Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado

[On March 4, 2019, Founder Alex Perez was on hand at a special Tequila Mandala Dinner pairing that took place at famed restaurateur Jesse Gomez’s second Mercado location in Los Angeles, CA.  Here’s Alex’s report on that memorable evening.]

Foodie Heaven

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69PWhat do you get when you combine one of your favorite tequila’s with a top rated L.A. restaurant?  You get foodie heaven!

I had the privilege of visiting Mercado Los Angeles during their Tequila Mandala dinner recently, and I was thoroughly impressed.

In all transparency, my senses had already been excited with their exciting take on Mexican cuisine when Mercado opened a location in Pasadena, CA.

As for Tequila Mandala, this fine line is on my favorites list.

Put it all together, with both owners and the chef in attendance, and it was truly an experience.

For Starters

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

We were set up in a private area with some sixty guests who were anxious to get tasting.  Co-owner, Jesse Gomez appeared and welcomed all of us and got things going.

For starters, the attentive wait staff brought out jicama shrimp tacos.  Crispy breaded shrimp on a jicama tortilla with chile de arbol aioli and Mexican slaw that included bits of mango.

It was paired with the refreshingly tasty Tequila Mandala Blanco and was a perfect accompaniment withTequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P its notes of fresh citrus on the nose and sweet roasted agave on the palate.

Barbecue and Grown-up Cocktails

Next up was a beef rib, perfectly braised, with guajillo mustard BBQ sauce and BBQ potato chips as a garnish.

The beef rib was rich, smokey and melted in your mouth.  For the small portion that was served, it was very satisfying.  I wanted to pick up the bone and eat up the last piece stuck to it–so I did!

This dish was paired with a “Special Cocktail” served by the Mercado bar manager Caesar, and made with strawberry, pomegranate, Aperol and Tequila Mandala Blanco.

It tasted like a grown up’s Margarita.  I’ll be experimenting with this one in my own bar, for sure.

The plates kept coming and so did Jesse and Chef José Acevedo, catering to our needs.  Their service and attention to every detail was superb.

Childhood Memories

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

Next on deck was sope de chorizo con papas with cabbage, salsa de molcajete, crema fresca, tomatoes and cotija cheese.

The sope took me back to when I was a kid visiting family friends in Highland Park, CA.  His mom would make delicious handmade sopes.

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

 

I started with a knife and fork, then of course, I picked it up with my hands like it is supposed to be eaten.  And, the Mandala Reposado was PERFECT.

This is a great reposado and a good example of why I say reposados are making a comeback.  Wood and dried fruit on the nose, and the cooked agave still shines through on the palate.  Hints of oak, vanilla and coconut also make an appearance.

The Home Stretch

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69PAnother tasty offering from Mercado’s menu was roasted chicken on a bed of Mexican rice and mole Oaxaqueño topped with a crispy kale.  The nuttiness of the mole was complemented harmoniously by the Mandala Añejo.

This beautiful añejo has dried fruit, oak and vanilla on the nose and sweet dried raisin, oak and vanilla on the palate.  It’s an añejo that wants to be like its big brother Mandala Extra Añejo.

The Crown Jewel

Dessert was a chocolate Abuelita tres leches cake over berries and cajeta sauce drizzled on the plate.  My mouth is watering just writing this!

Paired with this decadent dish was Mandala’s crown jewel, the Extra Añejo.

In the glass, I smelled dried fruits and nuts along with hints of toasted oak.  On the palate, an explosion of honey, vanilla, dried raisins and wood notes.

It is addictive and dangerous.

At Your Service

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

The hospitality at this Mercado and Mandala event was fantastic.

Co-owners Jesse Gomez and Chef José Acevedo and staff came around to every table making sure all our needs were met.  I experienced the same great service and attention to detail at the Pasadena location, too.

Humberto Ibarra, one of the owners and importers for Mandala, and brand manager Moises Rivera, were on hand and visited every table and guest, preaching the Mandala gospel.

I died and went to Foodie Heaven.

But, I’ll be back!

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant–It’s In The Blood

2014-08-22 19.57.43Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant’s humble beginning exemplifies the meaning of the Latino American Dream. 

Voted a Reader’s Choice award for Best Mexican Restaurant in 2014 by the Wichita Eagle, the family owned chain has been in business for nearly 50 years pioneering its style of Mexican cuisine and feeding generations of families in Wichita, Kansas. 

On a bustling and muggy Friday night in late August 2014, Tequila Aficionado Media was invited to meet with the proprietors of Felipe’s, the Lujano family, at the northeast Wichita location of their four venues.  

Family Is Everything

Felipe's logo.

