Cooking Class in Mexico City: Casa Jacaranda Review

Cooking Class in Mexico City: Casa Jacaranda Review

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I’d wanted to do a cooking class since I arrived in Mexico City.  With Mexican food being one of the only cuisines in the world to be UNESCO certified, a cooking class was the perfect way to learn more about the incredible food, whilst cooking & eating everything I made!  Everywhere I looked for recommendations there was one class that stood out: Casa Jacaranda.  If you’re looking for a cooking class in Mexico City, it has to be this one!  Owned my Beto & Jorge, two Mexicans passionate about food and drink, I had high hopes for the class.

The Mercado Medellin, where we begin our cooking class in Mexico City Casa Jacaranda
The Mercado Medellin, where we begin our cooking class in Mexico City

A Cooking Class in Mexico City: The Beginning

The meeting point was at 9am outside the Mercado Medellín.  I spotted two other gringos who looked like they were hanging around, they too were here for the class.   Beto from Casa Jacaranda arrived with a large shopping bag – a good sign!  We chatted for a few minutes outside the market and introduced ourselves.  My classmates were Tesha & Danny from Toronto, and they too were looking forward to the class!  Beto explained the plan for the rest of the day; first we would visit the market, to learn more about the produce available in Mexico, and get some secrets from Beto’s favourite vendors.  After buying the ingredients we needed for the class, we’d then head to Casa Jacaranda itself, and rustle up a feast fit for a king!

Tortillas Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
Tortillas rolling to the oven

Before all that though, we stopped off across the road to buy our tortillas – from one of the few tortillerías who still use a traditional recipe.  We watched as the dough was helped into the machine, rolled out & sliced into the round tortillas, then skilfully piled up into batches to sell.  Tortillas are the staple of almost every meal here in Mexico, made from corn or wheat dough, Mexicans consume billions of tortillas every year.  Tortillas are incredibly cheap too, at just 12 pesos for a kilo of tortillas, you can’t beat the price!  The process of making a tortilla is relatively simple, but according to Beto, you can really taste the difference between a good tortilla & a bad one – and here are some of the best in town.  We also bought some blue dough to make one of our starter dishes, made from blue corn.  To me it didn’t taste any different but the colour was certainly interesting!

Medellin Market Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
The bright colours of Medellin Market

A Cooking Class in Mexico City: The Market

We entered the market, welcomed by a maze of stalls selling fruits, vegetables, meats and cheese.  Medellin is not just a food market though, there were piñata stalls, shops selling kitchen equipment, flowers, coffee & some little cafes too.  I was in heaven.  I love food markets, the sights & smells of delicious things to eat and drink, different aromas wafting into my eager nostrils.  I inhaled and smiled.

Mole Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
Delicious Mole Pastes in Medellin Market

I’d been in this market before, but I also get nervous in markets, unsure of what to buy, where is best to taste cheeses, who to trust & who might rip me off.  With Beto it was different.  He wove in and out of the narrow pathways, seeking out his favourite fruit stall, fishmonger and butcher.  We sampled Mexican coffee, delicious ice-cream, several cheeses, and smoking hot spicy salsas.  And all with a knowledgeable friend to explain what the ingredients were & why one chilli is better than another.

Coffee Barista Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
A Coffee Barista in Medellin Market, part of our Casa Jacaranda cooking class.

The vendors we spoke to had obviously known Beto a while, and greeted us with smiles & holas.  We spent a couple of hours in the market, and although I didn’t want to leave, I was eager to get into the kitchen and make use of all those ingredients we bought!

Fresh Orange Juice Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
We bought some freshly squeezed orange juice for our marinade

A Cooking Class in Mexico City: Casa Jacaranda

The market is a short walk from Casa Jacaranda, named after the huge Jacaranda tree which grows outside, providing shade all year round, and in the right season, beautiful purple blooms.  Sadly, we were too early in the year to see the tree flowering, but you can’t have it all!

Casa Jacaranda: Where I found the Best Cooking Class in Mexico City!
Casa Jacaranda: Where I found the Best Cooking Class in Mexico City!

Beto & Jorge’s home is a perfect setting.  It is a home but also a professional kitchen.  Half of the front room is filled with a central table which doubles as a workstation – with cooking hobs built in.  While we worked away on our dishes, Beto’s assistant was busy in the kitchen next door prepping what we wouldn’t have time to do.

 Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
The beautiful home of Beto & Jorge, at Casa Jacaranda

A Cooking Class in Mexico City: The Menu

On the menu that day was cochnita pibil, a traditional dish from the Yucatan area of Mexico, where the dish was developed by the Mayans.  A little like pulled pork, the pork is marinated in bitter orange juice and achiote paste, then traditionally wrapped in banana leaves & cooked underground, although we cheated a little & cooked it in the pressure cooker.

Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
The Cochinita Pibil in the pressure cooker, and the steaming tamales

To begin, we also learned to make sopes, tamales, guacamole and the salsas to go with it.  Under the watchful eye of Beto we chopped, squeezed & toasted ingredients for the salsas, and prepared the marinade for the cochinita pibil.

Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
Classmate Tesha tends to the tomatoes for our salsa as Beto watches

We used the blue corn dough we had bought to prepare the base for our sopes.  These are like very similar to tortillas, but the dough is left a little thicker, and the edges of the sope are turned upwards to create a little plate to fill with deliciousness.  We topped these with longaniza (similar to chorizo sausage), frijoles beans, salsa, cream & cheese.

Sopes Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
Yummy sopes – one of our starters is typical Mexican street food.

We even got to try mezcal (a drink similar to tequila but with a smoother taste) and learned to make a rather delicious cocktail too; there’s nothing like drinking while you’re cooking!

Mezcal Cocktail Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
The ‘Crafted Paloma’ Mezcal cocktail

We snacked while we were cooking, on guacamole and chapulines (grasshoppers), and ate our sopes at the table to quieten our rumbling stomachs.  Would you be brave enough to try these?  Beto made a deal with me – if I took a picture, I had to eat the grasshopper.  See what I am willing to do for a good photo??  Actually it didn’t taste bad at all, just a crunchy texture.  It’s definitely a case of mind over matter when it comes to insect eating!

Chapulines & Guacamole Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
Chapulines are a delicious snack here in Mexico City.  Would you dare?

A Cooking Class in Mexico City: The Meal

The main meal is served upstairs on Beto & Jorge’s lovely terrace.  We drank wine and agua de Jamaica (water flavoured with hibiscus), and savoured every mouthful in the afternoon sunshine.

Our Table at Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
Our table at Casa Jacaranda

I had tried tamales before, but hadn’t enjoyed them – they were often soggy and had a strange texture – but ours were sweet and light, and perfect with a drizzle of salsa and cream.  Made from fresh corn, blitzed and mixed with butter & baking powder then steamed inside the corn husks it was simple and delicious.

tamales Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
Corn tamales began our meal

The cochinita pibil was tender and juicy, full of flavour and which an incredible aroma.  The others had two tortillas each, but as usual my appetite was as strong as ever & I polished off three – they were too good to stop!  Served with frijoles, our home made salsas and a spicy habanero & red onion pickle, finished with a squeeze of lime, it was yummy.

Cochinta Pibil Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
The main course at Casa Jacaranda: Cochinita Pibil

For dessert we had zapote, a slightly bitter fruit cooked down to a think sauce, served with a good dollop of the ice cream we had bought from the market.  After that, I really was full!  Jorge had joined us for lunch too, and was chatting to us about mezcals and tequilas, and Mexican food in general.  We stayed for a while longer, enjoying every moment, but finally it was time to leave.  It was after 4pm when I left; so the class was really a full day foodie experience.  I was full, extremely satisfied and very happy with the day.

Cochinita Pibil Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
Cooking our Cochinita Pibil

Cooking Class in Mexico City: How to Book

You will find all the information you need on Casa Jacaranda’s website.  Classes don’t always run every day, so plan ahead if you can.  There are 4 menus to choose from, and between the attendees of the class you decide on the menu to make.  Prices start from $170 per person for a solo attendee, but if you are a couple or a group of friends the price per person decreases.  You can even invite a friend to eat with you after the class!

What I loved about Casa Jacaranda’s Cooking Class:

The class is a whole experience – from strolling around the market, sampling foods from Beto & Jorge’s favourite vendors, to learning techniques and recipes, and finally enjoying everything you cooked on a beautiful terrace in the sunshine.

Beto & Jorge clearly have a love for Mexico and its food & drink.  It is one of the only classes taught by Mexicans in the city, others are often taught by expats so this felt more authentic, while still being taught in perfect English.

