I recently had a chat with geographer and author Tony Burton about his latest book MexicanKaleidoscope: myths, mysteries, and mystique (Sombrero Books, 2016, 165 pages), a wide-ranging collection of informative and often surprising vignettes gathered from Mexico’s rich history and culture. Tony’s unique book brings to light many little-known facts about this fascinating country and its people. A copy belongs on the bookshelf of every serious Mexicophile.
JM: You have been writing about Mexico for many years, what first got you interested in the country?
Tony: Necessity! I was teaching geography in the Caribbean and the examination syllabus required a study of Mexico. The Mexican chapters in Robert West and John P. Augelli’s wonderful book Middle America: Its Lands and Peoples were familiar friends by the time I spent the summer of 1977 touring the southern half of Mexico. Two years later, I returned to teach geography in Mexico City. The complexity of Mexico’s geography kept me hooked, which is why I jumped at the opportunity a few years ago to collaborate with Dr. Richard Rhoda to write Geo-Mexico, the Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico. Amazingly, that book (published to coincide with Mexico’s bicentenary celebrations in 2010) turned out to be the first ever English-language, college-level book devoted to Mexico’s geography. (For more details, see geo-mexico.com)Continue reading MEXICAN KALEIDOSCOPE: AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR TONY BURTON→
Taking place on the stunning beaches of Costa Careyes, Mexico from October 27-30, Ondalinda is a boutique music and lifestyle festival embarking on its first journey this year with the goal of awakening the senses of those that attend. On the grounds of one of the world’s most coveted travel destinations will arise a community bound by alluring music, captivating activities alongside the waters of Mexico’s coastline, and a deep dive into the local Huichol culture during Dia de los Muertos weekend. Continue reading Ondalinda To Bring an International Music Lineup to Mexico→
Mexico’s Craft beer producers will hold the first “RisingHop 2015” microbrew festival in Puerto Vallarta, at Parota Park on November 20 and 21, from 11 AM – 11 PM.
The aim is to promote the culture of craft beer that has been growing in the country, responsible consumption and family life, said Jose Armando Alvarado, organizer of the festival. ‘It’s a good opportunity for people from neighboring states like Guanajuato, Michoacán, San Luis Potosi, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Colima and Jalisco itself, to visit Puerto Vallarta and enjoy Mexico’s growing beer craft,” said Alvarado.
He noted that in Puerto Vallarta there are a variety of attractions, as it is renowned not only for its beaches and its wide variety of culinary styles, but also for the warmth and friendliness of the people in Vallarta.
The first festival will feature 5 pavilions that offer, in addition to beer and food tasting, art, entertainment and activities for visitors of all ages. In total there will be more than 10 craft beer stands offering local, national, and international brews, and 10 food vendors offering traditional regional cuisine and international foods.
RisingHop 2015 festival in Puerto Vallarta will include live music from local and national bands from electronic, jazz, blues, and rock.
The pavilions will also host a variety of crafts from the region, such as handicrafts, jams, organic honey, bags, dresses, jewelry, bread, and more.
For this festival, the participation of breweries Brewing Los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta, The Terrible, Brewery Colima, five brands from Michoacán Brewers Association, plus imported Belgian beer through The Beer Box.
Friends of Puerto Vallarta Pet Animals and Purr Project, which will be present in publicizing their work and raising awareness to people about caring for their pets. A portion of the entrance fee will be donated to the two associations.
The entry fee to RisingHop 2015 is 100 pesos and will include a full pint or two tastings and bracelet.
For people who come with family, there will be a nursery and playroom that will give small workshops, which will help kids develop their motor and mental skills by experienced psychologists.
Official website of event. http://risinghop.com/
The following post is courtesy of the wonderfully talented, Cristina Potters. Her blog (Mexico Cooks!) is incredibly successful and we are proud to have her as a contributor to share her knowledge, recipes, and gastronomical expertise about Mexico.
Mexico Cooks! couldn’t start the month of September without paying tribute to our iconic chiles en nogada (chiles in walnut sauce), the Mexican flag on your plate.