 2014-08-22 20.59.43It is the family patriarch, Don Roberto Lujano, who captures all the attention.

Strolling through the clean and brightly decorated restaurant, Don Roberto, brother of the deceased Felipe for whom the restaurants are named, visits every table to shake hands with his regulars.  He responds with a wide grin and a kind word as people of every race, creed and color call him Papa.2014-08-22 20.58.13

In the next two clips, Don Roberto’s son, Miguel Lujano, manager of the northeast restaurant on Woodlawn Blvd., recounts Felipe’s vast history as the first establishment to introduce Mexican cuisine to Wichita in 1967.

Think You’ve Tasted It All?

I’ve ingested just about every single style of Mexican food.  From glitzy chain restaurants with signature tropical fruit-based tequila drinks, to hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop diners that serve handmade tortillas and guacamole, I truthfully thought I had tasted it all.

2014-08-22 20.20.01

Not the usual “gringofied” spicy Mexican food that is served in the corporate-owned eateries, Felipe’s relies heavily on a medley of traditional herbs, spices, and heirloom family recipes.  Still, they are not without its own unique cuisine challenges as Miguel Lujano explains…

Mild vs. Hot 

2014-08-22 21.12.04With the influx of more Mexican and Mexican Americans into Wichita establishing diners of their own, Felipe’s continues to find ways to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack.

Noting that their customer base is trending toward more spicy hot ingredients, the Lujano family has taken advantage of this turnabout by adding some picante to their signature dishes.  Don Roberto Lujano and his wife, Maria Teresa, still cook in the kitchen with most dishes made from scratch.

And in a state whose liquor is controlled (state run), the task of obtaining more authentic tequilas for Felipe’s emblematic cocktails can be even more challenging, especially when competing restaurants plagiarize them for their own menus.  The secret, Miguel Lujano insists, is educating their customers.

Maestro Dobel Special Edition
Maestro Dobel Special Edition
Felipe's Special Edition selection.
Felipe’s Special Edition selection.

Miguel admitted that it also helps to be friendly with representatives from Glazer’s and Standard Beverage Corporation, liquor distributors who share his passion for tequila.  Through his relationships, Felipe’s has been able to acquire such sought after tequilas as Suerte, Siete Leguas, Demetrio, George Clooney’s Casamigos, and participate in Maestro Dobel’s Special Edition program.

2014-08-22 22.53.24

 

Craving Felipe’s

Here, Miguel Lujano explains how Felipe’s is so artful at getting their customers to crave their cooking and cocktails.

Three Keys To Success

Miguel Lujano shares his father’s three keys to a successful Mexican restaurant.

In The Blood

In a city that has seen its Hispanic population boom from a scattering few in 1967 to close to 60,000 strong in 2014, Felipe’s has actively enticed the unpredictable tastes of its community over the decades.  But, what keeps the Lujano family passionately pushing the limits of their traditional fare?

Simply put–

It’s in their blood.

***

Enjoy this Felipe’s signature recipe for homemade sangrita…

Felipe's signature recipe for homemade sangrita.
Felipe’s signature recipe for homemade sangrita.

 

2014-08-22 22.26.35
and Miguel’s signature Margarita.

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It’s Cinco de Mayo!

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

la batalla

 

 

 

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a celebration held on May 5. It is celebrated in the United States. It is also celebrated in parts of Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla).

Find out more about Cinco de Mayo here.

 

A Closer Look with Pam Atherton

pam2It’s one of the most expensive spirits in the world, and probably the most misunderstood. Tequila journalist Mike Morales educates us on the history, background and proper way to enjoy tequila on Cinco de Mayo and all year long.

We learn that tequila comes from a lily, not a cactus…that tequila can only come from a specific area in Mexico, or it can’t be called tequila. We learn that if there’s a worm in it, it’s NOT tequila! And Mike shares his recipe for the perfect margarita!

Click here to hear Pam Atherton’s interview with Tequila Aficionado’s M.A. “Mike” Morales.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Great Cocktails

Margaritas board, Cinco de Mayo  tequila drinks board, Cinco de Mayo

cinco pinata

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with

Great Food & Decorations

 

 


cinco board, Cinco de Mayo

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100% Agave and Authentic Mexican Can Finally Be Found in Maine!

Click on the image to see full-size:zapoteca, maine, sergio ramos, mexican cuisine, tequila, 100% agave

Visit Zapoteca’s website by clicking here.  Follow Zapoteca on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

How to Get Paid to Drink Tequila:

How you can turn your passion into profits and get paid to drink tequila as a blogger, vlogger, podcaster or author

 

Salud!!