2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – Tequila Lunch #1

A few days ago we went to the Tequila Pairing Lunch with our friends Lisa and Andy… This is the first of two times that we’ve scheduled to do this event, while it’s the third time for us, it’s the first time for them. Since we’ve posted about the event before (2011 & 2012) and we’ve included a lot of technical or tequila specific information in those posts, we aren’t going to rehash all of that here  (it’s okay, we’ll wait while you go read those posts).

This is the third year for this wonderful event and now it’s been expanded to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The first two years, we were given Rosita Margaritas before being seated. This year, Hilda chose to showcase the Horchata Margarita… Good Choice! This is very refreshing and welcome given the midday heat in Florida during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.

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Horchata Margarita with sprinkle of cinnamon

We’d had this margarita before at La Cava Del Tequila… Twice. It’s a nice blend of ground almonds, tequila, whiskey, and rum. It’s cool and light, slightly sweet… very tasty.

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It’s so tasty, that we have two photos!

Hilda did something a bit different this year (and it was much appreciated)… she asked the attendees to do three things:

  1. be quiet and listen
  2. follow along, drink the tequila when she tells us to
  3. ask questions
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Hilda starting off with instructions :)

Honestly, this is much appreciated. This is a pairing, not a party for tequila shots (although there were some of those from volunteers in the audience). Last year, there were people at the luncheon we went to who were just there to get drunk and they were loud and rowdy; this year, it was much calmer and easier to really appreciate everything.

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Educational Display (plus two sets of tequila shots)

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Hilda is from Tequila Mexico and is very engaging and entertaining. A great Tequila Ambassador.

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Our menus… the front side let us know what we were going to be eating…

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… the backside presented more details about tequila and it’s production (gracias)

As in previous years, there are crackers for cleansing your palate, lemon peel & cinnamon & coffee beans to help with the nosing and tasting tequilas

As in previous years, there are crackers for cleansing your palate, and scent tools to help with the nosing and tasting tequilas

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Left to Right: shot glass of vodka for opening up your palate, blanco tequila, reposado tequila, anejo tequila, water glass, mezcal (clear) and cream tequila (opaque)

The three tequilas that would be paired with our lunch (these are the same as in previous years), maybe at some point in the future, the selection will become more adventurous

The three tequilas that would be paired with our lunch (these are the same as last year), maybe at some point in the future, the selection will become more adventurous

On to the food and tequila pairings! The first tequila is blanco; Lisa & Andy thought that it was very earthy (keep in mind that they’re very wine literate, but they don’t drink tequila :)) and we thought it was very peppery. Note: when you swish the tequila around in your mouth, you get a lot of ETOH (a.k.a. alcohol), I prefer to take a sip and let it rest briefly before swallowing as opposed to swishing it from side to side for the allotted time.

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Salad Course paired with Blanco Tequila (sometimes called Platino): Pulpo en Escabeche (marinated octopus with vinegar, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, cactus and hearts of palm)

The vinegar in this salad really helped the blanco tequila. We all thought that the salad was very good, Lisa even said that she’d eat it even if there wasn’t octopus in it and Nick thought it was excellent (should be a regular offering at La Hacienda – nice, crisp, bright flavors – just right for opening up your palate and getting you salivating before a meal). Hilda remarked that a blanco tequila is usually used as an appertif or with seafood… it was a well-suited pairing with this first course.

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Closer view – you can see the cauliflower, the hearts of palm and chopped seasonings

After the first course, we received more tequila education while the servers cleared away (by the way, they improve every year, the service this year was better than in Italy earlier in the week, the servers at La Hacienda de San Angel didn’t bang into anyone’s chairs and they had smiles on their faces the whole time).

Five steps to making tequila

  1. cook/bake the pina (this is the agave plant after the leaves have been removed) – this softens it up
  2. get the sweet juice separated from the fiber
  3. ferment the juice (sugar)
  4. distill the juice 2x (because it’s toxic after the first distillation)
  5. TEQUILA – five types
    1. Blanco
    2. Reposado
    3. Anejo
    4. Extra Anejo
    5. Hoven (blend of blanco and reposado or anejo, color is removed)
Second Course: Crema de Cilantro

Second Course: Jose Cuervo Reposado with Crema de Cilantro (Cilantro and serrano peppers cream, served with toasted pine nuts)

Now, I have to say that Nick and Lisa aren’t typically fans of cilantro (they fall into the “it tastes like soap” group) BUT they were both wowed by this soup (Lisa is even going to email Hilda for the recipe). Nick and I liked the reposado (of course, reposado is our go to tequila; we treat tequila as if it’s whiskey or bourbon or scotch and we aren’t fans of lots of oak), I think it was more pleasing to Lisa and Andy than the blanco.

