Tequila Pairing Challenge with Tequila Don Fulano

…At The Patio in San Diego

By Ryan Kelley

 patioTequila pairing dinners are always an adventure. Like fine wine, tequila has a way of inspiring and challenging chefs to marry just the right food to match the myriad and often complex flavors inherent in well-made, artisanal tequila. So when my friend Tequilier Mario Marquez invited me to join him and renowned chef Andrew Spurgin to judge a tequila pairing competition between both locations of The Patio in San Diego, I was all in.don_fulano_bottles2

Chefs at each of the restaurant’s two locations were given the challenge to prepare a five-course dinner with the five different expressions of Don Fulano tequila.

Day 1: The Patio on Lamont

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In a large yet cozy room at The Patio’s Pacific Beach location on Lamont Street, General Manager Chris Simmons welcomed tasters and the judging panel and then introduced Chef de Cuisine Andre Fuentes.

As the first course was delivered, Don Fulano Brand Ambassador Sergio Mendoza told guests about Don Fulano—distilled at La Tequileña in the Tequila valley in small batches from 100% estate-grown agave from the highlands of Jalisco.

Day1_Course1Most notable about Chef Fuentes’ menu was that it strayed from the typical Mexican flavors normally paired with tequila.

The first course was a fried green tomato with herb-whipped goat cheese, watermelon and cucumber salad and watercress paired with Don Fulano Suave. The fried green tomato had a tendency to overwhelm the delicate and complex flavors of a blanco, but the watermelon and cucumber brought out the herbal and earthier flavors.

 

Day1_Course2It was a solid start, but then the evening took an unexpected twist.

At most tequila pairing dinners, courses will be paired with a vertical flight of tequila. That is, the first course is paired with blanco, the second with reposado, third with añejo, etc. Instead, Chef Fuentes served his second course, a chilled honeydew soup with pistachio gremolata, snow crab and lemon vinaigrette with Don Fulano añejo, which is a floral yet sweet and intense tequila aged for three years in French oak.

Pairing the sweet soup brought out the sweetness of the añejo—fine for a dessert course but a little odd this early in the evening. Interestingly, when I went back to sipping the blanco with this course, I found it to be a much better marriage.

Day1_Course3The highlight of the evening was the third course: fried soft shell crab cooked to perfection with a grilled corn puree, smoked pork belly and cantaloupe relish paired with Don Fulano resposado.

The hearty dish stood up to the well-balanced reposado, which offers a fruity, delicately herbal flavor up front and ends with richer flavors of caramel and maple. The freshness and fruitiness of the relish and corn puree brought out the sweet agave and herbal flavors, while the heartier fried crab opened the palate to the richness from the barrel.

Day1_Course4This was a true winner, and was the highest-scored plate by all three judges.

The fourth course, agave-glazed smoked duck breast paired with Don Fulano 5-year Imperial was unfortunately overpowered by the complex flavors of the extra añejo, but the evening ended on a high note with a watermelon-basil sorbet that brought out the fresh flavor of the sweet, intense Don Fulano Fuerte, a 100-proof blanco.

 

Day 2: The Patio on Goldfinch

Day2_Course1The second evening featured Executive Chef John Medall’s five course menu at The Patio on Goldfinch in the Mission Hills area of San Diego. Medall’s menu offered more traditional Mexican flavors, but was still creative and full of unexpected accents.

The first surprise came with the first course, a simple yet elegant watermelon and jicama salad dressed with agave honey, cilantro, cotija and pine nuts. Fellow judge, Chef Andrew Spurgin, hit it right on the mark when he described the dish as “honest.”

The fresh, flavorful salad complimented notes of grapefruit in the blanco and opened up the herbal aspect of the tequila without an overpowering sweetness.

Day2_Course2This was the first highlight of the evening. It even gave me chills!

The second course, a cantaloupe and mango gazpacho, was tasty but its richness and sweetness overpowered Don Fulano reposado.

