culinary vacation – La Villa Bonita Mexican Culinary Vacations http://lavillabonita.com Mexican Culinary Vacation Packages in Tepoztlan, Sayulita, and Puebla, Mexico with Chef Ana Garcia Wed, 27 Sep 2017 16:41:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Chef Ana Makes Arroz a La Tumbada http://lavillabonita.com/chef-ana-makes-arroz-a-la-tumbada/ Thu, 20 Jun 2013 16:06:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/chef-ana-makes-arroz-a-la-tumbada/
Arroz a la Tumbada

This is one of my favorite dishes from the State of Veracruz that originated in the port of Alvarado.  This is a fisherman’s dish that as legend has it was prepared by a cook who just “tossed or threw together” the rice with the catch of the day, hence the name in Spanish “a la tumbada.”  Many will take a quick look and think that this is similar to a paella, but it is not.  This dish is great and has some similarity to a paella but this is much more like a soup.  

Important — this is my version! What I always tell my guests is that Mexican cuisine is a living cuisine – it moves over time – which is what makes it so great.  Every house has its own mole, their own secret recipe, their own way to make that special dish handed down over the generations. 

 
For those of you who want to pull down a PDF version to print, you can find it here.

Serves 6 to 8

2 cups of long grain rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 cups of hot fish broth or water
½ cup white onion chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
2 cups tomatoes chopped
16 u/8 shrimp peeled and de-veined with tail on
½ cup cooked octopus or squid rings
4 blue crab cleaned and cut in half
1 cup mussels or small clams (whatever you like best or can find freshest) 
½ cup peas
½ cup carrot, peeled and cut pea-size
¼ cup chopped cilantro
3 or 4 Serrano Chiles chopped
4 limes cut in wedges
Sea salt to taste (about 2 tablespoons)

We will need a large sauté or paella pan about 25 inches in diameter and 4 – 5 inches deep.  You will need a lid to cover the pan. 

Place the pan on medium heat and add the olive oil.  Place the rice and fry for 2 to 3 minutes until the grains are translucid on the outside and white on the inside.  Don’t mix the rice.  Gently fold the rice so it won’t break and turn mushy after cooking. 

Add chopped onion and cook for another minute, then add minced garlic cook for another 30 seconds.  Add chopped tomatoes and cook for another minute.  Salt freely the rice tomato, onion and garlic mixture. 

Add 4 cups of the hot fish broth or water.  Allow to come to a boil.  Taste the broth and see if it needs more salt.  It should taste a little salty since you will be adding seafood and vegetables.  After you are satisfied that it is salted correctly, put on low heat and cover for 10 minutes.

Add another 2 cups of hot fish broth.  Nestle the blue crab into the rice and cover for 5 minutes.   The broth should always be ¼ inch above the level of the rice.  Add up to two cups of broth to do so.  It is not necessary for the broth to cover the sea food.  Taste the broth.  It should be a little salty.  Also taste the rice as it should be almost cooked. 

Add the rest of the seafood, carrots, and peas.  Cover the pan for 5 minutes after the broth comes to a boil again.  You may need to add more broth do so.  Again, making sure the broth is ¼ inch above the rice.   Important: This is a soupy style of dish.  It should have liquid as you serve the dish in a bowl.  This is not like paella which is much drier. 

