The first thing you notice about Denver, beyond the the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains on one side and the great eastern plain on the other is how much the town is booming. The amount of construction projects is not to be believed, which makes sense given the population there has grown 15.5% since 2010. Read more
Posts tagged ‘del maguey’
The much anticipated news that Pernod Ricard had acquired a mezcal company finally hit, with perhaps the biggest surprise of all being who it acquired– Del Maguey. Pernod will take a majority stake in the US’ number one mezcal company. The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to the press release and what we have heard from the company, the current management team and staff remain in place and all operations in Mexico remain intact as well. Read more
Misty Kalkofen, Del Maguey‘s Madrina (godmother) is a big ball of energy when it comes to her passion project – mezcal and sustainability. If you haven’t already checked out the sustainability blog at the Del Maguey website, you should. It is highly significant that the brand that pretty much launched the mezcal category as we know it today has a dedicated space on their website discussing issues impacting the mezcal industry– this is a real issue that the category as a whole must address. Read more
In the spirit of transparency, here’s some background on how the whole idea of how Mexico in a Bottle – Washington, D.C. came about: DC is my hometown, but now, my immediate family lives with me on the West Coast. I miss DC, I miss my friends, and I really needed to come up with a reason to visit. Then there was a random meeting and conversation I had with Pati Jinich, the terrific Mexican chef, culinary anthropologist, and resident chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in DC. She told me that the Mexican culinary scene in Washington was growing. A seed was planted and I told Max that DC needed to be on our shortlist of event cities for 2017. Read more
It would be fair to say that despite the fact that we do an awful lot of events, we don’t consider ourselves event planners. This is why we are such believers in collaboration. We always try to work with the best of the best who bring their game to whatever event we have going.
This is especially true of the upcoming La Lucha de La Cocina on August 13th at Pier 70 in San Francisco, a collaborative fundraiser for La Cocina, the non profit culinary incubator in San Francisco’s Mission District that helps <primarily immigrant> women start formal food businesses. In addition to the Lucha Libre and Taquiza (taco extravaganza) which we previously wrote about, there will also be three bars hosted by some of San Francisco’s most innovative bars and restaurants – ABV, Old Bus Tavern, and Novela. Read more
Of course just after posting the news about Pilar Cabrera being in town, we learned about another visiting chef from Oaxaca unveiling her new cookbook in Oakland.
Chef Susana Trilling, founder of Seasons of My Heart cooking school in San Augustin, Oaxaca will be in Oakland Thursday night at Calavera. Not only will she be presenting dishes from her gorgeous cookbook Milpa, From Seed to Salsa, she’ll also be signing said book and pairing dishes with some Del Maguey Mezcal. $65 dollars gets you a copy of the book and dishes paired with mezcal. Call the restaurant to make a reservation.
Again we get to say, provecho!
It takes some cojones to throw a mezcal tasting in San Francisco during the annual SF Pride celebration. Add to that the historic Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage, a Giants home game, and the farewell Grateful Dead concert, and you are looking at truly committed mezcal lovers who made their way through mayhem to taste some really new and exciting mezcals, paired with great eats.
Erick Rodriguez and Adrian Vazquez, Los Borrachos, put together this tasting event at Bartlett Hall to showcase traditional mezcals. In addition to brands already in the market like Wahaka, Tosba, Del Maguey, Don Amado, Alipus, and Mezcalero there were some new bottles from the Heavy Metl fold – Rey Campero, Mezcaloteca, and Real Minero – which will soon be imported to the United States as well as fresh bottles from Erick’s Almamezcalera label. Totally new to the market and making their debut were Mezcal Los Gentiles and Chaneque.
How you pace yourself at events like these is the big question. I go for tiny tastes. I also try to focus on mezcals I’ve never had first and see how it goes from there.