The second highlight of the evening, and my favorite dish and pairing across both nights was tequila-braised pork carnitas wrapped in a house made tortilla and topped with salsa verde, served with Mexican rice and spicy pinto beans and paired with Don Fulano añejo.

Day2_Course3It was a robust dish worthy of the bold flavors in the añejo. The flavors of the dish heightened the agave-heavy entry of the añejo and accentuated the wonderful wood notes in the tequila’s finish.

Also notable was that the dish showcased Medall’s philosophy of using even “unusable portions” of his ingredients: watermelon rind leftover from the first course was smashed into the tortilla dough to give it a beautiful color and a mild, sweet flavor that added to the complexity of the dish and tequila pairing.

Day2_Course4The third course proved hard to follow, and the fourth course, a Puerto Nuevo-style lobster, came out a bit overcooked—likely due to difficulty choreographing and timing such an ambitious plate for so many guests. It’s pairing with Don Fulano Imperial was rather “ho-hum,” but I found that pairing the Imperial with the course’s side of roasted corn was a surprisingly good marriage of food and tequila, and this helped salvage the course and bump up the score a bit.

The pairing challenge came to a close with a tasty melon granita made from watermelon, cantaloupe and casaba complemented by the 100-proof aromatic and intense Don Fulano Fuerte. It was a solid way to end the night and the 2-day challenge.

And The Winner Is…

When the scores were tallied, the judging panel selected Chef Medall’s menu from The Patio on Goldfinch as the winner.

***

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The Patio on Goldfinch plans to hold another five-course tequila pairing dinner on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 5:30p.m. with Tequila Montalvo. For reservations and details, click here or contact the restaurant, located on 4020 Goldfinch St, San Diego, CA 92103, at (619) 501-5090.

 

Day1_GroupShot

Writer Ryan Kelley and friends enjoying all five of Don Fulano Tequila’s offerings.


 

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Sipping Off The Cuff: Moda Tequila

Moda Tequila – Black Reposado

Mike Morales and Alex Perez taste and discuss Moda Tequila, the black reposado.

According to Moda Tequila:

“Our Story… In Mexico there is a drink named Charro Negro, or Black Charro, made with tequila, lemon, salt, and a splash of cola to color it dark. For many years our Master Distiller envisioned creating tequila modeled on his favorite drink, the Charro. His idea was to bring the special dark color naturally and directly to the tequila itself and with it a dynamic new flavor. 

Working for decades in a tequila factory in the heart of Mexican agave country, Jalisco, had given our Master Distiller a nose for what makes tequila special. The key, he found, lies in the aging process. He set about testing a new procurement and maturation progression, laboring to find the perfect combination of taste and unique color. Perfectionism comes with the price of time. After four years of trial and error, the Master’s vision was finally born out in the ultra premium purity of Moda Tequila.

Moda is the world’s only Ultra Premium tequila with a deep black color. Its soft amber hues foreshadow the woody savor to follow.

Our methodology: first we cure our Reposado 100% Blue Agave in a charred white oak barrel, eliciting the unique color and flavor. We then further age it for nine months. Finally we amalgamate the refined three-year aged Extra Aejo, adding our signature triple internal roasting process. 

The result is our proprietary blend of these two tequila classes. The short-term aged zest of Reposado and the seasoned, complex flavor of Extra-Aejo yields the best of both worlds of the maturation process. This all-natural crafting method, unique to the world of tequila, has made it possible to achieve a singular color and taste without artificial coloration.”

 

 

Find Moda Tequila Online:

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moda

 

Announcing the Triumphant Arrival of Tequila Embajador

Embajador Premium Reposado tequila takes Platinum prize from among 403 entries at the prestigious SIP Awards…

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st. regis, sip award, embajador(Press release)

Austin, TX–On April 27, 2014, at the luxurious St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, CA, a 100 member panel of judges voted Embajador Premium Reposado tequila a Platinum prize at the 6th annual SIP AwardsEmbajador Tequila Platinum blanco also received a Silver medal while Embajador Tequila Supreme añejo scored the Bronze.

embajador, tequila, sip award“Winning the Platinum SIP award for our Embajador Premium Reposado expression is truly an honor,” beams Andres Garcia, Regional Sales Manager for the family owned brand.  “We are super excited to be recognized and to be mentioned in this category alongside some of the most respected brands in the industry.”

