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Agave Girls Roadtrip 2015 #LaninaMX

May has just begun, and it seems like life over the last couple of months has been on a nonstop whirlwind of experiences, excitement, and encounters with some of my favorite people in the industry. April began on a high note when I met Éva Pelczer, Jen Len, and Hilary Chadwick (3 of my favorite LA girls) at the historic center of Guadalajara, where we would embark on an incredible journey through central Mexico and into the Valleys of Oaxaca in search of all things agave. We took a roadtrip through 5 states – in only 9 days – drank all the tequila and all the mezcal, and hung out with many amazing producers and people in the industry!

Day 1: We arrived in Guadalajara early Monday morning and headed off to find breakfast in Downtown/Historic Center, while we patiently awaited the call from the one and only Ingeniero Carlos C. Camarena welcoming us to visit his distillery that afternoon.

Next stop, Arandas!

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At La Alteña Distillery, Magally Franco guided us through the production process and we learned about the influences and importance of terroir on each batch of tequila. Tequila Ocho takes a different approach towards its expressions by bottling a different batch every year from the agave that is grown in a specific field or rancho. We then proceeded to the tasting with Carlos and Magally, comparing an earthy and peppery 2013 Blanco from Los Fresnos to the more herbal 2015 vintage from La Latilla. Talk about a perfect afternoon…

IMG_0001Day 2: The next day we set off to Tequila Valley, to visit the infamous Guillermo Erickson Sauza at one of the few remaining traditional tequila distilleries: La Fortaleza. Guillermo was amazing and, while we were tasting all the expressions of Tequila Fortaleza, he shared his family’s inspiring history with us, beginning with the story of how his great great grandfather Don Cenobio founded his first distillery (La Perseverancia) in 1873, becoming the first person to export “mezcal de tequila” to the United States.

We then climbed up the hill to the lookout where we were in awe of the stunning views of the valley covered in blue agave, while we sipped on a bottle of Fortaleza Reposado which Hilary cleverly brought along from the tasting… Well done Hilary, well done.

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Day 3: By Wednesday, we were on the road again heading towards Morelia, the capital of the state of Michoacan. When we arrived we were greeted by our good friends Ahmed Oszu Medina, Juan Pablo Sanchez Naranjo and Chef Fermín Ambás, founders of Tata Mezcaleria, who had prepared a decadent meal for us paired with some extraordinary mezcals from Michoacan made from Inaequidens and Cupreata agaves.

IMG_0331_2IMG_7548After lunch, we walked a couple of blocks down towards the acueducto to Tatita, their sister mezcaleria, where we indulged in more fine mezcal accompanied by Cotija cheese and mini Victorias.

10570558_524036271068510_2021874697844422805_nDay 4: Following our magnificent day in Morelia, we hit the road towards Mexico City, or more commonly known as D.F. (De Effe),  where the girls got down to business and started prepping for their guest bartending session at one of Mexico City’s hippest cocktail bars: Limantour Roma. Everyone who attended can pretty much agree that the girls brought their A-game that night and came together to create an amazing menu inspired by the beginning of our trip through the valleys of Jalisco, the colonial architecture of Morelia and the rush of Mexico City. Las Niñas del Mezcal night at Limantour will be one for the books!

IMG_0265_2Day 5: On the mezcal trail towards Oaxaca! But first, a quick pit stop at the other City of Angels: Puebla, for lunch. We had a fantastic traditional meal at El Mural de Los Poblanos, in the middle of Puebla’s iconic historic center, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site as one of the best preserved Spanish Colonial treasures in Mexico. Oh, qué bella es Puebla!

By nightfall we were in the one place where everything always seems to make sense (well, at least to me it does): OAXACA!!

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Day 6: Once in Oaxaca, it was all about one thing: mezcal! On Saturday morning, we met up with our friend Asis Cortés and we headed towards Santiago Matatlán. After getting our Pulque fix and one or two mezcals later, we drove towards the small town of San Baltazar where we tasted some wild Tepextate and Tobala. This is pretty much the moment where, in the middle of the Oaxacan Sierra, everything is good with the world and nothing else matters. Well, except maybe a tlayuda… which is precisely what we did next.

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Day 7: On Sunday, we decided to just enjoy the city and we walked through the green cobbled streets with no particular plan in mind. But as usual in Oaxaca, one can often find themselves in the most unexpected places, and while visiting our friends at the Mezcalillera (pretty much Oaxaca’s best mezcal store) we were invited to the PigNic, a collaborative brunch organized by some of the IMG_0275city’s best chefs including Ricardo Lemus from Mezquite and Rodolfo Castellanos from Origen, where we bumped into more friends and Oaxaca’s culinary elite: Jaime Muñoz from Danzantes and Chef Pilar Cabrera from La Olla.

That night, we took a break from mezcal and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate at Mayordomo, just as the first drops of rain were beginning to hit the ground, where Éva took a shot at frothing up our chocolate with a traditional molinillo. Good job Éva!

Day 8: The next day we were ready to head back to D.F. I must admit, after seven days of travelling nonstop, we were a bit tired by this point but the great city awaited! After arriving home, and recovering with a quick nap, we were off to the trendy neighborhood of Condesa to have a drink. To our disappointment, Baltra was closed that night, but to our great fortune Jair Tellez’ Merotoro was just across the street and the idea of a drink swiftly changed into a magnificent culinary experience.

IMG_0476Day 9: Last day in D.F.! The perfect way to end our agave girls trip: Tecate lights, Mariachis and a serene ride aboard a trajinera through the picturesque canals and floating gardens of Xochimilco. South of the city, hidden from the chaos, in between markets, cement houses, and busy streets lie the remains of what was once a rich agriculture district at the time of the Conquista. A little bit of culture and pleasure, not a bad way to spend the day relaxing with my girls.

That night, we all went out for one last dinner to Chef Enrique Olvera’s Pujol, where we enjoyed a superb 6 course meal that made us reminisce about every single extraordinary experience that we shared together during our adventures through Mexico.

Éva, Jen and Hilary: thank you for this one of a kind, unforgettable experience! I feel lucky to have such remarkable and extraordinary women in my life! 

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