Classical Guitar Concert Tonight!

Do you love classical guitar? I know I do. I also love supporting young people with a vision and a passion for our city.

A group of young Mazatlecan men including Jorge Birrueta, son of Turismo Mazatlán’s Julio, has organized a non-profit “Sociedad de la Guitarra Mazatlán,” the Mazatlán Guitar Society. Their goal is to promote classical guitar-playing here in town by holding as many concerts as they are able to.

A concert will be held TONIGHT in María del Mar Church, on the corner of Carnavál and Gemelas in Playa Sur, at 7pm. Carlos Viramontes from Torreón will play selections from Napoleón Coste, Joaquín Rodrigo, Francisco Tárrega, Leo Brouwer, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Sergio Assad.

A donation of $80 pesos or US$4 is requested at the door. For more information call mobile number 55 4194 9431.

Chocolate Making Demo


Young shoppers at the Organic Market sample the truffles

Our blessed Saturday Organic Farmer’s Market in Plaza Zaragoza frequently hosts cooking demonstrations, and today’s was about chocolate—Oaxacan organic chocolate, to be precise. I had gotten up before dawn to go bird-watching in Estero del Yugo, but just before 9:00am I dashed south to be able to view the demonstration.

José Itzil López, sous-chef at Raggio Cucina Casual in the Golden Zone, showed us how to effectively melt chocolate, then turn it out to quickly cool—giving it shine and flavor, and then mold it. He also showed us how to add a liquid such as coffee to make truffles. Then came the best part—the sampling. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

We were shown cocoa “nibs”—what’s left when the outer shell of the cocoa bean is removed after roasting and the inner cocoa bean meat is broken into small pieces. The nibs are then ground into “cocoa liquor”—unsweetened chocolate or cocoa mass. The grinding process generates heat, liquefying the high amount of fat contained in the nib and converting it from its dry, granular consistency into a creamy, gooey mess.

Different percentages of cocoa butter are removed or added to the chocolate liquor. Cocoa butter carries the flavor of the chocolate and produces a cooling effect on your tongue that you might notice when eating dark chocolate.

Itzil melted chocolate over a propane-heated double boiler, to show us how it’s done. Key, as I’ve learned the hard way, is not to burn the chocolate. If you burn it, the chocolate changes color and becomes hard and dry. Itzil told me you always want to see steam coming off the chocolate, always use a double boiler, and never stop stirring. He recommends a candy thermometer as well. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can tell the chocolate is sufficiently melted and the molecules fused if it runs from your spatula in a consistent stream (no breaks in the line) and if it swirls/twirls as it runs off the spatula—see photos below. His chocolate most definitely did both. And it smelled heavenly!

Conching develops the flavor of the chocolate liquor, releasing some of the inherent bitterness and giving the resulting chocolate its smooth, melt-in-your-mouth quality. Itzil told us the key to conching is “shocking” the chocolate by rapidly changing its temperature; thus, he spread the melted chocolate out on a cold stone slab. There he used paddles to knead and mix the chocolate, cooling it down and allowing the granules to fuse together, producing a richer flavor. It has cooled sufficiently when you can comfortably touch the chocolate to your lower lip or inside wrist, must as you would test the heat of milk before giving it to a baby.

He molded some of this mix into bars, which got the children attending (ok, the adults, too) very excited. It’s important when molding your chocolate to hit the mold against the counter often enough that you destroy any air bubbles in the chocolate. The air bubbles cause the chocolate to break more easily. Once the molds were filled, he put them on ice so the chocolate would harden.

To the other half of the paddled chocolate he added some hot coffee, and used a whisk to beat it vigorously. He explained that this is how we flavor chocolates for making truffles. Once it cools, you can form it into balls and roll it in the toppings of your choice, or insert a filling. This is the point at which the sampling commenced, and those truffles disappeared awfully quickly! He had truffles flavored with kahlua and mint, and rolled in coconut, nuts and cocoa powder. It was delicious!

