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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Cooking in Puebla with my Mother, Mexico 2008


This Trip Report was originally written for the Fodor's Travel Forum.
I'm just back from a week in Puebla where I went with my mother for a cooking class. Highly recommended, it's an interesting town, not too touristy but lots to see.

We spent the first three nights at Meson Sacristia de Capuchinas, where we had the cooking class and then moved to its sister hotel the Meson Sacristia de la Compania. Both hotels are historic building, the Capuchinas is a more intimate property with a more modern feel (still lots of religious art) while Compania has a larger busier restaurant, bright pink decor and a more historical feel. We preferred the location  of la Compania because it's closer to the Zocalo. It's worth noting there's a club across the street and it is said to be noisy on the weekends, but it wasn't too bad during the week.



The service at both hotels was excellent, everyone was very friendly. We highly recommend  the five morning cooking class. It's a fairly serious class, real choppping and cooking, not just a demonstration but I greatly enjoyed the other people the chef and the translator. We made one visit to the market and ate lunch every day at Capuchinas after the class. We made several moles and a pipian with pumpkin seeds. Mole really was quite a lot of work to make but apparently it's often made and reduced to a paste which you can keep in the fridge for one year.

I was interested to find out that to qualify as a mole, a sauce apparently has to be made using the three techniques of Mexican cooking; roasting, frying and boiling. So much of the food was roasted which surprised me. Overall the class gave me an appreciation for the depth and sophistication of Mexican cuisine.

I highly recommend the guide Carlos Rivera who took us to Txcala and Cholula on an afternoon trip which we enjoyed. There was lots to see in Puebla, we were very impressed with the squares, markets, churches and all the interesting religious shops. We went to Mass on Sunday at the catherdral and found the devotion at the churches and shrines extraordinary, particularly at the Santa Monica Chapel.

Puebla is a great destination for those who have seen other parts of Mexico and are not looking for a beach or resort. It's very easy to get there by a first class bus which goes directly from Mexico City Airport.

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