totally terriffic tasting: my experience at the Gourmet Latino Festival

Hello everyone, last weekend I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend an event during the first Gourmet Latino festival here in New York City. “The Art of Authentic Cooking & Cocktail Pairing” was an amazing tasting of food and drinks from Ecuador. (I know nothing of the cuisine from this country, but in the end I was more than satisfied with the delectable selections) Iron chef Jose Garces, who is from Ecuador, cooked up dishes which are popular in his country. My favorite of these was macitas fritas, which consisted of tender pieces of pork shoulder which were fried and then braised in the same pot, creating a crunchy and chewy result with a mouth watering array of spices. This afternoon also included a tasting of four cocktails created by top “mixologists”, which seems to be another word for creative and intelligent bar tenders. (I mean no disrespect by saying this, I simply wanted to clarify this term for my readers, in my opinion the mixologists did an terrific job) This was right up my alley, and no it is not what you are thinking: I do not consume alcohol very often. However, sometimes I will think of a new combination for a cocktail, so I can understand the mind of a mixologist. The first cocktail was composed of tanqueray, sherry, Creole shrub (a liqueur containing rum, sugar cane syrup, and orange peel), and orange bitters. My first thought was that this strange combination of ingredients would not mix well; after all I wasn’t even familiar with Creole shrub. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth this cocktail was, these various flavors actually formed a delicious drink. The second cocktail called summer time, which turned out to be one of my favorites, contained cognac, lemon and grapefruit juices, licor 43 (a citrus and vanilla flavored liqueur), orange bitters, and lemon thyme. (I know, I would have never thought to add thyme to a cocktail, I suppose this is why I am not a mixologist!) These very different elements combined to make a refreshing drink, manifesting both sweet and sour notes. I can just imagine sitting outside while drinking this cocktail on a warm day in the summer. I will honestly admit that I did not like the third drink, but it is no fault of the creator: I do not like two of its ingredients. However, for the record, this cocktail was a mixture of scotch, lime juice, honey syrup, beer, and chipotle pepper puree (it was poured into a glass with a salt and pepper rim). I applaud the mixologists for their creativity, but being the picky food critic I am, I did not enjoy it. The fourth and final cocktail, while I am sure is very caloric, was another one of my favorites. This was a dessert cocktail which was a frozen combination of grand marnier, Ecuadorian red bananas, and mocha. I was in heaven from the first sip, the sweetness of the mocha blended well with the consistency of the bananas, along with the potency of an outstanding type of grand marnier.
I enjoyed this tasting very much, it introduced me to food, drinks, and flavors which I did not know even existed. In addition, everyone sitting at my table was extremely nice to me and I am thankful for their assistance. (Even after the event they have helped me to remember all of the various ingredients which were used, so thanks to all of you) As an aspiring food critic and future social worker, I find it extremely interesting to learn more about another culture. I gained awareness which increased my competence, while at the same time adding to my knowledge of what people from around the world eat and drink. (Surprisingly it is more than hamburgers, pizza, and fast food) As you can probably tell, I had a great time and I look forward to attending similar events in the future!
Dan Read More