Mexico – 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 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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As Safe as Kokomo? http://lavillabonita.com/as-safe-as-kokomo/ Tue, 29 May 2012 19:39:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/as-safe-as-kokomo/ Quick Quiz:

Which town has the lowest murder rate?
A. Omaha, Nebraska
B. Toledo, Ohio
C. Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico
D. Kokomo, Indiana

Okay.  Trick question.  There are two right answers: Tepoztlán is tied with Kokomo for the lowest rate over Omaha and Toledo.  What?  It can’t be. Is crime out of control in Omaha and Toledo? Will Anderson Cooper be hitting the “mean streets” of Kokomo in a helmet and flack jacket for his next piece on “60 Minutes?”  Should the state department issue a warning about travel to America’s heartland?  Of course not.  They are all safe places . . . . and so is Tepoztlán.  They are not only great towns but idyllic communities in which to live, visit or just be.
So, you may have wondered where I have been with my lack of blog updates.  What have my legion of marketing minions been doing with their spare time (bad Robb! bad Robb!)?  Thankfully, we have been receiving a steady flow of guests and with my three kids (four, if you count the big one), I just haven’t had the time to keep up on the social media.  I am sure many of you know the feeling – you know you should be doing it but real conversations and real people get in the way.  I guess I have got to make the time in this day-and-age for the “face,” the “tweet,” the “pin,” the “blogidty-blog” and the “i-don’t-know-what.”  If my children would just surrender my iPhone every now and then, I might be able to do more. But I promise I will be more communicative from now on.  Really. 
I have wanted to do this post for a while.  We have had a great flow of reservations this year primarily due to studious foodies who do their homework about Tepoztlán and the quality of the experience at La Villa Bonita. We have been very busy. We still get the occasional call asking about security – which is ABSOLUTELY FINE.  We are happy to explain what a wonderful place this is.  The problem is that there is no reference or perspective to give you over the phone that would accurately portray an authentic and secure place like Tepoztlán.  So, we wanted to be able to offer a quick answer that would get right to the point.  With Robb doing his research, we can now respond, “as safe as Kokomo.”   
Everyone who lives here knows that Tepoztlán is a wonderful place.  The community is very tightly knit, the town maintains its traditions, great farmer’s market, vibrant artistic community, wonderful children’s orchestra, even a little league baseball team.  Life goes on here as it has for generations.  Robb, wanted the actual hard data to show with numbers how safe Tepoztlán is so he decided to start with the local tourism board.  The person in charge of tourism in Tepoztlán then petitioned the state for the official information who passed it along to Robb.  This is the first time this information has been shared.  Since this is a small town sometimes people don´t think about what it represents outside of the town.  The first reaction from the local functionaries was “We all know how it is here.  Is this a surprise?”  However, it is much easier to explain how nice a place this is with real data and comparisons than with anecdotes. 
Tepoztlán, as a town and county, has a lower homicide rate than pretty much every major city in the US.  Actually for 2011, there was not one murder inside of the town of Tepoztlán and only three in the entire county which has a population of over over 45,000.  
Okay.  Lets take a step back and understand how this works.  Very special thanks to my Robb for putting this together, because this is not my forté.  I cook — I don’t crunch numbers.  The actual town of Tepoztlán has a population of about 29,000 people and Tepoztlán is the county seat for Tepoztlán county (or “municipio” in Spanish) which includes other towns such as San Juan Tlacotenco, Santiago Tepetatla, Santo Domingo Ocotitlán, San Andres de la Cal, Santa Catarina, Ixcatepéc, Amatlán.  The total population of Tepoztlán county is about 45,000 people almost exactly the same as our friends in Kokomo.   
The murder rate is the number of murders and non-negligent manslaughter calculated per 100,000 residents.  Obviously the actual town of Tepoztlán has a rate of 0 for 2011.  The only incident that took place in the town of Tepoztlán in 2011 was the tragic death of a worker in the market who was hit by a drunk driver early on a Sunday morning.  For international statistical purposes that is not considered a murder even though in Mexico it is.  If you make the calculation for the county of Tepoztlán, you reach a number of 6.6 – same as Kokomo.  Lets take a look at some sample city rates for 2010 (we had to use these 2010 numbers because the FBI’s official stats for 2011 aren’t released yet, which surprised me):
New Orleans 49.1
St. Louis 40.5
Baltimore 34.8
Newark, NJ 32.1
Washington, DC 21.9
Kansas City, MO 21.1
Buffalo, NY 20.7
Cincinnati 20.5
Cleveland 19.0
Atlanta 17.3
Omaha, NE 7.3
Toledo, OH 7.3
Some smaller communities that are the size of Tepoztlán county:
Hot Springs, AR 17.5
Manchester, CT 14.0
Lancaster, PA 9.1
Hattiesburg, MS 7.5
Great Falls, MT 6.7
Kokomo, IN 6.6
I have never visited Kokomo, but I am sure they are a great people in a beautiful town.  After visiting their their site http://www.visitkokomo.org it looks like a fabulous place that I would love to visit. The pictures portray an idyllic small town America that time forgot.  Kokomo was named “Community of the Year” by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce as well the first car was created in Kokomo in 1894 by Ellwood Haynes.  They even have a Kokomo mobile app for Iphone!  Very impressive.  
Apart from the statistics, there are some similarities between the two towns: Tepoztlán is a very attractive town that time forgot with a flow of tourism, local eateries, great shopping, an artistic community, a vibrant farmer’s market, and a population that treasures its history, customs and traditions just like Kokomo (okay, we don’t have a mobile app but you don’t have a pyramid, eh).  I think fate (or Robb) has brought our two cities together and I am going to actively propose a sister city connection.  Two historic, artistic, fun, and safe places coming together.  What do you think, Kokomo?
My next post coming soon will discuss why Tepoztlán is such a authentic, safe and great place to visit.
Peace, love, and good food!

