La Noria de San Antonio

La Noria de San Antonios is located in the municipality of Mazatlán in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. This small rural town is well known for its handmade items of leather and clay. The overall population of La Noria de San Antonio (La Noria as most call it) is only about 1200 people.

As I drove into the sleepy pre-colonial town I felt a connection with the historic feel and look of the area. There were brightly colored buildings and a couple small gene-rationally owned business. Since it was around noon most the town was closed down for siesta time. It left the borough with a sense of stillness, calmness and quiet.

The first place I stop at is a very quaint leather shop there are only two in town, this one is in the very center. The shop owner produces a variety of leather products, belts, saddles, and beautiful masks etc. These masks are the same ones many use when attending the Mazatlan Carnival. The saddles are made with such a detail to craftsmanship they are in themselves a work of art. Myself I was intrigued with the masks that lined an entire wall. I will definitely be getting a few of them to display throughout my home. The shop owner has been doing this skillful craft since he was just fifteen years old he was taught by his father. Juan I believe his name was, gave us a demonstration of the centuries old skill. We watched as he quickly made and embossed a beautiful leather belt. Hanging from the other side of the wall was more of his crafts. Variously sized purses and a chest-crossing belt of sorts that allowed one to carry a bottle of liquor and shot glasses. The handmade leather sandals were very nice also.

Just up the street hidden behind another small leather shop in a clay dirt backyard is an artist. He created skillfully without any electricity using only manpower making many sizes of bowls, cups and various other items with handmade molds. He demonstrated how exactly he creates these little works of art. He used a small but effective wooden spinning wood plate that he spun with his foot kind of like a lazy Susan.  The proprietor of this makeshift small business was extremely entertaining and friendly. I enjoyed speaking with him and laughing at his jokes. The fact of his limited English mixed into his fast speaking Spanish made the experience even better. I kept thinking this must be how I sound when I’m speaking Spanish. Well, I’d guess I sound a little sillier with a couple points for at least trying to speak Spanish. I couldn’t resist buying two of the cutest small clay cups that were glazed in a clear and green tint. They were hand stamped with a leaf-like image and engraved with the township name.

On the way back I stopped in at the very Mexican traditional rustic outdoor restaurant, EL Saszon de la Abuela Tina. On one side of the restaurant was a large open field with many barnyard type animals. Lots of turkeys, chickens, ducks and such wandered around. On the other side was a dirt-floored additional seating area. In the back was the open kitchen, I stood and watched the women creating my soon to be lunch. Hanging from the thatched roof were fans and small items from around this picturesque town. I ordered the house specialty Molcheta bowl. This is amazing it’s a black clay bowl filled with smokey beef, chicken, and shrimp that is placed into a wood-burning brick oven. The layers of flavors from the smokey meats, the gooieness of melted cheese all swimming in a delicious mildly spicey ranchero sauce. So fantastic I’ve never tasted anything like this meal. They served it with piping hot handmade blue tortillas. The freshly made frothy ice cold limonada was the perfect complement to this meal. I will warn you the serving size is huge I could have easily portioned this into two meals. However, since I was driving a ways out back to Mazatlan I ate what I could. I honestly didn’t think it would reheat well either.

Don’t be caught off guard though. The chickens and turkeys amongst other animals wander around you while your eating. They could be a little loud and curious but it only added to the authenticity of the experience. I’m pretty sure this is truly farm to table. The service was genuinely nice and friendly. When Jeff returns from Alaska this will be a place I will take him for sure. It is definitely worth the forty-five-minute drive.

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