(early morning view from my suite at the Sheraton Hacienda)
My timing is either way off or just right sometimes. When it comes to writing on Flanboyant Eats, I don’t always have it together the way I’d like. There are times when it takes me one year to fully report and recap incredible travel, shabby shindigs or private encounters with a notable someone.
There are 9 such posts in queue. Sigh. Major sigh.
I proclaim to you that as of today, I have put myself on a serious editorial calendar to share with you these fabulous and delicious excursions.
[I learned just today that is is National Mexico Week, so this post is so on time!]
A few days after the amazing visit with Joël Robuchon in NY exactly one year ago, I was off to Cabo San Lucas and San José, on a writing assignment hosted by the most and sweetest lifestyle publicist I’ve worked with. She made the trip extraordianary, but I won’t bore you with details on our exchanges.
To date, that 4-day hop was the sexiest trip I’ve taken to a Latin country, thanks to her and her magical itinerary. The theme was organic and gourmet eating in the two towns, located in the Baja peninsula. You know it doesn’t take twice for me to accept a gig that requires endless eating and bottomless vino and breezy cocktails.
Since then, I’ve been back to Mexico on another press trip, which I’ll recap toward the end of the year. The crux of this trip was to experience another level of discriminating palates. However, there were additional deviations and activities, like quick visits to 5 star luxury hotels and villas.
Because we covered so much territory and were indulged with sexalicious tastings and libations, I’m gonna split the trip into a 3 part series so that you can see, smell and visually taste all the goodness I had: An intro to Mexican gastronomy; A visit and tasting at a local organic farm, an al fresco cooking lesson and dinner at Georges Jacques’ restaurant, a sail ride and an artistic stroll through the sister town, Cabo San Jose with wine pairing dinner.
(Mexican produced sparkling wine)
I’ll save a 4th installment for my travel musings blog, “A New Place in Life” (which I really need to maintain more frequently), where I’ll focus on all the uber fabulous resort options!
One of the best-kept secrets about Mexico is their relentless effort to produce high quality products and ingredients. Really. When we think of Mexican cuisine, unfortunately we’re tainted with the default taco, refried beans, enchilada, guacamole (which you know I’m addicted to), ceviche, Corona beer and other “Tex-Mex” foods.
At least from what I’ve seen in American society, this is the general consensus. Refer to Cinco de Mayo.
I’ve started to dispel this unqualified perception of Mexican food, through several other posts from personal and business trips there. I’m doing the same in this post–this time from a gourmet and totally luxurious vantage point, until recently not really seen or perceived in Mexico.
We started the quaint trip (only 7 writers) by checking into the Sheraton “Hacienda del Mar” (translation: House on the Beach).
Not being a fan of American chain hotels, I thought it was a bit dubious staying there, especially since the itinerary included visits to local boutique hotels and big brand resorts. But, after having settled into my room and getting an early evening tour of the property, I was satisfied and knew I’d be comfortable for the stay.
The hotel (which I’ll recap as mentioned above) is very Spanish-esque, with its scalloping adobe rooftop and colorful tiled ceramic floors. It was as if a troupe of Flamenco dancers were commissioned to pose for the architects’ inspiration.
Our first night started with an untraditional Mexican dinner, starting with a cocktail reception at Pitayahas where we greedily enjoyed hors d’oeuvres by the beaches’s sunset. Palm trees waving and the moon doing its duty, the night was perfect to enjoy a take on a guacamole mash and a seafood bouquet, among other special mar delicacy’s. The executive chef, a German man, excitedly detailed the menu in his best Spanish.
(staircase to cellar; sparkling Mexican bubbly)
The welcome cocktail reception was followed by a tour of the quaint and dark wine cellar. There, we were introduced to the novel proactive of producing Mexican sparkling wine, mirrored after Champagne and produced by the méthode champenoise. Harvested near wine valley in California, U.S., Mexican sparking wine stands to any exquisite California sparkly or Spanish cave. It was smooth, had a sweet aftertaste and definitely bubbled during our tasting.
I bragged so much, I was kindly gifted with a bottle I’ve yet to pop!
(writers and our host Rose, 2nd on left)
We all tipped our flutes and ignited our appetites.
Dinner at Sheraton’s De Cortez was fabulous; a 5-course dinner prepared by the resort’s female chef. A combination of Mexican style dim sum, ceviche and tender steak was on the menu. We also enjoyed a beautifully plated carpaccio, which I allowed to marinate in my mouth far longer than necessary. While the dim sum was almost a fail for me personally, the steak redeemed anything that could have gone wrong. It was cooked to perfection and I just couldn’t stop begging for more local bread.
(delicious and well prepared carpaccio)
( I ate this and can not remember what it was other than that it was cooked to perfection with incredible local flavors)
A practice I’ve not yet seen implemented by American or other international restaurants, each one of our courses was paired with a local wine. This is of special note as it’s part of the country’s rogue move in expanding and establishing their cuisine as one of the world’s distinct palates.
Each wine offering was treated with an aerator and described in detail so the tasting connection could be made. They also allowed us to taste wind without aeration so that we could discern the difference. For a novice wine drinker, this the most intriguing part of dinner. My chef friend Zach pointed a lot of characteristics I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up on. For the first time I can say I appreciated having several different glasses of red wine during one sitting.
But we all know I prefer white!
(Sommelier doing his wine pairing demonstration during dinner)
After dinner, we strolled to a shore-side seating area with a wood burning warmer spitting flames as we sipped on Damiana. This new-to-me drink is made from the Damiana flower, similar to anise and bearing hints of hazelnut. Our host Reno was entirely too generous in offering bottomless shots of the ultra smooth liqueur which I had to have with chocolate ganache and raspberry cups. Otherwise, I see myself having strolled right into the water…yeah, the drink was that good, hence unstoppable drinking on all parts.
(T,L,R: Damiana liqueur, view from my room, chocolate ganache and raspberry dessert)
(Mariela and me)
Def. a great way to end our first night. Not to mention all the chocolate truffles waiting for me in my suite. And, I’ve made long lasting friendships with at least 3 of the fabulous journalists and our host.
7 journalists, including writer and Anthony Bourdain’s friend, Louisa Chu (you’ll see here in Day 3) and very gentle woman with a sense of humor; and Latina Magazine online editor (now the editor of my weekly column there) kicked off our 4-day stay in beach-y chic fashion: popping bottles and dragging our feet to our rooms.
Our second day was probably the most exhausting but most exciting and eye-opening to a side of Mexico I’d not seen before.
I’ll have the post next week so make sure to come back! It comes with more luscious pictures and an amazing tequila cocktail recipe!
* Huge thanks to Chef/writer Zach Minot for sharing his camera with me as I had a rinky dink one on me…he allowed me to capture some amazing shots on his Cannon…
*What’s been your all-time best culinary experience in Mexico?