The Flavours of Mexico

October 14-20, 2021


This is a 7-day culinary trip to Michoacán. Join Iliana de la Vega and cultural anthropologist/journalist Isabel Torrealba and explore Michoacán’s culinary offerings, eating your way through food stalls and high-end restaurants while tracing the rich history of this gorgeous state that is largely off-the-beaten-tourist-track.


Little-known Michoacán has the beautiful Pacific coastline to the west and a range of mountains and lakes to the east, which makes it a widely diverse state. Nowhere is the heritage and culture of Michoacán more tangible than in its cuisine, which mixes indigenous ingredients and practices with those that arrived alongside the Spaniards during colonial times. Based on Michoacán’s food customs and traditions, in 2010, UNESCO named Mexican cuisine an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Your base during this epicurean women-only tour will be Morelia, the state’s capital city, founded in 1541. This is where 92% of the nation’s avocados are grown. From there, you will explore the food, art, and culture of several surrounding towns such as Pátzcuaro, Santa Fe de la Laguna, and Tzintzuntzan.

  • Participate in an interactive cooking class with James Beard Chef Iliana de la Vega, one of the nation’s most respected and knowledgeable Mexican Cuisine experts
  • Stay in a luxurious Colonial Hotel
  • Discover the ancient culture of the Purépecha Empire
  • Learn about Mexican culture and heritage through its food
  • Explore the unusual Archeological site of Tzintzuntzan
  • Learn to taste and love mezcal
  • Dine at several of the best restaurants in Mexico, many of which are headed by female chefs
  • Find an authentic Mexico that you’ve never before experienced
  • Sample the world’s best Mexican hot chocolate
  • Relax at a luxurious spa in an old Mexican hacienda
  • Savor a gastronomic tasting menu by an important female chef
  • Visit several Pueblos Magicos, magical Mexican villages
  • Tour an historic and stunning music conservatory



Day 1

Arrival and First Dinner

The driver will meet you at the Francisco Mujica International Airport in Morelia, the capital and largest city of Michoacán, and take you to  Hotel de la Soledad, a luxurious colonial gem from the 18th century located off of the main square of the historic downtown.

After getting settled into your room, you will meet your travel mates and leaders for a welcome drink in the courtyard of the hotel. Afterwards, you will head out for dinner  at one of the city’s finest restaurants, Lu Cocina Michoacana. With a commitment to sustainability, the chef, Lucero Soto uses traditional, artisanal, and local ingredients to create incredible dishes using modern techniques. You sample her tasting menu and toast to the first of many unforgettable meals on this trip.

Day 2


After breakfast, you will venture into the historic downtown of Morelia for a walking tour with local expert Deborah López, who will guide you through the city’s history, visiting landmarks such as the Cathedral, the Conservatorio de las Rosas (the first music conservatory in the Americas), and the beautiful murals of Michoacán native Alfredo Zalce at the Government Palace. As you make your way through the city’s cobblestone streets, you will try the gazpacho moreliano, a local street snack made with diced fruits and vegetables such as jicama, mango, and pineapple that are mixed with a bit of orange and lime juice and topped with chili powder and crumbled cheese.

For lunch, you will walk over to a casual local favorite, Fonda Marceva, that specializes in traditional dishes from Tierra Caliente (Hot Land), a region in southeast Michoacán. After lunch, you will have time to return to the hotel to rest before dinner.

Tonight, you will head to Tata Mezcalería, where chef Fermín Ambás infuses local products and traditional flavors with a creative and modern twist. You will also sample mezcal from Michoacán, such as one made with the cupreata agave variety, which can only be found in the region.

Day 3


You will begin with breakfast at La Aldaba, the restaurant of the gorgeous Hotel Casa Grande, which offers traditional dishes with a view of the city’s main square.

After breakfast, you will make your way to Tzintzuntzan, which means the place of hummingbirds, an indigenous Purépecha town to the north of Morelia on the shores of Lake Pátzcuaro, and one of the few towns in Michoacán honored with the title of “Pueblo Mágico” (Magic Town) by the Mexican government. Here, you visit the Ex-Convent of Santa Ana and San Francisco Temple, which dates back to the 16th century. Then, you will head to the Tzintzuntzan archeological site for a guided visit with a local expert who will explain the ceremonial center’s unusual rounded pyramids called yácatas.

Lunch will be in the state’s second largest city, Uruapan. You will be dining at Cocina M, one of the finest restaurants in the state, where chef Mariana Valencia—an Uruapan native—mixes local ingredients and traditions with contemporary and international flavors. After lunch, you will drive back to Morelia and have time to relax before dinner.

Tonight, you will head out to try a local favorite: the aguacataco at Taquería Guelaguetza. Since 92% of Mexico’s avocado production takes place in Michoacán, it’s only natural to see unique offerings with the product, which Mexicans refer to as “green gold.” This mouthwatering taco contains a healthy portion of spit-roasted pork with melted cheese that’s topped with one whole avocado.

Day 4

Market and Cooking Class

Today is all about getting to know traditional Mexican and Michoacán ingredients and learning to incorporate them into your own cooking. you will start the day off with breakfast at Lu Cocina, where you will enjoy the best hot chocolate in town, homemade pan dulce (Mexican pastries), and chilaquiles or other local specialties.

