The Legend of Mayahuel Goddess, and the Mayahuel Martini Recipe

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During the Month of Agave at Capella Ixtapa in July, I had the pleasure of learning a lot about Mexican spirits, and also tasting some of the best tequilas and mezcals.  While I like to sip them straight, I also enjoy the delicious new cocktails our Mixologist Miguel prepared for the event.  Miguel shared with me a recipe for a godly martini, but before I share with you, I need to tell you a legend about mezcal and Mayahuel, the ancient Mexican goddess of maguey, a plant from which they make mezcal, tequila and pulque.

Mayahuel-goddessAccording to the legend, when the earth first began there was a goddess in the heavens named Tzintzimitl.  Tzintzimitl was an evil goddess who devoured light, plunging the earth into darkness.  She had the earth in darkness and forced the natives to do human sacrifices in order to give them a little light.

Quetzalcoatl, the God of Redemption, got tired of her evil reign.  He believed in honor, so he flew up into the sky in search of the evil goddess, Tzintzimitl.  Instead of finding her, he found her lovely granddaughter Mayahuel, the goddess of fertility.  Quetzalcoatl fell in love with the granddaughter, and instead of killing the evil goddess, he rescued Mayahuel, brought her back to earth and married her.  After their marriage, Mayahuel became a beautiful Aztec Goddess.

Mayahuel’s evil grandmother, Tzintzimitl, was angered by this, and was determined to find them, and kill them.  Because there was nowhere else to hide Quetzalcoatl and Mayahuel turned into trees, one beside the other, so that when there was wind their leaves could caress one another.

Tzintzimitl, however, was relentless in her pursuit.  Eventually the couple was found, and Mayahuel was killed in a big fight.  Sad Quetzalcoatl flew to the sky and killed the evil goddess, and brought back the light to Earth.  He buried the remains of his lover, and every night he would go her grave and cry.  The other gods saw this and thought they should do something to comfort him.  At the burial site the first agave plant was born, and it’s sweet nectar, aguamiel, was believed to be the blood of the goddess.  The gods gave the plant some hallucinogenic properties to comfort the soul of Quetzalcoatl.  When Quetzalcoatl consumed the elixir from the plant, it gave him great peace and comfort.  From that point forward, the nectar from the agave plant became a ritual beverage and a ceremonial offering to the Gods and all Holy beings.

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Mayahuel Martini

Ingredients:
1 ½ oz. Mezcal
½  oz. Curaçao Azul liquor
¼ oz. Chartreuse  yellow
¼ oz. Lychee liquor
1 oz. Lemon juice
¼ oz. Agave nectar

Preparation:
Pour mezcal, Curaçao, Chartreuse, lychee liquor, lemon juice and agave nectar in a mixing glass. Add ice and shake vigorously. Serve the content in a martini cup with a sugar rim (you can also use Splenda).  Garnish with one basil leave.

Salud!

Mezcal Secrets with Mezcal Expert Miguel Angel Quiroz

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This month at Capella Ixtapa we are celebrating a very traditional Mexican plant – agave.  Throughout the Month of Agave we are having agave related activities; we are hosting mezcal and tequila experts, who share their secrets about these two popular spirits, we offer tequila and mezcal tastings, margarita making classes, tequila and mezcal pairing dinners, exhibitions, and more.  Sommelier and mezcal expert Miguel Angel Quiroz from Ixtapa Zihuatanejo was kind enough to take a couple of minutes after his guest appearance at our events last week, and we chatted about agave and mezcal.

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Miguel Angel, can you give us a short history about mezcal?  

Mezcal is a prehistoric drink, produced from cooking and fermentation of agave.  Its origins are in the American continent, our ancestors were fermenting the drink, but it wasn’t until the Spanish colonies arrived that we learned the distillation technique brought from Spain.

How many varieties of mezcal exist? And what is its relation with tequila?