Chef Ana

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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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Chef Ana’s Top Ten Reasons to Love Tepoztlan http://lavillabonita.com/chef-anas-top-ten-reasons-to-love-tepoztlan-2/ Mon, 11 May 2009 16:43:00 +0000 http://lavillabonita.com/2011/chef-anas-top-ten-reasons-to-love-tepoztlan-2/
  • Tepoztecos do not support chain restaurants. Local producers and restaurants rule!
  • NO SWINE FLU HERE. YES, I INTENTIONALLY PUT THAT ALL IN CAPS. I AM TEXTUALLY YELLING!
  • Tepoztecos are subsistence farmers who live comfortably and are very happy people. Stubborn, but happy. It is amazing what you can do with corn, chiles, beans, tomatoes and squash.
  • No rat race. Whether for better or worse, Tepoztecos work until they have “enough,” . . . then they go home and plan their next party. The social nature of your profession is almost more important than earning money. When I wanted to buy all of the masa for an event from the masa lady, she told me “If you buy everything, what the hell am I going to do for the rest of the day?”
  • Local traffic police remind me of a strange Mexican version of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry (yes, I have seen this show, there is one officer that actually looks like Barney Fife. My Photoshop abilities officially suck).
  • Excessive amount of fireworks for every festive event (not to be confused with bullets, only Barney has them in town and he drops them a lot)
  • Did I mention we have a lot of parties here? No one can stop a Tepozteco party, quinceañera, birthday, birth and death of historical figures, beginning and end of wars, every saint, every chapel, every day, party, party, party! Nothing stopped here over the past few weeks, not even for a moment.
  • In two seconds, you know everyone — La Casa Azul cheese house, Don Sergio the strawberry man, Doña Toña the butcher, the flower ladies from Tetela del Volcan, your favorite quesadilla stand, the tortilla and masa mill, the traffic cop, the mayor. They will know you long before you know them.
  • Absolutely courteous traffic. Did you read this one, Chilangos? Read and repeat, please. You are expected to let the other party go through on the narrow cobblestone streets. It is not only appreciated but you will receive the universal dictator’s wave in return.
  • Don’t Screw with Tradition — not only are you are expected to yield to any procession, celebration, or party going on, you are expected to participate. Party on, Wayne! Party on.
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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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