Together with his friend from Monterrey, Armando Villarreal, Itzil has started a new enterprise called “Kimoots.” They tell me they don’t yet have a store, but individuals or restaurants can order chocolate from Chiapas or Oaxaca, chocolate bars (plain, with nuts or fruit), truffles (various flavors), organic cocoa butter, and vegan chocolate from or tel. 811-530-5011. You can also obtain this delicious chocolate at Raggio’s Italian Restaurant, or at the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning during the winter, 8am-noon.

Organic Gluttony Report


Farm to Table events are a worldwide trend, often related to the slow food movement, and the desire for organic, local-grown, farm-fresh and free-range ingredients. Mazatlán is blessed to have had three major Farm to Table events, with the latest one being held this past Sunday, February 12, 2017, on Chuy Lizárraga’s organic farm (Chuy’s Organics) just north of town.

What makes our Mazatlán event so unique? First, it’s held out in the middle of a pepper field, next to the green houses; we are surrounded by bird song, green crops, fresh air and sunshine. The chefs have to plan and prepare ahead, as in the middle of a farm field they have limited access to what a professional kitchen might have. They work out of tents, on a propane stove and open fires. Second, rather than having just one main chef, as is usually the case at such events, our FTT is a collaboration of some of the best chefs in Sinaloa. Greg and I have been fortunate to have attended all three Mazatlán FTT, and I have the double chin to prove it.

Let me get right to the food and drink, which is our main reason for traveling north of town about 20 minutes. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow. This year’s menu included:

  1. Welcome Cocktail: Cucumber margarita with fresh mint, Chef Alistair Porteous, Water’s Edge Bistro
  2. Ceviche FISH: Shrimp and pocked mahi, pineapple and red onion marinated in chipotle and garnished with avocado. VERY tasty with a nice smoky flavor complemented by the freshness of the pineapple. Gabriel Ocampo and Luis Vargas, Fresh International Seafood House
  3. Mazatlán Pilsner: Specially brewed for this event and not available at the brewery, this beer is infused with German hops, giving it an aroma of white wine, herbs and citrus. We loved it! A bit champagne-like, especially with the glass. Brewmaster Edvin Jonsson, Cervecería Tres Islas
  4. Organic Salad: Green beans, trio of tomatoes, ricotta and mussels with a red mustard and honey dressing. Chef Elmo Ruffo, Fiera
    This dish completely rocked! OMG! That ricotta sauce brought everything together and made it to die for. And, of course, I’m a sucker for mussels. Having met the charming owner of Fiera, Yamil González, and now knowing Elmo, you can bet we’ll be visiting Fiera again soon and regularly!
  5. Grilled Seafood Salad: Grilled shrimp with chimichurri, octopus with heirloom tomato marmalade, roasted sweet peppers with cranberry vinaigrette, and ash-roasted sweet potatoes and greens, goat cheese, and an apple and honey dressing. Chef Daniel Soto, El Caprichito Mio
    Another dish that was unbelievably delicious! Danny Soto is two for two; his cold salad last year was such a standout that we drove all the way to Culiacán to dine in his restaurant. His hot salad this year hit it out of the park as well. He loves gorgeous fresh vegetables just like we do! First a video with Daniel, followed by pics of his dish and the preparation.

  6. Jicama Tagliatelle: The menu said turnips, but they were past their prime in the fields. The chefs then used grated jicama as the pasta, in a sauce of shrimp bisque, mustard greens and green garlic vinaigrette. Chefs Francis Regio and Karl Gregg, guests from Vancouver BC

