Mexican flavors: chocolate and tequila

While the rain had stopped, for the most part, the wind had picked up. My dad and I went down to the dive shop and waited for about 20 minutes after the given take off time before an announcement was made that the boat could not manage to dock at the harbor on site and the dives for the morning were canceled and they were anticipating that the wind would be consistently too much for the boats late into the next day. This was a major disappointment for my dad and I because this particular dive shop scheduled their dive sites for the week ahead of time and this was the Santa Rosa Wall dive, what was supposed to be the best dive site in Cozumel. The dive shop did offer an alternative dive opportunity for Friday for those that wanted to go, we could go diving on a shipwreck and/or with bull sharks on the mainland. The dive shop would cover the cost of transportation, including a taxi to the ferry terminal and back and ferry tickets to the mainland and back, but each of the dives included an additional fee because these were guided tours and were in higher demand than the dives we had already paid for. But, wind or rain wouldn’t stop these dives, so they were almost a guarantee.

We went to breakfast at the resort and then to the tour desk to find something to do with our time, I wasn’t interested in wasting my vacation in a hotel room. The tour desk told us about Discover Mexico, a small museum that had a chocolate tasting and making tour, and a tequila tasting. The tour also included lunch and a taxi back to our resort as well as a 20 percent discount on anything purchased in the gift shop. We booked a reservation for the one o’clock tour and went back to our hotel room to wait another hour before getting a taxi and leaving. There was a slight drizzle when we arrived at the museum, which was in between places. The cost of a taxi was high considering we had only traveled about halfway to town. From our hotel to town was 260 pesos, this was 240. We ate lunch first, which was two taco options, beef or pork, and a variety of sides all made in Mexican and Mayan traditions. The beef tacos were absolutely delicious and reminded me very much of a slow cooker stew.

Following lunch, we began the tour in the museum portion, which included a video from the chain that owned this museum, and several cultural artifacts. The tour guide, Memo, explained each of the artifacts, where it was from, what it was for, and its cultural significance. It felt long and drawn-out and was made worse by standing for a long period of time on a cement floor. Nobody enjoys standing and being lectured. In my opinion, this part of the tour could be greatly improved by giving the guests more freedom to decide what they were interested in and asking questions, and by more opportunities to sit. This felt more like a tool for forcefully lengthening the tour than something designed for the viewer's enjoyment.

After the museum portion, we were led to the chocolate tour, we were given chocolate and tequila cocktails that were fabulous, as well as hot chocolate, and a spicy Mexican chocolate dipping sauce with chips. We were taught how to make chocolate by hand and did so ourselves. While the experience was phenomenal and educational, I would have enjoyed it more if we were given more creative freedom. The idea of ‘making your own chocolate bar’ inspires thoughts of coming up with your own flavor combinations, or of at least being able to decide what percentage of cacao you would like in your chocolate bar. Rather, we were only told the steps of what to do and the ingredients for a very dark chocolate bar were put together for us. Because this chocolate bar was so dark (~70 percent) I wasn’t able to enjoy it. The experience was fun, but the final product was not the kind of chocolate I would like to eat, it reminded me of the baker’s chocolate my grandma would melt over a double boiler.

We spent a few minutes wandering around the grounds, which had more than a dozen miniature architectural pieces from throughout Mexican history and across the country. Memo told us about where they were from and what they were while we took pictures but we quickly progressed from that to the tequila tasting.

The tequila tasting took place in two shipping containers renovated into a shanty bar, branded on the outside and on all of the furniture was the name and logo for Jose Cuervo, which was also the brand of tequila we would be tasting. It was explained to us that most people make the mistake of drinking ‘tequila especial’ which is a mixing tequila which has a high percentage of corn syrup in it, the ingredient that makes people sick when they drink it straight or in shots. The three tequilas we would be tasting differed in their aging process. The first was ‘blanco’ or ‘clear’ which is distilled and bottled almost immediately. This kind is clear in color and has an almost tinny taste to the tequila. It has spent little to no time in barrels and so has not taken on the oaky flavor of an older kind. This was paired with a twist of lime which we spun between our fingers just under our nose and then tasted the tequila. The second was ‘reposado’ or ‘rested’ which spends between one and three years aging in barrels which are spun daily. These barrels infuse the tequila with a woodsy/oaky taste. This tequila was paired with a coffee bean, which we broke with a fingernail and smelled. This enhanced the rich flavor of the tequila. And the third and most rich in flavor is ‘añejo’ or ‘aged/old.’ This tequila is the darkest, a deep amber tone, and is kept in barrels for three years or more. The tasting of this tequila was paired with a cinnamon stick. We were also taught how to properly ‘taste’ the tequila so that it was enjoyable and the burn and flavor would be elongated. We were told to take small sips, hold them beneath your tongue, inhale through your nose, swallow, and exhale through your mouth. While it was far more complicated a way to try something, it did noticeably change the taste of the tequila and improved the enjoyability of it. At the end of the tour, we were given a prickled pear margarita, which was delicious. We were shown several other kinds of more expensive tequila which were exclusively sold in Mexico but that we had to purchase in order to try them. These included any tequilas under the Maestro Tequila brand, and a special kind of 1800 añejo tequila called cristalino. Cristalino tequila is aged three or more years and then filtered to remove the color, it achieves a sweeter flavor because you can taste the agave.

In the gift shop, we purchased a tequila from the Maestro Tequila brand called Humito which was recommended for barbeque pork ribs. We were told to add the tequila to both the marinade and two dashes to the barbeque sauce of whatever our current recipe was. I also purchased a small painted figurine of a rabbit, the full-sized figurines were hand-painted, one-of-a-kind, and far too expensive for us to afford at $2500 each.

After that, we took a taxi back to the hotel and ate dinner at the buffet. I have determined that I favor the pasta station, which allows you to customize your dish, over everything else served in the dining room. Consistently I am disappointed by the food, more and more so the more I eat.

Overall, today was fantastic, it was educational and I was kept busy and in addition to the tour, I had the privilege of having good food and good drinks.

#Cozumel #Mexico #Travel #Vacation #DiscoverMexicomuseum #Iberostar #tequila #chocolate #Taco

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