My first stop was with Almamezcalera. Erick was pouring three new mezcals all distilled with spices and herbs and made from espadilla, a wild espadin, and distilled in clay and wood. I will not call these “healthy” mezcals, as I think mezcal holds medicinal properties period. I started with the Cilantro and Hoja Santa which was incredibly herbaceous (of course) and vaguely anis like. At 54% it was big, spicy and smooth. Next up was the mezcal distilled with ramos – considered a cleansing herb – and at 61% it was surprisingly non-alcoholic, very green and herbaceous. It felt more medicinal in the same way that Fernet does. Last up was the cinnamon and cacao, also at 61%, which was neither sweet nor perfumey which was what I was expecting and why I tasted it last. All three of these mezcals would work great as both aperitivos and digestivos.
Next up was Chaneque, a major reason I braved the insanity to come to the tasting. I had tried their madrecuishe once in Oaxaca and was intrigued. Juan Carlos Rodríguez, owner of Chaneque, had the whole lineup, and a couple of special mezcals under the table. I rolled through the 59% Coyote from Matatlan; the Mexicano from Sola de Vega (surprisingly musky and not the usual hot sweetness I’ve come to expect from Mexicanos); a 52% 8yr aged (in glass) Espadin from Zoquitlan which blew my socks off with its thickness and richness, and proof of why an Espadin should never be considered pedestrian; a very dry and mineral 52% Tepestate from Sola de Vega that had a strong bite in its finish; and finally a 47% Tobala from Matatlan that had the perfect sweet finish to it. Chaneque should be in the market in a couple of months with the Espadin, Madrecuishe, and Tobala.
The 49% Mexicano from Los Gentiles was very subtle and had the lovely sweetness you get with this maguey. I saved their collaborative project from Clase Azul – a 44% Cenizo from Durango – for last. This project is an experiment with only 6,000 liters produced (a drop in the bucket for this tequila brand). Created with the idea of economic development and jobs – it is part reforestation/cultivation of a wild agave, part art project with is ceramic black bottles, and beaded tops, and a price point of $225.
Thankfully among all the mezcal was some pretty delicious food from Lolo, Uno Dos Tacos, Colibri, Mosto, and Mayahuel in Sacramento which wins the prize for most dedication to come all the way to SF in the midst of the traffic nightmare. And their creme of poblano chile soup – delicious. For me the true treat was the delicious drunken cake from Polvorón Panaderia in Hayward – course textured, moist and only slightly sweet. And their Tres Leches is the bomb. If you can’t get to Hayward, don’t worry, you can get the cake at Uno Dos Tacos.
No doubt you’ve already heard about the Del Maguey Ibérico. It’s a collaboration between Del Maguey and star chef José Andrés to make a pechuga out of jamon iberico. It received ample coverage, if ever something screamed marketing stunt, this was it.
That and its price tag of $200 per bottle are the reasons it took Susan and me so long to give it a taste. A normal two ounce pour makes it quite an investment, but recently Susan and I descended on ABV, Ryan Fitzgerald’s tautly run agave bar and bistro kitchen right as they opened at 2PM on a Monday. I admit that I was the first through the door but I was closely followed by a cluster of people. Fortunately San Franciscan drinking culture is alive and well.
ABV is far more than just an agave outlet. The whole place is run with great sensibility with a trio of wines on tap including the amazing Scholium Project red and a bunch of Moonlight brews on tap. Dive into their menu, especially the Pimento Cheese Burger which is a real highlight and the extraordinary kimchee fritter.
And ABV is one of the ideal places to sample something like this because they don’t only offer that big two ounce pour, they also offer the perfectly reasonable (indeed it should be standard) one ounce pour which at $15 for the Ibérico is entirely doable. Our great Peruvian bartender Enrique gave us a pour in a clay copita and away we went.
Suffice to say that it’s a huge surprise.
Del Maguey Iberico Pechuga
Lot SCM 135
Santa Catarina Minas
It has a very sweet nose, neither of us got any smoke.