Mexico celebrates its independence the entire month of September with parades, parties, and traditional food and drink in restaurants and at home. The traditional festive dish during the weeks before and after the Independence Day holiday is chiles en nogada, a magnificent tribute to the seasonal availability of granadas (pomegranates) and walnuts. From mid- August till mid-October, fresh pomegranates and walnuts make chiles en nogada possible. Mildly spicy chiles poblano, stuffed with picadillo and topped with richly creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds, flaunt the brilliant green, white and red of the Mexican flag.
This festive dish is traditionally served especially on September 15 or 16 in honor of Mexico’s Independence Day, though it is popular anytime in the late summer and early fall. During August and September in the highlands of Mexico, particularly in Mexico City and Puebla, the dish is very popular. On streets bordering city markets and tianguis (street markets), you will see village women sitting on blankets painstakingly cracking open nutshells and peeling the thin brown skin from each freshly harvested walnut. It is important to use the freshest walnuts possible, as they produce such a creamy, rich sauce that it is worth the effort demanded to peel them. Yes, the recipe is time-consuming…but you and your guests will jump up and shout “VIVA!” when you’ve licked the platters clean.
For the Meat
• 2 pounds beef brisket or other stew meat or 1 pound beef and 1 pound pork butt
• 1 small white onion, quartered
• 2 large cloves garlic
• about 1 Tablespoon sea salt
For the picadillo
• 4 Tablespoons freshly rendered pork lard or canola oil
• 1/3 cup chopped white onion
• 3 large cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 3 heaping Tablespoons raisins
• 1 or 2 chiles serrano, finely minced
• 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans
• 2 Tablespoons chopped candied biznaga (cactus)
• 2 fresh peaches, skinned and diced
• 1 fresh pear, peeled and chopped
• 1 apple, peeled and chopped
• 1 extremely ripe platano macho (plantain)
• 1 large potato, peeled and diced
• 3 large, ripe tomatoes, roasted, peeled and chopped
• sea salt to taste
For the Chiles
6 fresh chiles poblano, roasted, peeled, and seeded, leaving the stem intact
For the Walnut Sauce
• 1 cup fresh walnuts
• 6 ounces doble crema or full-fat cream cheese at room temperature
• 1-1/2 cups crema mexicana or 1-1/4 cups sour cream thinned with milk
• about 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 Tablespoon sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 cup dry sherry
Cut the meat into large chunks, removing any excess fat. Place the meat into a large Dutch oven with the onion, garlic, and salt. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim off any foam that collects on the surface. Lower the heat and allow the water to simmer about 45 minutes, until the meat is just tender. Take the pot off the stove and let the meat cool in the broth. Remove the pieces of meat and finely shred them.
Warm the oil in a large, heavy skillet and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until they turn a pale gold. Stir in the shredded meat and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon, pepper, and cloves, then, stir in the raisins, the 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts. Add the chopped pear, apple, and potato, and mix well. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste, and continue cooking over medium-high heat until most of the moisture has evaporated. Stir often so that the mixture doesn’t stick. Let cool, cover, and set aside. The picadillo may be made 1 day in advance.
Make a slit down the side of each chile, just long enough to remove the seeds and veins. Keep the stem end intact. Drain the chiles on absorbent paper until completely dry. Cover and set aside. The chiles may be prepared a day in advance.
At least 3 hours in advance, place the 1 cup walnuts in a small pan of boiling water. Remove from the heat and let them sit for 5 minutes. Drain the nuts and, when cool, rub off as much of the dark skin as possible. Chop into small pieces. Place the nuts, cream cheese, crema, and salt in a blender and purée thoroughly. Stir in the optional sugar, cinnamon, and sherry, if using, until thoroughly combined. Reserve at room temperature.
The stuffed chiles pictured above were dipped into an egg coating and fried prior to finishing with walnut sauce and garnishes. In Mexico, passionate diners argue the pros and cons of coating the chiles; many insist that coating and frying is not traditional, and many insist that it is. Mexico Cooks! prefers chiles en nogada with no coating.
Preheat the oven to 250ºF. When ready to serve, reheat the meat filling and stuff the chiles until plump and just barely closed. Place the chiles on a serving platter or on individual plates, cover with the walnut sauce, and sprinkle with parsley and pomegranate seeds
This dish may be served at room temperature, or it may be served chilled.
