Category Archives: Mexico

Casa Oaxaca

An oasis of calm in the heart of Oaxaca

Casa Oaxaca is an oasis of calm in the heart of Oaxaca, Mexico.  A place to escape after a day of sightseeing or, in my case, a long day of dusty car journeys and meetings with cooperatives.  Located in the historical centre in an eighteenth century colonial house, it’s a charming boutique hotel with only seven bedrooms.

 

casa oaxaca

 

It’s known as the ‘art hotel’ because each of the rooms cleverly mixes Oaxacan handicrafts, from the hand-woven ‘mantas’ or blankets on the beds, to the carved headboards, with artwork from contemporary Oaxacan artists.

It’s also known for its cuisine as the restaurant is part of the famous Casa Oaxaca restaurant, which is split across two sites.  I had the most delicious food I have tasted in Mexico at the hotel and at the main restaurant.  For breakfast you are tempted with a long list of delicious hot dishes but I went for the yoghurt, fresh fruit and muesli option accompanied by a traditional Mexican slightly spicy hot chocolate and followed by freshly baked pan dulce, similar to banana bread but with dates and mango too.

 

Breakfast-Casa-Oaxaca

 

The sopa de frijoles, black bean soup, was amazing and the ensalada de jitomate, a tomato salad with a mix of different types of tomatoes, including the tiny green tomatillos just seen in the photo below, accompanied by a special salsa and tortillas was the perfect lunch after a morning searching for naturally dyed rugs.

 

lunch at Casa Oaxaca

 

In the heat of the day you can relax in the cactus and Bougainvillea filled patio, take a siesta in a hammock on the roof terrace, visit the library to read up on the region, or cool off in the refreshing pool.  You won’t want to leave.

 

the-pool-at-Casa-Oaxaca

www.casaoaxaca.com

Hibiscus Tea or Té de Jamaica

It’s a blustery day here in London perfect weather for an afternoon cup of Hibiscus tea.  I came across Hibiscus tea or Té de Jamaica, as it is known in Mexico, when I was travelling a few months ago.   It’s a really refreshing, quite tart, drink made from Hibiscus flowers which can be consumed hot or cold.  It is said to be high in Vitamin C and have various health benefits too.  The tea is popular in Latin America,Africa and the Middle East.  In Mexico you can buy bags of the magenta flowers in the local market but it is possible to obtain the flowers in health food shops over here or online via companies like the Chiswick Tea Company.

 

Flor-de-Jamaica

There are lots of ways of preparing the tea, everyone has their own special recipe and there are lots of videos explaining how to make it.  Here at Maud HQ we like the tartness of the drink so tend not to add  sugar.   I suggest you make the tea or agua refrescante and add sugar to taste.  Here is my version of the recipe:

 

Hibiscus Tea Recipe

2 litres of water

1 large cup of dried Hibiscus flowers

1 inch cube of peeled root ginger

Juice of 2 limes (if drinking cold)

Lime or orange slices to decorate (if drinking cold)

(If you have a sweet tooth add brown sugar or agave syrup to taste)

 

1.  Put 2 litres of water in a saucepan, add the peeled ginger and bring to the boil

2.  Add the cup of dried Hibiscus flowers and simmer for 20 minutes

3. Remove the Hibiscus flowers and serve hot

4.  If drinking cold add the juice of two limes and allow to chill in the fridge

5. Serve over ice and decorate with a slice of lime or orange

6.  It  tastes great with a large splash of rum too.

 

Just a word of warning this jewel-coloured, magenta,  drink will stain so prepare and drink with caution.

Jamaican-tea

 

 

The Chiapas Collection

The story behind our latest collection of hand woven cushions and runners

I had a bumpy, vomit inducing, eighteen hour bus ride from Tulum on the coast into the Mexican highlands to meet the non-profit organisation, El Camino de los Altos, so I was delighted when I saw their hand woven cushions and runners.  Each piece is exquisitely designed using ancient weaving techniques  combining traditional Mexican artistry with bold contemporary design.

 

Back-strap-loom-weaving

 The Chiapas collection is lovingly hand-made by Mayan women using the traditional pre-Hispanic back-strap loom. Combining contemporary French design influences with ancient Mayan techniques and iconography, the organisation founders work with the craftswomen to design, create and produce the collection using only the highest quality materials.  Each piece is carefully crafted and all embroidery and finishing is done by hand.  It takes on average three days to create a back strap loom woven cushion and seven to create a table/bed runner.

As well as training the weavers and introducing new designs, El Camino De Los Altos also provides a literacy programme for them to learn Spanish and for their children to learn their own indigenous language.   The organisation also supports the artisans with loans for healthcare.

literacy-project-El-Camino

 

I’m very excited to be working with El Camino De Los Altos.  The organisation has succeeded in preserving traditional handicraft skills, whilst improving the lives of the weavers and creating a vibrant, modern collection perfect for the contemporary home.

Abuela striped cushions - Chiapas collection