When my friend Laurie suggested the two of us take a cooking class on our recent friend and family vacation to Puerto Vallarta, my love for experiencing local culture led me to agree despite my very limited culinary skills. She had read about Cookin’ Vallarta online, and Norma, an agent at the tour desk at Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort, was more than happy to help set up a time for us to take the class.
Enrique, the founder, owner, chef, shopper, taxi driver, and photographer for Cookin’ Vallarta, met us at a shopping mall near Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort. Because we were the only two participants in the class that day, he talked to us about what we might like to cook. After settling on chiles rellenos, we headed to a local market to buy groceries.
Carolina, a sweet 9-year-old girl with fresh avocados, wasted no time in using her charm on us to make the sale. We met Roberto in the fish market who showed us the fresh catches of the day, went behind-the-scenes to see how they processed the corn to make the dough we purchased for corn tortillas, and tried some samples of fruit juices before purchasing our favorites — coconut for Laurie and guanabana for me.
It was such fun to walk through the market with Enrique as he introduced us around, taught us about the uses of the ingredients in Mexican dishes, and patiently answered our questions about this part of everyday life in Puerto Vallarta.
After the market, we made the drive out to his house where we met his lovely wife Eri who welcomed us into her home so graciously. We wasted no time in getting to work, prepping the ingredients and making the chiles rellenos, fresh tomato sauce, three different kinds of salsas, guacamole, and a homemade chocolate sauce for our fresh mango dessert.
Enrique and Eri guided us through the recipes with ease, and it felt more like spending time in the kitchen with friends than a teacher/student relationship. Eri even had me making the corn tortillas like a pro!
We all four sat down to our homemade feast which was a delight for the taste buds. My only regret was that I couldn’t eat more!
At the conclusion of our meal, we said our goodbyes to Eri who stayed behind to clean the kitchen, and Enrique took us back to Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort. He gave us tips on fun things to do in town and offered to help us set up any outings we had in mind because he knew many people in the tourism industry. True to form, as we pulled up to Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort, he got out and greeted the bellman by name; it was his neighbor!
Enrique e-mailed the recipes from our class to each of us with a personal message a couple of days after our meeting. Though I didn’t have my kids with me on this “girls day out,” I wouldn’t hesitate to take them along on a return visit. Enrique said that tamales are especially kid-friendly, and I know the class would be a hit with my group! Laurie and I are looking forward to getting together to recreate our Mexican fiesta as a very tasty reminder of the fun we had with Cookin’ Vallarta.
This article was originally published by Hilton Mom Voyage.