  7. Asian Duck Confit Tamales: What a wonderful twist on a traditional Mexican dish. Star anise, a mix of spices, orange, carrot and green onions with a garnish of crispy duck, accompanied by caramelized vegetables. Chef Alistair Porteous, Water’s Edge Bistro
    Alistair and his wife Tracey of course organized this whole event, though it is a collaboration, with everyone involved taking on major roles. Thank goodness they tell me we will have another FTT next year!
  8. Braised Pork Breast Ribs: In a miltomate sauce with barbecued duck and mushroom risotto. Chef Luis Osuna, Cayenna
    Another UNBELIEVABLY incredible taste combination! Two dishes in this course, and they were, indeed, heavenly. Another trip to Culiacán is definitely in order. We should be getting a Cayenna here in Mazatlán soon, thank goodness.
  9. Pumpkin Flan: with a crispy crumble topping. Hector Peniche, Hector’s Bistro
  10. Dessert Coffee: Organic expresso over vanilla ice cream, puré of coconut and spices, with a sweet expresso-coffee reduction. Marianne Biasotti and Enrique Ochoa, Rico’s Cafe
  11. Wines: All we could possibly drink of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, thanks to Javier Ramírez of Vinoteca and Oscar Gámez of Cava del Duero. There was iced hibiscus tea for those who didn’t want alcohol.
  12. Trio of fresh breads

As always, we were seated at long tables, which enabled us to make new friends as dining is family-style. There were nearly 300 people attending this year, including two reporters from Gourmet Magazine. This time we were lucky enough to sit with a gentleman who brought wine from his own cellar, just in case they didn’t serve enough. As if! His was great, though—thank you!

The chefs looked nearly as happy as we did when the day was finished. Glasses in hand, they happily accepted our accolades.

Our dear Gail Blackburn, from La Rosa de las Barras Farm, provided garlic snaps and other wholesome, flavorful goodies. As always, there was a raffle at the end, this year in benefit of Refugio San Pablo, a new home downtown for teenage boys—for which we raised $24,000 pesos! Our table was very fortunate, with several winners including Greg!

Music was provided by a strings duo, and they provided wonderful accompaniment to the birdsong and the buzzing of the fields.

The 25 wait staff were led by Andrés, as in prior years, and they did an outstanding job.

Thanks to my friend Martha Parra for a few of the photos! I will admit that sometimes I was too busy eating to get a good shot of a dish, so I appreciate her helping me. We were blessed with a most incredible day, capped off with a gorgeous sunset.

Homemade Mobile Home

Greg and I took Octavio to the doctor’s appointment that DIF had arranged. That doctor ordered an x-ray of his leg and gave him two boxes of pain medication. DIF wants to enroll Octavio in Seguro Popular, so he can get insurance and, thus, get care. However, he does not know his birthday, and it will take weeks to get a birth certificate and get him registered. Greg and I therefore offered to take Octavio to get the x-ray done, just so he could know his options and not have to wait so long. He will still get his birth certificate and register with Seguro Popular. The x-ray doctor recommended no surgery be done as all was healed, but said Octavio needs an insert in his shoes so he can walk better. He also needs a good cane, if any of you have one. We then took him to get the insert, but were told he needed a prescription from an orthopedic. One happened to be next door, so we took Octavio there. That doctor agreed that no surgery should be done. We will pick up the inserts today, and have a gently used pair of shoes for Octavio as well. We are hoping DIF will get him the medicines he needs and the inserts on an ongoing basis (every four months). I am hoping the kind ladies from Ojalá who so graciously offered to help might pay for the care he received yesterday; I’ll submit receipts to them. If you have a job that Octavio could do for you: painting, garden clean up, etc., he is very eager to work.

I was able to get DIF involved. Dorita came out to interview Octavio, take photos, and approve him for a medical exam. They confirmed he is of sound mind, not on drugs or alcohol, and wants to get his life back. Greg and I will take him tomorrow and hopefully we can proceed towards treatment. Octavio will need official identification, which he does not have. That starts with a birth certificate, from Durango. So, after visiting the doctor, we will head to the Unidad Administrativa. A group of ladies from Ojalá has kindly offered to help with at least some of the medical expenses, depending on what they are. Please keep your fingers crossed!

This morning I drove past an amazing sight—a bright yellow and red metal box, supported by cement block and the wheels from a wheelchair, which very much looked to me to be someone’s home. It had an angel hanging in the window, was made from recycled materials, and stood out to me for its ingenuity and joy. I called out hoping to find the owner, but no one answered.

The thought of who lived there haunted me all day, so this evening I decided to go back for a visit. Greg and I took some soda and water, as well as some money. Sure enough, there were two people there this time around. Could a couple be living in that homemade mobile home?

