I stumbled on this with Jetsetter way back in April not long after returning from the Yucatan and had always wanted to see more of the 'authentic' side of Mexico away from the tourist spots and beaches as well as learn how to make real Mexican food and this fit it perfectly. We arrived and Robb was waiting for us and had a chance to meet some of the people we'd be with during our stay. We started our journey at 3 am so by the time we arrived we were exhausted but had a delicious margarita and fresh chips with guacamole and woke up immediately. This was followed by the chef's dinner and it didn't disappoint, it was so unique and tasty. The next three days Chef Ana took us to the markets, explained the culture and history of the area and of course taught us invaluable techniques when preparing Mexican food. The program says that what you will make us for lunch but there was so much food and by the time we sat down to eat I couldn't think of having more (except for maybe some more wine of course).
Tepoztlan: Beautiful unique city. There's no waterways but the closest I can describe it was like Venice, it was so quiet and relaxing, and just had that vibe. I loved walking around and just exploring the city. The people are so friendly and nice, by the third day we knew we were going to miss the place when we left. It's very hilly but not tiring to walk.
La Villa Bonita grounds: Beautiful as well! It's up on top of the hill so you can see the whole city. The rooms were great, each one was unique and the room service cleaned everyday. Wifi was excellent which was helpful since I needed to keep in touch with work while away. It's all very open with common areas to sit and chat after a day of cooking, playing with their dog Mojo, and if you want its easy to escape to your room and just relax and unwind. A lot of reviews said it was noisy at night but I never heard a thing.
The lessons: Excelente! I learned so much and when I returned I immediately put it to use. I can finally make tortillas and beans that are light years beyond anything available locally. There are recipes Chef Ana teaches at all levels from complex to the simple. I learned great techniques with each one.
Safety: I only bring this up because it seems to be on everyone's mind but there wasn't anytime I was there that I felt unsafe, it even felt ridiculous that I was even slightly worried before arriving.
Misc: Robb and Ana, along with everyone really were very helpful the whole time. I had lots of questions beyond cooking and they always had great insight and were helpful. The people who were with us were great and became friends quickly. It's amazing how much one week can change your perspective and what you can learn.
Things to do besides cook: We were on a slightly different package then the rest of the people with us so we had more downtime which was no problem. The church and monastery is beautiful and has a wonderful museum. If you are adventurous you can hike up 1.5 miles to the Tepozteco pyramid and see the most amazing view of the city. Cuernavaca is close by as well and heard you can get a cab ride for $5-$10. In the end we didn't have enough time to do everything we wanted so you won't be bored for sure.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Chef Ana Garcia invites you join her in a unique culinary experience created for true food lovers. Chef Ana's 6 bedroom boutique culinary home boasts an enormous open air kitchen with a spectacular view, pool carved out of a volcanic rock, and an organic citrus and vegetable garden. Enjoy a gourmet chef's table with Chef Ana made from local ingredients or try your own hand at cooking traditional Mexican delicacies with our famous culinary vacation packages or build your own package. Make tortillas from scratch, build a mole with your own hands, enjoy the best tamales you have ever had on our elevated terrace. Don't stay in a regular hotel - have a culinary adventure at La Villa Bonita. ... more less
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