The family estate and distillery of Tequila Embajador is nestled in Atotonilco, in the highlands of Jalisco, the same region made famous by such legendary producers as Don Julio and Siete Leguas.  Those same values that created these mythic tequilas are the exact ones that drive Embajador to perfection.

embajador, tequila, sip award“We are a family who is motivated and inspired by the idea of crafting superior quality and distinguished Tequila.  Embajador is produced in small batches to focus on the brand’s consistency and quality principles,” states the Embajador website.

“Our family motto has been ‘quality over quantity,’” continues Garcia.  “This is about giving this noble spirit the time honored respect it demands and that we do every step of the way–with honor.”

embajador, tequila, sip awards, agaveTrue to their word, Embajador uses only their own estate grown 100% blue weber agave that is carefully tended for 8-10 years.  Baked in an adobe oven, the piñas are shredded using water from the distillery’s own aquifer, and then fermented from 3-5 days.  After double distillation, the luminous Platinum expression is rested 40 days in stainless steel vats to ensure a complete balance of character.

The SIP Platinum award winning Embajador Premium Reposado is rested for a period of eight months in American and French Oak barrels, while Embajador’s Supreme Añejo is aged with devotion for one year and six months in American and French Oak barrels.

 

 

Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan, embajador, sip award, tequilaThe Embajador family is so serious about presenting the soul of Tequila to the rest of the world, and being true ambassadors, that they have partnered with Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan, one of the hottest mariachi groups in Mexico.  As they travel globally, these talented mariachis bestow special bottles of Embajador (ambassador, in Spanish) to foreign dignitaries at each Mexican embassy they visit.

“We are building more than just a brand,” explains Garcia.  “We are creating a legacy that is focused on producing quality Tequila.”

Not only is the Platinum SIP award winning Embajador reposado fast becoming a favorite with mixologists, but all of the expressions are cocktail ready.  Embajador tequila signature cocktails are featured prominently on the brand’s website and correspond to the level of the consumers’ experience in crafting cocktails at home.

Have fun concocting poppers, lucious margaritas, and even Fluffy’s Chock-lit-D’lite, a whimsical drink inspired and dedicated to popular Latino stand-up comic, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, himself a fan of Embajador tequila.

fluffy, tequila, chocolate, embajador“The Embajador Tequila family, along with everyone involved, felt a high degree of honor, accomplishment and excitement because each person’s hard work and vision in producing a quality juice came to be recognized at the SIP awards,” admits Garcia.

“After all,” he concludes, “Tequila is Mexico and we are proud to be one of its Ambassadors.”

***

Distributors/Vendors:  Contact Andres Garcia, Regional Sales Manager, to discuss the benefits of adding SIP award winning Embajador Tequila to your portfolio at andres@embajadortequila.com.  More details on Embajador Tequila on their website here.  To learn more about the SIP awards, click here.  Spirits Writers:  For an in-depth interview with Andres Garcia, dial 469-216-0567.  Hurry–slots are filling up fast!

 

 

 

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Embajador Tequila–Building a Legacy

embajador, tequila, tequila aficionadoAfter a tiring day of meetings and visiting key accounts in Austin, TX, Andres Garcia, Regional Sales Manager for family owned Embajador Tequila, was kind enough to visit with us in our San Antonio offices of Tequila Aficionado Media.  Over pizza and pours of Embajador reposado, Andres shared some insights into the SIP Award winning tequila brand.

We Are Family

In this clip, Andres tells how he and his wife, Esmeralda, first became involved with the estate grown Embajador tequila, as well as some of the symbolism depicted on the bottle.