No. The owner, creator and resident of this practical beauty was the man, Octavio Castillo Silva. We found him intelligent, well-spoken and open to talking with us. We were told the lady with him, Martha, does not live there. She was a very different sort of person.


Octavio Castillo Silva

Octavio comes from a rancho in Durango state. He came to Mazatlán in 2006 with four of his ten siblings. He tells us he loves it here, and was doing fine until two years ago when he was hit by a car. After the accident he spent eight days in the hospital, but couldn’t afford the surgery required to fix his leg. He showed us scars on his head and a misshapen left ankle wrapped in an Ace bandage. The leg looked very painful, and Octavio walks with a pronounced limp. He gets around with a cane that he has made out of recycled material.

Unlike many who are down on their luck, Octavio did not complain. He asked us for nothing. He told us he’s lived in his mobile home on the property behind Torre Azul and Banjercito for about two years. The owner has given him permission to stay there in exchange for cleaning up the lot. Octavio is excited because he also has permission to park cars there during Carnavál, and split the proceeds with the owners.

He explained that since the accident he has not had enough money to rent a room. He finds it difficult to find a job due to his injury. To get by, he collects recyclable material. He’s so enterprising that he assembled his home entirely out of recycled wood, plastic, metal and canvas. He is very proud that the walls are well-insulated: three layers thick, with four windows on either side. Octavio told us he stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. When the cars drive by there’s a nice breeze. The roof of his home has both plaster and two layers of lona/canvas. He used the parts from a wheelchair to make his home movable. He bathes in the corner of his home, and has a makeshift mattress down the center.

Octavio sleeps during the day so that he can go out collecting recyclables at night. The trouble is, while he’s gone people steal his things. So, he’s taken to locking everything inside his shelter. He even locks himself inside while he sleeps, because he’s had trouble with “rateros.” He proudly unlocked his home to show us the inside, which he has appointed with care. Click on any photo to enlarge it or to view a slideshow.

Octavio would love to work for a living wage. Might you know someone who needs a security guard? Or who would donate medical assistance? Perhaps one of our readers is a surgeon who would donate her/his services, or would pay a surgeon to mend Octavio’s leg?  Here is a short video we recorded:

If you’d like to help Octavio out in a smaller way, I’m sure he could use food and drink. He’s made an outdoor kitchen for himself. When I asked him if he wanted anything, he said no, things just get stolen.

I will make sure that DIF knows about Octavio, and I plan to talk to my doctor to see if he might help him. We will keep him in our prayers and take him any leftovers from now on. God bless this creative, optimistic, hard-working soul! And thank you for your help.


I was able to get DIF involved. Dorita came out to interview Octavio, take photos, and approve him for a medical exam. Greg and I will take him tomorrow and hopefully we can proceed towards treatment. Octavio will need official identification, which he does not have. That starts with a birth certificate, from Durango. So, after visiting the doctor, we will head to the Unidad Administrativa. A group of ladies from Ojalá has kindly offered to help with at least some of the medical expenses, depending on what they are. Please keep your fingers crossed!

Women’s March Mazatlán


(inglés y español) Sábado, 21 enero 2017, a las 4 de la tarde frente el Escudo en Olas Altas, una marcha hasta la Glorieta Sánchez Taboada/el Clavadista. ¡Vengan e inviten a todos! ¡Mazatlán está en el mapa y se cuenta entre los más que 600 marchas internacionales! Detalles y registración gratis aquí. En México, habrán marchas en México, Ajijic, Campeche, Chetumal, La Manzanilla, Mérida, Oaxaca de Juárez, Playa del Carmen, San Miguel de Allende, San Pancho, Todos Santos, Tuxtla Gutierrez, y Zihuatanejo. Página en Facebook está aquí.

