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Join James Beard-nominated chef Iliana de la Vega and cultural anthropologist / journalist Isabel Torrealba, a mother-daughter-duo, as you explore Michoacán’s culinary offerings, eating your way through food stalls and high-end restaurants while you trace the rich history of this gorgeous state that’s largely off-the-beaten-tourist-track.
During the holiday, you will stay at Hotel de la Soledad, a luxurious colonial gem from the 18th century, located off of the main square of the historic downtown in Morelia.
When GG2P & Beyond Founder Doni Belau first went to Mexico with Iliana and Isabel, Doni quickly realized that even though it was her 11th trip to the country, she’d never really seen or understood the majestic culture that makes up Mexico. She’d experienced all the hotspots like Tulum and Sayulita, had loved Mexico City and San Miguel…but in hindsight, she realizes she’d only seen the American version of Mexico.
These two Mexican ladies with their culinary expertise and historical knowledge made her understand, fall in love with and appreciate Mexico on a much different level than she had ever before. They brought Doni the true Mexico and she knew right then and there she’d have to partner with them for any trips in the future to explore this incredibly rich and diverse country.
A driver will meet you at the Francisco Mujica International Airport in Morelia, the capital and largest city of Michoacán, and take you to the hotel. There, at Hotel de la Soledad, a luxurious colonial gem from the 18th century, located off of the main square of the historic downtown, you’ll get settled into your room before you meet for a welcome drink at the hotel’s courtyard.
Afterward, you’ll head out for your first dinner as a group at one of the city’s finest restaurants, Lu Cocina Michoacana. With a commitment to sustainability, the chef, Lucero Soto uses traditional, artisanal, and local ingredients to create incredible dishes using modern techniques. For the introduction dinner, you’ll sample her tasting menu and toast to your first of many unforgettable meals together.
Today you’ll meet after breakfast at the hotel, where you can enjoy some traditional dishes and coffee to the sound of birds at your own leisure. Then, you’ll venture into the beating heart of the city, its historic downtown, for a walking tour with local expert Deborah López, who will guide you through the city’s history, visiting landmarks such as the Cathedral, the Conservatorio de las Rosas (the first music conservatory in the Americas), and the beautiful murals of Michoacán native Alfredo Zalce at the Government Palace.
As you make your way through the city’s cobblestone streets, you’ll try the gazpacho moreliano, a local street snack made with diced fruits and vegetables such as jicama, mango, and pineapple that are mixed with a bit of orange and lime juice and topped with chili powder and crumbled cheese.
For lunch, you’ll walk over to a casual local favorite, Fonda Marceva, that specializes in traditional dishes from Tierra Caliente (Hot Land), a region in southeast Michoacán. After lunch, you’ll make your way back to the hotel to rest before you meet again for dinner later in the evening.
Tonight, you’ll head to Tata Mezcalería, where Chef Fermín Ambás infuses local products and traditional flavors with a creative and modern twist. You’ll also sample mezcal from Michoacán, such as one made with the cupreata agave variety, which can only be found in the region.
On this day, you’ll begin with breakfast at La Aldaba, the restaurant of the gorgeous Hotel Casa Grande, which offers traditional dishes with a view of the city’s main square. After breakfast, you’ll hop in a van and make your way to Tzintzuntzan, whose name means the place of hummingbirds,an indigenous Purépecha town to the north of Morelia, located on the shore of Lake Pátzcuaro, and one of the few towns in Michoacán honored with the title of “Pueblo Mágico” (Magic Town) by the Mexican government.
Here, you’ll visit the Ex-Convent of Santa Ana and San Francisco Temple, which dates back to the 16th century. Then, you’ll head to the Tzintzuntzan archeological site for a guided visit with a local expert who will explain the ceremonial center’s unusual rounded pyramids called yácatas.
For lunch, you’ll get back in the van and drive to the state’s second-largest city, Uruapan. You’ll be dining at Cocina M, one of the finest restaurants in the state, where Chef Mariana Valencia—an Uruapan native—mixes local ingredients and traditions with contemporary and international flavors. After lunch, you’ll drive back to Morelia and relax before meeting again later in the evening.
Tonight, you’ll head out to try a local favorite: the aguacataco at Taquería Guelaguetza. Since 92% of Mexico’s avocado production takes place in Michoacán, it’s only natural to see unique offerings with the product, which Mexicans refer to as “green gold.” This mouthwatering taco contains a healthy portion of spit-roasted pork with melted cheese that’s topped with one whole avocado.
Today is all about getting to know traditional Mexican and Michoacán ingredients and learning to incorporate them into your own cooking. You’ll begin with breakfast at Lu Cocina, where you’ll enjoy the best hot chocolate in town, homemade pan dulce (Mexican pastries), and chilaquiles, or other local specialties.
Then, you’ll get in the van and drive back to lovely Tzintzuntzan. Your first stop will be the town’s local market to pick up ingredients for today’s cooking session. Led by James Beard-nominated Chef Iliana de la Vega, the workshop will take place in a private home’s kitchen. As a group, you’ll work together to create an exquisite meal using regional ingredients. After enjoying the feast, you’ll make your way back to your hotel in Morelia.
Back at the hotel, take some time to rest before you meet again this evening for drinks and an assortment of appetizers at the terrace of the Juaninos hotel, for dinner with panoramic views of the city and its main square at night.