The setting is Jorge & Beto’s beautiful home in Roma, a pretty, hip neighbourhood with leafy streets, excellent bars, restaurants and boutique shops.

Cocktails Casa Jacaranda cooking class in Mexico City
Danny makes his mezcal cocktail

Any down sides?

For budget travellers, this will be a big chunk of your funds – perhaps not easy to justify when street food tacos cost less than a dollar each.  However, compared to prices back home, for a full day experience and an incredible meal, for foodies this is definitely worth the investment – you won’t regret it!

Conclusion

I thoroughly enjoyed my class, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone with a passion for food and a desire to learn more about Mexico’s incredible cuisine.

Thank you to Beto & Jorge for inviting me to take part in the class.  Although my experience was complimentary, all views are my own – and the fact I loved the class definitely influenced my opinion!

 

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16 thoughts on “Cooking Class in Mexico City: Casa Jacaranda Review

  1. That class looks so fun! I loved the food in Mexico City when I went there and would definitely enjoy trying to make a tamale myself. I also love cochinita pibil in the Yucatan, so it would be even better to make it myself!

  2. What a cool experience! I had no idea that Mexican food was UNESCO certified–what a yummy way to learn about another culture. 🙂 Putting this on our list whenever we’re in Mexico City!

  3. I have this newfound obsession with cooking classes and lucky for me, I’ll be in Mexico City this November! I am definitely going to be checking out this establishment. Love that its a fully comprehensive cooking lesson and very immersive as well. I had no idea that UNESCO certified world cuisines. Going to google that **** right now 😛

  4. You had quite a mouth watering experience! Learning to cook a cuisine is like visiting the country with each bite you take! Your cooking class looked amazing! I wish I could try it for myself.

  5. This looks amazing. I love the idea of the shopping, cooking and eating but $170 a head is seriously steep and would make me think twice. Having said that, I did a class in the UKwhich was £100 for two minus the shopping so I don’t think classes are cheap anywhere

  6. I absolutely love cooking, I love food tours and I LOVE to eat, but somehow I’ve never taken a cooking class! This is a MUST for my next adventure. Plus, what a gorgeous spot for a meal. I have actually had a grasshopper in Cambodia. It’s all about getting over the mental thought of it more than anything else. I would love to show down on those tamales.

  7. Joining or learning local cooking is always on my agenda when I visit new country. The end results look quite yummy. I am adding this to my list of things to do in Mexico. Thanks.

  8. This post made me really hungry! I’ve never taken cooking classes while traveling, but it sounds like an amazing way to learn about a place. You need to know the food to understand a culture. I usually end up cooking with my CouchSurfers and it’s always really interesting.

  9. I’ve never taken a cooking class and I think that that’s the reason I haven’t paid attention to this niche at all. But what you have described here it’s so amazing and professional in the same time. I don’t like cooking, but reading about all these small tips on how to do this and that, it’s fascinating. Thank you for sharing this experience with as !

  10. I had no idea that mexican cuisine was UNESCO certified! How cool is that! One thing we love doing when traveling is doing a cooking class in the countries we visit, even if I never am able to recreate the dishes on my own again! It’s always such a fun experience! This one seems awesome, we will keep this in mind for when we plan our trip to Mexico!

  11. This whole experience sounds wonderful. I love that Beto took you to the market to learn a bit and do some shopping. I have also heard a lot about the pork dish you made. My friend just ordered it in a restaurant in Brooklyn because she couldn’t get it on her recent trip to Mexico. I’ve never done a cooking class while abroad, but I would love to give it a try.

  12. Um, first I didn’t even know cuisines could be Unesco certified let alone that Mexican is! Wow! I LOVE learning how to cook new things and taking classes like this is just the perfect way to get to know a place and a culture that much better. I don’t think I’d mind at all splurging on this. ^^

  13. This made me so hungry. I haven’t had pibil since the last time I was in Mexico years ago. I would definitely consider doing this class. Not sure about the grasshopper tasting…

  14. What a fun activity to do while traveling! Ive never been to one but I’d love to experience a cooking class in Thailand and Japan. Also, I love the way they set up their terrace for dinner. I wouldn’t mind dining there and enjoying a cocktail or two.

  15. Aren’t cooking classes the best?! I recently did one in Italy & loved it, but I think I need to add this one to my list too. I get nervous in markets too so it would be helpful to have a guide!

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