There is three types of mezcal, white or young, reposado and añejo (like in tequila).  Mezcal and tequila have a lot in common and at the same time very little in common.  Both are obtained from the agave, but from different types;  tequila is produced from one single kind of agave (tequilana Weber or agave azul), while mezcal can use more than 20 different kinds of agave except for azul or tequilana Weber, which is exclusive for the creation of tequila.  Both are harvested in a similar way, they are cooked, fermented and distilled.   Today, due to its international popularity, tequila has become more industrialized, while mezcal is still artisanal in its produtcion.  The cooking of agave for tequila is done in steel ovens and the cooking for mezcal is done underground in clay ovens with mezquite wood logs.

How would you define a good mezcal?

A good mezcal can be identified just by looking at it: shake the bottle to check for the formation of bubbles, or “pearls”; the finer these are the better the quality, and if they last longer it also means it’s a high quality mezcal.  On the palette a good mezcal should be balanced, elegantly smoked, and with an interesting spectrum of smells.  I recommend you to taste it with small sips (we call them kisses) and find the different aromas and flavors that it offers.

Capella Ixtapa Sommelier Lucian Mocanu and Mezcal Expert Miguel Angel Quiroz at our Month of Agave Festival

Capella Ixtapa Sommelier Lucian Mocanu and Mezcal Expert Miguel Angel Quiroz at our Month of Agave Festival

What is the story behind the Mezcal worm?

The worm was frequently used in the first days of Mezcal mostly to give it an identity of its own and to generate expectation among consumers, today less and less mezcals use the worm, partly because the spirit is already perfectly recognizable by the consumers.  The myth that if mezcal doesn’t have a worm than it isn’t mezcal is completely false.

Can you tell us some other myths and rituals of Mezcal?

There are two most common myths about mezcal, but both are false; If it doesn’t have a worm it’s not a good mezcal; and If you eat the worm you won’t get drunk.
One of my favorite rituals is savoring the mezcal: Drink it by kissing it, little by little, with thirds of orange and worm salt.

What are the most traditional and what are the new trends in enjoying Mezcal?

The most traditional way to drink it is to have the entire glass in one sip.  But as I mentioned, these days it is suggested (and I recommend that as well) to enjoy mezcal little by little and savor it, try to find all its flavors and aromas, with the thirds of orange or even with bitter chocolate.  If you want to pair it with food, try it with typical Mexican snacks – they go along perfectly!

In your personal opinion which region in Mexico produces the best mezcal?

I think the best mezcal for each person depends on their tastes, but without a doubt Oaxaca is today the largest and most important producer of great mezcal in Mexico.  Personally I love the ones from Oaxaca and Guerrero.

Which are your favorites?

I like Mezcal Katrina, which is a mezcal from Guerrero and it’s created with 3 different agaves, it is an intense, elegant and delicious blend.  From Oaxaca I like Mezcal Amigos Reposado with 9 years of aging in glass containers.  This is a reposado with a very crystalline look, a strong smoke and very interesting overall.  As a digestive I would recommend you to try Mezcal Amigos Añejo, aged 3 years in cherry barrels with delicious notes of fresh red fruits.

These sound amazing, I can’t wait to try them! For the end, can you tell me are all mezcales done in an artisan way?

Yes, until today all mezcals are created in an artisan way – and I hope it stays that way [smile].

Thank you very much Miguel Angel!

It is my pleasure!

Summer In Ixtapa

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Have you seen the amazing “The Shawshank Redemption“ with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman?  In the movie the leading characters framed Ixtapa as the perfect getaway: a warm place where they can leave behind all their unhappy memories.  I can guarantee you, the movie doesn’t lie, Ixtapa truly is a dreamy place for relaxation, and one of the most sought after destinations for all seeking to escape the daily routine and modern life stress.

Our eternal summers make Ixtapa a perfect destination to visit all year long, but summer in Ixtapa is particularly special.  The weather is warm, but not brutal, and the tropical rains and showers from our rainy season usually happen after sunset or during the night, refreshing the whole ambiance and making it perfect to enjoy the evening.  Due to the tropical weather, the surrounding fields and mountains are filled with bright green colors, blooming trees and multicolor vegetation.