Saturday January 21, 2017, at 4 pm, meet at the Sheild in Olas Altas, on the malecón in front of Hotel Freeman, and march to the Glorieta Sanchez Taboada/Cliff Divers. Join us and invite everyone you know! Mazatlán is on the map and counts itself among the over 600 international marches! Details and free registration here. Marches in Mexico include Mexico City, Ajijic, Campeche, Chetumal, La Manzanilla, Mérida, Oaxaca de Juárez, Playa del Carmen, San Miguel de Allende, San Pancho, Todos Santos, Tuxtla Gutierrez, and Zihuatanejo. Facebook page is here.


Women’s March Global invites individuals and organizations committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion and those who understand women’s rights as human rights to join our local coalitions of marchers in representing the rights and voices of progressive people around the world. As concerned citizens standing up for human rights, Women’s March Global is a proactive international movement, not a U.S. election-specific protest per se, which has galvanized people to defend women’s rights and those of others in response to the rising rhetoric of far-right populism around the world.”

El sábado 21 de enero de 2017 millones de personas se reunirán en Washington DC y en cientos de ciudades alrededor del mundo. Este es un evento local para aquellos que creen en la misión y los valores de la “Women’s March on Washington” y quieren mostrar su apoyo. Lea más sobre la Women’s March on Washington aquí:

16112816_227802494344632_8977447224765482083_oEn solidaridad con las mujeres de todo el mundo, nos reuniremos a las 16:00 en el Escudo de Olas Altas y marcharemos pacíficamente por el Malecón y la Madre Océano hasta la Glorieta Sánchez Taboada/los Clavadistas, donde nos uniremos en un círculo de Amor y Paz. Este es un evento no político, no violento, con el propósito de mostrar apoyo y respeto por los derechos humanos básicos de las mujeres, las minorías, los marginados y los que son diferentes, dondequiera que vivan. Nos solidarizamos con la protección de nuestros derechos, nuestra seguridad, nuestra salud y nuestras familias, reconociendo que una comunidad vibrante y diversa fortalece y enriquece a la sociedad, a nuestros países y al mundo.

Maestros, traigan a sus estudiantes; Madres, traigan a sus familias extendidas; Niños, traigan a tus amigos. Adultos jóvenes, por favor, participen y ayuden a lograr un cambio positivo en nuestro mundo. Hombres de todas las edades, marchen con nosotros en solidaridad y apoyo a todas las mujeres en sus vidas que aman y valoran. Esta es una marcha inclusiva y todos son bienvenidos!

Tendremos una pancarta con el logotipo de la marcha de Washington y el texto que dice, SISTER MARCH EN MAZATLAN, MEXICO ~ EN SOLIDARIDAD CON LOS MEXICANOS, liderando la marcha. El grupo de planificación también hará algunos carteles para que los manifestantes lleven. Y le animamos a que haga su propio signo en el idioma que prefiera (o ambos). (Nota para los extranjeros: Manténgalo corto, respetuoso, legible, y dirigido a nuestras preocupaciones, ya que los extranjeros están prohibidos por la ley de la participación en la política mexicana.) Sugerencias para los lemas incluyen declaraciones de valores que queremos; Por ejemplo, “Honestidad / Honestidad”; O “Dignidad / Dignidad”; Derechos Humanos Para Todos; (Derechos Humanos para Todos); “Los Derechos de la Mujer son Derechos Humanos” o “Derechos de las Mujeres Son Derechos Humanos”.

¿Quiere decir algo sobre la propuesta muralla construida por EEUU a través de la frontera mexicana / estadounidense? “No al Muro” (No a la pared) es corto y dulce.

No es una protesta específica de las elecciones estadounidenses per se, sino un movimiento internacional proactivo que ha galvanizado a la gente para defender los derechos de las mujeres y los de otros en respuesta a la creciente retórica del populismo de extrema derecha en todo el mundo.

“La historia de Mazatlán está llena de inmigrantes procedentes de muchos países (España, Alemania, Francia, Filipinas), siendo acogida en la comunidad y esta inclusión ha construido una ciudad que se enorgullece de su patrimonio multifacético. La tradición continúa hoy con los jubilados americanos y canadienses acudiendo a la ‘Perla del Pacífico’, integrándose en una comunidad cálida y hospitalaria y construyendo el futuro juntos. Es este sentimiento de inclusión y aceptación lo que me motivó a organizar nuestro Marcha de Mujeres Mazatlán.