Note: Many people in today’s busy world prefer to make this recipe using a mixture of ground rather than shredded beef and pork. Using this quick method, simply brown the ground meats and add the rest of the picadillo ingredients once the meats are browned. The results will be excellent!
JOYÀ, the spectacular show from Grupo Vidanta—a full-service tourism developer specializing in luxury resort development in Mexico—and Cirque du Soleil—a leading entertainment company—conquers the most demanding palate with an exquisite dinner created by Chef Alexis Bostelmann, an expert known for elevating traditional flavors to a new level.
After 10 years as executive corporate chef for Grupo Vidanta, including at the Vidanta Riviera Maya megaresort, Bostelmann is taking on a new project with a mission to create a world-class dining experience that promises to satisfy every bite with innovation and sophistication.
Bostelmann uses inspiration from the content of the JOYÀ show to develop a unique menu in partnership with Cirque du Soleil. The show highlights the magical journey of an aging alchemist and his granddaughter traveling through fantastical worlds on the relentless quest for the meaning of life.
“The idea was to combine culinary influence with the artistic appeal of the show. The theme merges cultural kitchens by infusing Mediterranean influences with Mexican ingredients,” said Bostelmann.
The evening experience begins with a selection of organic and mouth-watering appetizers. Regular and specialty options are available for the main course, including a catch of the day, prime rib, or vegetarian dishes. Dessert is presented in a spectacular, JOYÁ-inspired fashion – within a book – and Mercier champagne is glamorously paired with each course. Even the place settings are of impeccable custom-design.
“The dishes themselves consist of special pieces designed by artisans from Tlaquepaque. We also added some Michoacán elements to keep the Mexican essence,” said Bostelmann.
JOYÁ is performed in the Cirque du Soleil Theatre in Riviera Maya, which seats 600 people comfortably and includes a dining area, a champagne area, two bars and two lounge spaces. 194 seats are designed to be able to watch the show while eating dinner, 342 of the seats are arranged cabaret style with champagne offerings available and 64 seats are high barstools, all of which lead to a night of entertainment unlike any other.
Cirque du Soleil is primarily a creative content provider for a wide variety of unique projects. In addition to shows, the company, whose headquarters are located in Montreal, extends its creative talent to other spheres of activity. For any innovative project, Cirque du Soleil maintains rigorous standards of artistic quality and originality, and provides them with the same energy and spirit that characterizes each of its shows.
Cirque du Soleil is a Quebec -based organization providing high-quality artistic entertainment. Since its inception in 1984, nearly 150 million viewers in over 300 cities on six continents have been thrilled by Cirque du Soleil.
For more information about ONE DROP Foundation, please visit www.onedrop.org
About Grupo Vidanta
Grupo Vidanta is a full service tourism developer in Mexico and Latin America with practices in property architecture and product design, construction and operations. The company specializes in the development and operation of luxury resort and hotel brands in Mexico and counts AAA Five Diamond Award winning Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta and three AAA Four Diamond Award winning resorts – Grand Luxxe Riviera Maya, The Grand Bliss Nuevo Vallarta and The Grand Mayan Riviera Maya – among its impressive portfolio of more than 25 resorts and hotels.
Grupo Vidanta’s visionary approach to the development of luxury beach destinations brings vacation dreams to life via membership-based resorts and mega-resorts on the coastlines of Mexico’s most sought-after locations – Nuevo Vallarta, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, Acapulco, Puerto Peñasco, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán – with brands including Grand Luxxe, The Grand Bliss, The Grand Mayan, The Bliss, Mayan Palace, Ocean Breeze and Sea Garden, and more in development.
The company, which employs more than 12,000 individuals dedicated to design, development, construction and operations, is consistently recognized among the most revered employers in Latin America. Vidanta Golf is the largest operator of golf courses in Mexico, the real estate division has built and sold more than 2,000 vacation luxury homes, and the company is responsible for developing Mexico’s first privately built and owned airport, Mar de Cortés Internation Airport in Puerto Peñasco.
Grupo Vidanta was founded by Daniel Chávez Morán in 1974 and operates two foundations to enrich the lives of Latin Americans. For more information about Grupo Vidanta, visit http://www.grupovidanta.com
The newest trend in travel includes retreats customized and styled for you. 360Retreats, located in Mexico and the US, create exciting experiences for companies and travelers who want to take their vacation one step further with a vacation for the mind, body and soul.