Shortly after their return from Mexico, Andres continued his preparation by seeking guidance from his father on Embajador’s flavor profile and potential in the tequila market.

Continuing Education is Key

Relentless in his pursuit of proper preparation, Andres discusses the value of continuing education.  He also reveals that by working with famed Maestra Tequilera, Ana Maria Romero Mena, he has improved his tasting techniques in the field, and has amped up his appreciation for the entire tequila process.

The Pride of Telling Your Story

In this clip, Andres admits his passion for the family brand and why he prefers to conduct his own event tastings.

In this snippet, Andres shares how he separates Embajador tequila from the rest of the pack when visiting potential customers.

Slow And Steady

A handful of well known brands already come from the distillery (NOM 1509), but Andres has no illusions of what it will take to make its flagship Embajador tequila successful.

Savvy Guerilla Marketing

Andres & Esmeralda  with FluffyAside from entering carefully selected tasting competitions like the SIP Awards, Andres has also sought unique ways to help promote Embajador.

Embajador tequila signature cocktails are featured prominently on the brand’s website including a whimsical drink inspired by and dedicated to popular Latino stand-up comic, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, himself a fan of Embajador.

Mariachi Nuevo TecalitlanThe family has also partnered with Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan one of the hottest mariachi groups in Mexico.  As they travel globally, these talented mariachis bestow special bottles of Embajador (ambassador, in Spanish) to foreign dignitaries at each Mexican embassy they visit.

Additionally, understanding the value in being a start up company, Embajador was a sponsor of the female led indy film Salt, Liquor, Lime in which they received prominent product placement.

Here, Andres relates the extent of the family’s long term commitment even in the midst of the current agave shortage, as well as a scoop on an upcoming release to its line of award winning expressions. [Spoiler Alert!]

 Not To Go Wide, But To Go Deep

Andres Garcia expresses the family’s philosophy on the future of Embajador tequila.

It’s obvious that the family is building more than just a brand.  They are creating a legacy that is focused on producing quality tequila.

“After all,” concludes Andres Garcia, “tequila is Mexico and we are proud to be one of its Ambassadors.”

Follow Embajador Tequila Online

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Tequila Aficionado Celebrates 15th Anniversary!

Tequila Aficionado Magazine

Tequila Aficionado Magazine began as a direct-to-consumer online magazine in 1999 and run single-handedly by founder, Alexander “Alex” Perez. The online magazine went through several incarnations and design changes over the years but what remained the same was Alex’s passion for Mexican spirits: Tequila, Mezcal and Sotol.

tequila aficionado, teuila, newsletter,

In 2000, Alex met M.A. “Mike” Morales and, while discussing their tequila tasting during a podcast for Tequila Aficionado Magazine, Mike coined the phrase Sipping Off The Cuff™. From that day forward, Alex and Mike’s podcasts would be known as Sipping Off The Cuff™. As YouTube and Skype became more user friendly, Alex and Mike moved from podcast to videocast.

As often happens with labors of love, life’s labors called Alex and Mike elsewhere and Tequila Aficionado Magazine went on a short hiatus.

During this hiatus, Mike began hosting “Intimate Tequila Tastings”, tequila tasting events that introduced new aficionados to the finer points of tequila tasting and expanded the horizons of seasoned sippers.

He was then asked to host and co-produce a television program called “Last Tequila Standing.”

last tequila w agave

Tequila Aficionado Media™

In early 2012, with Mike’s first season of Last Tequila Standing already completed, Mike and Alex were approached by a social media consultant and novelist with a taste for tequila and a desire to see Tequila Aficionado Magazine relaunch as Tequila Aficionado Media.

pina logo banner

Lisa Pietsch envisioned Tequila Aficionado Media producing and publishing podcasts, video programs, an extensive library of in-depth written reviews, books, magazines, apps, events and much, much more.

