One of the best parts of going on the road is the food; no matter where we go -- Scotland, France, the Caribbean -- we always look forward to every meal. David OG can practically recount every single voyage we've ever taken simply by remembering what we ate ("Don't you remember that time in Edinburgh? We had haggis and then you got that sampler plate that had those amazing oysters.") For me personally, Mexican cuisine is what I look forward to more than anything, so the chance to travel through Oaxaca was really exciting, simply because I would get to eat at least a few times while I was there. Food and booze go hand-in-hand; therefore, I think it only appropriate to share some of the experiences I had on this last trip. Above, you can see Jake and Jose talking to a Oaxacan cheese vendor about her delicious, oh-so-salty queso.
Directly behind Mina de Real distillery is a restaurant called La Herencia. It's been there for about five years and the family that runs it is close with Boni and his sons. You just need to step out the back door, and take the bridge over the small river to get there.
At the end of the path you'll come into a clearing and see the small house that contains the dining room and kitchen.
A wood-burning oven is fired up at all times for baking bread and tortillas.
The kitchen opens directly into both the dining room and the courtyard, letting in the breeze from outside and the natural light.
Our own Nicolas Palazzi got to fulfill his lifelong dream at Herencia: to have his picture taken with a live rattlesnake while flashing us with "Blue Steel."
After some home-baked, crunchy corn tortillas, salsa, and bites of Oaxacan cheese, we were served sopa de verdolaga: a stew made with pieces of pork and local green vegetable that looks kind of like a thicker parsley, but tastes more like green beans. Very simple, very good; especially with a cold beer and a glass of Don Amado.
Next was the beef and black beans platter. With this course, the owners brought out their own pitcher of mezcal and began pouring tall shots of self-distilled espadin. "Even with the distillery next door, they're doing their own distillation, eh?" I asked Jake, rhetorically.
We couldn't eat too much at La Herencia because Jake and Jose wanted to stop at one of their all-time favorite places on the drive back to Oaxaca de Juaréz: the house of Doña Mary. "You've never had a quesadilla like this before," they told us as we got out of the car.
What makes Doña Mary's quesadillas so special is that she and her ladies make everything there right on the spot: the cheese is made fresh each day, the tortillas made to order from masa, the fresh squash blossoms picked right out of the backyard, and the mushrooms foraged from a field behind the building. And let me tell you something: those mushrooms are out of this world.
Kwasi was kind enough to pose for a quesadilla close-up: big, thick corn tortillas, soft, salty Oaxacan cheese, sautéed mushrooms. Now you just need to pile on the salsa and you're in heaven.
We gorged. All we did was moan and groan in delight the entire time; not allowing ourselves to pause long enough for any actual words to come out.
When you're driving as much as we do on the road, you've gotta stop and refresh yourself every now and again. Jose spotted a coconut stand by the road and had the local kid scoop out the soft meat, marinate it with lime juice, and sprinkle on hot chili seasoning. You wash that down with fresh coconut water, of course, by chopping off the top and popping in a long straw.
You've also gotta stop for tacos as often as possible. Jose got the crispy cheeks (and a beer despite the fact it was 9:30 AM).
We even met up for meals with other producers! Judah Kuper from Mezcal Vago lives just outside the city, so we called him up and had him meet us on the main zócalo for a plate of chapulines (fried grasshoppers) and a few beers. So what if the grasshopppers came with a deep-fried chile relleno, a pile of Oaxacan cheese, and a giant tortilla smothered in beans?
That concludes the food section of the trip. There were a few other memorable meals, of course, but you can't be taking pictures all of the time. Sometimes you've gotta put the camera down, order a cold beer, and just enjoy yourself.