During the summer days I recommend lounging at the pools, be it one of the infinity pools at the resort, or your private plunge pool in your hotel room.  I also love to stroll through the town and market.  Of course there is plenty to do nearby as well, from a visit to the nearby fishing village Barra de Potosí, or exploring the historic streets of Petatlan, a picturesque town with gold market and an outstanding church.   

Rainy evenings at Capella Ixtapa are perfect for becoming a tequila connoisseur during a tequila tastings with our Sommelier Antonio Ochoa.  You can also learn to make our signature margaritas or learn to cook your favorite Mexican dish.  My ultimate favorite for a rainy evening is a visit to the spa!  I could easily fall asleep on the table listening to the relaxing sound of the rain.  But if you are feeling more active, you could even learn how to give the perfect massage with our Spa Massage Classes! 

There really is so much to do during the summer in Ixtapa and especially at Capella Ixtapa. To find out more about upcoming events and activities follow me on Twitter @CapellaIxtapa or like us on Facebook.com/CapellaIxtapa.

Verano en Ixtapa

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¿Has visto la maravillosa película “The Shawshank Redemption“ con Tim Robbins y Morgan Freeman?  En la película los personajes principales enmarcaban Ixtapa como el perfecto sitio para escapar: un cálido sitio donde pudieran dejar atrás todas sus infelices memorias. Te puedo garantizar, que la película no miente, Ixtapa es verdaderamente un sitio soñado para relajarse, y una de los destinos más perseguidos por aquellos que buscan escapar de la rutina diaria y el estrés de la vida moderna.

Nuestros eternos veranos hacen que Ixtapa sea el destino perfecto para visitar todo el año, pero los veranos en Ixtapa son mis favoritos. La temperatura es cálida, pero no de manera brutal, y las lluvias tropicales y lloviznas durante nuestra época de lluvias usualmente ocurren después de la puesta del sol o por la noche, refrescando todo el ambiente y haciéndolo perfecto para disfrutar de la velada. Debido a este clima tropical, los alrededores de Ixtapa están llenos de tonos de verde, arboles floreciendo y una vegetación multicolor.

Durante estos días de verano les recomiendo relajarse en las piscinas, ya sea en alguna de las “infinity” del resort, o en tu propia piscina de inmersión en tu habitación. También me encanta dar un paseo por el pueblo y el mercado. Desde luego hay bastantes cosas que hacer muy cerca, desde una visita al pueblo pesquero de Barra de Potosí, o explorar las históricas calles de Petatlán, un pintoresco pueblo con un mercado de oro y una maravillosa iglesia.

Las tardes lluviosas en Capella Ixtapa son perfectas para volverse un conocedor de Tequila durante nuestras catas con nuestro Sommelier Antonio Ochoa. También puedes aprender a hacer tu propia margarita o aprender como cocinar tu platillo mexicano favorito. Pero mi favorito para las tardes lluviosas es ¡una visita al spa! Podría fácilmente dormirme en la cama de masaje escuchando el relajante sonido de la lluvia. Pero si te sientes más activo, puedes incluso aprender como dar el masaje perfecto con nuestras ¡Clases de Masaje en el Spa! 

Hay de verdad mucho que hacer en Capella Ixtapa durante el verano. Para saber más sobre eventos próximos y actividades, síguenos en Twitter @CapellaIxtapa o danos “me gusta” en Facebook.com/CapellaIxtapa

Food & Wine Festival Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

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At the end of March Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo played host to the 2nd annual Food & Wine Festival: 32 Tastes. 1 History. 1 Soul..  Three full days of activities, celebrity chefs, culinary presentations, food & wine tastings, brought together food lovers from all over, to enjoy the flavor and soul of Mexico.

Capella Ixtapa hosted two Food & Wine events, which I was excited to attend.

