One of the most rewarding ways to discover the food, culture and traditions of any place you are visiting is to spend a few hours with a local cook perusing the markets, and if you are lucky, having them teach you to prepare some authentic dishes. The mark of a truly exceptional experience of this kind is when you depart feeling that you have spent a day with long lost family. This is the feeling you are sure to have when leaving Casa Jacaranda, the stunning home of Beto Estúa and Jorge Fitz in the quaint Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. Although Beto and Jorge are quick to reject being labeled “chefs,” they are undeniably extremely talented cooks.
Your morning with Beto and Jorge begins with a brief stop at a local tortilleria, where the warm scent of toasted corn fills the air and the tortillas are made using the same ancient process as the Aztecs. Then it’s off to nearby Mercado Medellin, a local market with over 500 stalls featuring specialties from all over Mexico and Latin America. Armed with an arsenal of “abuela-approved” recipes (Beto and Jorge will go over the menu, and suggest creative substitutions for any dietary constraints), your hosts will guide you through the market, stopping at the best vendors for various items like Oaxaca cheese, dried chiles and smoked habanero salsa, and collecting the freshest ingredients for the afternoon feast.
After a short walk through the tree-lined streets of Colonia Roma, you arrive at Casa Jacaranda, named for the towering Jacaranda tree that delights with beautiful purple blooms in the spring. Beto and Jorge have lovingly restored the early 19th Century home, which is sparkling clean and adorned with funky art and perfectly-curated furniture. The centerpiece is the custom cooking area they built for their guests, which lends to a feeling of being at a fun cooking party at your friend’s house. The day’s menu is scrolled on a giant chalkboard on the wall, and Beto and Jorge expertly guide you through preparing each dish, encouraging you to get your hands dirty and sharing tricks and secrets they swore to their grandmothers they’d never tell. Staples like guacamole, Smoky Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa, and coconut flan with caramel, are accompanied by more complex dishes like mole poblano, enchiladas with salsa verde, sweet corn tamales, and squash blossom and mushroom stuffed molotes.
The impressive Mexican spread is then transported to the rooftop garden, and invited guests can join the lunchtime festivities. An aperitif of artisanal mezcal gets your taste buds jumping, followed by a complimentary selection of wine or perhaps a bespoke tequila sunrise made with fresh-squeezed orange juice and housemade grenadine. The exquisite food slowly disappears as stories are swapped, laughs are shared, the afternoon sun slowly fades away, and sobremesa – that magical time spent around the table with friends after an extraordinary meal; a word that has no precise English translation – sets in.
– Taste of Adventure