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A Cook's Tour to Mexico with Nancy Zaslavsky

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In the garden

My friend Nancy just sent me word on her two latest tours to Mexico and I wanted to pass them on to you. - Steve

A Cook's Tour to Mexico with Nancy Zaslavsky

Hola! Working way too hard? Is the euro/dollar too painful to contemplate a European holiday? Why not try an AFFORDABLE vacation packed with world-class food, fun, drink and culture?

It’s never too early to start thinking about a winter break! Please consider joining my small groups of ten participants on week-long culinary tours in January or February 2009. Both tours offer a glance into the rich culture and cuisine of two very different, exciting Mexican travel destinations.

VERACRUZ January 22 to 28, 2009

Depressed over the headline’s penny-pinching panic? The truth is, airfares are dropping like ripe papayas while the peso is at an all-time low against a mile high dollar! Leave chilly winter gloom behind for sunny days with marimba-filled balmy nights, delectable day-long adventures to historical locations, and—best of all— Mexico’s greatest selection of seafood. Come on—raise your spirits by heading to Veracruz with me this January!

I've been traveling to tropical, balmy Veracruz for over a dozen years bringing groups for a taste of the freshest and most outrageously delicious fish and seafood in Mexico! Here’s your chance to enjoy Veracruz’s world-class dishes like “Huachinango (true Gulf red snapper) Veracruzana” with tomatoes, capers, onions and olives; “Pompano Mojo de Ajo” with over-the-top, sticky, crunchy, caramelized garlic; or a slew of vibrant shellfish cocktales. Shrimp abounds—we savor dishes from fresh and saltwater varieties, tiny and huge, sweet and delectable. Get a kick out of table salsas ground from fresh and dried chiles, sip the richest coffee in Mexico, and sample exotic tropical fruit ice creams. We taste everything! Follow me as I roam the city’s traditional marketplace explaining local ingredients, and dine with me in casual-to-sophisticated restaurants while we devour specialties of the region. Plenty of time is set aside to shop for true Panama hats, cool guayabera shirts, coral jewelry, vanilla beans and dried chiles and herbs—all awesome souvenirs.

Our hotel is a few blocks from the Veracruz zócalo (main square) and just steps off the famous Malecón waterside walkway. Air-conditioned rooms have large, private bathrooms and there is a crystal clear swimming pool for relaxing in comfort. The hotel is home base for day trips via a comfortable, air-conditioned van.

We tour Xalapa (also spelled Jalapa), the state's capital high in misty coffee plantation-filled hills, home to a stunning anthropological museum boasting one of the most spectacular pre-Hispanic art collections in the country. We also visit Antigua, claiming to be the spot Cortez and his soldiers landed in Mexico—his ancient building’s encrusted overgrowth is a spectacular jungle site. A stroll away is an equally spectacular thatched roof restaurant to enjoy an afternoon of culinary bliss. Boca del Rio, south of the city, is a seafood lover’s dream village come true, where river meets lagoon meets Gulf. Further south is colonial Tlacotalpan, a beautifully pastel-painted riverside town and UNESCO site packed with our photo ops.

Nighttime festivities in Veracruz include reveling on a music-filled zócalo under the stars. We dance danzón, sway to marimba, croon along with mariachis and be charmed by native jarocho musicians playing lively harps. It’s all here. All at once! Every night!

The price for this tour is $2300. All meals included. Tour fees do not include airfare, or inexpensive taxi to/from the airport and hotel. Fee includes 6 nights hotel, all meals when taken with the group including daily full breakfast, tastings, tours, museum/site entrance fees and all local tour transportation. Hotel is double occupancy with a $400 supplement for single occupancy. Space is limited to only ten participants.

To register for this tour, a 50% deposit is required. Send checks (made out to Nancy Zaslavsky) with an application on website: www.nancyzaslavsky.com and mail to address on application. Balance is due 60 days prior to start of tour.

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE February 12 to 18, 2009
Attention shoppers! Hark! The dollar hasn’t been this strong against the peso for years. Here’s your chance to buy that hand painted Talavera pottery service for twelve with matching lamps and urns you’ve been dreaming about, or the set of custom made dining tables crafted from antique doors, or how about those dozens of hand woven tablecloths in myriad stunning colors? Besides terrific regional foods and exciting marketplaces San Miguel de Allende is a shopping paradise for fine art, jewelry, silver, pewter, brass, glassware, wrought iron and a bevy of trés cool decorating items.

February is the perfect time of year to visit everyone’s favorite Mexican hill town (alt. 6100') as weather is at its best. Warm, sunny days and cool evenings are great for touring and sleeping.

The sophisticated, art and music-filled town boasts superlative shopping. Contemporary and traditional art galleries, top folk art shops, clothing boutiques, antique stores and interior design shops housed within Spanish colonial buildings offer something for every taste. The artisan market and traditional marketplaces make souvenir shopping a blast!

Home base is a beautifully restored colonial house with lucious gardens, ideally situated only a block from the town square.

For ground transportation, an air-conditioned van swooshes us off to Guanajuato, the state capital, old silver mining capital, and home of noted potter Gorky Gonzalez. Then it's to historic Dolores Hidalgo, now celebrated for quality Talavera pottery. We shop in factories and showrooms offering lead-free and dishwasher-safe products (they pack and ship).

Talented chefs pamper us with special regional dishes and meals. We’ll have a comida (mid-afternoon main meal of the day) at a stunning private home with gorgeous gardens, prepared by one of town’s best traditional cooks.

Everyone’s favorite evening is when I lead a tequila class (Olé!). I'll also be teaching two, fun, hands-on cooking classes followed by meals of our scrumptious creations. We tour a local cheese factory and then throw a wine and cheese party honoring the exceptional cheeses. Of course we pig-out on pork carnitas (the real deal!), stuffed chiles, moles, gorditas, huitlacoche-stuffed crepes and much, much more.

The price for this tour is $2300. All meals included.

Tour fees do not include airfare, or van/taxi to/from the airport and hotel. Fee includes 6 nights hotel, all meals when taken with the group including daily full breakfast, tastings, tours, museum/site entrance fees and all local tour transportation. Hotel is double occupancy with a $400 supplement for single occupancy. Space is limited to only ten participants.

To register for this tour, a 50% deposit is required. Send checks (made out to Nancy Zaslavsky) with an application on website: www.nancyzaslavsky.com and mail to address on application. Balance is due 60 days prior to start of tour.



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