When the rice is cooked but still al dente, serve in a bowl and sprinkle with cilantro and Serrano chile.  Give everyone a wedge of lime to squeeze over the dish.
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Chef Ana’s Recipe for Sopa de Lima from Cozumel Weeks 2013 http://lavillabonita.com/chef-anas-recipe-for-sopa-de-lima-from-cozumel-weeks-2013/ Fri, 22 Mar 2013 15:52:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/chef-anas-recipe-for-sopa-de-lima-from-cozumel-weeks-2013/ Day one #chefanaincozumel sopa de lima - lima soup with bell peppers, chicken and tortilla strips #lavillabonita
On occasion we will leave the comfortable confines at La Villa Bonita and cook in different environments or different parts of Mexico to add to my repertior and give guests a new and different experience. This year we had cooking sessions on the island of Cozumel. While big tourism has changed the cuisine offered in hotels, there is a local cuisine that is still delicious and good. It needs to be elevated and learned. I was amazed at the amount of Italian cuisine restaurants in both Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. Such food is great but there is a wonderful local cuisine that is not being appreciated. When we travel, we always try to elevate the local cuisine so that it is visible and accessible. 
 When we come back to Tepoztlán we integrate these elements into our repertoire for our culinary packages. We had a great time with our guests in Cozumel, getting to know or fish providers and the wonderful variety of seafood available in the region and discovering these great local dishes. This particular dish, sopa de lima, is very popular in the southeast section of Mexico. It calls for Limas which are a specific type of lime. We have them in Tepoztlán in our back yard and they are a different type of lime. If you do not have them substitute Key Limes and they will work fine but the Lima has a distinct flavor.

Sopa de lima (Lima Soup) 6 servings

1 chicken breast with skin and bone 10 oz. chicken feet or wings or backs
2 garlic cloves, pealed
 ½ medium white onion
 1 clove
 1 cilantro sprig
 1 epazote sprig (if possible)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 quarts or 12 cups of water
 1 tablespoon salt
 1 teaspoon olive oil
 ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
 ½ cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cups tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
6 Limas or Key Limes or 3 Persian limes, thinly sliced
4 corn tortillas cut into strips and dried for 2 to 3 hours or overnight
 1 cup of canola oil
1 avocado (optional)

Broth
My preferred method of making broth is with a pressure cooker but if you don’t have one you may use a regular stock pot. Place chicken into the pressure cooker or the stock pot and add garlic cloves, the clove inserted into the onion (so they are not floating around in the pot), cilantro, epazote, dried oregano, water and salt. Place pot over a high heat and allow for broth to come to a simmer. Reduce the heat. Take off the foam that will form with a spoon and repeat this procedure until the broth doesn’t produce any more foam. If you are using the pressure cooker place the top of the pressure cooker and cook for another 45 minutes on medium high. If you are using a regular stock pot, cook for 1hr and 30 minutes on medium high. When chicken broth is ready take the chicken breast out. Allow it to cool enough to shred.

 Soup
In your soup pot place the olive oil and red onion and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until transparent. Then add the green pepper and tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth with slices of lime. Save a few fresh slices for serving. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes and take the lime slices out.

Corn strips
 In a sauté pan add the canola oil on high heat. When it is hot add the corn strips and then fry until golden. Take out and place on paper towels to drain.

In a soup bowl place the shredded chicken, tortilla strips and a slice of avocado and a fresh slice of lime. Ladle some of the chicken broth and enjoy. If you would like to print out this recipes click here for the PDF version.

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Recipe for Sopa de Lima or Lima Soup: Cozumel http://lavillabonita.com/sopadelima/ Thu, 21 Mar 2013 17:12:37 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/?p=1147 Day one #chefanaincozumel sopa de lima - lima soup with bell peppers, chicken and tortilla strips #lavillabonita

On occasion we will leave our comfortable confines at La Villa Bonita and cook in different environments or different parts of Mexico to add to my repertior and give guests a new and different experience.  This year we had cooking sessions on the island of Cozumel.  While big tourism has changed the cuisine offered in hotels, there is a local cuisine that is still delicious and good.  It needs to be elevated and learned.  I was amazed at the amount of Italian cuisine restaurants in both Cozumel and Playa del Carmen.  Such food is great but there is a wonderful local cuisine that is not being appreciated.  When we travel, we always try to elevate the local cuisine so that it is visible and accessible.  When we come back to Tepoztlán we integrate these elements into our repertoire for our culinary packages.

