As I gaze out the window on this snowy day in Atlanta, I am longing for the crystal blue skies and warn sunshine of Mexico. Fortunately, I brought home with me many beautiful photographs and fond memories of my week long experience at Rancho La Puerta. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to this magical place as Nancy Waldeck's Sous-Chef. Not only did we get to enjoy all of the amenities offered at the ranch, we were able to pick vegetables from the organic garden and cook in their top notch cooking school, La Cocina Que Canta.
La Cocina Que Canta, or "the kitchen that sings", in English, is truly a chef's dream. A floor to ceiling picture window sheds natural light into the brightly hued teaching kitchen and dining room. Birds really do sing outside the window and Chef Denise Roa's staff hums along with clock-like precision. Adding to this idyllic setting is the incredible organic garden, which is headed up by the ebullient head gardener Salvador. Ninety percent of the vegetables used in our cooking class came from this garden. Beets, carrots, kale, rainbow chard, herbs and lettuces all picked moments before they were cooked and all tasting like the best version of their particular variety. I now truly know the definition of "fresh" and will be a bit nostalgic for this garden when I return home and do my first grocery run at my local supermarket.
In addition to working in the cooking school, we had plenty of time to take advantage of all of the amenities at the ranch as well. The days were filled with morning hikes, yoga and stretch classes, sunbathing, spa treatments, meditation, lectures and sound healing. There was an activity every hour on the hour from 6am until 8pm. It was quite impressive how much I was able to squeeze into a day and still be sound asleep before nine o'clock every night. Rest, relaxation and unplugging from the outside world for a few days really does wonders for the body and spirit.
Rancho La Puerta truly was a life changing experience for me and it is easy to see why many of the people I met at the ranch were repeat visitors. So, until my next visit south of the border, I plan on channeling this warm, healthy feeling in my day to day life. Stay tuned for some ranch inspired recipes in the weeks to come and remember to make every plate something to be passionate about.