Every year, Penca & Owl’s Club employees travel to Mexico to experience the culinary scene there. We asked David Solorzano about the trip and some of its highlights!

What was the purpose of your trip to Mexico? We wanted to draw inspiration from what’s going on in Central Mexico—from culture to gastronomy. We also wanted to show the staff what service and hospitality are like in Central Mexico compared to what they’re used to experiencing in border towns.

Any cool stories from the trip? Getting lost in San Baltazar in Oaxaca. We wanted to find a mescalero, so we asked around and learned there was a Mescalero named Fortunato. We asked where to find him, and people indicated generally that he lived “over there,” so we went door to door looking for him. After three doors, we found him. We talked with Fortunato, a blind mescalero, for a while at his house, then drove him and his family to their palenque (mescal distillery) and tasted some mescal.

How about culinary highlights? Meeting the chef from Carmela Y Sal and eating there. Also eating taleras on the side of the street.

It looks like you went to an agave nursery/mezcaleria. Did you learn anything? That was Real Minero Mezcal, considered by many to be one of the world’s finest mezcal producers. Aside from producing amazing mezcal, they also run Proyecto Lam, one of the largest and most diverse sustainable agave reforestation programs. With the help of the community, they’ve been able to rescue several agave varieties that were previously thought to be extinct. They educate people on importance of agave, catalogue the hundreds of agave species around the world, and work to protect the environment and animals that sustain agave.