We had a great time with our guests in Cozumel, getting to know or fish providers and the wonderful variety of seafood available in the region and discovering these great local dishes.

This particular dish, sopa de lima,  is very popular in the southeast section of Mexico.  It calls for Limas which are a specific type of lime.  We have them in Tepoztlán in our back yard and they are a different type of lime.  If you do not have them substitute Key Limes and they will work fine but the Lima has a distinct flavor.

Sopa de lima (Lima Soup) 6 servings

1 chicken breast with skin and bone

10 oz. chicken feet or wings or backs

2 garlic cloves, pealed

½ medium white onion

1 clove

1 cilantro sprig

1 epazote sprig (if possible)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 quarts or 12 cups of water

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ cup red onion, finely chopped

½ cup green bell pepper, finely chopped

2 cups tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

6 Limas or Key Limes or 3 Persian limes, thinly sliced

4 corn tortillas cut into strips and dried for 2 to 3 hours or over night

1 cup of canola oil

1 avocado (optional)

Broth

My preferred method of making broth is with a pressure cooker but if you don’t have one you may use a regular stock pot.  Place chicken into the pressure cooker or the stock pot and add garlic cloves, the clove inserted into the onion (so they are not floating around in the pot), cilantro, epazote, dried oregano, water and salt.  Place pot over a high heat and allow for broth to come to a simmer.  Reduce the heat.  Take off the foam that will form with a spoon and repeat this procedure until the broth doesn’t produce any more foam.

If you are using the pressure cooker place the top of the pressure cooker and cook for another 45 minutes on medium high.  If you are using a regular stock pot, cook for 1hr and 30 minutes on medium high.  When chicken broth is ready take the chicken breast out. Allow it to cool enough to shred.

Soup

In your soup pot place the olive oil and red onion and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until transparent.  Then add the green pepper and tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the chicken broth with slices of lime.  Save a few fresh slices for serving.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes and take the lime slices out.

Corn strips

In a sauté pan add the canola oil on high heat.  When it is hot add the corn strips and then fry until golden.  Take out and place on paper towels to drain.

In a soup bowl place the shredded chicken, tortilla strips and a slice of avocado and a fresh slice of lime.  Ladle some of the chicken broth and enjoy.

If you would like to print out this recipes click here for the PDF version.

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What makes Tepoztlán so different? http://lavillabonita.com/what-makes-tepoztlan-so-different/ Thu, 31 May 2012 19:14:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/what-makes-tepoztlan-so-different/

Money Can’t Buy You Love.  In Tepoztlan, money doesn’t get you very much as far as respect is concerned.  Your position in the community, your standing with your neighbors and your barrio is everything.  Do you contribute to the local festivals? Do you lend a hand to a neighbor? Are you involved? I can’t tell you how many examples of people who have come to Tepoztlán thinking that money will get results.  That isn’t the case.  It is what you do that counts, not what you have.  
Buy Local.  There are very few non-local businesses here.  Apart from two banks, there are no franchises, department stores or big supermarkets.  As well, there are no big hotels, no golf courses (will get to that in a minute), and no big box stores.  People wouldn’t support them and the town wouldn’t allow it.  That makes things a little expensive here, but people are willing to pay the price to support local businesses.  Moreover, the daily market and the Sunday/Wednesday farmers market is a big attraction and a local staple in the economy.  People have engaged in buying local here as a way of life long before it was considered fashionable.

Someone to Watch Over Me.  About 20 years ago or so, there was a planned condominium golf course community to be constructed close to Tepoztlán in the National Forrest Preserve.   The town was vehemently against it.  It was believed that there would be a tax on the water table, chemical runoff, lots of outsiders, and tons of maid and gardener jobs.  The town basically said, “we like our life as it is” and began manning a blockade to earth-moving equipment for a couple of years.  The mayor was brushed aside.  The barrios took over the town to provide essential services such as security.  This caused citizens to take up the duty of monitoring their neighborhoods and keeping an eye out, making sure that things were safe.  The golf course development project came and went.  This community activism saved the town and put in place a sense of responsibility for your own neighborhood/barrio.

