Good things come from dirty laundry, part 4 – did someone say TEQUILA!

August 9, 2011 – It has been some time since I sat down at my computer at Casa Madera Bed and Breakfast and continued on with this story.  My apologies to those who were waiting for the next part but it was time for my annual sojourn home to Edmonton so I could get my yearly dose of cold.

Now it wasn’t that I could not have written it there but my editor was here.  Yes, someone actually edits this diatribe.  Heather, stand up and take a bow because without you these rantings would never be fit to be read by anybody, let alone friends.  However, now she is in Canada so you are going to just have to take it as it is!

But I digress, aside from being cold and swatting entire squadrons of mosquito’s, I had a great time at home.  I enjoyed my visit with family and friends but I especially loved spending time with Elizabeth, my granddaughter and my children (OK grown adults), Allison and Brendan.

You always have to bring things back that people like.  Brendan always gets hot sauce, the hotter the better but this year we found pickled habaneros so if he is making you a sandwich, watch out.

The major item that was brought back this year was 8 bottles of Tajin (pronounced -taheen) which is a spicy salt that you sprinkle on fruits and vegetables.  Heather’s sister’s family and friends have come to want it by the case so I stuffed as many as I could in my suitcase.  I firmly believe that is the reason I got searched by US Customs going into Denver!

But as usual the star in the suitcase was the bottle of Tequila for my brother.  You cannot buy good Tequila in Canada without dropping a lot of dough and for the most part you just cannot buy GOOD tequila in Canada at all.  So I bring him a bottle back every year as there are times when you want to sit back, relax and sip a good tequila.

I like this one!

Tequila.  The name is enough to make a lot of people shiver.   Mainly because they had bad experiences with it when they were younger.  Something which I can attest to myself. Whoever introduced the idea of a tequila punch party should be shot….but I digress.

I truly began to appreciate Tequila when I came down to Puerto Vallarta to buy the condo into which we moved.  I stopped in a bar one night on that trip and sat at the bar to watch a ball game.  The bartender and I got talking and he walked me through the various tequila’s he had and explained the differences in quality and taste.  He was the one who showed  me that Tequila should be sipped, not shot.

He was right.  After moving through about 4 different variety’s you could taste the difference between grades.  It was a good night and it allowed me to appreciate the subtlties located within that glass.

Thinking about good tequila always sends me back to our Guadalajara trip with Mary and Lore as it was them that suggested that one afternoon we should head out to the town Tequila, Jalisco.

September 2009 – Saturday

It had already been a full trip.  Lots of sightseeing and shopping we were having a great time.  Mary and Lore though thought we should take a small trip outside of town to Tequila.  It sounded pretty good to us but Mary had to convince her brothers that they should take us.

They had to finish dealing with the Papaya that they had but they were game so at 3:00 they loaded us all into the box of their Nissan King cab and we were off.  Yes, the box.  There was not enough room for us all in the cab so 4 of us got to ride in the box.  Considering it was about 32 degrees the box was a nice change.

The view from the back of the truck

The view from the back of the truck

However, the road to Tequila is not straight and it is very busy.  Traffic moves at the speed of light so you have to hold on.  It was fun but I am not sure I would want to do it again.

We arrived in Tequila in about 30 minutes.  It is a quaint little town with stores everywhere dedicated to selling…tequila!  The stores are everywhere.  Selling anywhere from 1 to 5 liter bottles.  Now the interesting thing in Tequila is that tequila is not taxed.  Not one of the bottles had a tax sticker in any of the stores we were in, including the brand name stores.  This allows you to get some good Tequila for a reasonable price.

One of the many stores we visited

We were moving from store to store tasting this one, that one and that one over there.  It was great but there were more things to see in Tequila besides the stores.  If one had the time you could tour the Jose Cuervo Distillery or one of the many others in town.

We did not have time to take a tour so we did our own small walking tour of the town.  Checking out the square, one of the town cathedrals and seeing what else there is to do.  We will return to Tequila when we actually have time to stay there for a day or two to see all the sights.  If you ever have the time to see this town I would highly recommend it.  It is a great place.

One of the tour barrels that goes around town


The time had come however to buy a bottle so I called in the brothers to tell me which one I should buy.  After trying a few they pointed at one and said it was the purest.  So I said the person behind the counter how much was the 5 liter bottle?

150 pesos!  14 bucks!  You’re kidding, right?  Nope, he wasn’t.  I quickly paid the man and took my leave in case he changed his mind.

Tequila bought we hopped back into the truck and made our way back to Guadalajara.  It was great visit in a neat town.

The Main Cathedral in Tequila


The Offal Truth!

May 1, 2011 – April was quite a month at Casa Madera Bed & Breakfast!  We were inundated with family!  Heather’s brother Kevin & family were here for 10 days leaving last Saturday.  It was a hoot.  We got to show them the real Mexico outside of the all-inclusive resorts.  Dinners at taco stands, trips to fruit markets, hot springs, surfing…you name it, we did it!  It was lots of fun with great food, great company & great sun!

Kevin, Laura, Megan, Joshua and us at Las Caletas!

Prior to their arrival Heather’s cousin, twice removed, Danny, was here for 10 days.  To us she is Heather’s aunt.  It was great having her here as it made Heather finally drag the sewing machine out of its purgatory and start to make curtains for our upstairs windows.  This will be a challenge but the material is bought, the sewing machine works, all we need now is curtain rods to span the size of the windows!  That could be fun but hey it’s Mexico, if you cannot find it at Home Depot there is some enterprising soul out there who will make it for you in iron! 

