Monday, 18 February 2013

VdJ (from Sunday) Day 12: Waffles & Mezcal

Good Monday morning everyone! This is a post from our happenings yesterday. It was a pretty busy day!!

First we started off with a waffle breakfast. A big shout out of thanks go to Barb, Colleen, Francine and Madeleine for all the prep and cooking. Lots of people brought extras like fruit,
etc. It was nice to have almost everyone there and is was all, as you can imagine, yummy!!

Next, it was off the the mescal distillery. This is owned by a family Barb & Sal know. It is in the mountains about a 30 minute drive from camp. Don Jesus is the Dad but he is also joined by his son, Jose on the mescal side. Jose spent some time in the U.S. so his English is pretty good. The family also grows about 40 tonnes of avocado and a working dairy farm, with 30 producing cows and this is run by Jose' brother. Jose' command of English really helped when Doug spent a fair bit of time with him to understand all the workings of a mescal still. I am not sure if he is planning on opening another branch in Canada or not, but he seems to understand the process quite well. First, a beautiful drive through the mountains:
It always amazes me how so very welcoming all the people of Mexico that we have met are. Here we come, a pack of about 12 of us (with Barb & Sal) and Don Jesus' wife just greets us up at the top by the house as if she has always known us. Love it!! 
This is looking down at the "pit". You can just see the shelters
where the mezcal is made between the trees.
The fire pit that is used to cook the maguey plants 
The old grinding wheel. This has since been replaced
with a small, gas powered grinder.
Don Jesus with his old masher...
The pit where the cooked and crushed pinas are fermented.
(...yes, you cook smell that sweet smell everywhere!!)
Jose' little sons. One is a techno-guy and the other, a caballero (cowboy)
and he was pretty good with that lasso!
First, the fire...

Water cools it down...
Mescal comes out the very bottom, onto a mescal leaf... 
This is what happens, as told by Doug (the new mezcal distributor for Canada....). First, the pinas (maguey plants) are picked and put in the pit to cook for about 3 days. Next, the pit is opened up and the cooked pinas are are ground (old times with the wheel, but now with the new little grinder) and the pulp is put in the pits to ferment for about 5 days. They fill each still with the fermented mixture. In the photo above, the top pot is just water for cooling. The second pot houses the coils and the pulp is in the very bottom, underneath that second pot you see. In some of the above photos, you see the wood fire buring from the backside of the distillery. This is how they control what is happening above. To cook one batch it takes about 12 hours. To change a batch you hve to remove the pulp from the stills and refill with fresh, fermented pulp. Every 12 hours they produce approximately 30 to 35 litres. Total annual production is 3,000 to 4,000 litres. Can you believe it!!
Don Jesus sleeps here in the night so he can monitor the process. 
It is an amazing process to see. It was actually Don Jesus' father that started this still. Now, with Don Jesus' son, Jose, it makes a 3rd generation, still using almost the same methods. After so much time, sometimes the old methods are the best!!! The taste is amazing too! After the whole tour, we had some cheese and chips (brought by the lovely, Senora Barb) and we all had samples of the mezcal. This was Doug's favourite part!!
Doug, Jose, Mike and Don Jesus.
Sal cuts up more avocado
Mike getting his sample...
Me, Barb, Mike & Kathy
Doug and Jose..
Jose fills up one of our bottles
(watch out, Josh. This one "might" make it back to Canada!!) 
 Under the watchful supervision of Don Jesus, the "big" boss!!
You can just see the start of the living room behind this wall...
Again, everyone in the family is so friendly and accomodating. After filling up all the vessels, we took a peak at the house. Love it!! We definitely want to go back before we go home. I would love to bring my kids up here. They would L-O-V-E it!!
Tortilla kitchen...
Regular cooking kitchen...
...and still, another kitchen. I want to come here for a family dinner.
The lovely outdoor living room. Behind the doors on the right are bedrooms. Can you just imagine sitting here on a nice evening, hearing the crickets with just a bit a rain coming great would that be?? I loved the lavendar colour!!
You can just see Al behind the boisterous people in the back seat!!
Doug, Kathy and Mike...
Here are just some of my favourite shots, no particular order:
That's the good stuff...
Handy, dandy hat rack...
Mike, looking pretty happy with his purchase...
Doug with his new boss. Doug is allowed to come and park the van
and work for a litre of mescal per week...ha ha ha!!
It was an amazing trip. Thanks, again, and again to Barb & Sal for making it possible!!
Don't think we could cram much more into our day, except to wish a very special lady a very happy 30th birthday!!  
See you all later!!
Cheers friends!!

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