TAGS: Mole, mountain biking, mezcal
Tortillas were invented in Oaxaca, a southerly state with humid jungles, pine-covered mountains, and empty beaches. So was tejate, a pre-Columbian energy drink made from toasted cacao, corn, and mamey seeds. And while other regions take credit for inventing mole, the sauce was perfected here. All of which is to say that Oaxaca may be the most food-rich region in Latin America. Make your own mole at El Sabor Zapoteco (from $75), a cooking school with daylong classes in the tiny village of Teotitlán del Valle. But the real draw in Oaxaca? Mezcal, tequila’s smoky older cousin. Expert Eric Mindling leads guests on the six-day Drinking Agave tour (from $995), which travels to villages where the men still drink pulque, a pre-Hispanic fermented brew made from agave, and to Matatlán, the self-proclaimed mezcal capital of the world. You’ll eat empanadas in off-the-beaten-path restaurants like Comedor la Florecita and taste mezcal from rural stills and in stylish Oaxacan bars. Ride it off by renting a Trek mountain bike and tackling the 17-mile Oaxaca Flume Trail, which climbs 3,000 vertical feet right outside the city (rentals, $40).