Oaxaca: Sticking to our Roots

One of the things that sets Pure apart is our desire to remain true to traditional Mexican roots. Corporate Chef, Carlos Cisneros, originally from Monterrey, Mexico, has a desire to bring even more traditional cuisine to Pure. This past month, Carlos and one of Pure's owners, Michele Sedgwick, took a week-long trip to Guadalajara and Oaxaca for a little research and development. 

First Stop: Guadalajara, jalisco

Traditionally, there are two main growing regions in Guadalajara for agave production: Los Altos (the Highlands) and Los Bajos (the lowlands). Because the two regions have been used for growing agave for hundreds of years, nutrients from the soil have been depleted, leaving growers with no choice other than to use more agave plants for the production of their tequila. 

Recently, Tanteo Tequila, along with several other tequila distilleries, has started sourcing and growing in a newer region for agave, called Juanacatlán. Although other crops have been grown in the area, soil nutrients are plentiful, meaning agave grown their contains more sugar. In turn, distillers need to use less agave to produce their tequilas. There are hopes that this additional land will allow for production to become more sustainable as soil is able to recover from land rotation.

The distillery that sources Tanteo is very family oriented. Because the family owns the land and the distillery, each family member works to produce the tequila and is a big part of the production. Tanteo produces three infused Tequilas: Chipotle, Habanero, and Jalapeño. 

next Stop: oaxaca, Oaxaca

Owner, Michele Sedgwick, has taken great interest in Mezcal in the last year or so. Although tequila can only be grown in specific regions in Mexico,  Mezcal can be grown in any region of Mexico, though Oaxaca is the largest Mezcal region.  In addition to wanting to visit Oaxaca to learn about Mezcal and visit some distilleries, both Michele and Carlos visited for the city's gastronomy. One of the poorest states in Mexico, Oaxaca is one of the best regions for cuisine. In fact, many chefs are flocking to the area to learn and cook amongst the best. Additionally, the state is well-know for seven different types of Mole, including Mole Chichilo. Unlike many moles, Mole Chichilo is not made with chocolate but instead prepared by cooking off tortillas and dried chiles until they become ash. The ash then becomes the base for the mole. Although blossoming as a region known for gastronomy, Oaxaca maintains many of its traditional roots, both in food and culture. In fact, much tradition remains from before the Spanish conquered the area. One can find dried crickets, dried ants (Chicatanas), and Maguey Worms at markets as they are prevalent in the food-culture. Michele and Carlos had the opportunity to visit multiple authentic restaurants including Casa Oaxaca, Criollo, Mercado 20 de November, and had a meal prepared for them at Gracias a Dios Mezcaleria. 

Similar to the family business in Guadalajara, the emphasis on family teamwork and craftsmanship stood out at Gracias a Dios Mezcaleria. The master distiller's niece runs the distillery and his mother prepares all the meals for Guests who visit. Everyone in the family plays a part in running the distillery and making sure it runs smoothly. 

In addition to producing Mezcal, the Gracias a Dios Mezcaleria produces gin from the agave plant as well.  Instead of smoking the piñas in the ground like when making Mezcal, the piñas used for making gin are ground, macerated, and then distilled. What makes mezcal so distinct is its production process. Unlike tequila, which is regulated strictly on where it can be produced but not how, the process in which mezcal is made is very regulated while the region is not. Mezcal must be smoked in the ground before being ground and then fermented.  Although there are 4-5 types of agave primarily used to produce mezcal, there is no regulation prohibiting the use of any of the 200 types of agave. Whereas, tequila can only be produced using blue agave. 

bringing it back home

In the next few months, Pure Taqueria will be hosting an 'Agave Dinner' featuring Gracias a Dios's Gin and Mezcal, and Tequilas at Next to Pure. Look for little details from this Mexico trip in the dinner, like the Mole Chichilo with duck tamales! 

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