MexicaChica Tours – a fine, new concept

MexicaChica packages imaginative high-end tours for small groups of women here in Yucatan. The educational but fun trips have a multi-disciplinary approach.

“For instance,” explains the owner, Claudette Elizondo, “our fantastic collage workshop takes us on a day trip to the Uxmal ruins, where a  professional actress helps us reenact Maya legends. We photograph the reenactments and then later use the pictures in a studio, to make our own collages. These are well-rounded learning vacations.”

Claudette Elizando

Read more about Claudette and her exciting new luxury tour company on her website.

One of the tour themes is Culture Through Cuisine. For this tour, MexicaChica will be partnering with a new culinary venture in Merida called remixto. Both professionally run companies are  just getting off the ground and the other day I was lucky enough to join MexicaChica’s first cooking workshop, given in cooperation with remixto owner, Chef Brent Marsh, a New Zealander who has lived in many countries. Learn more about remixto on their website.

We had a class in classic Mexican cuisine featuring food from all regions of Mexico. Within four hours we prepared a dazzling array of complex dishes and I think all of us were amazed at how relatively simple it was to make them. The class was held in Yury DiPasquale’s professional kitchen in her lovely home. Each of us received handsome MexicaChica aprons. We worked hard, but had a wonderful time. All the ingredients were ready, the tools laid out, and we each received recipes for everything we’d done.

Chef Brent

Chef Brent Marsh

Chef Brent made everything look easy of course, with his clever banter and lightning quick hands, but I came out of the class confident that I could actually cook this stuff. Chef Brent discussed Yucatecan food and pointed out that since Yucatan was cut off from the rest of Mexico until relatively recently, cooking evolved differently here. And because of the climate and the nature of the soil, we have a limited scope of ingredients. Therefore, over the years, Yucatecans developed the use of the these limited ingredients to perfection. They used them in various combinations and cooked and seasoned in different ways, making the absolute most of what they had.

Yury DiPasquale

Yury DiPasquale

Yury's beautifully organized pantry

Yury's beautifully organized pantry

My favorite thing we made was white beans (ibes) with toasted pumpkin seeds. As Brent said, these particular beans are”creamy” and satisfying. The beans were presoaked prior to the class and all we did was boil them and add simple garnishes like onion, toasted pumpkin seeds, scallions, cilantro, salt and epazote. Not difficult, but so surprising that the particular combination of herbs and flavorings enhanced the beans so beautifully, converting them from Just Beans, to something marvelous.

Masa, or ground corn is a Mexican cooking staple. We used it to make tortillas and tamales.

Masa, or ground corn.

Masa, or ground corn.

Erich making tortillas

Erich making tortillas

We prepared several kinds of salsas, using different chiles and vegetables. I never realized that before using chiles, tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables, you roast them on top of the stove on a heavy metal round plate called a comal. You also use the comal to cook tortillas and many other things. (Because of course, it’s so hot, standard ovens never took off in Yucatan.) Brent said that a large cast iron skillet would do, but comals are ubiquitous in the central market.

Vegetables roasted on stove-top comal

Vegetables roasted on stove-top comal

Brent chatting with Kathleen

Brent chatting with Kathleen

We also made carnitas, chicken in pipian, tamales with chicken mole, yellow rice with achiote, and – hold me back – flan with caramel. Yes, we learned to make it from scratch and it was not difficult or complex. It’s time consuming because it has to bake, set, and refrigerate. Brent had a cool way of separating egg yolks, pictured below.

Great way to separate egg yolks!

Great way to separate egg yolks!

You will notice that there are no pictures of the finished dishes, because tragically, I had to leave just as everything was getting done. I also missed lunch. Poor me.

Prepared ingredients

Prepared ingredients

Yury, Anna, Gail and Brandy hard at work

Yury, Anna, Gail and Brandy making tamales

Salsa picante made with chiles arbol

Salsa picante made with chiles arbol

Gail, Sam, co-owner of Remexto, and Anna

Gail, Stan Khang, co-owner of remixto, and Anna

Flan with caramel, about to go into the refrigerator

Flan with caramel, about to go into the refrigerator

Congratulations to Claudette and MexicaChica for putting these unique cultural experiences together and to Chef Brent and his company, remixto. Their companies bring a new group of experts to Merida, and if this class was any indication, they will do quite well.

About BG

Beryl Gorbman is a writer and private investigator who divides her time between Seattle WA and Merida Yucatan Mexico. She has published two works of fiction, 2012: Deadly Awakening, and Madrugada. They are both available on Amazon and other outlets. Also at Amate Books, and Casa Catherwood in Merida. You can read about them in various articles on this site.
This entry was posted in General Blog, Merida Expat Life, Restaurant Reviews and Food. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to MexicaChica Tours – a fine, new concept

  1. Brandy had called me about this class, but unfortunately I had a prior engagement. Wow, now I am really sorry that I didn’t get to go. Everything looks wonderful and you all look like you were having fun too!

    regards,
    Theresa

  2. Claudette says:

    Thank you Beryl for this wonderful post. I really appreciate all the time you took to accurately report on my venture and Brent’s. We had a wonderful time and it was such a pleasure meeting you.

    Theresa! So sorry you missed it..It would have been great to have you there. :-( Saludos!

  3. Judy R says:

    YUMMMMMM!

  4. Great post! Thanks for sharing about this great new business — Merida is such a unique and exciting city. I love the whole idea of learning experiences that tie in Mexican culture, cuisine and traditions … heck of a way to bridge the expat/Mexican gap that so many people encounter when they visit or move to Mexico. Your food photos and descriptions are mouth-watering. Lunch break! :-)

  5. Soňa Králová says:

    Wonderful! My congratulations for this report. It just shows how seductive Mexico is and not only through its food.

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