According to NationalMargaritaDay.com, February 22nd is set aside each year to celebrate America’s most consumed cocktail (interesting to note that Mexico’s is the Paloma). Despite my skepticism as to its origin as a nouveau-holiday, I said ‘sure’ when asked to create a cocktail for a brand-sponsored, national margarita day competition. The recipe came together in five minutes. I snapped a picture and forgot all about it – never submitted.
The Acapulco Gold is an unintended benefit of my own disorganization, as the idea evolved over time from a margarita derivation to a delicious beach beverage. We get calls all the time for mango margaritas, and it’s an ingredient we haven’t used outside our anejo sangrita. As the weather warmed up it seemed the perfect time to bring another tiki-style crushed ice cocktail onto the menu. Ancho Reyes was originally intended to act as an orange liquor substitute in a classic margarita format, but it works well with the mango and the spicy finish helps cut all that juice.
We were already dashing some angostura bitters when working on the recipe, as we do with most of our beach drinks, but the addition of cacao nibs helped dry it out even more and offers great aromatics to pair with the fruit. When our lead bartender Joanna asked me a half hour before service what the garnish would be, I had no idea but said ‘something with pineapple’. Chile arbol-salted pineapple chunks and a green ‘penca’ for color was where we landed, just short of a paper umbrella.
Matthew McKinley Campbell
It was our pleasure last week to welcome Chris Cottrell and Morgan Twain-Peterson from Bedrock Wine Co. to Comal for a pair of dinners that highlighted Mexican flavors inspired by their terrific wines. This was our second time hosting Bedrock, and one in a continuing series of special dinners that celebrate holidays or some of our favorite wine and beer producers. Bedrock is certainly busy these days as Morgan was named 2014 Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle. So we certainly feel honored that they took time out to spend two evenings with us at Comal.
I always look forward to our wine dinners. While many people don’t believe that wine works with Mexican food, I completely disagree. Our wine director, Corin Weihemuller, carefully curates a dynamic list of wines that drink wonderfully with our menu. Whenever we host a wine dinner, I take it as a personal challenge to dispel this myth. Normally, I will taste several of the winemaker’s wines and then reverse engineer the menu based upon what I taste in the wines. Even so, as these dinners are often one-off events I also have a sense of discovery as I taste the dishes that evening with the wines for the first time. While my mental palette rarely lets me down, sometimes a pairing is transcendent. That was the case this past week.
When I tasted Bedrock’s 2012 Cuvée Karatas, a Sémillon-Sauvignon blanc blend, I noted citrus in the mid-palate with a bitter finish that reminded me of raw artichokes. Of course, artichokes are another food that is notoriously difficult to pair with wine. For the pairing, I prepared a small salad of shaved raw artichokes and asparagus, tossed with toasted almonds, epazote, lime and olive oil. This was served with lemon zest-spiked requesón, or Mexican ricotta, which was smeared onto warm corn tortillas. Diners then stuffed the asparagus salad into the tortilla. It turned out to be a truly delicious dish when paired with the wine, flavors intersecting and complementing each other as I had hoped that they would.
To stay on top of upcoming events, please subscribe to our email list. Mexican Passover seders are scheduled for the second week of April, with more winemaker dinners to follow. And of course we look forward to welcoming Bedrock back next year.