Sunday, February 23, 2020

La Dona: A Dinner with Chef Daniel Nates

Virgilio Martínez Véliz, the chef at Central in Lima, one of the best restaurants in the world, has a tasting menu of 17 courses; all based on Peru’s elevations. More than anything else, I love food experiences and this was one of the best I’ve ever had; something every food lover should do at least once in their lifetime.

And so it was with another adventurous eat thanks to Chef Daniel Nates, chef/owner of Restaurant Maizal in Puebla and the winner of the 2016 San Pellegrino Young Chef award and Food & Wine en Español ‘s Best New Chef of 2019, last Thursday, with La Dona’s chefs, Juan Arroyo Pineda and Juan Manuel Galvin Lopez; a tribute to “Deep Mexico” based on the natural flavors of the land. The event was the kickoff to the 2020 Food in Film Festival.

Our favorite wine: Laus, a Chardonnay from Spain that left us wondering why we don’t try more Spanish whites. Another highlight was the roasted cauliflower with a more-than-remarkable white (and black) mole.

Mixing traditional Mexican with contemporary styles, Chef Daniel Nates food tells stories of the earth cycle and the seasons; all the while delivering dishes unlike any others we’ve tasted before. As always, the service at La Dona was second to none.

Mexican designer, Claudia Bo, previewed new designs representing the heart and soul of Mexico. We think her embroidered concepts are an extraordinary tribute to Mexico’s history snd traditions.

The dishes:
Traditional rabbit “barbacoa” taco, country “quelites”, smoked salsa and coriander sprouts by the chefs at La Dona.
This Rabbit barbacoa was a delicious introduction to an out-of-the- ordinary menu. Hold on, you’re just getting started!
Zuchini salad, pistachio, sheep cheese, yellow lemon and mint.  
Chef Daniel Nates gives a total mind’s eye to every dish he creates. We loved the clean, fresh flavors of this simple salad.
Roast cauliflower, white “mole”, black “mole” and black truffle.
A rare treat in Mexico’s culinary register, this was the most memorable dish on the menu; made by Chef Daniel Nates. I’ll taste this white mole in my dreams every night until I eat it again; one of our favorite mole recipes ever.
Fish in wild mushroom textures and candied celery bulb.
I’ve never tasted candied celery blub until now and think I’ll try a double round the next time I have fish. It was heavenly; prepared by the chefs of La Dona with a sauce made from wild mushroom juice with mesquite.
Loaded rib, pickled “tuétano”, poblano veil and red wine vegetables.
This was an impressive, main course from Chef Daniel Nates. I was wowed from the minute they placed it on the table in front of me until the very last bite.
Corn syrup shaved ice and xoconostle.
A perfect palate cleanser, it was an ideal preface to the dessert. I’m officially a fan of xoconostle, having not been previously convinced.

Chai tea mousse, corn ash “atole” vanilla ice cream and “hoja santa” strudel.
Anything made with the holy leaf is convincing; delightfully prepared by the chefs at La Dona.

The dinner and wine pairing topped my list as the best food experience in SMA this year; inspiring me to not only book another trip to Puebla but also to take considerably more risks in my own kitchen. Thank you chefs.