Danny got the same treatment, hot springs, dinners at taco stands, fruit markets and with the sewing angle, lots of visits to the material stores!  Heather quite enjoyed that as the writer’s attention span starts to waver in material stores after about 2 minutes.  So much so, I stayed home the day the two of them went into the big stores in downtown Puerto Vallarta

And then there was the biggest visit of all, my son Brendan came down with his buddy Ray to celebrate his 21st birthday!  21?  Crap!  I am getting old.  It seems just like yesterday he was sitting in a small wooden block trailer….and now he is an underwriter at Peace Hills Insurance!  Where did the time go? 

A 21st birthday only comes once so it needed to be celebrated in style.  Brendan and Ray were the guinea pigs for the family soon to arrive.  We took them to the taco stand we found in Valle Dorado one night after a wine reception Casa Madera catered at Vallarta Escapes

That was the night we met a Westjet flight attendant who is a Mexican married to a Canadian in the Armed Forces but has lots of vacation time and spends a month down here at time.  She was fun to talk to and was very vocal in how good this stand was.  And how right she was!  It was great, but I digress….

There were many things we did with Brendan & Ray but the big event was his birthday.  We needed to do something special.  Not your normal birthday experience.  Everybody can go to Montana’s, the Outback Steakhouse, or Bubba Gumps and wear a funny hat, but only here can you go to Naty’s Cantina!  As luck would have it Brendan’s birthday as on a Thursday, which is pork day at Naty’s. 

Heading into Naty's!

On Thursday’s they roast a whole pig.  Slow roasted, it is delightful but you have to work to get to the real good meat.  We go to Naty’s once a year, generally with Marni and Tony and this year was no exception.  They cleared their schedule to attend the birthday extravaganza!

It was walking into Naty’s this year that reminded me of our first trip to Naty’s in 2009.

February 26, 2009 – We have been in town for three and a half months.  In this short time we have heard about Naty’s Cantina from many people.  They all talk about going on Thursday, pork day.  We had heard about how good the pork was and how much fun the place was.  We had discussed this with Marni and Tony and decided that today was the day.  They had been there before but it had been quite a few years and could not quite remember where it was so we took a taxi.

The taxi dropped us outside of the cantina on a hill in a true Mexican neighbourhood.  It was a little daunting as we looked at the swinging doors, I know Heather and I were a little apprehensive as we approached the doors and pushed them open.  The doors opened up to a large concrete room with the standard plastic Corona tables and chairs.  Juke box playing Mariachi in the corner, we were uncertain whether they still did the pork so we asked.  The waitress said yes and to sit anywhere we liked.

Heather and I at Naty's the first time, note the empties behind us!

After taking our seats she asked what we wanted to drink.  Heather, Tony and I asked for Corona and Marni order a Coke.  The drinks arrived and we set about to taking in the surroundings.  Lots of concrete,  a couple of tv screens, curtains over the bathrooms with the sink outside the curtains.  Interesting place. 

We soon found that we would never go thirsty as the waitress brought our beer to us in a mop bucket filled with ice and 15 Corona complete with its own opener.  As we finished a beer the waitress would take the empties and put them on the table behind us.  

At this point they came around with a raffle that they had.  20 pesos got you into their reverse draw for a good bottle of brandy.  After the 25 tickets were sold, they started pulling numbers, last one in wins.  We were close, but no winner both times we did it.

After we were on our second beer around the table a plate of “offal” showed up.  Pork heart, liver, skin and intestines.  Complete with salsa and tortilla chips.  A plate that Anthony Bourdain would be pleased to see!  Us, not so much.  Sorry Anthony, none of us are big organ meat eaters so we picked over that plate.  However we did eat it so as not to be rude.  I noticed that the Mexicans in the place were not exactly attacking it with gusto either. 

Which "offal" piece would you like?

We had that on the table until we got to beer number 4 which is when the plate of shredded pork, chicharron (deep-fried pork skin and fat), beans and hot tortillas showed up.  It was delightful.  Hot, full of flavor and the chicharron was so good we asked for more which they readily supplied. 

What we really came for! Spectacular!

We had just finished eating when the Mariachi band came in the front door.  After a few minutes of wandering around they parked themselves and played.  Now, I like Mariachi music.  It’s just great.  However, when played in an enclosed concrete space it leaves something to be desired.  It is like being trapped in a car with a car stereo that could fill most stadiums playing the latest hot hip hop cd.  I believe it was louder than when I saw The Who at Northlands in Edmonton in 1976 and trust me that is saying something as my ears hurt for days after that concert.

Anyhow, back to Naty’s.  The beer bucket was empty.  We were full of pork and we were happy.  The food had been excellent but it was time that we wandered off.  We asked for the bill.  18 beer, 3 bottles of coke, big plate of pork, 380 pesos including tip.   A great meal and a great deal. 

Guess we are going to need another empty case....

March 31, 2011 – Brendan’s birthday.  Not much had changed at Naty’s except that they now counted the beer by the person regardless whether they were drinking beer or not.  There were 6 of us so we had to drink 36 beer and also because there were 6 of us we were the lucky recipients of 2, count em, 2 plates of offal.   Needless our cat and dog got extra treats that week.

Brendan & Ray, we have Pacifico where is the pork!

Try as we might, we did not make it to 36 beer.  We were just too full.  We just told them to charge us for the food, however they were good to us probably because we did make it to 26 and only charged us for what we had.  All in all a great afternoon that was complete with the prerequisite Mariachi band who did a lovely interpretation of Happy Birthday for Brendan!