Organic Gluttony Report

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Farm to Table events are a worldwide trend, often related to the slow food movement, and the desire for organic, local-grown, farm-fresh and free-range ingredients. Mazatlán is blessed to have had three major Farm to Table events, with the latest one being held this past Sunday, February 12, 2017, on Chuy Lizárraga’s organic farm (Chuy’s Organics) just north of town.

What makes our Mazatlán event so unique? First, it’s held out in the middle of a pepper field, next to the green houses; we are surrounded by bird song, green crops, fresh air and sunshine. The chefs have to plan and prepare ahead, as in the middle of a farm field they have limited access to what a professional kitchen might have. They work out of tents, on a propane stove and open fires. Second, rather than having just one main chef, as is usually the case at such events, our FTT is a collaboration of some of the best chefs in Sinaloa. Greg and I have been fortunate to have attended all three Mazatlán FTT, and I have the double chin to prove it.

Let me get right to the food and drink, which is our main reason for traveling north of town about 20 minutes. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow. This year’s menu included:

  1. Welcome Cocktail: Cucumber margarita with fresh mint, Chef Alistair Porteous, Water’s Edge Bistro
  2. Ceviche FISH: Shrimp and pocked mahi, pineapple and red onion marinated in chipotle and garnished with avocado. VERY tasty with a nice smoky flavor complemented by the freshness of the pineapple. Gabriel Ocampo and Luis Vargas, Fresh International Seafood House
  3. Mazatlán Pilsner: Specially brewed for this event and not available at the brewery, this beer is infused with German hops, giving it an aroma of white wine, herbs and citrus. We loved it! A bit champagne-like, especially with the glass. Brewmaster Edvin Jonsson, Cervecería Tres Islas
  4. Organic Salad: Green beans, trio of tomatoes, ricotta and mussels with a red mustard and honey dressing. Chef Elmo Ruffo, Fiera
    This dish completely rocked! OMG! That ricotta sauce brought everything together and made it to die for. And, of course, I’m a sucker for mussels. Having met the charming owner of Fiera, Yamil González, and now knowing Elmo, you can bet we’ll be visiting Fiera again soon and regularly!
  5. Grilled Seafood Salad: Grilled shrimp with chimichurri, octopus with heirloom tomato marmalade, roasted sweet peppers with cranberry vinaigrette, and ash-roasted sweet potatoes and greens, goat cheese, and an apple and honey dressing. Chef Daniel Soto, El Caprichito Mio
    Another dish that was unbelievably delicious! Danny Soto is two for two; his cold salad last year was such a standout that we drove all the way to Culiacán to dine in his restaurant. His hot salad this year hit it out of the park as well. He loves gorgeous fresh vegetables just like we do! First a video with Daniel, followed by pics of his dish and the preparation.

  6. Jicama Tagliatelle: The menu said turnips, but they were past their prime in the fields. The chefs then used grated jicama as the pasta, in a sauce of shrimp bisque, mustard greens and green garlic vinaigrette. Chefs Francis Regio and Karl Gregg, guests from Vancouver BC

  7. Asian Duck Confit Tamales: What a wonderful twist on a traditional Mexican dish. Star anise, a mix of spices, orange, carrot and green onions with a garnish of crispy duck, accompanied by caramelized vegetables. Chef Alistair Porteous, Water’s Edge Bistro
    Alistair and his wife Tracey of course organized this whole event, though it is a collaboration, with everyone involved taking on major roles. Thank goodness they tell me we will have another FTT next year!
  8. Braised Pork Breast Ribs: In a miltomate sauce with barbecued duck and mushroom risotto. Chef Luis Osuna, Cayenna
    Another UNBELIEVABLY incredible taste combination! Two dishes in this course, and they were, indeed, heavenly. Another trip to Culiacán is definitely in order. We should be getting a Cayenna here in Mazatlán soon, thank goodness.
  9. Pumpkin Flan: with a crispy crumble topping. Hector Peniche, Hector’s Bistro
  10. Dessert Coffee: Organic expresso over vanilla ice cream, puré of coconut and spices, with a sweet expresso-coffee reduction. Marianne Biasotti and Enrique Ochoa, Rico’s Cafe
  11. Wines: All we could possibly drink of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, thanks to Javier Ramírez of Vinoteca and Oscar Gámez of Cava del Duero. There was iced hibiscus tea for those who didn’t want alcohol.
  12. Trio of fresh breads

As always, we were seated at long tables, which enabled us to make new friends as dining is family-style. There were nearly 300 people attending this year, including two reporters from Gourmet Magazine. This time we were lucky enough to sit with a gentleman who brought wine from his own cellar, just in case they didn’t serve enough. As if! His was great, though—thank you!

