I have been attending the Food and Wine Festival for years now, but have never done any of their special events. This year I changed that and attended the Mexican Tequila Lunch at La Hacienda de San Angel. This is an informative and tasty lunch that takes place at noon every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday during the Festival.
As we walked in to La Hacienda to be seated we were handed a “welcome” Horchata Margarita.
I’ve had this drink before at La Cava del Tequila inside the Mexico pavilion pyramid. It’s a little too sweet for me to drink a lot of, but this small welcome size was perfect. It’s a sweet, creamy, cinnamon flavored margarita made with tequila, rumchata, and fireball whiskey. It would make an excellent drink for the upcoming holidays.
While sipping on our welcome margaritas we were lead to our seats, which had already been prepared for us.
The San Angel Inn Tequila Ambassador, Hilda, guided us through the tequila making and (more importantly) tequila drinking process. Each tequila we sampled was paired with an expertly prepared Mexican dish.
This lunch began, as most great afternoons do, with a shot of vodka to “cleans the palate” after the horchata margarita. Then it was time to get serious with the tequila.
We started from the left with Jose Cuervo Reserva Blanco “white” tequila. Hilda told us about the tequila making process and what makes a blanco tequila different from a reposado or anejo. The blanco tequila is the youngest and has been aged a maximum of 2 months. The color is derived from the barrel the tequila is aged in, which is why the more aged a tequila is, the more dark golden color it has.
The tequila samples were served in special tequila tasting glasses that allow the drinker to smell the different parts of the tequila. We started by smelling the top of the glass while holding it up right, then again while tilting the glass slightly, and finally while holding the glass almost horizontal (very dangerous after the first couple samples).
Finally time to drink! Hilda had us pick up a lemon peel from the table to smell before tasting the blanco tequila, then she taught us the proper way to drink tequila. Turns out my former method was incorrect, but still effective. For the blanco tequila, first you smell the lemon, then take a sip of tequila and hold it in your mouth for 4 seconds before swallowing. Watching everyone wince as they tasted tequila made me feel like a true alcoholic.
The blanco tequila was paired with “Pulpo en Escabeche”, a dish of marinated octopus with vinegar, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, cactus and hearts of palm.
This dish was my first experience with octopus and I actually quite liked it. It tasted very fresh and paired nicely with the tequila.
Next we moved on to the 2nd tequila, the Milagro Select Reposado or “rested” tequila. The term “reposado” refers to a tequila that has been ages between 2 months and one year. With this tequila we were given a cinnamon stick to smell and help bring out the flavors.
This tequila was actually my favorite. If there is anything I have learned about flights, it’s that I love the middle one!
This tequila was paired with “Crema de Cilantro”, Cilantro and serrano peppers cream, served with toasted pine nuts.
This was a delicious soup with just the right amount of spice.
Next we tried the oldest of the 3 tequilas, the Gran Centenario Anejo, or “aged” tequila. This type of tequila has been aged for at least one year, though anything over 3 years is classes as an “extra anejo” (and the price tag reflects that). This tequila was paired with coffee beans to smell and bring out the flavors.
The flavor of this one was definitely a little different. It has a much richer flavor and texture than the blanco.
With the anejo tequila we tried “Mar y Tierra”, Grilled filet mignon over roasted tomatoes, dry peppers, almonds, and sesame seeds sauces and Marinated shrimp with guajillo peppers accompanied with a cactus leaf vinaigrette.
This Mexican “surf and turf” was very good. I especially liked the smokey and slightly spicy sauce that the steak was placed on.
Now that we had finished all of the tequilas slated for tasting, we had a sample of Mezcal. This is where I felt like I really had a problem. Everyone at the table recoiled at the smokey smell of the mezcal, some were brave enough to take a small sip off the top, but I never leave a shot. There are starving children in China. I won’t lie, it tasted a bit like a tire fire, but don’t take a tequila class if you can’t handle an unpleasant shot! On the bright side, everyone at my table was either impressed or horrified, it was hard to tell.
To forget about that horrible shot we moved on to dessert, “Dulce de Mamey”, Mamey (Mexican exotic fruit) served with berries and whipped cream.
The mamey was similar to pumpkin both in flavor and texture and had a nice crust on the top similar to a creme brulee. It was very tasty and paired with our final booze sample, a vanilla cream tequila liquor.
All in all the lunch was delicious, informative, and entertaining. I’m definitely glad I did it. And best of all, I got Hilda’s card! If you’re interested in getting any of the recipes from the tequila lunch you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org!