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Ventana - An Enchanting Resort in BIg Sur

Summary: I love Ventana. I highly recommend visiting  and exploring the landscape at Lime Kiln and Andrew Molera State Park which I've blogged about here. Please note this is #notsponsored . Yes, that means we paid our own bill! Lots of details in the following review. including a Post Ranch vs Ventana comparison.  Can you tell there's something exciting beyond this beautiful gate? There's something special about Big Sur, a magic in the light, the presence of the Pacific, the cliffs, beaches, redwood forests and the murmur of the surf. It's one of my favorite places in California. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be to celebrate turning fifty, because it's a place where there's a sense of nature, space and light and a wide horizon. We've been to Big Sur many times and for a celebration there are two fantastic hotels vying for your attention. The exclusive, modern and very private, cliff top Post Ranch Inn and on the other side of the road the …

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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