Contentment. This is important.  Contentment is everything in life, right? This is still primarily a subsistence farming community.  People produce for their own consumption on a plot of land outside of the valley and sell or barter the rest in the local market or among friends and relatives.  Many people have a local “tourism-related” business that they operate on the weekends when Tepoztlán receives its normal flow of guests.  If you have a roof over your head, enough food to eat, a nice and safe community to raise your kids, and a beautiful backdrop to your city, you can’t really ask for much more.  People are content here.

Sense of Community.  It grows on you.  Recycling has been in effect for decades and is almost obligatory with the snide look the non-recyclable garbage guys gives you when you have too much trash.  Daily people sweep their stoop in front of their house where through the hard work of members of the barrio streets are constructed and maintained.  Tepoztecos are involved in various projects to support the community but also just lending a hand to a neighbor when for example he is adding a second story to his house.  After being here for a while you want to contribute as others do.  It is infectious.  Robb was inspired to contribute and started the first little league baseball team here to offer kids a positive activity and many others offer the same type of service to the community.  As well, you are constantly enveloped in the sounds of the community – the rooster crowing, the newspaper headlines announced over the loudspeaker, the church broadcasting mass, next door neighbor kid practicing his trombone for the local children’s orchestra.  The community web around you is palpable and part of what makes it an enjoyable place to visit and live.

Adherence to Tradition.  If you don’t appreciate religious processions, fireworks day and night, an occasional traffic inconvenience, and lots of celebrations, Tepoztlán is not the place for you.  There is a something going on literally every week or weekend in this festive town. Sometimes (but not always) non-Tepozteco Mexicans see the strict adherence to local customs as inconvenient or backwards. Yet this is the glue that keeps the community together. As a result, locals are a little suspicious of other non-Tepozteco Mexicans, but do appreciate foreign tourists.  It is thought that foreign tourists visit Tepoztlán because they appreciate the local customs, traditions, and festivals.  As a result people are very nice and courteous to you as a guest in town. 
I am reminded of the slogan for Austin, Texas – “Keep Austin Weird.”  You want to keep what makes your community unique and Tepoztlán does this very well.  It is different than any place you will visit in Mexico.  These elements taken together as a whole certainly make Tepoztlan safe but also a very authentic and wonderful place to visit.   
Okay.  Off my soapbox for a while.  Next posts will be cooking related!
Peace, Love, and Good Food!
Chef Ana Garcia
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The "Commonality" of Food http://lavillabonita.com/the-commonality-of-food-3/ Tue, 11 Jan 2011 15:54:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/the-commonality-of-food-3/

Many people ask me, how is it that your guests seem to get along so well when they come from all different walks of life, different ages, different places?  I have to tell you that I have been offering my culinary vacation packages for over ten years and it is amazing and very gratifying to watch every week how my guests come together and become friends.

The holidays for us are always busy with guests, and of course . . .the holidays!.  This year was no exception.  We had guests from Virginia, New York, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Chicago, Los Angeles, and even Tabasco, Mexico and Australia.  This year we had women traveling by themselves, friends traveling together, families with adult children and their spouses, a family of three generations – grandmother, mother and 2 year old granddaughter, and couples.  The amazing thing is people who perhaps under different circumstances would not have a reason to say “hello” on the street, become such great friends so quickly making their first mole at La Villa Bonita at what is supposed to be such a hectic and stressful time during the holidays.

I attribute it to the “commonality” of food and the culture that goes along with it.  If you enjoy good food, like to travel, and are open to appreciate another culture, you have so much in common with other people who on the surface seem so different.  In this day and age, we tend to compartmentalize and categorize everyone.  Society gives you a label and you are supposed to act in accord when in reality there are so many other areas of common ground that people of different walks of life share.

