The Curious Chilhuacle December 20 2016, 0 Comments

The rare chile that gives the moles of Oaxaca their unique flavor is surprisingly mysterious given its long and venerable history. One thing most people don’t know about the chilhuacle is that...

Zocalito Travel Gallery May 11 2014, 0 Comments


High Stakes Poker for Chilhuacles February 27 2013, 0 Comments

Getting a level playing field in order to buy chilhuacle chiles is not easy when you fly thousands of miles and your adversary knows that your trip will be a waste of time if you don’t return with chiles. My relations with Felix had gone fairly well all winter, barring the occasional cat and mouse game of him not wanting to produce his paperwork so I could import directly from him. As it was getting closer to my leaving for Oaxaca, I occasionally would play the trump card in my hand, which was to tell him I’d just buy my chilhuacle from the vendors at the Abastos market in Oaxaca City, if it’s too much trouble for you to produce your paperwork.

The Passion for the Pasilla de Oaxaca Chile February 27 2013, 0 Comments

This spring’s trip to Oaxaca, particularly to the Mixe region, was one that had a lot of expectations riding on the ground work that I had laid prior to my arrival on the 12th of April. I had established an ongoing relationship with a young engineer, Julian, who was actually the owner (along with his father) of the field we had visited last December with Macedonio. I had encouraged Julian to get his documents in place with the Mexican Government so I could start importing directly from him. I also arranged for him to give me a full demonstration of the highly secretive world of cultivating and processing of the pasilla Mixe chile. Too my knowledge, this is in fact the first time it’s ever been documented and photographed.


In Search of the Elusive Oaxacan Pepper February 27 2013, 0 Comments

We parked the Suburban on the side of the rutted dirt road and plunged into the dense Oaxacan jungle on foot. Down one trail we went, crossing others, trying to keep our guide, Macedonio, in view, looking back to see if we’ve lost rest of the group and trying to remember the way back in case Macedonia didn’t return with us. At that moment it occurred to me that this remote countryside was where leopards still prowled, in a region neither the Aztecs nor the Conquistadors could conquer. Just how far was I willing to go to find some peppers?


Importing Chiles Starts with the Central de Abastos February 01 2013, 0 Comments

Central de Abastos in Oaxaca City is quite possibly the most intimidating shopping arena in the world, especially for a tourist. Imagine every kind of consumer item (I mean every kind!) packed into three football fields in a grid of 50 columns by 50 rows, with a crowd resembling a U-2 concert swirling around you. Overwhelming, to say the least. The first time I went into the Abastos, I became so disoriented I ended up exiting at the closest point to me and walking around the outside of until I arrived back where I started. These days, having spent a lot of time, I can safely say I know the market as well or better than most locals. If I held a "what's in the Abastos?" question/answer session with 20 people chosen at random, I doubt that anyone could name something that isn’t for sale there (yes, even wedding dresses ).


Finding the Rare Chilhuacle Chiles for Importation December 01 2011, 0 Comments

As we pulled through the gate to Felix’s house I couldn’t help wondering what his wife was fixing us for dinner. After all, we had arrived in Cuicatlan barely 24 hours ago and only met Felix early this morning. Now, after spending eight hours with him in his fields, where he was growing the most beautiful chilhuacle chiles I’d ever seen, Felix didn’t hesitate to invite perfect strangers into his home. We piled out of Roberto’s Suburban very hungry-- it was 3 p.m., and we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. Then it hit me. The aroma pouring out of the kitchen meant one thing: mole negro!


Great Chile Hunt 2011 January 26 2011, 0 Comments

The November trip to Oaxaca was very much a success for the import company and pure exciting adventure. Over the next few months, with the help of professional writer Tom Passavant, I will tell the crazy tales of my adventures through the Mixe region, The La Canada Region and the markets of Oaxaca City. As well as, the never ending haggling for the rarest, most expensive chiles in the world.

Join us on a journey with chef Michael Beary in Oaxaca city as he finds chiles for the restaurant.

Zocalito Oaxaca part 1

Zocalito Oaxaca part 2