Oaxaca, Mexico: Architecture

Oaxaca street

So, in my last post I showed you some food from our trip to Oaxaca, and here I wanted to show you a little of the town and surroundings. Excuse me if I’m a little picture happy. It was hard to choose.

Above is a street in Oaxaca, to give you an idea of the town. This street happens to be a pedestrian only zone, though I guess bench-sitters get a pass, too. Hey, if I could sit on a comfy pink bench on this street right now, I would.

Below is the Santo Domingo church. Georgeous. Love the landscaping out front, too.

Santo Domingo church, Oaxaca

And I’ve fallen hard for the church’s stone walls. The subtle color variations (and size variations, which you can see less well) are making me so, so happy. I think I’m going to have to use that colorway and grid pattern somewhere.

Stone Block Wall

Up next, a convent-turned-hotel. The walls are literally three feet thick. It’s a total dream. I have a thing for thick walls and courtyard gardens.

Convent hotel

Here and there, on the former convent walls, you’ll see little bits of painting:

Floral border

Wall painting

Rose painting

And lastly, just outside Oaxaca are the pyramids of Monte Alban. From the top, the view of the area is breathtaking.

Monte Alban

Monte Alban dandelions

I’d love to show you some of the handicrafts Oaxaca is famous for, but I think I’ll have to show you after Christmas, since several that I bought are gifts for others.

Up next, hopefully I’ll have time to post a few Christmas-themed items. I’ve been trying to be really nose-to-the-grindstone on my writing projects. Back to work for me! Be well.

Oaxaca, Mexico: Food

Ancho Chile Relleno

So, the secret destination I mentioned earlier was Oaxaca (say “wah-HOCK-ah”), Mexico. I love this city! I had visited once 15 years ago and always dreamed of going back.

The capital city of the state of Oaxaca, it’s like a jewel-box deep in heart of the southern mountains of Mexico, full of stunning architecture, intricate handicrafts, and oh yes, fantastic food.

The top photo was my first meal there, an ancho chile relleno next to plaintain mash with Oaxacan cheese. Surprisingly, it was actually a lot prettier than it was flavorful, but I enjoyed trying it anyway.

Below are the appetizers from that night, including, from the back of the slate platter, cheese, guacamole, and chapulinas. Chapulinas are a Oaxacan specialty—roasted grasshoppers!


Our Mexican friends told us that if you eat one, it means you get to come back to Oaxaca. It would be a lie to say they’re my favorite dish, but I was super glad I DID eat one 15 years ago. So glad, in fact, that I ate several more, hoping I will for sure get to visit again.

Below you see chiles drying at a restaurant where we ate lunch. The set up was unusual—you walk through the kitchen area up to the roof to eat. Sadly I didn’t take pics of the wonderful chicken red mole enchiladas I had.

Mole is a type of sauce involving many ingredients, including cocoa, which was first cultivated in ancient Mesoamerica. There are many different kinds of mole, and they’re not at all sweet, so don’t worry, it’s not at all like eating candy on your meat.

From the rooftop of the lunch restaurant, there’s a view of the historic Santo Domingo church, and we had great seats to see a traditional wedding celebration going out of the church, complete with dancers, costumes, and these enormous puppets that lead the way to the reception.


Lastly, here’s a photo (from the same location) of Caldo de Piedra, or “Stone Soup.” I couldn’t actually eat it, since I can’t do shellfish, but it was fascinating to watch our chef cook it, tableside.

The rocks were heated to such a high degree that when they were placed in the bowls of raw food (shellfish and broth, veggies), the liquid immediately boiled like mad. After a few moments, the liquid cooled a bit, and the chef removed the first stones and added a second hot stone to each bowl.

Caldo de Piedra

If you look closely, you can see the beautiful handcarving on the bowls, which are made of what I gather is a kind of gourd.

Delicious foods not pictured: duck tacos, Oaxacan tamales (wrapped in banana leaves), hot chocolate, and eggs smothered in fantastic sauces. Breakfast was not to be missed.

More on Oaxaca to come. Hope you have a great weekend. It’s like 75 degrees here today. I can’t believe it’s December!

Simple Bean Tostadas

I whipped these up the other night with a favorite basic bean filling recipe. It’s from Stephen Raichlen’s Healthy Latin Cooking. It’s a great book, but funny enough, as with many cookbooks, I gravitate toward one very simple recipe and just make it over and over. I really have to explore it more but for now, here’s the recipe. It actually is part of a dish called Bean Tortillas with Honduran “Butter,” but I’ve only ever made the bean part, though I’m sure the complete three-part recipe would be great.

Bean Topping:

adapted from Stephen Raichlen’s Healthy Latin Cooking

1 1/2 cups cooked or canned red kidney beans (available in Germany! as opposed to black beans, which I have yet to find)

3 TB minced onions (I use dried when I’m in a hurry)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 cup chicken stock

In a skillet or saucepan over high heat, combine the beans, onions, garlic, cumin, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until all the stock has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Mash the beans with the back of a spoon.

I put the beans on top of a toasted corn tortilla, then added avocado and a homemade salsa made with tomatoes, onion, and a little of some kind of green chili that you find here. It’s not jalapeno but it’ll do.

If you know me well, you’ve surely heard me mourn the dearth of Mexican food in Germany. Thankfully a friend introduced me to www.mex-al.de, where you can order, among other delicacies, corn tortillas. You can get the flour kind in the grocery store, but to me, corn tortillas are the taste of Mexico.

For those of you who enjoyed the cauliflower recipe awhile back, I also tried  a cauliflower curry with toasted cashews  from the same blog recently, and it was delicious. Or as we say in German, lecker, lecker, lecker! True to form, I didn’t follow the recipe entirely. I’ve had so much success with the Thai Kitchen recipe on the back of the coconut milk can that I hated to veer from it and just don’t have time in my life right now to grind my own curry powder (though I do have a spice grinder and do believe in doing stuff like that). So, I used the 101 cookbooks recipe as an inspiration point, adding snow peas instead of green beans and oops, didn’t have red onion so I left that out, too. The toasted cashews really make it.