Due to an unexpected health issue, Mexico Cooks! is unable to attend the sixth edition of Morelia en Boca, taking place this weekend in Morelia, Michoacán. Rather than miss the festivities altogether, I invite you this week and next week to a re-run of the very first Morelia en Boca, offered in 2011.
Here's Mexico Cooks!, once again starting at the finish. As we always say: life is uncertain, eat dessert first. This particular postre (dessert), the sweet finale to a special Morelia en Boca Friday night dinner at Restaurante LU, is by chef Roberto Santibáñez of Fonda Restaurant in New York.
The sold-out dinner, titled Luces de New York en Cielo Michoacano (Lights of New York in the Michoacán Heavens), was constantly surprising in its scope and, equal to its name, heavenly in its flavors. This dessert is a meringue mounted on sweetened cream of queso Cotija (Michoacán's signature artisan cheese) and filled with a mixed-berry compote, and passionfruit ice cream colored with red flowers. The combination of contrasting flavors was stunning; after the first forkful, everyone at Mexico Cooks!' table simply stared at one another, speechless with delight.
Another plate from Luces de New York en Cielo Michoacano as prepared by chefs Roberto Santibáñez and Lucero Soto Arriaga: fresh Michoacán trout, smoked over guava wood and chilled, garnished with a gazpacho of cucumber, pineapple, avocado, and shredded beets.
Last week Mexico Cooks! introduced you to some of the world-class chefs who stood over the hot stoves at Morelia en Boca 2011. Today, let's eat! The festival food--a Mexican combination plate ranging from far-southern Chiapanecan tascalate (see below) to a Baja California tartaleta de chocolate con chile habanero (chocolate and chile habanero tart) to Michoacán's own uchepos con crema y salsa (fresh corn tamales served with cream and fiery sauce)--was as diverse as Mexico's geography. Three days of non-stop food and drink, all served under an unprecedented blazing ball of central Mexican sun, left us Morelia en Boca participants breathless but wanting more.
Patricia Zepeda accompanied her niece, brilliant young Chiapas chef Martha Zepeda, to Morelia en Boca. Tía Paty helped staff Chef Martha's stand featuring San Cristóbal de las Casas restaurant Tierra y Cielo. Bearing up to the challenge of Morelia's intense midday sun, Paty served chilled and refreshing horchata de tascalate to all comers. I first tasted tascalate at Morelia en Boca. A sleekly smooth and blessedly cool agua fresca (fresh water) common to Chiapas, it's made of ground tortillas, chocolate, cinnamon, achiote, vanilla, sugar, and water. Some recipes also incorporate ground pine nuts. In addition to tascalate and several wonderful botanas (appetizer-size nibbles), the booth also offered classic Chiapaneco pox (pronounced and often spelled posh), a fermented and sometimes fruit-flavored knock-your-socks off liquor made of sugar cane.
Demonstrated by chef Betty Vázquez and the team from Riviera Nayarit, this pescado zarandeado (sauced and grilled fish) leapt with color and flavor. The sauce, an adobo of chiles, garlic, and other ingredients, is brushed onto the skin-on butterflied fish prior to grilling. Traditionally grilled over a wood fire, the fish is juicy and tender.
During Morelia en Boca, Mexico's food and wine event of the late spring season, ticketholders had the opportunity to taste as much of the bounty of Villa Gourmet as they liked. Villa Gourmet, a large interior patio at the Palacio Clavijero, overflowed with specially constructed and rustically sophisticated wooden booths where more than thirty providers show off their wares: beer from Belgium, wines from Spain, France, and Mexico (among other countries), and foods from all over Mexico vied for space in our stomachs. Some attendees concentrated on the numerous wine and beer tastings, while others concentrated on the food.
Bread! Glorious loaves like these, offered for tasting at Morelia en Boca's Villa Gourmet, are baked by chef Elena Reygadas's Italian restaurant Rosetta, located in Mexico City's Colonia Roma. Morelia en Boca attendees rapidly found the restaurant's stand at the festival's Villa Gourmet and devoured every crumb.
At Morelia en Boca's Villa Gourmet, Mexico Cooks! talked with Ricardo Serratos of Hotel Real de Minas, San Miguel de Allende, and Elena Reygada of Restaurante Rosetta, Mexico City.
In addition to the daytime Villa Gourmet, the three nights of the festival offered special dinners prepared by internationally-known chefs in conjunction with Morelia restaurants. The likes of Mikel Alonso (Restaurante Biko, Mexico City), Roberto Santibáñez (Fonda Restaurant, New York), Enrique Olvera (Restaurante Pujol, Mexico City), and Margarita Carrillo de Salinas (Restaurante Don Emiliano, San José del Cabo), to name just a handful, cooked wowzer dinners for those who were lucky enough to get tickets to the rapidly sold out meals.
Mezcal from Chef Pilar Cabrera's Oaxaca Restaurante La Olla, served in seedless, veinless, hotter-than-you-know-where chiles de agua, their rims crusted with sal de gusano, a powerhouse mix of salt, ground maguey cactus worm, and powdered chile de árbol.
An appetizer plate by chef Rodolfo Castellanos, owner of Restaurante Origen in Oaxaca. From the left on the plate are mezcal foam, fresh and barely roasted tuna with a coating of chile chilhuacle ashes, and a small salad of slivers of Michoacán's native black-skinned avocado, onion, tiny tortilla chips, and cilantro, all in a piloncillo vinaigrette. This five-course dinner (titled Pasión a Fuego Lento: Erotismo en la Cocina--Passion over a Slow Fire: Eroticism in the Kitchen), was prepared by Chef Castellanos in conjunction with chef Margarita Carrillo de Salinas and served at Morelia's Restaurante San Miguelito. The meal included wine pairings from Casa Madero, Mexico's oldest wine grower, with a literary talk about the dinner's title by author José Iturriaga and wine discussions by the extraordinary scholar and sommelier Pilar Meré.
José N. Iturriaga, the delightful and erudite author, historian, and gastronome, signs a copy of his most recent book, Confieso que He Comido (I Confess That I Have Eaten). Just before the dinner Pasión a Fuego Lento: Erotismo en la Cocina (Passion over a Slow Fire: Eroticism in the Kitchen) at Restaurante San Miguelito, Sr. Itturiaga spoke about the relationship between two hungers, one erotic and the other for food. Photo courtesy Francisco de Santiago, Mexico City.
After the brilliant Saturday night dinner at Restaurante San Miguelito, chefs (left to right) Rodolfo Castellanos, Margarita Carrillo de Salinas and restaurant owner Cynthia Martínez enjoy the happy applause of their guests.
We'll finish with dessert, right where we started, this creation by chef Margarita Carrillo: tartaleta de chocolate, chile habanero, y almendras con helado de canela hecho en casa (little chocolate tart with chile habanero and ground almonds, served with home made cinnamon ice cream) and Casa Madero brandy.
Note: all links to chefs and restaurants are for your information only and are not paid endorsements.
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