After breakfast at the hip CaféMichelena, which offers beautiful décor, great coffee, and an assortment of pastries and other dishes with European influences, you’ll be driving to the lovely town of Santa Fe de la Laguna, located on the shore of Lake Pátzcuaro.
This indigenous Purépecha town, founded in 1533, still keeps many of its old traditions intact, including the trading practice known as trueque, or barter, gorgeous handmade crafts such as carved and painted pottery, and regional culinary treasures such as corundas (a triangular shaped tamal.) In fact, the town where the Disney movie Coco is set, Santa Cecilia, was inspired by Santa Fe de la Laguna.
You’ll walk around town for a bit and then you’ll visit the home and workshop of a local potter and his wife, a traditional cook. He’ll talk to you about his craft and show you some of his beautiful pieces, and you’ll also get to see their home’s incredible traditional kitchen.
For lunch, you’ll be enjoying delicious regional dishes prepared by Purépecha traditional cooks at a women’s co-op. This space is a lovely project created by 12 local women cooks who came together to preserve and share their traditional recipes while empowering themselves with a business of their own.
After lunch, you’ll drive back to Morelia, stop by the hotel, and then head to the Villa Montaña Hotel & Spa for a relaxing afternoon of pampering. Tonight is yours to rest, shop, or explore the city’s rich culinary landscape at your own pace.
On your last day together, you may enjoy some coffee and fruit at the hotel before you get together for an early drive to explore the gorgeous Pátzcuaro, one of the few Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Towns) of Michoacán. But before you get there, you’ll stop by at the Boutique Hotel Hacienda Ucazanaztacua for breakfast with breathtaking views of Lake Pátzcuaro.
Pátzcuaro was founded in the 1320s and it is a truly beautiful town dripping with charm. You’ll walk through the town’s cobblestone streets lined with adobe buildings painted in white and rust for a bit, visit the town’s main plaza (the second largest in Mexico) and a couple of temples, try the creamy local ice cream “nieve de pasta,” and shop for arts and crafts. Then, you’ll hop back on the van and drive to the nearby town of Santa Clara del Cobre, another "magic town", known for the beautiful copper work they do.
Now hungry, you’ll start making your way back to Morelia, stopping at the town of Quiroga for one of the most emblematic and delicious dishes of Michoacán: carnitas—pork that is slowly cooked in its own fat until tender. You’ll get your carnitas from a street stand and enjoy it at the communal tables available with corn tortillas and a variety of salsas.
Back at the hotel, take some time to rest and get ready before the final dinner at La Conspiración de 1809. The setting for your farewell meal is a restored colonial mansion in Morelia’s main plaza. Here, Chef Cynthia Martínez cooks exquisite traditional dishes, serving them in beautiful and delicate presentations. You’ll enjoy your last dinner and toast for the many wonderful memories you shared.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before you depart for your flight home. The driver will take you to the airport for your return flights.
As the youngest daughter of Chef Iliana de la Vega, Isabel was fortunate to spend her days hiding under restaurant tables and learning to cook (and eat) Mexican food. Though Isabel always imagined she too would be a chef one day, she came to realize that her food-related talents lay more with eating than cooking, so she became a cultural anthropologist and journalist instead. Isabel’s work has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Food52, Slate Magazine, LA Review of Books, The Art of Eating, Edible Austin, and Eater, among others.
Iliana de la Vega grew up in Mexico City at a time when only European cuisines were seen as worthy of being served at restaurants. Wishing to share how elegant—and worthy of fine-dining establishments—Mexican food can be, she moved to Oaxaca and opened El Naranjo, a restaurant and cooking school featured in The New York Times and Bon Appetit. A passionate teacher, Iliana has served as the Mexican/Latin Cuisines Specialist for The Culinary Institute of America for five years. She’s a twice-nominated James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef.
With a strong indigenous heritage, Michoacán has held tight to many of its ancient traditions to this day, which can be seen in every aspect of life and culture there. From traditional clothing to the architecture of pre-Columbian towns to archeological sites of the Purépecha Empire, the state is dripping with history.
Covering a great stretch of land, the little-known Michoacán has the beautiful Pacific coastline to the west and a range of mountains and lakes to the east, which makes it a widely diverse state. Nowhere is the heritage and culture of Michoacán more visible and tangible than in its cuisine, which mixes indigenous ingredients and practices with those that arrived alongside the Spaniards during colonial times.
Based on Michoacán’s food customs and traditions, in 2010, UNESCO named Mexican cuisine an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Your base during this epicurean tour will be Morelia, the state’s capital city, founded in 1541, whose colonial buildings are made of gorgeous pink limestone. This is where 92% of the nation’s avocados are grown. From there, you’ll explore the food, art, and culture of several surrounding towns such as Pátzcuaro, Santa Fe de la Laguna, and Tzintzuntzan.
Included in the package are all meals (except one dinner) plus beer, wine or Mezcal (when indicated) with dinner. You will also experience market visits and a cooking class.
You will have the chance to dine in popular restaurants as well as taste local flavors such as local street snacks, the best hot chocolate, mezcal, and the mouthwatering aguacataco at Taquería Guelaguetza (taco with spit-roasted pork with melted cheese that’s topped with one whole avocado) among others.
General Francisco J. Mujica International Airport
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