Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back In the Lab

The new year, wrapped in an apron.

As December surrenders to the New Year we finally exhale and settle, for a time, in Oaxaca. A small home with a simple furnishing, our own music and a two gas ring stove. After three days riding the bus from Mercado de Abastos to our street with a few of minor additions in tow, we are just about as set as we need to be.

So let it begin. After four months on the road, I finally have my own stash of chile chipotle, a kilo of cocoa beans, and a tortilla maker to play with amongst the rest. Down two flights of stairs, a great queseria (cheese store) selling daily made chorizo, Oaxacan cheese, tortillas –still warm when i pick them up– and too many other great things for me not to start thinking about exercise.

Over the next six months, I will be trying out the recipes collecting from the 20 or so Mexican cities we have vivited on this trip. So it is that I'll find myself in the Lab, pen and knife poised to amend, correct and consume. But not quite yet.

The first night, very tired, we celebrated our little space by putting together a few things we'd picked up in El Mercado. We had a simple mushroom and jalapeño quesadilla, and a small bowl of salsa roja. The Oaxaca cheese that binds the quesadilla is hard to find anywhere else in the world, so it can be reasonably substituted for a blend of good bocconcini and feta provided they are melted together. Oaxaca cheese, or quesillo (kay-see-yo) is truly one of the wonders of the Mexican kitchen. This semi-soft cheese is made from slightly soured cows milk, curded then stretched and wound into balls. It has a wonderfully unobtrusive flavour, slightly salty yet sweet as it is still very young at it best. The photos below show how it is dealt with: easily pulled apart by the grain of its stringy-curd form. I won't bore you with the recipe, you can see the steps below. The real recipe is the same as all the others: just good things treated well, as they should be.

Wishing you all a safe and peaceful New Year amongst your favourite people.

Trav & Karin


  1. Hey guys! Blogs sounding great! Can't wait to try some recipes with some of the local amigos. Not sure they will taste as fresh or authentic down here (must be something in our water!) but will give it a red hot go.
    Looking forward to a couple of cocktail recipes if you can find them - my tequila sunrise just doesn't thrill me like it used to... xoxo sim

  2. Do let us know if you try any of the recipes - and if you have trouble finding any of the Mexican ingredients we might be able to suggest a stockist in Australia or know a suitable alternative.

    As for cocktails I did have a rather delicious drink called a "coco loco" (crazy coconut) on a beach in Tecolutla. I discovered later when I ordered another down the road they could be either amazingly good or devastatingly bad. The second was considerably more potent. Both led to fun nights regardless...

  3. This Tequila Sunrise recipe comes courtesy of one Carlos Jacott. Round Oaxaca we are lucky to be blessed with the finest of Mescals, and we don't mix them with anything but friends and food. This looks good to me though.

    60ml good white Tequila
    45ml fresh lime juice
    1-2 tablespoon Grenadine
    1 teaspoon egg white
    Crushed ice, as desired.

    Blend all together until frothy, pour into a chilled glass and have yourself a time.