Wednesday, April 7, 2010

2011 Culinary Tour to Isla Mujeres, Mexico

World of Flavors Culinary Tour-Isla Mujeres, Mexico

MARCH 5-12, 2011

Join Otehlia Cassidy, a food-lover, cooking instructor and freelance food writer from Madison, WI, on her annual culinary tour to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. This spectacular 7-day culinary adventure will allow you to bring the rich cultural and culinary heritage of Mexico to your own kitchen through hands-on classes, mouth-watering meals, and breathtaking excursions around the area.

Otehlia runs the tour to Isla Mujeres, and the Yucutan peninsula, because that area epitomizes the natural beauty and culinary richness of Mexico. Otehlia also has a wonderful connection with a local chef and restaurant owner on the island. Lori Dumm, owner of Mango Cafe and Blue Iguana Deli, has lived on the island for a number of years, and knows the area very well. She is helping facilitate the tour and ensure well-organized, tasty and fun-filled tour.

The next tour runs from March 5-12, 2011. Save the dates!

***REGISTER WITH YOUR $500 DEPOSIT by JUNE 1, 2010 and save $100!
Total cost if registering on or before June 1, 2010 is $1700.00.

Here are some details:


The tour will run for six full days and seven nights, March 5-12 (lodging includes the nights of March 5-11). Participants will stay at Casa de Las Palmas on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. It is an incredible, luxurious villa that looks out over the ocean. The multi-level pool is the perfect place to take a refreshing swim, or relax in a hammock under the palapa. Each exquisitely decorated bedroom has a private bath. The villa includes a kitchen and large dining table so we can have cooking classes on the premises. But take a look for yourself Reserve your spot now for this tour--space limited to 8 participants.


Each day, except when we tour Merida, we will start with a delicious breakfast catered by Chef Lori Dumm who owns Mango Café and Blue Iguana Deli. Lori puts together flavors in ways that will surprise you, and leave you wanting more. Breakfasts might include bagels with chipotle cream cheese, or her famous Concha bread French toast with orange-rosemary syrup. Organic Oaxacan coffee will be provided.

Every day, except during the two-day excursion to Merida, you will have one cooking class at Casa de Las Palmas in the morning or afternoon, and a chance to explore the island with an optional group activity. The cooking classes will be taught by chefs Lori Dumm and Oscar Flores. Oscar grew up in Mexico City, and comes from a family of chefs, where he learned to cook traditional Mexican dishes, such as enchiladas, seafood soup, and mole. Just tasting his homemade Guajillo chile enchilada sauce is pure indulgence--and you will be surprised to learn how easy it is to make! Lori creates recipes that perfectly meld Latin flavors with a range of popular dishes. Some of my favorite items on her menu include a chile relleno stuffed with cream cheese, eggs, and bacon and her Korean pork barbecue sandwich on French bread with jicama slaw and pickled jalapenos. Yum. The instructors will emphasize how to re-create their amazing dishes even after you return home, using ingredients local to your area.

You will definitely have time to do more than eat— that is, if you want to. Start your morning with yoga, taught by Amy Kruger. There will be optional group activities each day—they might include sailing, snorkeling, hitting the beach or discovering the zoo or turtle sanctuary. Feel free to check out the small island on your own, or head into Cancun if you desire. The island is only 7 miles long and is very easy to get around!

The meal that we DON’T cook will be on your own, or feel free to stop by the market and cook something up in the huge kitchen at Casa de Las Palmas.


During this tour we will have the opportunity to explore some of the beautiful places in that area.

We will take a day trip to Isla Contoy, a national park/island that is teeming with birds, and very few people. We reach the peaceful island by boat, and enjoy the pristine beaches, clear water, snorkeling and/or birdwatching. We will enjoy a cooking class on the beach and learn to make a traditional Mayan dish called tik n chix, fresh fish marinated in achiote and lime, then grilled. This trip depends on the weather.