When you come to La Villa Bonita, you have made a conscious decision to not “veg on the beach” during your vacations.  You appreciate learning about another culture and are open to try new things.  You are a “learned” person — not necessarily with titles or degrees — but  with a thirst for knowledge and new experiences.  And, of course, you must love food.  If you have all of those qualities, you are very likely to enjoy this type of vacation at La Villa Bonita and have lots of things in common with our guests.  But there is no template for who our “normal” guest is with respect to age, race, sex, or nationality.

I have to admit that I was very pleased this year because it was such a great cross-section of all the guests of different walks of life that come together making their first tortilla from scratch.  It makes my job so much fun to see how people of such seemingly diverse paths converge and enjoy themselves.

Peace, love and good food,
Chef Ana

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Spice up your Superbowl TV Tour of California Feb. 4-6 http://lavillabonita.com/spice-up-your-superbowl-tv-tour-of-california-feb-4-6-3/ http://lavillabonita.com/spice-up-your-superbowl-tv-tour-of-california-feb-4-6-3/#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2010 21:01:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/spice-up-your-superbowl-tv-tour-of-california-feb-4-6-3/
I have to admit.  I enjoy the live television appearances.  They are fun and unpredictable.  The backstage is always busy with stars, production staff, and on-air people running around.  The first time I appeared on KTLA, there was a big breaking news story (a shooting in a synagogue) that took control of the show with live reports from the scene.  I was up and down all morning getting ready for a teaser for the segment.  The LA mayor made a late press conference that caused my segment to be bumped.  I thought Robb was going to die.  Poor guy, he collectively takes on all our stress.  We had a plane to catch at 1 so we filmed a segment as if I were in the studio the following day.   After such a crazy morning, it is hard to snap to attention after 4 hours but within the first few seconds I caught my second wind.  Live TV is fun.
KTLA asked me to come back to do a segment on the Posadas which we did in December.  This time I knew what to expect and came prepared.  The environment in the studio is hectic but informal at the same time.  As I was setting up my display, a guy with sunglasses and a leather jacket asked me what I was doing.  I have to admit in that moment I had no idea who he was but we exchanged pleasantries and I proceeded answer his questions about the Posadas and La Villa Bonita.  I was told later by Robb that this was Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon who was promoting his new Christmas album.  They were backstage warming up with their guitars.  I have to admit, I can be a little clueless about US pop references but my husband serenaded me with his a capella version of “I Can’t Stop This Feelin’ Anymore” and I figured it out.  Just then a swarm of people came in on their way to the studio and in the middle was James Cameron.  Yes, Robb had to tell me who this was as well, but that is what makes him such a good partner, trip planner, executive assistant, sleazy agent, and “chief bottle washer” (American sayings are such fun! Really, bottle washing?) .  James Cameron gave his interview and left with his herd of suited people with clipboards.  Robb tried to pitch him on the idea that the “Ana Garcia” avatar would have been a great addition (this part is not true).  If have to admit, the craziness of this environment is fun.
This time around we are doing a real California tour with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.  Everyone does somewhat Mexican-inspired super bowl dishes so I thought it would be a good idea to offer a segment on authentic Mexican dishes for your Superbowl party.  With a wide array of IMUSA products, I will make a fabulous Guacamole Chinelo with fruit, home made totopos, a black bean, chipotle and chorizo dip, golden taquitos filled with potato and parsley, micheladas with Modelo Especial, and a drunken salsa.  Click for all the Spice up your Superbowl Recipes.
If you are not in one of these cities, you can still watch the show online either with a live feed as is the case with the San Francisco show at 3 PST on there website or you can watch a pre-recorded stream from the same site.  Here is the schedule for the appearances:
  1. February 4th, KTLA’s Morning News at 9. Two Hall-Of-Fame Football Players are supposed to help me here during the segment.  Robb will once again have to give me context as to who they are and I am not even sure that will help.  It has not been confirmed yet if they will be donning those “stretchy pants” that football players like so much.
  2. February 5th, ABC7 The View from the Bay in San Francisco (3:00 pm PST).  This show is going to be a lot of fun because it has a live audience.  The show is hosted by Spencer Christian of “Good Morning America” fame and Janelle Wang.  Thanks to Betsy Cordes for the introduction here!  Wish I could stay longer in San Francisco because I love the food scene there but we are off to San Diego right after the show.  By the way, if you want to be a part of the live audience you can do so by calling (415)-954-7733.
  3. February 6th, KUSI’s Good Morning San Diego (9:00 am PST).  Sorry Chargers fans.  We were hoping that they would have advanced farther.  Better luck next year.  I will still try to give you a tasty super bowl party with these dishes.
So, I hope you watch the segments or better yet if you can be in the audience for the View from the Bay that would be great.  You can heckle me . . . Okay.  No, don’t heckle me.
Peace, Love and Good Food
Ana Garcia
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Christmas Tree Tradition in Tres Marias http://lavillabonita.com/christmas-tree-tradition-in-tres-marias-2/ http://lavillabonita.com/christmas-tree-tradition-in-tres-marias-2/#comments Sat, 26 Dec 2009 15:38:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/christmas-tree-tradition-in-tres-marias-2/