The chefs looked nearly as happy as we did when the day was finished. Glasses in hand, they happily accepted our accolades.

Our dear Gail Blackburn, from La Rosa de las Barras Farm, provided garlic snaps and other wholesome, flavorful goodies. As always, there was a raffle at the end, this year in benefit of Refugio San Pablo, a new home downtown for teenage boys—for which we raised $24,000 pesos! Our table was very fortunate, with several winners including Greg!

Music was provided by a strings duo, and they provided wonderful accompaniment to the birdsong and the buzzing of the fields.

The 25 wait staff were led by Andrés, as in prior years, and they did an outstanding job.

Thanks to my friend Martha Parra for a few of the photos! I will admit that sometimes I was too busy eating to get a good shot of a dish, so I appreciate her helping me. We were blessed with a most incredible day, capped off with a gorgeous sunset.

Wonderful Mezcal Tasting, Right Here in Mazatlán

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Heiman presents, with Chef Alastair at his side

Last week we attended a mezcal tasting at Water’s Edge Bistro, that very beautiful, tranquil and delicious restaurant in Centro Histórico at Sixto Osuna 48, on the corner of Niños Heroes.

Heiman Russek Negrete, from Mezcal Minotauro, joined us from Durango. Mezcal Minotauro distills organic mezcales made with wild agaves/maguey plants. Heiman gave us a brief presentation on the history of mezcal, in very good English, shared with us information on the types of magueys, the states in Mexico that are authorized to use the appellation “mezcal,” and he also told us a bit about the production process. One cool bit of trivia I learned was that Minotauro has been able to play a role in saving a couple of species of maguey that were thought to be lost. He also showed us what he said is his favorite book on mezcal. I took a photo of its cover, so if you are interested, you can look into obtaining it.

Heiman had four different mezcals to share with us. Chef Alastair and sous-chef Tony put together three small plates for us that were magnificent, and combined well with the mezcales. The first mezcal was white, young, and accompanied by a jicama taco of aguachile. The second mezcal was actually my favorite; the botana served with it was a mini-tostada with shredded meat—very savory. Unbelievably to me, I don’t have a photo of the second flight, but it was delicious. I guess I was enjoying it too much to fuss with the camera! The third mezcal was also very good. We drank it with shrimp and grilled vegetables on toast points. Heiman then served us a fourth mezcal as well. After that, I guarantee you I wasn’t taking any more photos! Click on any photo below to enlarge it or view it as a slideshow. The food was all outstanding, the event was very enjoyable, and what a value at 200 pesos!

We love Water’s Edge. Alastair Porteous is a terrific chef who believes in farm-to-table sourcing, and his wife, Tracey Grantham, very ably runs the front of the house. It doesn’t hurt that another of our favorite local chefs, Tony Acuña Pérez, is the sous-chef. We also love the ambiance: the restaurant is in an historic home that was restored by Mark Jay. It is spacious, with two large rooms and a gorgeous private patio in the back. They have a stellar dinner menu, and lunch specials that are unbelievable values: drink, salad and main course for 100 pesos! Water’s Edge serves Sunday brunch, and Alastair conducts cooking classes. Tracey tells me that for Carnavál they are going to have some small foods outside, with easy-to-eat-and-go convenience for revelers. The restaurant will also, of course, be open.

I urge you both to enjoy Water’s Edge, supporting high quality local cuisine, and to get on their list for special events. We really enjoyed the evening, and learned a lot as well. Plus, we are now looking forward to a mezcal tour of Durango, with a most amiable host and his wife!

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