Gastronomy of Mexico: Alta Cocina Cuisine on Display in Los Cabos at Deckman’s San Jose and the Havana Supper Club
by Lisa Green
What could be better than having world-class chefs among your best buddies? In celebration of the second anniversary of Deckman’s San Jose and the Havana Supper Club, Chef Drew Deckman invited a few of his closest friends into his restaurant’s kitchen in San Jose del Cabo. It was a nine-course, beer- and wine-pairing feast showcasing the culinary artistry of Chef Javier Plascencia of Mision 19 in Tijuana; Chef Benito Molina from Restaurante Manzanilla in Ensenada; Chef Pablo Salas from Amaranta Restaurante in Toluca and “Cabo Local Folk Hero” Chef Angel Carbajal from Nick-San.
This food extravaganza featured many exotic ingredients in dynamic preparations accessible to the less adventurous eater, while still impressing the most seasoned “foodie.” Oysters, abalone, sweetbreads and suckling pig are hardly regular fare, and yet each dish was creatively prepared with familiar flavors to create savory comfort.
The first three dishes were all seafood dishes, each one more whimsical than the next, with layers of flavor. Team Deckman’s began the evening with fresh oysters, sustainably sourced from the waters off San Quintin and paired them with Sala Vive, sparkling wine from Queretero. The natural sweetness of the oyster, salt of the sea, yuzu, cucumber and mint were amplified with the dance of champagne bubbles.
Next up was the freshest Blue Fin sashimi with olive oil, capers and an impossibly thin slice of lemon, all of which simply melted in your mouth, served with a quenelle of Blue Fin tartare. Nick-San’s Chef Angel Carbajal paired this dish with local craft brew Diablo Blanco, Cerveceria Ramuri. The subtle sweet rice finish of the lager and hint of bitterness from the hops was a match made in heaven.
Team Deckman’s created the next artistic presentation — thin slices of abalone, with delicate creamy sea urchin, and a soft boiled quail egg. Al dente beets gave this dish a beautiful texture while adding a natural sweetness to contrast the Meyer lemon citrus. Emblema Sauvignon Blanc from Valle Guadalupe made a lovely partner for this course.
As we completed the opening courses, the jazz quartet entertained as you could feel the din of the room start to intensify. The restaurant was full, the kitchen was jamming, and tables full of friends were sharing a gastronomical experience that they knew was special.
The next four courses were the heart of the meal. Celebrated Tijuana Chef Javier Plascencia created a bold, delectable combination of flavors, pairing Calamari with chorizo. This dish was not only mesmerizing to the eyes but the potato puree accompaniment to the tender calamari had you wishing for an entire entrée of this exquisite taste. The wine choice was an equally complex Uriel Rosato from Adobe Guadalupe, served chilled.
The gastronomy continued with a Sweetbreads creation by Chef Pablo Salas from Toluca, just outside of Mexico City, which he paired with a 2009 Carignan from JC Bravo. There seems to be no real agreement as to what “sweetbreads” are…our waiter described it as the cheeks and jowls. Moving beyond those specifics, this sweet, rich meat, seared to perfection, was combined beautifully with the bold flavors of cilantro and serranos. Chef Benito Molina from Ensenada offered up a filet of Rockot, resting upon a dollop of Sikilpak (a Mayan Pumpkin seed dip), in a small pool of Shrimp caldo. Balancing the spice of anis and chilemole made this flaky white fish sing with its sweet flavors. His wine selection was another red blend from Valle Guadalupe, a 2011 Paula from Vinos Pijoan.
Our main course grand finale, number seven if you’ve lost count, was presented by the host himself, Chef Drew Deckman and his team. Suckling pig on the rib, with a mushroom ragout, on a bed of the lightest puree of butternut squash, garnished with a magic white foam, was described as “molecular gastronomy”. All of these flavors were enhanced by the 2007 Lechaza Nebbiolo, from Valle Guadalupe, served decanted.
The meal wound down with a cheese course of Queso Ramonetti, accompanied with chestnuts, served two ways to show off the diversity of this rich European-style cheese. This is an exclusive product of the Marcelo Castro cheese caves in Ensenada. The Chefs decided to kick it up a notch and pair this course with a Buen Viaje Espadin Mezcal from Oaxaca that sizzled down your throat, soothed by the creamy cheese.
And to complete the experience, dessert was another exotic combination of charred papaya, under a light citrus sorbet, with peeled blanched pear tomatoes, and a creamy requeson. These sweet, tart, diverse flavors stood up to the keen bitterness of the Cerveza Mako Pale Ale, from Cerveceria Agua Mala in Ensenada.
Each tasting course was a culinary masterpiece in presentation, taste and complexity.
These five pioneers of Mexican Alta Cocina are among the most celebrated chefs in Mexico. Together they presented a creative array of unique and rich cuisine, all locally grown, raised, and sustainable. They showcased the emerging wine scene from Valle Guadalupe and local craft beers. Drew Deckman, his team, and his amazing chef friends, who he describes as “colleagues and brothers,” put on an incredible culinary event in the name of friendship and celebration.
From street tacos to fine dining, Baja’s food is an exercise in world-class gastronomy! Find out more about the taste of Baja at Baja.com.
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