Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Restaurant: An Almost Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner

As the saying goes "La vida no se mide por las veces que respiras, sino por aquellos momentos que te dejan sin aliento" or life is not measured by the breaths you take but by the moments that leave you breathless.

Yesterday's Thanksgiving dinner left me breathless.

I love good food and I'm grateful to be in a city where people are as passionate about food as I am, like Chef Donnie Masterton, who created one of the best Thanksgiving meals I’ve ever eaten.

The golden rule for Thanksgiving: unapologetically dismiss moderation and help yourself to everything...and so I did.

My favorite part of the meal, as it should be, was the turkey. It was cider and chipotle brined with a tamarind glaze. The bird was so moist; it was pure, melt-in-your-mouth perfection. The flavor combination; the kitchens use of traditional, Thanksgiving ingredients such as pears, cranberries, haricots verts, cider, cornbread and butternut squash, made for a fantastic, Mexican-inspired holiday celebration.

As a starter, we enjoyed a just-like-Paris brandy turkey liver crostini with pears and pickled shallots. This was one of my favorites. It reminded me I need to return to Paris soon... just to eat.

The chef and the wine director, Adrian Huerta, did an amazing job with the parings; one of the best we've had anywhere in SMA:

Mandarin vodka and St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur with apple and cranberry paired with butternut squash and coconut soup with Thai red curry, yogurt and mint;

2014 George Duboeuf Chardonnay paired with the haricots verts salad, tomato confit and crème fraiche;

Estacion Catorce Tempranillo-Grenache Valle de Guadalupe 2014 paired with the turkey, cornbread, roasted mushroom and leek stuffing, butter whipped potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts with smoked bacon, giblet gravy and orange, cranberry sauce;

Casa Madero, Cosecha Tardia. Semillon-Gewurztraminer, Valle de Parras paired with apple cider glazed doughnuts with cardamom-cinnamon holes and chocolate sauce.

Donnie says "the creative process for designing a menu (or dish) for me always starts with what ingredients are in season and what's available. With Thanksgiving it's also about tradition and what I grew up eating: cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and roasted turkey. I also try to elevate those traditional dishes. Butternut squash soup gets a twist with red curry and coconut milk and the turkey stays juicier by brining it and gets a little kick from chipotle. I want my menus you be fun and well rounded. I also consider what our guests would like to have. I want the menu to be interesting and approachable."

As for wine pairings, Adrián said all the wines served were picked according to the type of grape and the food that they were served with. For example, the chardonnay needed something creamy; in this case, the creme fraiche. While similarities attract, opposites do too. Food and wine should complement one another; your attention should be drawn from the wine to the food and back again without losing the soul of either one.

As an expat, you survive the holidays in Mexico by adopting people; people like Donnie and Angela, Sandor and the entire staff at The Restaurant. It helps to make up for the one and only ingredient that this almost perfect, Thanksgiving meal was missing. Family.

Buen Apetito!