TAPALPA (the land of color), in the State of Jalisco, is a picturesque town of red tiled roofs, white walls, wooden doors, windows wider than they are tall has been designated as one of Mexico’s “Magical Towns”. It is a popular mountain tourist destination and many Tapatios (people from Guadalajara) have weekend homes here. Many artists have found a relaxing yet creative atmosphere in and around Tapalpa. Around the plaza you can visit galleries featuring primitive paintings by local artist Carlos Enriquez and the works of Maestro Marco and his students who create works of art from recycled paper and other objects. The 300 year old church of San Antonio has been turned into a cultural and art center featuring the works of Mexican artists. While here you can also purchase delicious fresh cheese, cream, candies and home made preserves. Though discovered, Tapalpa has not been in any way spoiled. Surrounded by attractive scenery, its people remain friendly, its festivals authentic and its pace unhurried.
DAY ONE: Leaving Ajijic we travel to Amacueca to visit the 16h century Franciscan Church and Monastery. Here we can buy organic coffee that has been grown in the backyards of people living in the village. From here we continue on our way to Tapalpa. Upon arrival we check into the charming hotel La Casona de Manzano a recently restored family home from the 19th century. The rooms are spacious and all have fireplaces. Lunch will be at one of the restaurants facing the lovely plaza. The afternoon is free for you to explore the town and visit the shops and artisan galleries. Later in the day we go to Doña Tere’s Bakery, the most famous bakery in Tapalpa, where she will demonstrate how she makes the traditional breads and cookies of the area. Dinner will be at El Meson de los Angeles which features fine Mexican cuisine.
DAY TWO: After breakfast at the hotel we have several hours to explore the area before coming back to our hotel where Malena Isabel Villaseñor will conduct our “Like Water for Chocolate” hands-on cooking class. This style of cooking developed during the period of Porfirio Diaz (1890 – 1910). It’s a fusion of pre-Hispanic, Spanish, French and Austrian cooking. You may recall if you read the book “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquirel how each chapter starts out with a recipe from this period. The recipes Malena will teach us to prepare have been in her family for many generations. We are very fortunate as she very seldom gives them out to others. The fantastic dishes we prepare will be our dinner for the day. The evening is free for walking and sitting in the very attractive and active plaza or relaxing in your room.
DAY THREE: Before breakfast Señora Irma Manzano, the owner of our hotel, will demonstrate the preparation of our breakfast. One of the dishes she will prepare is a spinach tamale made with spinach, corn and cheese but not wrapped in corn husks as is traditional in this area. It is not like any tamale you have ever had. At 1:30 we leave for home but first stop at La Mezcalera restaurant for a delicious comida of typical Tapalpa wood roasted lamb, rabbit, quail and chicken. The owner will demonstrate how the meats are prepared and roasted. We arrive in Ajijic around 6:00 PM.
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