I have never been a big fan of the Christmas tree. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and decorating my house fully for the season, but the tree has never been high on my list. I don’t like the fake trees and I feel bad about buying a real tree that has been trucked in from who-knows-where. My husband convinced me that there were local trees that you cut yourself that support some worthy rural areas that are trying to create sustainable businesses that are good for the environment. I also have two young boys and would like to create a tradition with them of going to get the tree and decorating it.

In Mexico, the cutting of a tree is serious business. All trees are federally protected. If you do not have an official permit to cut a tree you can be pulled over for violating federal law. In Morelos, my husband found one of only two state-designated Christmas tree farms. This one was located close to Tres Marias in the mountains.

We gave a call to Fidelina Vasquez the propietor of the farm and met her in the intersection of the old highway to Mexico City that crossects the road to Huitzilac. She joined us in our car to guide us to where the trees are. She brought her handsaw, twine, machete and a very charming disposition. We had a wonderful conversation about her farm and the type of trees that she grows. She struck me as a very hard working and entrepreneurial person. The boys were very excited as we travailed the dirt road up in the mountains. She explained to us that the variety that she has is a native one called ayacahuite and is very renewable variety. Fidelina had been taking classes on how to care for the trees, grow them, and how to re-grow them not only from seedlings but also from the stump that is left after it is cut.

We selected our tree and wrapped it in twine. Fidelina told us that it takes about 5-8 years for the tree to be Christmas tree size from a sapling. However, the stump will usually grow two “new” trees which cuts the growth time by 2-3 years.

After bunding up the tree, my husband pulled the tree to the car and we loaded up the family. We took Fidelina back to her home and she gave us a special factura or receipt saying that this was an authorized tree cut.

The drive back from the tree field was very picturesque with the drying stacks of hay.

Here is our finished product at home at La Villa Bonita. It is a very charming tree. Not your usual Christmas tree. For those of you in southern Mexico City, Cuernavaca or Tepoztlan it is an easy drive to pick out your Christmas tree next year and you will be supporting the local economy as well as a very hard-working and entrepreneurial woman. Fidelina Vazquez Tel: 01(739)393-0267.

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Where am I? http://lavillabonita.com/where-am-i-2/ Sat, 26 Dec 2009 14:17:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/where-am-i-2/ Many of you may be wondering where I am! I am still here! I have been traveling very much over the past 5 months on projects with my sponsors, television appearances, and in furtherance of my own telelvision series in the US. All in all, it has been a crazy year but we are all looking forward to a great 2010. I can tell you I am very happy to be home and looking forward as well to receiving guests at La Villa Bonita in January and February. Time to get back to what I do best — teach my traditional Mexican family dishes to my guests and open windows into the richness of Mexican culture.

