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Unforgettable cooking class in Oaxaca

I've been in Oaxaca for about two months now, halfway through my four-month stay, and I've been avidly eating and learning as much as I can about the food. I went to two classes at Susana Trilling's "Seasons of My Heart" school and loved it, but I had one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life learning to make mole negro in a Oaxacan home with a Oaxacan grandmother. I met Senora Soledad through cooking classes at my Spanish language school, and for $350 pesos or about $35 each, my friend and I spent all day with her and her family in their home just outside Oaxaca making mole negro, from deseeding the chiles to toasting them on a comal in her outdoor wood-burning kitchen, to taking the entire mass of ingredients to the local miller to grind them to a fine paste, and then stirring it in a cazuela for an hour. The mole negro was the best I've ever had, complex, beautiful, and balanced enough not to need much sugar. As Soledad told us, you can't begin to appreciate mole negro until you know what it takes to make it. It's a rare thing for a tourist to be able to spend time with a Mexican family in their home, and Soledad and her family welcomed us like we were old friends. (I wrote a more extensive description of the class for my blog. I'm not promoting it, just want to let people know if they want more information.)

You have to speak some Spanish, but Soledad is used to teaching people who are just learning and knows the English words for all the ingredients, and she also speaks very clearly. I imagine if you wanted to learn something simpler with less expensive ingredients, the cost might be less. If anyone is interested, please contact me by the email address on my profile, and I will give you her phone number.

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  1. Now that's a chowhound experience for the ages. I enjoyed your blog posting on your day with Soledad and her family. I'd love to hear more on the actual taste of the mole negro, though I'm sure words will be insufficient.....It's nice and hot in Brooklyn today...

    6 Replies
    1. re: Silverjay

      I wish I could describe it better! Susana Trilling said something that I thought was perfect--if you can taste any one ingredient, you haven't made your mole correctly. It's definitely smoky, and it's a marvel to me how you can prevent something like this from tasting just burnt and bitter. Soledad's was much less sweet than most of the mole I've had in restaurants. Like a fine wine, it kept changing flavors in my mouth.

      1. re: AppleSister

        Can you please post the url for your blog? I'd love to read your post. Thanks.

        1. re: D Hound

          If you click on my name, "AppleSister," you'll see the URL. I'm afraid my reply will be removed if I put the URL here :)

            1. re: D Hound

              AppleSister's blog is really wonderful, so full of life that it's a joy to read.

              Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

              1. re: cristina

                Thank you for your kind words--I'm glad you enjoy it, as I started it really just for my family and friends, and not as something I plan to develop into anything more.

    2. hello,´
      i´ll be in oaxaca on thursday of this week and would love to look into this cooking class you speak so highly of. please forward me the phone number if you get this message in time. thanks
      JOdi cilley
      cilleyj@hotmail.com

      2 Replies
      1. re: jcilley

        Susan Trilling was a guest on the Oaxaca portion of the Mexico segment on the Travel Channel's show "Bizarre Foods" with Andrew Zimmern. I caught this episode a few nights ago, and it is showing frequently in the next few wks. He went to Seasons of My Heart, her cooking school located in Rancho Aurora, and ate guacamole, 'guasintos' (small grubs), 'tlalluda' (a crispy tortilla with beans, guacamole, worms and grasshoppers). Check it out next time it shows.

        http://travel.discovery.com/tv/bizarr...

      2. Wow - I would love to be able to spend time with Soledad. I will be going to Oaxaca on November 10 - can you email me her contact info - what a wonderful experience...I hope to hear from you and hope she has availability

        Joanne (jcatcabr@msn.com)

        1 Reply
        1. re: jcatcab

          I'm coming on the 11th. Can I get her information too, if that is possible?

          Jim Jkarela@illinoisalumni.org

        2. Can I get the contact information for Soledad in Oaxaca please? Thanks!

          1. Hi everyone, I wrote the original post and just wanted to let you know that unfortunately, I'm not able to share her contact information any more, as it's been a long time and it's not very reliable. I would still definitely recommend Seasons of My Heart.

            Buen provecho!

            1. Hello there, may I please have the number of Soledad? Travelling there in Feb. Best regards, Tom

              1. i love oaxaca. unfortunately, suzanna trilling was out of town. i would love the info for the lady whose home you went to. thanks, best wishes, marie

                1 Reply
                1. re: bestwishesmarie

                  Marie, can you email me separately at applesister330 [at] gmail [dot] com? I'd rather not post her personal contact info on the public board.

                2. My family and I are going to be in Oaxaca next week. I saw your posting of cooking with Senora Soledad and found it to be a perfect match for us. Will you please forward me her information? Thank you.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: amij

                    We're here now -staying near the zocalo. If you are in Oaxaca - contact me. Maybe we can go in together for cooking lessons.

                    Sheila

                  2. Please may I have Soledad's phone number. I speak Spanish and English and am in Oaxaca now.

                    Thanks,
                    Sheila

                    1. could I please have Soledad's contact details? I am hoping to go in a few weeks.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: emiliabudi

                        On Sun, Feb 1, 2009 at 1:56 PM, Grace Meng <applesister330@gmail.com> wrote:
                        I have her phone number but I haven't spoken to Soledad in over a year and I'm not sure if she's even still doing classes. No one has ever gotten back to me to tell me if they took classes with her. I met her through the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, a Spanish language school where she taught a two-week afternoon class. I then set up a private class for me and my friend to learn how to make mole negro. Also, you will have to speak enough Spanish to arrange the class over the phone. Her number should be 951-512-2162.

                        I would also recommend Susanna Trilling's classes at Seasons of My Heart.

                        Good luck!

                      2. Hi,

                        I am going to Oaxaca city again in January and am interested in taking at least a few cooking classes. I am interested in meeting Senora Soledad. I would also like to learn a few other moles including the almond one. Have you heard of or taken classes from Nora Valencia whose family owns several B&Bs near Santo Domingo? Is there anyone else you recommend?

                        Christine