef Rick Bayless when he came to her village seeking to learn to make her family’s tamales. He encouraged her to teach and share her knowledge in the kitchen which she acquired from her mother and grandmother. Reyna now receives visitors from all around the globe on a daily basis. Her cooking classes begin with a visit to the local mercado which is one of the oldest in Oaxaca, then we’ll get to cooking in her more-than-inviting lovely outdoor kitchen. Look around and you’ll be delighted to see our cooking tools: metates and the comal. Today is all about doing things the traditional way; we’ll be learning what has put Oaxacan mole on the map!
After our class with Reyna, we’ll drive to a small village on the base of a mountain where women have been mining clay and crafting red clay pottery for over 500 years. Our beloved friend Macrina Mateo will give us a demonstration of her craft. You’ll watch in awe as she expertly and almost effortlessly shapes dishes, bowls and vessels while sharing her inspiring story.
By now, you’ll have noticed that Oaxaca is REALLY into their Mezcal. Actually, they have been for centuries and now the rest of the world is finally starting to catch on. Even for those of you who may find this agave-based spirit too strong for the belly, you will find that the history and technique of making it is more than fascinating. 40 km south of Oaxaca City is Ocotlan de Morelos where the Angeles-Mendoza family stand out among the hundreds of mezcal producers in Oaxaca due to the fact that their certified organic production still holds very true to tradition. They begin by cultivating their own agave, then they cook it in an earth pit filled with oak and mesquite woods, then they distill it in earthenware pots, resulting in an extremely smooth and special small batch of mezcal. This family takes pride and pleasure in sharing and educating any and all about their operation. After we become enlightened with mezcal facts and history, we’ll be lucky enough to share a meal with the family.
You’ll have the rest of the evening free to explore the city and to enjoy dinner on your own.
After a busy week you’ll be ready for a leisurely day to spend either getting some more shopping done or by visiting some more museums. Today will be a free day to do as you like.
This evening we’ll gather to enjoy an evening of live music, unique snacks and a few special visitors.
What a treat today will be. After breakfast we’ll drive a half hour to the village of San Martin Tilcajete which is known for it’s production of Alebrijes. These are whimsical creatures, carved from the imaginations of each artisan and into soft copal wood. Sometimes natural dyes are used while other times acrylic paints are used to adorn each creature with intricate symbols and color patterns that will blow your mind. Today we’ll visit the sprawling workshop of the infamous Jacobo and Maria Angeles where we will be taught how each piece is meticulously produced, then we’ll each have the opportunity to paint our own creature.
It’s likely that all of that painting has made you hungry so now we’ll head 5 minutes down the road to Santo Tomas Jalietza to the home of the Navarro family. Las Crispinas as they’re known, are a family of three sisters and a brother who are all artists. Gerardo paints very raw and primitive works that are also rich and endearing as his canvas will always tell the story of life in the campo. Many of his works can be found in cafes and hotels in Oaxaca City. While Gerardo paints, his sisters are busy winning award after award for their skills in weaving very fine ribbons with the use of the backstrap loom. This too is a dying art which these women are keeping alive. This family has been featured on the Gourmet Channel’s “Diary of a Foodie: Episode 44” due to the fact that they also love to cook in the traditional Zapotec way. They rarely accept tourists into their home but they seem to love tour hosts Carlos and Colomba! The Navarros have become our very dear friends and they say that any friend of ours is a friend of theirs. The will graciously provide a cooking experience in their outdoor kitchen; we’ll make tortillas and share another memorable meal with people who you’ll never forget!
Today we meet one of Mexico’s most celebrated chefs, Alejandro Ruiz. He has an amazing story along with so much to be proud of, yet he is also one of the most down-to-earth guys you’ll ever meet. Most of Oaxaca’s other well-known chefs started out working for Alejandro as he was the first who dared to step out and create something NEW with traditional Oaxacan ingredients. His food is uniquely upscale and unexpected but each dish tells the story of the land. Many an American chef and restaurateurs have spent time with Alejandro in hopes of learning more about his magical vision of food. Today we’ll have the pleasure of touring a bustling mercado with Alejandro; he’ll create a menu based off of the seasonal ingredients we find then we’ll head back to his workshop and create a magical meal under his direction. Every day of this tour will be the best day, but today really will be the best!
Departures, Adios Oaxaca! Until next time.
*Our schedule of activities may be subject to change. A final itinerary will be provided 4 weeks before the tour to all tour participants.
A $500 deposit is required per person and is due at time of registration to secure space. Full payment is required 60 days before departure date. If you decide to cancel your trip, the following fees apply and are due when we receive notice of your cancellation:
91+ days prior to check-in = $0 (your deposit will be refunded)
61 to 90 days prior to check-in = $500 (your deposit becomes non-refundable)
31 to 60 days prior to check-in = 50% of the total trip cost is non-refundable
0 to 30 days prior to check-in = 100% of the trip cost is non-refundable
Carlos and Colomba Aguilar must receive a written notification of cancellation prior to refund.
Responsibility: We assume no liability or responsibility for any delay, loss, damage, injury or accident with regards to persons or property caused by fault or negligence of any hotel, transportation, or local operator rendering a part of our services. We shall not be responsible for any expense caused by loss or damage of personal items. It is the participant’s responsibility to be adequately insured. We strongly recommend traveler’s insurance. The acceptance of our verbal or written confirmation, and a deposit or final payment for services, constitutes your acceptance of the terms and conditions listed on this page. Carlos and Colomba Aguilar reserve the right to make any changes, with or without notice, which might become necessary.