Guelaguetza

Last weekend, Richard and I took a wonderful trip down to LA. And like we usually do, we incorporated chocolate into the trip in a variety of ways. First of all, we brought chocolate to share with our friends and family. (Everyone’s favorite was the Venezuela from John Nanci’s beans!)

One of the other ways we incorporated chocolate into our trip was by visiting local phenomenon, Guelaguetza Restaurante. This is the most authentically Oaxacan spot I’ve experienced since spending a summer in Oaxaca, Mexico itself. They serve tlayudas, mole, and mezcal, among other southern Mexican delicacies.

Guelaguetza or Fiesta de los Lunes del Cerro, is the name of an annual festival celebrating the diversity of communities and cultures in the state of Oaxaca. You can read more about it here, here, and aquí. When I lived in Oaxaca in 2005, I actually was able to attend the celebrations with my parents and my friend, Medina. It was a spectacular show of dancing and ceremony. Here’s what one of the colorful dances looked like on stage:

Guelaguetza

Guelaguetza

When Richard and I visited Guelaguetza, the restaurant in LA, it looked a little different, but the colors, the sounds, and the smells were very similar. Most of the restaurant guests were speaking in Spanish and we heard a lively rendition of “Felix Cumpleaños” as we walked in. The decor has a bright and traditionally Oaxacan look, with an open view of the tortillas being made in the kitchen and shelves full of Oaxacan treats, pottery, and utensils for sale.

And of course, we spotted the chocolate!

Mexican chocolate and molinillo

Mexican chocolate and molinillo

They sell a variety of products, but we came for the chocolate (and the delicious hot atole). When we later shared the chocolate with our chocolate-making friends, the taste brought back one of my favorite chocolate memories. It looks like a hockey puck and requires a knife to break it into pieces. The texture is very grainy, though in a way that’s different from Taza’s texture. Taza seems to include chunks of cocoa nibs, while the largest particle size of this chocolate came in the form of sugar. We crunched on the sugar crystals with each bite. And the flavor includes strong notes of cinnamon, nuts, and other spices, as some of these ingredients are actually ground down with the nibs and included in the chocolate.

Though it isn’t what we’d call “modern chocolate,” it is a delicious and memory-inducing version of Mexican chocolate that I love returning to.

What’s your guilty pleasure in the chocolate world? Maybe it isn’t the highest quality single origin bean-to-bar maker’s award-winning bar. Maybe it’s something you sneak on the side when no one’s looking!

6 thoughts on “Guelaguetza

  1. Landen, had a great conversation yesterday with one of the buyers we work with from the Mexican department store Liverpool. Went down memory lane. She is from Oaxaca. We talked about Mole, crickets, mescal, The beautiful Zocalo, hot chocolate, black pottery, and Guelaguetza. She danced in the guelaguetza since she was 8 years old. > > Sent from my iPhone

  2. Great memories of the hot chocolate restaurant and the excellent cinnamon tinged chocolate in the stores. Also of the grasshoppers/crickets dusted with chile powder in baskets on the street corners and markets, also in baskets on the corners was mole in hardened gooey mounds. Would love to go back…… Dad

    Sent from my iPad

  3. My guilty pleasure– Trader Joe’s Dark 72% bar is by no means artisan chocolate but it is my favorite bar for munching! At 60 cents per 42g bar you can’t beat the price!

    Here are my review notes on this bar:
    For the low price this bar is pretty good; I think I gave a very slight boost to my rating since it’s such a great deal. The Value Index is way off the chart! This is my “go to” bar for munching as much as I want to anytime that I want, so as a result I’ve eaten far far more of this bar than any other chocolate. I recommend to everyone to grab this chocolate any time for an inexpensive dose of enjoyment.

    And…The Pound Plus may well be the best chocolate value in the world! It’s incredibly inexpensive for a bar that’s pretty good! It’s way off the scale on the Value Index! (The smaller 3 bar pack is $1.28/100g.)
    ~This bar is my benchmark for an Average Overall Rating of 5

  4. Pingback: Visiting Letterpress Chocolate | Root Chocolate

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