With Lisa’s vision falling in line with theirs for Tequila Aficionado, Alex and Mike agreed to take her on as a partner. The three would each utilize their special skills to create a media company focused specifically on the Mexican spirits of tequila, mezcal and sotol.

Sipping Off The Cuff™

Sipping Off The Cuff™ began as an audio podcast in 2006 and is Tequila Aficionado’s first and longest running tequila review program.

Sipping Off The Cuff™ is broadcast Fridays (and occasionally Tuesdays) on YouTube and on Tequila Aficionado Media’s many social networks. If you are a Tequila, Mezcal or Sotol brand owner and would like your product(s) reviewed on an upcoming episode of Sipping Off The Cuff(TM), please contact Mike@TequilaAficionado.com.

Click here to see all of our Sipping Off The Cuff™ programming.

Monday Madness

Monday Madness was created as a blooper by-product of our production process for the Tequila Aficionado exclusive video program, Sipping Off The Cuff™.

When M.A. “Mike” Morales and Alexander “Alex” Perez get together, whether in person or via Skype, to review tequilas for Sipping Off The Cuff™, something silly is bound to happen. Rather than present these clips with their reviews, we chose to respect serious viewers’ time and get right to business with each Sipping Off The Cuff™ episode to keep them each as close to ten minutes as possible.

The outtakes are often funny and show our silly side, so we chose to share them with you for your amusement, as well as ours, in our Monday Madness video feature. Monday Madness is the evidence of how very much fun we have doing what we love here at Tequila Aficionado Media.

Women in Tequila

M.A. “Mike” Morales found the growing population of women in the tequila industry a fascinating topic and decided to interview as many as he could contact. This was the beginning of the Tequila Boss Ladies and Women in Tequila series.

In this series, his interviews cover the contributions of these women, how they see the industry as a whole and advice they care to share with others in the industry, both female and male.

Founder’s Feature

Alexander “Alex” Perez loves interviewing people in all facets of the tequila industry. Over the years, he has interviewed some tequila superstars who share their personal experiences, thoughts on the industry, commentary on products and much more.

Over time, we’ve unveiled some amazing Founder’s Features that have been locked away in the Tequila Aficionado vault for years.

Brands of Promise™ Awards

The Tequila Aficionado Brands of Promise™ Awards are annual awards granted by Tequila Aficionado based on product quality (tasting or use for tequila related items), marketing (POS), and overall appeal and value to the consumer. These awards are granted for tequila, mezcal, sotol, glassware and bar items, mixers and garnishes, books and other related products. If the product is used by tequila lovers, it is eligible for a Brands of Promise™ Award.

There is no charge to be considered for these awards. All samples we receive: tequila, tequila based liqueurs, tequila associated products/foods and every other item we review is automatically considered, but not all are nominated.

Nominees are announced as their products are reviewed and the review will contain the Brands of Promise™ Nominee seal. All nominees are welcome and encouraged to make use of the seal in their marketing and POS materials as well as the Tequila Aficionado branded QR Code that connects consumers to their review at Tequila Aficionado.

Email Mike@TequilaAficionado.com for the personnel and addresses to send your particular products for review.

GOLD 2013

Education of a Tequila Drinker™

Everyone needs to start somewhere. To become a tequila aficionado, all you need is a passion for tequila and a desire to learn about this amazing spirit of Mexico. Join Lisa Pietsch as she embraces tequila culture and learns all she can about agave spirits, documenting her journey in the Education of a Tequila Drinker™ series.

education of a tequila drinker

Tequila Aficionado Test Kitchen™

Some tequilas are best sipped and yet there are others that are so versatile that they make for amazing pairings either with food or in recipes. In the Tequila Aficionado Tequila Test Kitchen™, we enjoy exploring the perfect balance to mixology – cooking and pairing with Tequilas, Mezcals and Sotols.

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Follow the links for more information on the team members

that make up Tequila Aficionado Media:

Alexander “Alex” Perez, Founder

M.A. “Mike” Morales, CEO

Lisa Pietsch, COO

 

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