The Making of Our Very Goode Murphy-Goode Video Job Application

“This job is so for you!” That’s our friend Nikki D talking after we told her we were applying for a Really Goode Job as Lifestyle Correspondents for Murphy-Goode Winery in Healdsburg, CA. It’s a sweet gig but they’re not just giving it away. Nope. All applicants have to submit a 60 second video job application.

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The making of our very Goode video

Mexico’s wine industry is growing and improving, but it’s centered mostly in the Valle de Guadalupe area of the Baja Peninsula. Here in central Mexico tequila is king.

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Since tequila has an official geographic denomination, like Chianti and Champagne, and only stuff made in approved areas with approved ingredients can legally be called tequila. Which brings us to the El Cascahuin Tequila Distillery in El Arena just north of Guadalajara on the Ruta del Tequila.

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We figure Murphy-Goode will get plenty of video applications shot in vineyards, so why bore them with another one? Instead we headed into a rolling field of gorgeous blue agave with our trusty Flip Video camera and a stack of cue cards and our iPod and a whole crew of supporters including Javier there in the background, Carlos (whose family owns El Cascahuin) and our littlest guest star, Tedeo.

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It was hot, it was dusty, and blue agave is brutally sharp (yes, there was blood) but we had a ball shooting our application video complete with our own theme song written by our friend, the amazing Scott Metzger, art help from our friend Iliana, and post-production polishing courtesy of Nikki D, who was the very first one to come right out and say that this job is so for us.

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Here are some outtakes from the video shoot and check out more about our application.

[youtube width=”480″ height=”360″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V90wX40i1x0[/youtube]

And here’s our finished video:

[youtube width=”480″ height=”360″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V90wX40i1x0[/youtube]

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Is This the Best Pueblo Magico? – Tapalpa, Mexico

Mexico is blessed with dozens of small towns that have met the government’s strict standards and earned the right to be called Pueblos Magicos (magic towns0. If you’re only going to visit one Pueblo Magico we recommend Tapalpa. Here’s why.

The church in Tapalpa.

The church that anchors Tapalpa’s square.

Is this the best Pueblo Magico in Mexico?

Tapalpa is located about two hours from Guadalajara at an altitude that ensures cool weather even when Guadalajara is sweltering. Tapalpa is a compact town that still bustles with energy. It’s also absolutely clean, and gorgeous.

A fountain on the square in tapalpa filled with flowers

It’s not unusual for town squares to have fountains, however, the ones in Tapalpa were filled with cala lillies for extra beauty.

Tapalpa also has one of the best elote (corn) vendors we’ve come across in all of Mexico. Hiking trails to roaring waterfalls, a field of enormous boulders weirdly jumbled about and a charming nearby lake round out the picture.

Our dear friend Tom, Iliana, David & Christina who have allowed us to make their casa in Ajijic our casa, in Tapalpa's square.

We visited Tapalpa with our friends Tom, Iliana, David and Cristina.

A basket full of freshly picked pitalla which are the delicious and refreshing fruits that grow on the local cactus once a year. They're like a cross between a kiwi, a fig and a plum.

A basket of freshly picked pitaya  which are the delicious and refreshing fruits that grow on local cactus once a year. They’re like a cross between a kiwi, a fig, and a plum.

Here’s more about travel in Mexico

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Drink it Straight – Ruta del Tequila, Mexico

Though we’d already spent quite a bit of time tasting and learning about tequila in the town of Tequila, the Ruta del Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico extends well beyond that. So we happily hit the road and traveled to the town of El Arenal for a look at the El Cascahuin Tequila distillery.

The Cascahuin tequila factory in El Aranal, Jaliso, Mexico, which is about 15 miles from the town of Tequila

The El Cascahuin Tequila distillery in El Aranal, Mexico part of the Ruta del Tequila about 15 miles (7 km) from the town of Tequila.

Inside the El Cascahuin tequila distillery

We’ve been to tequila factories before (including Jose Cuervo and Casa Herradura) but what we immediately liked about the El Cascahuin distillery was its size: not so small that there’s nothing going on, but not so big that you feel like you’re in the clutches of corporate tequila.

Splitting the agave before packing them into the steam ovens.

Splitting the agave hearts before packing them into the steam ovens where they’re cooked to sweet perfection.

During our visit we got to see all of the stages of tequila production from a demonstration of how the blue agave is pruned and harvested to the halving of the harvested agave hearts before they’re stuffed into massive steam oven to cook.

Agave, fresh out of the oven being sent to the extractor to get all the liquids & sugars out.

Blue agave, fresh out of the oven, being sent to the extractor which crushes it to get all the liquids and sugars out.

Watch roasted agave as its removed from the ovens and placed on a conveyor belt where it passes through a shredder in our video, below.

The liquid that’s extracted from the cooked agave hearts is called mosto. After extraction the mosto is put in a vat to ferment as the natural sugars are converted into alcohol.

Tequila mosto bubling during fermntation

Tequila mosto bubbling during fermentation.

Previously cooked agave hearts were being crushed and juiced and the juice from a previous crushing was already happily fermenting away in massive vats of bubbling, sweet-smelling liquid. Watching these various steps it was hard to believe the end product is so clean and delicious.

The still room.

The still room.

After double distilling, totally clear blanco tequila is produced and is ready to drink. Or you can put it into wood barrels for varying lengths of time to create reposado (rested) or anejo (aged) tequila. This stage is like aging wine and it lets the tequila take on the flavors and colors of the oak barrels (usually cast offs from major US whisky and bourbon distilleries).

One of the barrel rooms where the tequila is aged for reposado & anejo.

One of the barrel rooms where blanco tequila is aged for varying periods of time to make either reposado (rested) or anejo (aged) tequila.

The El Cascahuin Tequila distillery has a grassy and shaded back garden which is a wonderful spot to sip some straight tequila or make yourself a paloma (Squirt, lime, sea salt and tequila) or a charro negro (Coke, lime and tequila).

Some of Cascahuin's line of blanco, joven, reposado & anejo tequilas.

Some of EL Cascahuin’s products including blanco, joven, reposado and anejo tequilas.

Here’s more about travel in Mexico

 

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Thoughts on Swine Flu in Mexico

The idea was to wander back to Mexico City and catch a flight to Havana so we could travel around Cuba for a few weeks. Then swine flu (aka H1N1 or just the “Snoutbreak”) got in the way.

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Cuba’s suddenly become a hot topic in the news with high level government officials suggesting the US travel embargo should finally be overturned. That would make travel to Cuba legal for US citizens, so we were anxious to get there before the flood-gates opened.

However, a few days after we arrived in Ajijic to visit our friends Tom and Iliana and their kids David and Cristina there was sudden talk about a virulent flu breaking out all over Mexico and beyond. A few days later, Mexico City and most of the country was virtually shut down and flights to many countries, including Cuba, were canceled. We weren’t going anywhere.

Instead of whining, we chose to see this setback as an opportunity to settle down for a few weeks with friends, catch up on work and tackle some long overdue projects like building this new blog–a task that had been on the “To-Do” list for way too long.

Ultimately, schools and most public spaces in Mexico were closed for nearly three weeks before things finally stared getting back to normal which means that fewer and fewer store employee squirt disinfectant on your hands as you enter and fewer and fewer people are wearing face masks (even if most of them wore the masks as necklaces or headbands).

The so-called “Snoutbreak” turned out to be little more than the regular flu sensationalized by the media and perpetrated by a government anxious to be seen as responsive and responsible (which, in our opinion, they were).

Here’s more about travel in Mexico

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