The body is extraordinarily light, some sweetness but completely unexpected, none of that typical agave sweetness nor the oil that I associate with pechugas. The cured meat obviously changes the pechuga equation dramatically. You’d be hard pressed to call this out as 49% alcohol, because the flavor, body, and every other indicator don’t point in that direction. The lean body make it a great pick for sipping alone.
The finish is dusty, leathery and endures long past your last taste.
Yet another argument for experimentation in mezcal.
No visit to Los Angeles is complete without a stop at Ramirez Liquor. I usually hit the one at Soto and 7th so I can check out tacos on Cesar Chavez. They have a few other locations around the city, each carrying a terrific selection of all things agave and craft beer, including some craft beers from Mexico. Their mezcal selection is pretty impressive and they even have some bottles of Metl in case you want to grab any before they’re all gone, forever.
Six full shelves are dedicated to mezcal which is impressive in a store that seems to carry every kind of tequila on the market. They also have a half shelf of Sotol, though still no Raicilla (but they thought it would be soon). They carry most of the mezcals currently available in California and had the full line of Del Maguey, including the Iberico and Arroqueño, plus the sublime Conejo from Pierde Almas. But be prepared to drop about $150 – $200 for these beauties.
I picked up a bottle of El Silencio as I have yet to try it, and stumbled upon a 22oz new release from New Belgium Brewery – a cocoa mole porter. You can also order online and they will ship to you.
Heads up – they just opened a tasting bar in Whittier. You’ll be able to sample tons of craft beers, wines and maybe, just maybe mezcal…
I had the extreme honor of being invited to a party to celebrate the release of Pierde Almas’ new pechuga. It was held at the palenque in Chichicapam where, last year, I had attended another party and well, we’ll just say, consumed way too much mezcal.
This year’s party was more formal, with tables covered in white linens and food prepared by the chef from Oaxaca’s Pitiona restaurant. A pig was being roasted, and a special salsa was being prepared from the fruits used in the pechuga’s distillation. It was also a chance to meet Jonathan Barbieri, the owner of Pierde Almas, and to hang out with the brothers Sanchez, who make the mezcal. There were also several importers, and much to my surprise, Josh Harris, from Bon Vivants in San Francisco. He and I have exchanged emails, but never have met in person.
In addition to this year’s pechuga (a heady combination of spice, sweet and just a smidge of savory) there was also a new mezcal that had been made with the traditional gin herbs in its third distillation. I am not a gin drinker so my best evaluation is that it tasted exactly like gin has always tasted me (cloying), with an undercurrent of a strong espadin.
There was a band playing as we ate. I sat at the table with Miguel Sanchez and Domingo Orollo who is overseeing the gin mezcal project. He is a chemist by trade: This is a growing trend – more chemists becoming involved with mezcal production.
I was driving that day, a deliberate choice to ensure there would be no repeat from last year’s drunken revelry. It is a running joke between Alfonso and I – that after last year’s insanity, and my mother’s presence, that she has forbidden me from ever drinking with him again.
As the sky began to darken, we moved from one part of the palenque to another where the stills are located, in order to watch Alonso start the process of distilling this year’s conejo (a pechuga, except with a wild hare instead of a turkey.) We watched as Alfonso measured out the spices (a turbinado style sugar, anise), fruits (apple, banana, pineapple), rice and then finally the hare placed in a cheesecloth bag with yerba santa. The fermented maguey was loaded into the still, along with the other ingredients (the conejo bag would hang above the mix) and then sealed. It would distill all night long.
The music began again, more people arrived, including La Señora Sanchez and the other female relatives – sisters, wives, nieces – and we danced. Finally we left so as not to be on the road too late at night. We gave Domingo a ride back to the city, talked more about chemistry in mezcal, and the plans awaiting us that night (Austin TV at Café Central or La China Sonidera at Txalaparta.) Perhaps the best part of having Domingo in the car with us was having him navigate the new highway (the one that will eventually go all the way to Puerto Escondido) that circumvents Ocotlan and cuts the return time almost in half. It puts you on a road that has reflector lights, a smooth surface and is blissfully free of topes.