The school is owned by a fellow Aussie, Catroina Brown. She first came to Puerto Morelos 15 years ago on holiday, fell in love. She hasn't looked back and now builds and sells homes along with hosting this fun cooking school and BnB.
Our creative chef was Cristobal or just Cris. He was awesome and has worked all over the world.
First we started with the culinary regions of Mexico there are seven: #1. The North #2. The North Pacific Coast #3. The Bajio #4. South Pacific Coast #5. The South #6. The Gulf #7. Central Mexico. All are very different with diverse climates for growing all kinds of foods; in the North it's more dry and the land is desert so not many vegetables but very good meat and also no corn which means they have flour tortillas. This is the only place in Mexico where burritos are a traditional dish and made from flour tortillas. The North Pacific is of course full with seafood; tuna, marlin, lobster and blue crab to name a few.
The Bajio region is filled with - pork, rice, spices and also cajeta, a goats milk caramel. The South Pacific is usually considered as Oaxacan cuisine the home of the seven moles: 1. negro (black) 2. rojo (red) 3. coloradito (little red) 4. amarillo (yellow) 5. mancha manteles (table cloth) 6. verde (green) 7. chichilo (smokey) and also home to the famous Oaxacan cheese.
The South, referred to as Yucatecan, has influences from Cuba and the Caribbean. Corn is a staple here, the main spice is achiote which they mix with pork to make there famous cochinita pibil. Habaneros are everywhere here and a lot of honey in this region also.
The gulf, due to its position in the Gulf of Mexico, have lots of seafood, especially crab and cray fish. Most of Mexico's vanilla and cacao is grown here. Central Mexico; many ingredients used in this region are not actually grown here but imported from all over the country. Street food such as tacos and tortas are big here and of course mole as Puebla is in this region too.
Ok so with that little bit of a lesson behind us we enter the kitchen. First we are making tamales with seafood filling - octopus, fish and mussels with a red salsa. First we have to mix the masa dough it was a lot more runny than I thought it had to be and all you needed to do was spoon it onto the banana leaf which Cristobal cut fresh from his garden.
We just put the leaf over the flame of the gas stove top until softened and moist and the cut them to size. We cut all the seafood up in small pieces and made the salsa, it is a fresh salsa so it's a bit runny from the juice of the tomatoe which is the main ingredient. With that all done now we spoon on the masa to the banana leaf put the seafood on and a generous amount of the salsa and fold. Then they go into a steamer for 1-1.30 hrs. This is the end result.....
Tamales can sometimes be a bit doughy but the thin masa batter we used made sure these were not and the seafood cooked perfectly mixed in with the salsa flavour, they were great!
While we waited for the tamales to cook we made a fish ceviche. The key to a great ceviche is first of course good quality fish but also that you cut it up quite small as its not cooked with heat but acid from lime juice. We cut all the seafood up covered it with lime juice and refrigerate for 20 mins. I have always been a bit funny with ceviche but I found that if you cut the pieces small it cooks through really well and that's the key. Once cooked add onion, coriander, olive oil, tomato, avocado and chiles, salt and pepper to taste. We fried up some tostadas for the ceviche and we made three different salsas #1. guacamole #2. salsa verde #3. smokey red salsa. I have to say this was by far the best ceviche I've ever had so fresh and well put together. We also had some horchata prepared for us by one of the ladies in the kitchen sooooo good especially with spicey food.
Now we moved onto a shrimp soup with masa as the thickener, chiles, epazote and salt, simple yet so tasty.
Our dessert was a pineapple coconut treat called dulce de coco - fresh grated coconut, finely chopped pineapple with a caramel. Made with piloncillo a packed brown sugar served with ice cream yum yum yum.
We had a really great day at The Little Mexican Cooking School in Puerto Morelos and highly recommend taking a class when you are visiting the area.
Col and Jen
Tulum Town - places to eat.....
The drive into town from the beach is 15 to 20 mins depending how far south of the beach road you stay. A taxi is around $9-10 AUS or you can rent a bike and ride but in the heat it's not for the faint hearted, car hire is easy and cheap the other drivers are crazy but if you pay attention you will be fine and having a car you also have the freedom to check out some cenotes along the way and is definitely worth it. The food is much cheaper in town and a lot more on offer, you could also do some shopping; here are a few options for dining in town
#1. Antojitos La Chiapaneca; the local spot for tacos and tortas, great for cheap eats the decore isn't much but the food is good and the price is even better. Not much English spoken but they have menus with pictures, I never steer much past the pork tortas for both of our meals and 2 drinks about $9 AUS with a tip. This place is a must if your after value for money in Tulum.
#2. Ginger; home of the ginger mojito, a restaurant now turned hotel only open for breakfast and lunch, the menu is not very big and it's more American food than Mexican but made to order fresh and service is great. We had 2 burgers - portobello mushroom and pulled pork. Both were really good. 2 X mojitos and the 2 X burgers cost around $40 AUS, not cheap but worth a visit if you looking for a great quality meal with good service.
