Una autentica fiesta Mexicana!

June 1st, 2012 | Posted by Gregoire Michaud in Daily life...

100 light years away!

Tortillas

This is where I landed when I tried the Mexican food of Chef Jorge Gonzalez and Chef Alfonso Berlanga. Yet, the food he and Alfonso cooked during their time in our kitchens is actually centuries old. Perhaps in my pastry chef life, I never had the chance to cross path with authentic Mexican food… for that matter, I believe I barely touched an ounce of authenticity when I drank very good Tequila at my friend’s home, and that’s it.

The ingredients used in the dishes were all flown in from Mexico and packed by the Chefs themselves, their luggage had just a few cloths and the rest was full of food! That already sets the tone on how serious Mexicans are about their food. The mole paste, the achiote or the Oaxaca chocolate they brought with them are all made by Mama’s in small street shops – they are absolutely full of flavor and it doesn’t get any better than this in terms of authenticity. Chilies are another ingredient that were imported in massive quantities; fresh, dried, smoked, red, green, and orange – a real festival of color and flavors! Like anyone else, seeing the incredible amount of chilies invading our fridges and shelves, I couldn’t stop thinking about how the spiciness of the dish would make me cry. Then indeed, when I took my first bite of the oxtail sopes, which was the first dish I tried, I could have had a tear in my eye, but definitely not for the spiciness, but for the perfect blend of flavors, the right balance of spices and herbs with all the other ingredients.

Ceviche

Different very interesting and traditional cooking techniques were used such as wrapping in a dried corn envelop a sort of corn dough stuffed with cheese to later be steamed and grilled – or to cook a lamb shank in a very thin layer of agave leaves, like you would do a Papillote. I was told that back in Mexico, people say the leaves still have life in them; talk about a soulful cuisine!

This is how the tomatoes are cooked for the sauce

From a dessert point of view, Mexican desserts are fairly straight forward. Actually they are very well known (and delicious!) and we cross their path almost every day in our kitchen, let there be Churros or the rightful chocolate cake. The element that really got me excited was the Oaxaca chocolate made by the Mama’s. This is the ancestor of the chocolate we know today. It’s simply cocoa bean, roasted and pounded, plus cinnamon and sugar. It’s rough and edgy; it is surely not your 72 hours conched couverture and that’s all the beauty of it. I call it a no-fuss chocolate and by tasting it, I felt extremely proud to connect with the origin of an ingredient I have been working with for the past 20 years. I thought I wouldn’t bother working it out in any recipes, but serving it in chunks as a petit four was perfect.

More than taste, it’s a travel back on the timeline of food history.

Oaxaca chocolate

Alfredo Sanchez, the talented bar tender from Four Seasons Punta Mita, was also from the voyage. He shaken and stirred incredible drinks based on Tequila. If you are familiar with bars, you must know the “red sombrero” bottle of Tequila – forget it! There is a whole world of real Tequila out there and it gets as complex and interesting as any other fine spirit. Amongst others, Alfredo whipped up Margarita Huichol (Tequila reposado, cointreau, child Serrano, lime and sugar), Rosa Maria (Mezcal, organic pineapple, rosemary, lime and sugar) and Paloma (Tequila reposado, grapefruit soda, lime and salt) – WOW!

Fish baked with lime and chilies for the empanadas

The Mexican cuisine of Chef Jorge is a cuisine from the heart.

Don’t bother trying to find espuma of corn or guacamole spheres here – it’s all down to earth cooking. The profound soul present in the dishes, the sauces and the finishing touches is a culinary entity in itself, a celebration of flavors that will surely etch your cognitive senses for many years to come if only, you had the chance to come across that authentic taste of Mexico!

All ready to go!

Lime, mango, hibiscus, guanabana sorbets and fritters

The famous Tres Leches (presented a la Gregoire :) )

Mayan Chocolate Cake

Churros and Bunuelos

Short rib, chocolate sauce, black bean, stuffed corn envelop

Cheese, chillies and corn

Sea Bream

Ox tongue sopes

Chef Gonzales favorite sauce!!

Oh la la! :)

The dream team!

Delicious nachos with guacamole and a stunning tomato salsa (made with the burnt tomatoes)

PS: The chefs are serving their menu at The Lounge until June 10th!

 

 

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