Then, you will head back to lovely Tzintzuntzan. The first stop will be the town’s local market to pick up ingredients for today’s cooking session which will be led by James Beard-nominated chef Iliana de la Vega in a private home’s kitchen. You will work with your travel mates to create an exquisite meal using regional ingredients. After enjoying the feast, you will make your way back to the hotel in Morelia.

Back at the hotel, take some time to rest before meeting your travel mates for drinks and an assortment of appetizers at the terrace of the Juaninos hotel, for dinner with panoramic views of the city and its main square at night.

Day 5

Santa Fe de la Laguna

After breakfast at the hip Café Michelena,  you will be driven to the lovely town of Santa Fe de la Laguna, located on the shore of Lake Pátzcuaro. This indigenous Purépecha town, founded in 1533, still keeps many of their old traditions intact, including the trading practice known as trueque, or barter, gorgeous handmade crafts such as carved and painted pottery, and regional culinary treasures such as corundas (a triangular shaped tamal.) In fact, the town where the Disney movie Coco is set – Santa Cecilia, was inspired by Santa Fe de la Laguna. You will walk around town and will visit the home and workshop of a local potter and his wife, a traditional cook, who will talk to you about his  craft and show you some of his beautiful pieces. You will also get to   see their home’s incredible traditional kitchen.

For lunch, you will enjoy delicious regional dishes prepared by Purépecha traditional cooks at a women’s co-op. This space is a lovely project created by 12 local women cooks who came together to preserve and share their traditional recipes while empowering themselves with a business of their own.

After lunch, you will return to Morelia, stop by the hotel, and then head to the Villa Montaña Hotel & Spa for a relaxing afternoon of pampering. Tonight, is yours to rest, shop, or explore the city’s rich culinary landscape at your own pace.

Day 6

Pátzcuaro – Quiroga

Today, you will get to explore the gorgeous Pátzcuaro, one of the few Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Towns) of Michoacán. On the way there, you will stop at the Boutique Hotel Hacienda Ucazanaztacua for breakfast with breathtaking views of Lake Pátzcuaro.

Pátzcuaro was founded in the 1320s and it is a truly beautiful town dripping with charm. You will walk through the town’s cobblestone streets lined with adobe buildings painted in white and rust for a bit, visit the town’s main plaza (the second largest in Mexico) and a couple of temples, try the creamy local ice cream “nieve de pasta,” and shop for arts and crafts. Then, you will head to the nearby town of Santa Clara del Cobre, another Magic Town, known for the beautiful copper work they do.

After this, you will making your way back to Morelia, stopping at the town of Quiroga for one of the most emblematic and delicious dishes of Michoacán,  carnitas—pork that is slowly cooked in its own fat until tender — from a street stand.

Back at the hotel, take some time to rest and get ready before the final dinner at La Conspiración de 1809. The setting for the farewell meal is a restored colonial mansion in Morelia’s main plaza. Here, chef Cynthia Martínez cooks exquisite traditional dishes, serving them in beautiful and delicate presentations. You will enjoy our last dinner and toast to the many wonderful memories you created.


Morelia - Hotel de la Soledad - luxury boutique property

This 18th century colonial lodging house turned charming luxury boutique hotel in Morelia, Mexico boast original features yet modern comforts. You will enjoy resting in the beautifully homey and welcoming rooms which feature colourful furnishings and original artworks add a playful charm to the rooms and suites.


Iliana de la Vega

Iliana de la Vega grew up in Mexico City at a time when only European cuisines were seen as worthy of being served at restaurants. Her mother was from Oaxaca and cooked traditional dishes from the region, and Iliana found the flavors of Mexico to be complex, diverse, and soulful. Wishing to share how elegant—and worthy of fine-dining establishments—Mexican food can be, she moved to Oaxaca and opened El Naranjo, a restaurant and cooking school featured in The New York Times and Bon Appetit. A period of political unrest forced her family out of Mexico in 2006, but she reopened El Naranjo in Austin in 2012. A passionate teacher, Iliana has served as the Mexican/Latin Cuisines Specialist for The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) for five years. She’s a twice-nominated James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef. Through El Naranjo and the food tours she runs, Iliana keeps her dream of sharing the food and culture of Mexico with the world alive.

Isabel Torrealba

As the youngest daughter of Chef Iliana de la Vega, Isabel Torrealba was fortunate to spend her days hiding under restaurant tables and learning to cook (and eat) Mexican food. Though Isabel always imagined she too would be a chef one day, she came to realize that her food-related talents lay more with eating than cooking, so she became a cultural anthropologist and journalist instead. Food always finds its way back into her mind, prompting her to focus a significant portion of her research and writing on gastronomy. Isabel believes food cannot be fully understood without proper context and likes to think of it—the ingredients, the rituals of eating—in relation to place, people, and the history and circumstances that led to its creation. Her approach to travel as well as food writing is shaped by this idea. Isabel’s work has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Food52, Slate Magazine, LA Review of Books, The Art of Eating, Edible Austin, and Eater, among others.



  • 6 nights accommodation
  • All indicated excursions and meals (except one dinner)
  • Beer, wine or Mezcal (when indicated) with dinner
  • All guides, museums, tastings, classes and  market visits
  • A spa day
  • A hands-on cooking class
  • All in-country transport including airport transfers

Not Included

  • Roundtrip airfare to Morelia
  • Additional expenses
  • Additional alcoholic beverages, except as indicated above
  • Gratuities
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended) and trip medical coverage (required for travelers over 50)

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