Puerto Valarta Cooking School
In January of this year we took a long overdue trip to Puerto Vallarta and before the trip we looked everywhere to find a Cooking Class there. We only found one that was about 40 minuites away from where we were staying. We figured we would book it once we were there.
So after arriving at our hotel in Old Town ( Romantic Zone) we ventured off and looked around at all the culture. It was heaven, the area was just what we had hoped for. We managed to stumble in to a small upstairs bar/restaurant (around the corner from our hotel) called Senior Sweeny's. Needless to say we enjoyed it so much that we made a point of stopping there daily. We got to know the locals and the staff. After discussing our plans to do a cooking class with Lee Anna ( the manager) she said she knew of a friend that has a Cooking School in the area. We said well let's set it up. We then met Austin (from Boston) who owns BITE OF THE IGUANA COOKING SCHOOL in Puerto Vallarta.
So our day started around 930am when we met at a local coffee shop a few blocks over from our hotel for a cup of coffee and to discuss what we would like to create. Austin made some suggestions and he made a list and then we were off walking to the local market to buy the ingredients. The market was amazing, we learned a lot of what the local produce and meats were. We then had a authentic breakfast (very cheap) at the market. So once we had the ingredients we were off to his place not too far away. He has a wonderful large terrace where we sat an prepared Salsa d'gala, fish tacos, a few other sauces and coconut shrimp and a few other things.We also received aprons with his logo on them. It was a very relaxing and informative class which took 6-7 hrs. Well worth the money. So please don't miss this amazing experience. So email him firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your next culinary adventure in Puerto Vallarta.
The Canadian Guys.
Austin is a terrific talented chef. If you cannot fit in one of his schools, check him out near the beach at What's Hot, across from The Burro Bar. Outdoor cafe which features Thai spicy cooking. He is a master of sauces. Ask for a tamarind one! Yum. See you there soon...
We had a lovely day with Austin and his one chef cooking school. You should try it --he is open and gives suggestions to help you become an interesting and flavorful cook. He is low key and offers a down to earth class kind of like your big brother might do. He never puts you dowh and he really wants you to go away with some great ideas to make your life full of colors and tastes as you consume the food you are going to eat anyway. He invites you into his home or comes to you. Your choice. TASTE OF IGUANA is for any well traveled person who really wants to enjoy a cooking experience. It is too bad he is so hard to find on your web site as he is wasted in your obscure inks. Sam and Marilyn Vancouver WA
A small group of us spent the day with “Austin from Boston” and his Bite of the Iguana cooking class and had a great time. Austin is an energetic guy, a bit of a character, and he’s very knowledgeable about Puerto Vallarta and the cuisine of Mexico.
Our class started with meeting for coffee to discuss what the day would entail. To introduce us to local flavors and customs, we walked to a fantastic market (near the tunnel just north of Basillo Badillo) that we wouldn’t have stumbled upon without him. The market was full of fresh fruits, vegetables, breads, meats, tortillas and an abundance of prepared food and beverages. We had two of our favorite experiences here—a fantastic “local” breakfast and tastes of fruits we had never seen before.
After stopping at several little Mercado’s to pick up cooking ingredients for the day, we went to Austin’s apartment to start the preparation. (As an aside, Austin’s residence is a traditional Mexican apartment located in the heart of the city. We sat on the rooftop deck and prepped ingredients and shared cooking stories.) The food was very good…he showed us how to make a couple of different sauces from a variety of peppers; we stuffed Relleno Peppers with dried fruit, little pork bits and hamburger; made a great little fresh salad with a zippy pepper dressing; and a tasty tortilla soup. He also showed us a nice dipping sauce made with marmalade-- and was nice enough to quickly sauté some shrimp for us to taste with it. Overall, the day was a big hit and we definitely got our monies worth from it!
There were a few things we thought could be done to make it even better:
• A few more questions about food likes/dislikes early on would have been good, as would have some discussion about what the menu options were for the day.
• Since the menu is based on what is seasonal, planning for shopping must be done spontaneously. Austin did a pretty good job of remembering most ingredients we needed for what we were preparing, but he did have to run out three different times to pick up additional ingredients.
• The kitchen in the apartment was a bit messy with dirty dishes already stacked up when we arrived – a bit of a turn-off for us as we had to dig through them to get and clean some pieces we needed.
• We picked up one bottle of water when shopping, but we had to run for more beverages after we got there. Given that we were spending several hours cooking/eating a meal, we expected to have beverages – even just water – already available.
• Finally, there weren’t any recipes available, so we can’t say that we’ve retained much about how to prepare any of the great food that we ate. We know this could be challenging with creating a menu on “the fly” but would have liked at least a bit of email follow-up.
These are all small things that could have made this very good experience a great one! Overall, this was a lot of fun - a great way to spend a day in PVR. We’d recommend it for anyone with a desire to learn more about – and taste more – Mexican cuisine!