Overall, this was an amazingly good pairing, even better than the first. The soup was creamy and herby with a bit of slow, nice burn on the finish… I’m kind of surprised that we didn’t lick out the bowls (that would have been quite rude :)) Needless to say, I told Hilda that this should be on the menu too!

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There were extremely thin slices of chile garnishing the soup, this was really good and I’m looking forward to having it again!

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There was a garnish on the side of the soup plate that looked like Tajin and herbs… I tried it and decided it was just for pretty

Now, before the main course, we were given the opportunity to taste the mezcal. So, what’s the difference between tequila and mezcal? Tequila (good tequila that is, true tequila) is made with 100% blue agave plant… Mezcal is made from the maguey agave… Okay, we thought this tasted like tire rubber and parking lots… as this discussion went on, we decided it tasted like being at a drag track (racetrack where they race dragsters, not a place for drag queens to race <grin>).

Thank goodness we didn’t have to pair this with food… Although I must note that my current favorite drink at bluezoo is “One Night in Mexico” and it contains mezcal, I have to marvel at Chad’s ability to make this into something that I really want to drink!

Third course… Surf & Turf Mexican Style…

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Third Pairing: Anejo (aged tequila) and Mar y Tierra (grilled filet mignon over roasted tomatoes, dry peppers, almonds and sesame seed sauce, marinated shrimp with guajillo peppers accompanied with a cactus leaf vinaigrette)

This was amazing. Every year, the food that is served at La Hacienda Tequila Lunch is more and more fine dining. The shrimp with the salad was excellent, but I think the standout for all of us was the sauce under the steak… simply amazing.

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The shrimp had some sort of chile pepper rub on it, but wasn’t overly spicy and it paired very well with the vinegary salad underneath. There was enough richness to work well with the anejo tequila.

The potatoes were served atop the steak

The potatoes were served atop the steak

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The steak was cooked perfectly (warm throughout and rested so that the juices stay in the meat)… and again… that sauce was freaking good.

Whew! One more course to go… dessert… But first… a photo interlude :)

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This is what happens when you’re the person at the table that really likes tequila and the others don’t

The dessert continued to surprise us… It was paired with a tequila cream liquor “1921 Crema de Tequila” – yum yum yum

Hilda with the 1921 Crema de Tequila

Hilda with the 1921 Crema de Tequila

My notes about the crema tequila are pretty succinct… almond! Lisa wants to it have it with oreos! I want it with coffee! and the guys just simply like it.

Fourth Course - Tequila Crema and Dulce de Mamey (mamey (exotic mexican fruit) served with berry and whipped cream)

Fourth Course – Tequila Crema and Dulce de Mamey (mamey (exotic mexican fruit) served with berry and whipped cream)

The flavor of the mamey was very reminiscent of sweet potato or yam… this was sort of like a sweet potatoe creme brûlée.

although the menu says "berries" there is a "berry" (singular)

although the menu says “berries” there is a “berry” (singular)

this dessert really reminded Nick and I of sweet potato pie if it was turned into creme brûlée

this dessert really reminded Nick and I of sweet potato pie if it was turned into creme brûlée

Of course, there were quizzes… I won an avocado margarita for knowing the five types of tequila (by this point, I’d better know them!) and Nick won two shots of tequila for knowing the five stages of making tequila (but he made a small mistake, he only mentioned “distillation” as opposed to “two distillations” and a guy in the audience called him on it, so Hilda compromised with two shots instead of a margarita <ha ha ha>).

The chefs and managers who participated

The chefs and managers who participated

This event gets better and better each year. I’m really pleased that we’re doing it twice this year.

After the lunch, I made sure to let Hilda know what a great job everyone did… I even suggested that La Hacienda de San Angel try to get upgraded to Fine Dining and start serving food like this on a regular basis!

Now, we don’t expect to be taking photos on our next visit – unless something changes with the menu or whatever… but we’ll be sure to let you know if there are improvements or disappointments (this will be the first time that we’ve done the same event twice during one Food & Wine Festival Season)…

thank you!

Details:

  • Date: October 4, 2013 – noon until 1:45 or so, it went sightly over the 1.5 hours
  • Cost: $75/person, seems reasonable for the quality and quantity of food (although I’d like a bit more tequila :))

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