#3. El Carmelo; where the locals go for seafood. Very fresh seafood at a good price, fish tacos ceviche and whole fish are all great options here, the portions are generous and service is good.
#4. El Canastón; tacos and fresh juices what more could you want! add some friendly service and you have one of the best taco spots in Tulum, vegan veggie or meat all are good also fresh coconuts yum.
Tulum has something for everyone - from the town to the beach to the ruins and cenotes.
As you can tell we love it here and find it harder to leave every time.
Tulum playa. Places to eat on the beach.
#1 La Eufemia; this is down the south end of Tulum beach toward the Sian ka'an biosphere, great tacos great atmosphere at at very reasonable price. I tried all the tacos they had, like most taquerias in Mexico the tacos come out with just the filling you want then you go and add what ever salsas coriander onion and hot sauces you want, you also get 2 tortillas with every taco for the bits you spill. So here goes the first -al pastor rotisserie pork with pineapple; I've had a lot of these and this one was right up there, I added onion tomatoe salsa and avocado sauce, such a delicious bbq flavour to the meat. It went really good with the avocado sauce, this is usually my favourite wherever I go. But I have to say on this occasion my next taco the diced beef mixture was unbelievable! The so fresh, melt in your mouth meat..... I put onions tomatoe salsa and a little bit of hot sauce on yuuuum!! Next up - Poc chuc; a traditional dish of the yucatan made with grilled pork in citrus marinade. A great zesty flavour I had onion and avocado sauce with mine, the meat was very tender with some little crunchy grilled bits just how I like it. This was my 2nd fav..... The next is the fish taco; you can get it grilled or fried (I got grilled), it came with some Mexican slaw and chipotle mayo which was pretty good but had nothing on the others. Last was the veggie, it was ok, with beans and Mexican slaw but not much flavour especially if you don't like spicy salsa which is what I put on mine to add some kick to it. All in all, still a good taco but the first 3 definitely were the best here. Grab a beer for around $3 AUS and your all set!! Good friendly service, it does get very busy though so try get here early grab a spot and even go for a dip in the beautiful Caribbean Sea.
#2. Corinas Cocina: is a old time fave with us and always our first food stop as its right next to were we stay, very friendly service and decent prices, happy hour from 5pm to 7pm - 2 for 1 mojitos and magaritas. The tostadas are delicious even if a bit hard to get your mouth around. They also do great pasta here, I had the lobster fettuccine with tomatoe and basil, very tasty and filling. Jen had the chicken tostadas crunchy tortillas with refried bean, chicken, lettuce tomato, avocado, red cabbage and carrot with mayo on top. We also busted out and got dessert - Nutella crepes with cajeta ( Mexican caramel) yum yum yum!! Here you also have a great view of the beach and are free to use there beach chairs and umbrellas a popular place on Saturday's and Sunday's with Mexican family's but usually pretty quiet during the week depending on the season.
#3 Charly's Vegan Tacos; a newcomer to Tulum. Located on the beach side but not beachfront connected to Papaya Playa Project, in operation for only 5 months. I have to say I was a bit sceptical about vegan tacos being as good as meat tacos or even vegie tacos with no use of cheese or eggs but this soon went away with my first bite there are 3 tacos on the menu. #1. Tacos Al Pastor - roasted mushrooms, pine nuts, apple, garlic and peppers. It was very good and hard to believe it wasn't meat. #2. Mexican Piccadillo; textured soy in red sauce with glazed carrots and caramelised potatoes this was my fav and even harder to believe there was no meat in there. The soy gives you the exact same meat texture and so much flavour from the red sauce. #3. Rojas poblanas a sliced poblano pepper with caramelised onions and corn kernels stewed in creamy sauce this one you could tell there was no meat more a veggie taco but still very good. All tacos could be topped up with different kinds of condiments like pickled carrots, grated beetroot, hummus and mild medium and danger hot salsas. I have to say I was amazed at this place all that flavour and beautiful texture of authentic meat tacos with no animals involved. *Please note it's not right on the beach so bring mosquito repellent or they will probably carry you away. If I was judging solely on food this would have been #1 but I also took into consideration location atmosphere and service, not to say any of that was bad here but hard to beat right on the shores of the Caribbean.
#4 Mezzanine Restaurant and Bar is a hotel and Thai restaurant down the ruins end of Tulum and next to a beautiful public beach. It has awesome views and the food is a nice breakup from the tacos and other Mexican dishes. It is a little bit more fine dining here so a bit more money but well worth it with great friendly service. We had a couple of curries; delicious and quite filling when adding the rice. They have 3 different spice opinions - tourists, expatriate, and local; we were not feeling that adventurous and after a lot of chile in the Mexican food we have been eating we decided to give it a rest. Meals were very good, I would highly recommend this restaurant even if just for the views but it's much more than that.
#5. Juanita Diabola wood fire pizza; we walked here as the place we stayed was not far but they deliver free anywhere along the beach road on orders above $250 Peso, around $20 AUS. We got 2 pizzas both really good they range from about $11 AUS to $18 AUS, we also had the cocktail special while we waited, a gin tropical, it was excellent, the service was not the best very slow we took the pizzas Back to our accommodation and ate them right on the beach at sunset.
