The food and wine, the ocean breeze, and sunshine all made for an amazing trip. Let’s not kid ourselves here; Yvette and I had a great time at the 2013 Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival, which was centered on the two beautiful beach destinations of Cancun and the Riviera Maya in Mexico. Mexican food flavors come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and mouth-watering sabores and this month, thanks to our amigos at Avocados from Mexico we had the honor of experiencing the best of the best while at the festival.
For four days hundreds of foodies, wine lovers, chefs, and the like hopped around from resort to resort attending cooking demos by star chefs of the Americas and Europe and wine tastings by the worlds top sommeliers and winemakers. Along the way we picked up some insightful cooking tips, sampled some splendid food combinations that make me drool just thinking about, and tasted some memorable wines and mezcal. Oh and let’s not forget the great Bohemia sampling we attended where light, regular, and dark Bohemia was perfectly paired with three very different dishes: scallops, lobster, and dark chocolate. Our hubbies would have loved it.
As we bounced around from event to event we saw chefs prepare recipes with avocados as a topping, a salsa, a glaze, vinaigrette, a mousse, and a main ingredient. The possibilities we saw were short of jaw dropping. Cancun was indeed the perfect backdrop for this delicious event and we can’t wait to go back again next year. We also had some time to experience the local flavors of Playa del Carmen at Ajua Maya and sampled more avocado dishes and their famous crepes flambé. This is the restaurant that coordinated and hosted Yvette’s wedding in 2006 and we highly recommend it if you are ever visiting Playa. We guarantee you will enjoy the staff and comida.
So without further adieu here are some of the chefs we got to watch prepare their favorite dishes during the festival.
Chef Aarón Sánchez, a fellow El Pasoan, was a sweetheart and took the time to chat with us on several occasions. He is super busy as the co-star of two Food Network hit series (Chopped and Heat Seekers), the chef/owner of Kansas City’s Mestizo, and now also on the new Motorchefs on Utilisima with Chef Aquiles Chavez (spokesperson for Avocados from Mexico). Check out the fun video trailer!
We had the pleasure of tasting his creation of enchiladas de cordero a las brasas con mole negro y puré de hoja santa (braised lamb enchiladas with black mole in hoja santa puree) at the ‘Taste the New World’ four hour event and then watching him prepare camarones a la Veracruzana (shrimp Veracruz-style) at a cooking demo two days later. Is your mouth watering yet? We were mesmerized watching him en la cocina and having fun doing it. Later he showed us his cool line of cooking shoes and who can miss all those colorful tattoos of his. After his cooking demo we had the privilege of sitting down with him for a great chat. Check out this brief clip where he tells us how he likes to eat avocados.
Chef Josefina Santacruz from Mexico is a passionate restaurant owner who made a delicious sopa verde de mariscos (seafood soup with chile poblano). Love her spunk and knowledge of food.
She is the owner and brilliance behind New York’s highly revered restaurant, Pampano. We will be in New York in a couple of weeks and you know we will be stopping by her restaurant. She also stars on her own Internet channel el gourmet.com called La Buena Dieta (The Good Diet).
Chef Antonio de Livier from Guadalajara enlightened us with a quick and easy way to give fish that charbroiled taste with an easy on-the-stove homemade charcoal grill. His wit and love of food was obvious and made watching him a blast. After his demo he came around and personally started feeding his audience. As he started working and cutting into avocados he proclaimed, “Avocado is everybody’s best friend. You love it and it loves you back.” His luscious recipe for pescado zarandiado (grilled white fish served with adobo sauce) with some avocado vinaigrette is one I can’t wait to try myself.
Chef Manuel Baños Rodriguez from Oaxaca created a masterpiece on a plate. He prepared a beautiful and delectable shrimp ceviche served with a jalapeño jelly and watermelon.
Other chefs whose cuisine we had the pleasure of sampling was, Mikel Alonso of Spain who is now living and working in Mexico. He is the owner of Restaurante Biko in Mexico City. Jared Reardon of the U.S., Sonia Arias of Mexico, Elena Reygadas of Mexico, and many more.
Doug Frost, Master Sommelier, America’s eighth Master of Wine, and author of several books entertained us with his lively stories, expertise, and wine tasting tips. Our favorite quote from Doug Frost, “There is no universal response as to how we react to wine.”
I love breakfast and can’t start my day without it. Every morning we started our day with a brisk walk along the ocean, followed by breakfast at our resort, El Dorado Royale. With the variety of restaurants on site we always looked forward to our delicious morning meal. On several occasions we were served beans in these cute little tortilla bowls and that’s when the idea of a corn tortilla bowl hit me. I couldn’t wait to get home to try out the idea swimming around in my head.
Thank you again to our wonderful friends at Avocados from Mexico who continue to give us the best avocados, who sponsored our trip to Cancun, and who trust us enough to create some delicious recipes to share with you. If you love breakfast, eggs, and avocados as much as I do then you will have fun making this creamy and spicy avocado salsa and scooping it over your perfect over-easy eggs. Here is a little bit of our inspiration to help you start your morning.
Huevos Rancheros in Tortilla Cups topped with Avocado Salsa
These delicious huevos rancheros in a cup topped with avocado salsa are easy to prepare. As a matter of fact, this is a great meal to make if you have several mouths to feed because the prep time is about 15 minutes and cooking time is about 10 to 15 minutes. While the eggs are baking in the oven you can set the table and have everything ready so that when they come out of the oven all you have to do is serve and eat.
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed
1 avocado from Mexico, pitted and peeled
½ lime, juiced
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 corn tortillas
1 tablespoons olive oil
salt for sprinkling
chile powder for sprinking
6 tablespoons creamy goat cheese
½ cup queso fresco, crumbled
Roast the jalapeño by placing it on a hot griddle until all the skin is charred. When cool enough to handle, peel the jalapeño, remove the stem, and set aside.
Place the jalapeño, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil into a blender and blend until creamy. Add a tablespoon of water if it’s too thick.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Heat the corn tortillas on a griddle just until pliable and don’t crack when folded. Brush both tortillas on both sides with the olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of the tortillas with salt and chile powder.
Spray the wells of a muffin tin. Take the warm and oiled tortillas and place them into the muffin tins creating a cup. You will have to fold the tortillas over at certain points to make them fit.
Place 1 tablespoon of goat cheese into each cup. Layer each cup with a raw egg. Place the muffin tin into the oven. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes. Eggs will look a little runny but don’t over cook or the yolk will not be runny and have the consistency of a boiled egg.
Remove the tortilla cups from the tin and serve. Scoop some avocado salsa over each tortilla cup, top with queso fresco, and cilantro.
This and other recipes are available at www.muybuenocookbook.com
Written by Veronica / Photos by Veronica + Yvette
Disclosure: We were sponsored by Avocados from Mexico to attend the 2013 Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival. The views and opinions expressed are purely our own and based upon our personal experiences. We are thrilled to partner with brands which are an ideal fit.