360Retreats was born out of an idea to create customized retreats that fuel the body, ignite the soul and provide rich cultural experiences. But what sets 360 apart is that they not only plan and lead their own retreats, they plan retreats for companies so that the company can focus on their client or staff goals, all while 360 takes care of the rest. Retreats are no joke when it comes to benefits, but anyone who has planned and led one understands that they are complex logistical creatures. 360’s goal is to make it simple for you so that you can gain the maximum benefits!
360 is receiving requests from a variety of potential partners including fitness studios, spas and companies interested in professional development retreats for their staff. Their geographical expertise crosses Mexico, so start thinking about what setting fits your needs. Perhaps a boutique hotel surrounded by the aqua blue Caribbean, an eco-chic cabaña with a lush tropical jungle view or a mountain retreat with morning hikes and hot springs on the daily agenda. Of course you are wondering about their fees…. Well, get this – if you partner with 360 you will pay nothing and possibly even earn money depending on your arrangement and needs! It’s simple and straight forward and starts with you filling out a questionnaire. Then expect a personal call from Molly or Katherine Fisher (360 co-founders and sisters) to start working on the details.
Molly and Katherine also want to share their personal Mexico favorites with you, their treasured guest. Guests are bound to have their senses awakened with daily fitness classes, unique adventures such as a pyramid tour, a visit to a local hot springs, or a stand up paddle board session. And of course there are cultural activities that range from salsa dancing to preparing fresh local cuisine using native plants to creating an art piece with a local artisan. There is truly something for everyone! Whether on a Partner or Signature Retreat you can expect to experience another culture while reenergizing with fitness activities and indulging in fresh local food all while being surrounded by stunning and serene landscapes. Molly and Katherine are excited to share their journey with you. You can read more about them and 360 on their blog. — 360Retreats gives back a portion of their proceeds to further their mission.
July 23 – 28th, 2015 San Miguel de Allende MX, Guanajuato
September 2015 Isla Mujeres MX, Quintana Roo
2014 GOOD City Index Names 50 Most Inspiring Global Destinations; Cities That “Best Capture the Elusive Quality of Possibility” Using A Criteria of Eight Attributes
MEXICO CITY, Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Mexico City is ranked No. 3 on the GOOD City Index (GCI), which ranks the most inspiring cities in the world. The annual list compiled by GOOD, media company that also publishes the quarterly GOOD Magazine, features cities that deliver on eight key attributes that “best capture the elusive quality of possibility,”: progress, civic engagement, street life, defining moments, connectivity, green life, diversity and work/life balance.
GOOD praised Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera for his progressive approach to city government and reports reasons why Mexico City is continuing to emerge as a top global destination. In addition to Mexico City’s rich cultural history and deep traditions, the capital city is gaining acclaim as one of the world’s most influential culinary destinations citing attractions such as Michelin-starred restaurant Pujol and gastro-hall Mercado Roma. Mexico City also gained recognition for its sustainability innovations such as its bike share program and key initiatives overseen by Mayor Mancera including mobile health clinics, free uniform distribution, arts discount program for teens, expanded bike lanes and technological advances.
“It’s a huge honor for Mexico City to be recognized as one of the most inspiring cities in the world on the GOOD City Index,” said Armando Lopez Cardenas, director of the Mexico City Tourism Promotion Fund. “We welcome visitors from around the globe to experience our great city again or for the first time, whether for business or leisure. Now is an exciting time to visit Mexico City.”
North American cities include Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Santa Fe in the U.S. and Montreal and Vancouver in Canada. The GOOD City Index is available online now at http://magazine.good.is/guides/good-cities-index-2014.
Mexico City is the country’s premier tourism destination, welcoming more than 12.5 million visitors a year. The ancient capital offers a vibrant, contemporary culture that combines pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern influences that span nearly seven centuries. With more than 160 museums, 30 distinct archaeological and historic sites, and 100 art galleries, the city is a mecca of fine art and treasures that speak to its vast history. The Mexico City Tourism Promotion Fund (Fondo Mixto de Promocion Turistica del Distrito Federal) supports and enhances city tourism. For more information and daily updates please visit/follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MexicoCityLive) and Twitter (@MexicoCityLive).