We will spend Tuesday and Wednesday traveling to Merida, a beautiful colonial city, and the capital of Yucutan. Tuesday morning we will leave Cancun and head to the ruins of Ek Balam and Cenote Dzinup, both near the town of Valladolid. Ek Balam is thought to have been the longest continually inhabited Mayan city in the Yucutan, and lies about 100 miles from Cancun en route to Merida. Cenote Dzinup (a freshwater pool formed by collapsed limestone) is one of the most beautiful cenotes in the Yucutan, and great for a refreshing swim! We will provide lunch or dinner that day. We will spend the night in Merida, and wake up to explore the markets with chef Lori Dumm. We will head to the market in the morning, gathering inspiration and ingredients for a meal. Depending on our accommodations, we might cook a delicious lunch with chef Lori, or head to one of Merida’s outstanding restaurants, before heading back to Isla Mujeres.

All in all, you are guaranteed a fabulous, relaxing and delicious time.

Please check out some photos from my latest trip on Flickr.


$1800/person. $500 extra for single occupancy, $200 less for non-cooking companion.

Cost includes: breakfast and meal cooked during class each day on Isla Mujeres, a daily cooking class, a daily yoga class, trip to Isla Contoy (includes lunch) and Merida (includes breakfast and one meal each day while traveling), and all fees associated with those two trips, and lodging.

Cost does NOT include: round trip airfare to Cancun, ground transport to/from Isla Mujeres from Cancun airport, entrance fees to optional group activities on Isla Mujeres (range from $3 to $50), lunch or dinner (whichever one we don’t cook during the class), transportation around Isla Mujeres (taxis cost about $2-4 per trip, and golf cart rental available about $50/day—can be shared), and any personal spending money.


A $500 non-refundable DEPOSIT IS REQUIRED BY DECEMBER 1, 2010 per person to reserve space in the tour. Since the number if participants is limited to 8 early reservations are advised. Once your deposit is received, a written confirmation will be sent, along with more detailed travel information and forms. The balance of $1,300 is due in full by DECEMBER 30, 2010. If not received by that time, your reservation will be considered canceled.
Registration form is attached to this email.

Cancellations by Feb 1, 2011, 50% of final payment refunded if space can be filled. Cancellations after Feb 1, 2011, no refunds.

TRIP INSURANCE: It is highly recommended that all participants purchase travel insurance. If you wish to purchase travel insurance, go to for details and to purchase.

CHILDREN: Unfortunately, due to accommodation and tour limitations, children under 18 are not able to participate in this tour. I hope to design a family friendly culinary tour in the near future, so stay tuned!



Otehlia Cassidy, the tour organizer, has over 10 years of experience traveling in Latin America, Mexico and Africa. Otehlia has spent time in Chihuahua and Sonora, Mexico, working with indigenous groups (including the Raramuri and the Seri) on conservation issues. Learning to cook local dishes and share meals wherever she traveled allowed Otehlia to make new friends and experience the culture of the area. Otehlia has facilitated group travel in West Africa and is an experienced event planner. In addition to raising her two young children and teacing African dance, Otehlia is a cooking instructor, author of the food blog “World of Flavors”, and a freelance writer specializing in food-related topics.

Lori Dumm, chef and cooking instructor, lived in Madison, WI for 10 years, before calling Isla Mujeres, Mexico home. She lives there with her husband Polo and daughter Zoe. Lori and Polo opened Mango Café only two years ago. Already, it is rated the #1 restaurant on the island and has been featured in Latina Magazine. Lori creates dishes that combine flavors in unexpected ways, using both local ingredients and a global vision. Lori is very personable and knows the island and surrounding area very well.

Oscar Flores, chef and cooking instructor, was born and raised in Mexico, and comes from a family of chefs. He recalls his mother cooking amazing food while he, as a young boy, helped. Oscar creates a wide repertoire of traditional Mexican dishes and is an excellent instructor taking great pride in his food and presentation. He is also an amazing artist, creating sculptures and masks from recycled palm fiber.

Amy Kruger, yoga instructor, was introduced to yoga in the 1970’s. Yoga asanas were fun for her to play around with as a young woman. Fast-forward twenty years: Back pain and pregnancy caused Amy to discover the amazing benefits of a regular practice. Amy currently teaches classes based on the Ashtanga tradition and they are taught in the vinyasa style. Vinyasa yoga links one pose to the next in a fluid, serpentine fashion. Amy’s classes are fun, challenging and appropriate for all levels of participants.

Look forward to springtime in paradise!


Daria de la Luna said...

Looks amazing!!!

Otehlia said...

It is a beautiful place. Enjoying great food in a great place makes a trip so wonderful!