We hooked up with the rest of the group in the lounge (quick Tecate and an avocado salad, quick e-mail check), and onto a turboprop to Jalapa in Veracruz. The flight was great: this hotrod pilot gunned the plane into a tight turn onto the runway and firewalled it BANG! into the sky. We were talking later, and one of the other writers said "it seemed a bit casual to me." Indeed!
We flew over Mexico City a long time: that place sprawls something fierce, like a tide of houses. Then it was over the mountains, and they were wild, green and brown, with scattered houses and little towns, scratched-out roads on the tops of ridges. (I've been to Mexico once before, and both times it's reminded me of a bigger, rougher-edged version of California; the block of raw terrain that California was carved out of.) Then things got much, much greener, and the plane went into a sudden hard bank to the left and started dropping, not diving, but dropping fast, we were passing cows at a low altitude...and we landed. Kudos, amigo, that was a great flight!
We were in Jalapa. We boarded two SUVs and headed down the road. Things got more and more rural, battered signs, cantinas and roadside taquerias, over a waterfall, through green green trees, and the mountains everywhere. We got to Coatepec, one of the big coffee towns in Veracruz where they grow shade-grown Arabica coffee. Our hotel, the Meson de Alferez, is just outside the middle of town, and I'm loving it: simple, built around a courtyard with hibiscus plants and a fountain. We walked into town, had a lechero (served here, it was a glass of steamed milk, served with a cup of espresso; you dump the espresso in the milk...yum), walked around the square -- mayonnaise corn, balloon venders, shoeshine carts -- and back for dinner. We had a tasting menu at 45, the restaurant next door. Very good mole, the cheese and corn pie was good, the pumpkin flower taco was delish.
And we had plenty of Kahlua. I'm not going to write too much about Kahlua here in the blog: Mass Bev Biz gets first dibs on that (see below). But I will say that we got Kahlua sours, kind of as a joke...and they were excellent. Kahlua, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup, garnished with fresh lime. So simple, so good, so surprising.
Today we visited El Cafe Tal, a coffee museum and coffee 'sanctuary.' Again, I'll save this, but the picture above is our host, Cuauhtemoc Apan Rohas, driving us to the sanctuary in a 1962 Dodge Power Wagon, which was excellent. Great views of the mountains, banana trees, sugar cane fields, and coffee bushes popping up everywhere. We got out and hiked around the sanctuary; like the drive, only steeper and narrower. Just great.
Tonight we go out to a cantina, drink mezcal, and have dinner...and I suspect we'll be drinking more beers out in that courtyard. I...am so ready for that.
Back to work on PA Breweries 4!!
Because you asked: the Power Wagon!
*(the trip was offered to Mass Beverage Business, they offered it to me, I'm writing a piece on Kahlua for the magazine: full disclosure).