We had a great response to our sale for Christmas and New Year sale but it was restricted because of very high airfare over the holidays. We did notice, however, a great drop in airfare for January and February from hubs in the US and Canada. Since we are finally home and want you to join us, we extended our $875 USD off per room sale to January and February dates. It is almost like getting your airfare for free! Escape the cold at LVB this winter!

Peace, Love, and Good Food

Ana Garcia

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Filming Starts for Series Trailer! http://lavillabonita.com/filming-starts-for-series-trailer-2/ http://lavillabonita.com/filming-starts-for-series-trailer-2/#comments Sun, 19 Apr 2009 19:52:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/filming-starts-for-series-trailer-2/
I am quickly posting some pictures today of the filming. So far we have filmed picking out ingredients in the Tepoztlan market, interviews with Robb and me, and we are just starting to film a cooking sequence at LVB. Trying to get a lot done before the guests arrive later this afternoon. Then I am cooking a gourmet meal for 9 on the terrace this evening! Whew. Hope you enjoy the pics. Will post more as the week goes along. Follow me on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/chefana


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Safety in Tepoztlan and La Villa Bonita http://lavillabonita.com/safety-in-tepoztlan-and-la-villa-bonita-2/ Mon, 23 Mar 2009 18:43:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/safety-in-tepoztlan-and-la-villa-bonita-2/ I am frustrated today. Many of our guests over the past month have been seeing very sensational reports about violence along the border. They call us up and ask how things are going, making it sound like we are under siege. I say that things are here as they have been for decades — lots of corn, fireworks, and nice 80 degree weather.

This truly is one of the safest places in the world. In all of my travels, there is nothing that compares to the sense of family, honest hard work, and preservation of traditions as in Tepoztlan. Our guests understand this after only a few moments in our little village. Many guests apologize to us at the end of their stay for bringing up the subject (which is totally unnecessary after seeing some of the media coverage with my own eyes!). My issue is how do I express that to my potential guests and other visitors to my country.

First of all, Tepoztlan is far, far away from the U.S. border where almost all of these incidents are based (about a 15 hour drive to be exact). Tepoztlan is a tiny community made up of small scale subsistence farmers of beans, corn and squash. They appreciate tourists but don’t change their traditions for anyone, which is one of the reasons we moved here! It is one of the most safe and efficiently self-policed societies I have ever seen. Even though we have our cadre of local police officers that everyone says “hello” to on the street, everyone in this town knows who you are and what your business is whether you like it or not. It truly is like stepping back to a simpler place in time.

Secondly, I am asking former guests to convey their experiences about being at La Villa Bonita and in Tepoztlan in general. If someone has never been here, how can we better express what the environment is like than through the eyes of our guests. Over the next few weeks, I will be forwarding the comments of our guests.

Thirdly, I will be starting a grass-roots movement of former guests, Mexicans, expats, journalists, business owners, and vacationers to express a balanced view of this wonderful country. As soon as we are up and running I will keep everyone informed through Twitter (http://twitter.com/chefana), through my blog and on my newsletter.

I love my guests and their passion for my culture. I never tire of that expression of satisfaction when a guest makes chiles en nogada for the first time or when they taste that first tortilla they made with their own hands from the corn itself. It makes me very proud that people appreciate our cuisine and our culture but it saddens me to think that because of this media frenzy the perception exists that something has changed at La Villa Bonita or in this wonderful village of Tepoztlan.

As always . . .
Peace, Love, and Good Food,
Chef Ana Garcia

P.S. For a good article about the issues in Mexico take a look at this article written by a former producer of 60 Minutes who lives in Queretaro. He makes a lot of sense out of this situation. http://tinyurl.com/springbreakdothemath

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