This concludes part one of Tulum life, if you have any questions about Tulum please don't hesitate to ask thanks and stay tuned for part 2 Tulum Pueblo.
Apoala restaurant has delicious Oaxacan food in the beautiful Santa Lucia square and its my favourite place in Merida.
Out first is the complementary delicately thin crunchy tortilla with salsa verde and a smokey salsa, then I ordered the tlayuda (Mexican version of pizza) this one was filled with salsa, lettuce, pieces of fillet steak, chorizo and Oaxacan cheese (Mexican mozzarella) folded in a slightly toasted blue corn tortilla. This is in my top 3 meals so far in Mexico. The chorizo was the best I've ever tasted and the Oaxacan cheese is like a tasty version of mozzarella but still has the same stretch yum!! I had to get the last piece to go as it was quite filling but too good to leave behind, I had it for lunch the next day.
Apoala is a bit of a fancy option when in Merida but definitely worth the money all up it was $55 AUS, that was for a couple of rum and cokes a bottle of mineral water, my tlayuda, Jen had the sea bass and we shared a choc brownie desert.
A few doors down is Ki'Xocolatl, a bean to bar organic chocolate cafe with all different kinds of wonderful chocolatey creations and even chocolate shampoo. On our last trip I tried the chocolate with lime and almond from Campeche and the dark chocolate with pink pepper from Veracruz both are very addictive. The lime and almond with its zing of lime bits and crunchy almond and the intriguing pink pepper with a sweet and spicy mix, you can't stop eating! This time we got the natural dark, a very nice high quality chocolate and the milk chocolate with baked corn chips from Sinaloa. This was delicious and reminded me of one of those nestle crunch bars with a much better tasting chocolate. So smooth with a hint of vanilla and the fresh crunch of baked corn chips yum!! We also got some almond chocolate bark which was very good and a bit of a cheaper option as its not pre packaged. Other chocolate block flavours are milk chocolate peanuts and sea salt from Quintana Roo, dark chocolate with organic coffee from Oaxaca, milk chocolate with almonds and oregano from the Yucatan, dark chocolate with red pepper and fine spices and many more tasty treats.
I highly recommend both of these places when in Merida, Yucatan.
Hasta luago - Col
Hola amigos...... Check out our first ever video (available on YouTube); Col shows you an easy to make gaucamole dip.
Any questions let's us know by email - email@example.com
or just comment below.
Recipe - serves 6-8
5 or 6 medium avocados
2 large limes
1 large clove roasted garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 finely diced tomatoes
1 finely diced spanish onion
1 bunch coriander
We traveled by bus to Puebla where mole (pronounced moh-leh) is king. Mole is from the Nahuatl word molli meaning sauce.
They are a very complex group of sauces - ingredients include chiles, nuts, seeds, chocolate, dried fruit and spices. They can contain over 30 ingredients. Mole poblano is considered the main mole but there are many; red, brown, white, green, yellow you name it there is probably a mole in that colour.
One story says the mole comes from the Santa Rosa Convent in Puebla. With the archbishop due to visit the poor nuns had not much to prepare a meal. They put together what they did have - dried chiles, spices, day old bread, nuts and chocolate then they killed an old turkey cooked it and put a generous amount of the sauce on top. It was a hit with the archbishop!
Other states, Tlaxcala and Oaxaca, lay claim to the original mole but no one really knows.
Mole was used for special occasions as it's very time consuming to hand grind all the dried chiles, nuts, seeds and spices before electric mills.
Ok now for the taste test.....
I ordered a tester of 5 moles; they are in order from the top - (the one with the chip doesn't count its beans) so on the right we have the Sacristía mole, a special from the hotel we are staying at and it is delicious it's made using chipotle chiles which are smoked jalapeños so it has a bit of a kick to it.... very smokey and a hint of sweetness this could go with so many meals. It's great just with breads or corn chips, here I had it with chicken but I think it would be just as good with turkey, pork or even fish.
Next is the red mole - tomatoe and chilies with toasted slithered almonds on top, very rich and tasty with a bit more heat than the first. You need a beer on hand for this one, a bit too tomatoe sauce like for me but still good.
On to the mole poblano, the most popular and said to be original mole with chilie and chocolate that hit the taste buds better than most would think, a hint of toasted sesame and sweetest of raisins. It's Jen fav.
Next is the yellow mole, it's a lot like a peanut satay but a bit less zing it was a nice tone down after the others but as the main meal maybe a little bland still pretty good though.
Onto the green - it's chilie, avocado and pine nuts and I'll start by saying I don't really like pine nuts that much, having said that it was a lot better than I thought it would be. Again a lot less spice and zing than the others I think both would go better with turkey which has a richer flavour than chicken.
My fav has to be the Sacristía chipotle with its sweet smokiness.
I will be dreaming of it for a long time to come!!