Cooking with Jorge and Beto at Casa Jacaranda

Today my students will celebrate Cinco de Mayo this afternoon in class, and no Cinco de Mayo celebration would be complete without tales from a Mexican kitchen!

In April I booked myself a cooking class in Mexico City with Jorge and Beto at Casa Jacaranda. This was my first cooking class ever, and it truly enriched my culinary life!

aguacate and jítomate inside Mercado Medellín

aguacate and jítomate inside Mercado Medellín

Along with two other students, I met Jorge Fitz and Beto Estúa outside of Mercado Medellín in foodie neighborhood La Roma. There we shopped for the ingredients we would need for the day’s lesson. Here at this marchante (merchant) we learned the difference between tomate and jítomate. In Mexico, tomate is what I think of as a tomatillo or green tomato, and jítomate is what I think of a regular red tomato. Naturally the language teacher in me was super-excited to learn the Mexican usage of these words.

tortilla factory in La Roma

tortilla factory in La Roma

Across the street was a tortillería. Head to my Google+ page to see videos and more photos of the tortilla-making process. I had never been to a tortilla factory before, and after seeing the various steps in the process, I felt I had taken them for granted until then.

I wish I had a green guacamole dish!

I wish I had a green guacamole dish!

This guacamole dish has been in Jorge’s family for more than 30 years. I believe he said it was his grandmother’s. I think of my grandmother’s Slovak kitchen and so many old, trusty, reliable bowls and tools come to mind. It’s so cool to see what all abuelas have in common!

¡chapulines!

¡chapulines!

Spicy fried chapulines, or grasshoppers, for noshing while cooking. I saw Jorge and Beto add them to their tortillas and guacamole for a tangy crunch! Not much more to say there! Nom nom.

the amazing cooking space at Casa Jacaranda

the amazing cooking space at Casa Jacaranda

Aside from fresh local ingredients and gorgeous cooking tools, visiting Jorge and Beto’s house is a treat in and of itself. They have lots of living plants inside along with eclectic artwork. Any visit to Casa Jacaranda is energizing with its vibrant colors and charismatic hosts! The 1913 house is one of the oldest in Colonia Roma, and the flowering indigo-violet jacaranda tree makes it feel really magical!

close-up of jítomate and tomates heating up for our salsas!

close-up of jítomate and tomates heating up for our salsas!

Here are some of my obligatory food close-ups. Those readers who know me are aware of my foodtography obsession.

salsa roja

salsa roja

Salsas are something else I have always taken for granted. Now I understand all the work that goes on behind the scenes of the smoky flavors, fresh crispy veggies, and spicy chiles!

giant boiled banana leaf; masa; molé, shredded chicken

giant boiled banana leaf; masa; molé, shredded chicken

It is such a whirlwind to think back on everything we made that day. After all, we started at the market at 9:30am and were only eating around 4pm. I can’t think of a better way to spend an entire day. This was my first time ever making a tamale. We filled giant boiled banana leaves with corn masa, molé sauce, and shredded chicken. Then they went into the pot to steam. Beto demonstrated the proper folding techniques. I was about to say I was a natural until the molé sauce started dripping out the sides.

mini-tamale

mini-tamale

We added mini-tamales to the pot, which were wrapped up in regular corn husks. These were harder to manipulate and roll up, as they were smaller.

prep of mushroom tortilla

prep of mushroom tortilla

Another new experience for me was using the machine that flattens the corn masa into tortillas for quesadillas. Jorge and Beto were super-accommodating of my non-dairy diet, so I was in charge of my own little machine on which I made delicious mushroom pockets.

gorgeous table up on Casa Jacaranda's rooftop terrace

gorgeous table up on Casa Jacaranda’s rooftop terrace

Shortly before 4pm we headed upstairs to the rooftop terrace under the jacaranda tree and discovered this beautiful table set and ready for us.

my dairy-free gluten-free “quesadilla con hongos”

My mushroom pockets came out great. Our salsas were quite spicy and so was the guacamole that I was in charge of making! I appreciated the guacamole lesson, as I make it nearly every day at home!

the outcome of the banana leaf tamale

the outcome of the banana leaf tamale

My tamale came out awesome! The molé was sweet, spicy, and chocolatey! I encourage you to check out my Google+ page again for pictures of the decadent dessert flan and zapote pudding!

Booking yourself a day at Casa Jacaranda is a must-do for any trip to Mexico City. It is not to be missed. As wonderful as the food truly is, and as splendid as the house is, it is absolutely Jorge and Beto themselves who make it such a wonderful experience. I will never forget the day I spent learning from Jorge and Beto in Mexico City!

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7 Comments on “Cooking with Jorge and Beto at Casa Jacaranda”

  1. Mattias May 5, 2015 at 14:54 #

    Awesome!

  2. Lisa Young May 6, 2015 at 10:55 #

    Very cool! I hope your students enjoyed Cinco de Mayo!

    • Marisa LaValette May 6, 2015 at 12:12 #

      Thanks Lisa! We ate guacamole and chips and watched the History Channel Cinco de mayo presentation and had fun!

  3. eufemania July 13, 2015 at 12:05 #

    Hey Marisa! I hadn’t had the chance to read your blog! Keep it up, girl! I really enjoy it! Thanks for posting about your Casa Jacaranda Experience.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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