It turns out, I really like spas. This might seem obvious--trite almost, like announcing one's love for chocolate, or...freedom, let's say. But it really suprised me how well I took to a life of leisure. It was leisurely, yes, in the way of lying by the pool, of lying in a hammock, of reading The New Yorker while in a hottub, yes. But also it was leisurely in a Trivial Pursuit kind of way; you know, the orange pie slice that stands for "Sports and Leisure."
I hiked. I yoga'd. I tennis'd. I pilates'd. I foam rollered. I worked my abs and back.
OK, but we are here to talk about food. I am fond of lists and so I will list for you the many miracles of food (and of slowness) that exist at Rancho La Puerta.
1. Chef Jesus Gonzalez: Slow Food devotee, miracle worker. A handsome, sweet and talented chef who turns fresh Mexican produce into healthy, low-fat, delicious gold. He even did a demo and J and I learned how to make a kickin' soba dish, and lowfat guacamole (there's a secret ingredient and if you ask, I will tell).
2. Organic garden: Rancho La Puerta has its own organic garden and it is a marvel. I don't know how they keep the bugs away but they do. The produce is lush and abundant. After a hike there, and a beautiful breakfast, the head gardener took us out into the fields, and as both a farm cat AND a farm dog rolled at our feet, the gardener grabbed stuff right from the earth, cut off hunks with his pocket knife and passed them around to the group. I can still taste that fennel...
3. You can make Mexican hot chocolate with butternut squash puree. Isn't that weird?
4. It turns out, that if someone cuts it up for me every morning and puts it out in a bowl, I can eat untold quantities of fresh papaya. I didn't even know I liked papaya before this trip.
5. Los Amigos: If you ever find yourself in Tecate, Mexico, and I hope you do, ask someone to take you to Los Amigos, the taco stand across from the McDonalds. The tacos con carne are excellent (especially after 6 days of spa diet) and the quesadillas are outstanding. We chickened out of the horchata (ice cubes...local water...) but I will attest that these treats taste great washed down with a Coca-light.
In conclusion, I urge you to save your pennies and get your hide to Rancho La Puerta. They open a cooking school this July and I think that will only make the place that much better. And should you find you need a friend to go with you, or someone to climb into your suitcase and make sure the airport workers don't steal your stuff, I would happily take that on.