Our cuisine in New Zealand is a fusion of European, Asian and Pacific influences with an emphasis on our fresh produce and seafood. We don’t get much in the way of Mexican food in New Zealand, and Mr. Munro and I decided to attend a cooking class when our cruise ship visited the port of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. We both love to cook, and this seemed like the ideal way to immerse ourselves in Mexico food.
I eat a mainly vegetarian diet with a little seafood, so we were in luck when our visit coincided with seafood day at the cooking school.
Chef Enrique runs these cooking classes from his home. According to him, one day he was lying in his hammock and he thought there must be a better way to earn a living. He loved cooking and food, he liked meeting and talking with people and the idea for his cooking school was born.
The class starts with an excursion to the local market to buy supplies. We visited a tortilla factory where the tortillas are made from corn. Our next stop was the fish market where we purchase a white fish, octopus and prawns. Eek! Who buys octopus? What does one do with all those tentacles? Well, I can confidently tell you that I’ve learned how to deal with an octopus, and even better, it was delicious.
First stop – the tortilla factory where corn is ground into a paste to make tortillas. Something learned. I had no idea that proper tortillas do not contain flour.
The fish market was spotlessly clean with not a fishy stench in evidence.
We purchased fresh vegetables and fruit including tomatoes, avocado, limes, lots of fresh herbs, chilies, and pineapple gaining tips along to way as to what to look for in fresh produce.
There are so many varieties of chilies of all colors and sizes. Chef showed us his collection of dried chilies and I have no idea how he keeps them straight. Many, many chilies.
We soon filled this trolley!
Our shopping done, we piled into our van and headed off to Chef Enrique’s home to start cooking. On our arrival, we were introduced to his family, given an apron to don and made to feel at feel. Mi casa es su casa. Drinks including tequila were available but most of us wanted to learn and stuck to the non-alcohol drinks in order to concentrate.
Chef put each of us to work. I squeezed limes and chopped onion while Mr. Munro cut the fish into cubes for the ceviche.
Our fresh ingredients are ready for class to commence.
The first course consisted of ceviche, guacamole, fresh pineapple with spices and two sauces. Our second course was a cactus salad, prawns, octopus, and more sauces. Our meal ended with a slice of beautiful caramel tart made by Mrs. Chef. It was glossy and almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
The ingredients for the ceviche.
We had a fun day, and if you’re ever in Puerto Vallarta please check out Chef Enrique at Cookin’ Vallarta and his cooking class. You won’t be disappointed.