First there was a delicious Chocolate Tasting with Jose Ramón Castillo, a Chocolatier and TV host.  Jose Ramón created a magnificent chocolate sculpture that still stands in the hotels reception area (the whole room smells like chocolate!).  Meanwhile, guests had the opportunity to create and taste chocolate bonbons.

It was a great presentation- not only delicious, but informative.  Some of the interesting facts I learned include:
–  The word chocolate comes from the Aztecs, they called it ‘xocolatl’, and they used to drink it spicy.
–  In Mexico we have two kinds of chocolate, the tropical one from Tabasco, and chocolate from the heights from Chiapas.
–  95% of chocolate that you can buy in the store is not from pure cocoa: to buy the real (and best) chocolate always check the back of the package: make sure it includes cocoa butter!
–  Not only can chocolate be enjoyed with cava, champagne, but also along side an artisan beer, tequila or mezcal.

Next we moved into Capella Ixtapa’s Terrace Bar and joined Mark Oldman for a Tequila Tasting.  Did you know that you should enjoy tequila as wine – by sipping it?  Mark revealed that today 75% of people drink tequila in a margarita, 15% drink it as shots, and 10% sip it (however, this number is growing).  Tequila can even be paired with food.  For example, Mark recommends having tequila añejo with some light food, like ceviche, to complement the flavor.

Tell me, do you love chocolate and tequila as much as I do?  Please leave your comment or any questions below.  Our Chefs and Sommelier will be happy to provide an answer for you.

Food & Wine Festival Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo en Capella Ixtapa

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A finales de Marzo, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo fue anfitrión del 2º festival anual Food & Wine Festival: 32 Sabores. 1 Historia. 1 Alma. .  Tres días completes de actividades, chefs famosos, presentaciones culinarias, catas de comida y vinos, que convocaron a amantes de la buena comida del mundo, a disfrutar el sabor y el alma de México.

Capella Ixtapa fue anfitrión de 2 eventos durante este festival, a los cuales asistí con gran expectación.

Primero tuvimos la deliciosa Cata de Chocolate con José Ramón Castillo, chocolatero y anfitrión de Tv. José Ramón creo una magnifica escultura de chocolate que aún tenemos en la recepción del hotel (¡toda la recepción huele a chocolate!). Al final los asistentes tuvieron oportunidad de probar deliciosos bonbons de chocolate.

Fue una gran presentación –no sólo deliciosa, pero también educativa. Algunos de los interesantes datos que aprendí son:
-La palabra “chocolate” viene del término ‘xocolatl’ que los Aztecas utilizaban, y además solían beberlo picante.
-En México tenemos principalmente 2 clases de chocolates, el tropical de Tabasco, y el chocolate de la sierra de Chiapas.
-95% del chocolate que podemos adquirir en las tiendas no contiene cacao: para comprar en verdadero (y mejor) chocolate, siempre checa el reverse del empaque: ¡asegúrate que contenga Manteca de Cacao!
-No sólo el chocolate puede ser acompañado de champagne, o cava, sino también de cerveza artesanal, tequila o mezcal.

Después nos trasladamos a el Bar Terraza de Capella Ixtapa donde Mark Oldman condujo una Cata de Tequila. ¿Sabías que debes disfrutar el Tequila con pequeños sorbos como un Vino? Mark nos compartió que al día de hoy 75% de la gente que toma tequila lo hace en Margarita, 15% en caballitos o “shots”, y sólo un 10% lo bebe en sorbos (aunque al parecer este número va en aumento). El tequila puede maridarse incluso con la comida. Por ejemplo, Mark recomendó beber un añejo con comida ligera, como un ceviche, para complementar el sabor.

Díganme, ¿ustedes disfrutan el tequila y el chocolate tanto como yo? Por favor déjenos sus comentarios o cualquier duda que tengan abajo en la sección de comentarios. Nuestros Chefs y Sommelier con gusto responderán todas sus cuestiones.