La verdad es que para construir un futuro mejor para nuestros hijos y para nosotros mismos debemos hacerlo juntos, con respeto, honestidad y dignidad para todos. A pesar de aquellos que quieren construir muros que se separan, literalmente o ideológicamente, en última instancia, todos somos un solo gente, viviendo en un planeta. Parece lógico que las mujeres, las madres, estén difundiendo este mensaje de unidad.

Como Mazatlecas – nacidas aquí o ‘pata saladas’ – nos unimos orgullosamente con mujeres alrededor del mundo en apoyo de las mujeres en nuestras vidas que nos dan tanto”.
—WMM organizadora Janet Blaser

Encabezadas por los organizadores de la primera vez y los activistas experimentados, las marchas reunirá a personas de todos los orígenes, razas, religiones, identidades de género, edades y habilidades. Si bien son dirigidos por mujeres, todos son bienvenidos a asistir.

¿Necesita más ideas? Revisa: 

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, hundreds of thousands will gather in Washington D.C. and in hundreds of cities around the world. This is a local event for those who believe in the mission and values of Women’s March on Washington and want to show their support. Read more about the Women’s March on Washington here:

In solidarity with women around the world, we will gather at 4pm at the Escudo in Olas Altas and march peacefully along the malecon and Mother Ocean to the Cliffdivers’ Plaza, where we will join together in a circle of Love and Peace. This is a non-political, non-violent event with the purpose of showing support and respect for the basic human rights of women, minorities, the disenfranchised and those who are different, wherever they may live. We stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that a vibrant and diverse community strengthens and enriches society, our countries and the world.

Teachers, bring your students; mothers, bring your extended families; children, bring your friends. Young adults, please take part and help effect positive change in our world. Men of all ages, march with us in solidarity and support of all the women in your lives that you love and value and couldn’t live without. This is an inclusive march and everyone is welcome!

We will have a banner with the Washington march logo and text that says, SISTER MARCH IN MAZATLAN, MEXICO ~ EN SOLIDARIDAD CON LOS MEXICANOS, leading the march. The planning group will also make some placards for marchers to carry. We encourage you to make your own sign in whichever language you prefer (or both).

Note to foreigners: Keep it short, respectful, legible, and directed at our concerns, as foreigners are forbidden by law from involvement in Mexican politics. Suggestions for slogans include statements of values that we hold dear; for example, “Honestidad/Honesty”; or “Dignidad/Dignity”; Derechos Humanos Para Todos; (Human Rights for All); “Women’s Rights are Human Rights;” or “Derechos de Las Mujeres son Derechos Humanos.’’

Want to say something about the proposed US built wall across the Mexican/US border? “No al Muro” (No to the Wall) is short and sweet.

This is not a U.S. election specific protest per se, but a proactive international movement, which has galvanized people to defend women’s rights and those of others in response to the rising rhetoric of far-right populism around the world.

“Mazatlán’s history is one that’s full of immigrants from many countries – Spain, Germany, France, the Philippines – being welcomed into the community, and this inclusion has built a city that’s proud of its many-faceted heritage. The tradition continues today with American and Canadian retirees flocking to the ‘Pearl of the Pacific,’ integrating into a warm and hospitable community and building the future together. It’s this mood of inclusion, and acceptance, that motivated me to organize our Women’s March Mazatlán. 

The truth is that in order to build a better future for our children and ourselves we must do it together, with respect, honesty and dignity for all. Despite those who want to build walls that separate, literally or ideologically, ultimately we are all one people, living on one planet. Somehow it seems only logical that women – mothers – are spreading this message of unity.

As Mazatlecas – whether born here or ‘pata saladas’ – we stand together proudly with women around the world in support of the women in our lives who give us so much.”
—WMM organizer Janet Blaser

Spearheaded by first-time organizers and seasoned activists, the marches will bring together people of all backgrounds, races, religions, gender identities, ages and abilities. While led by women, all are welcome to attend.

Need more ideas? Check out: