Friday, August 29, 2008

First Meal in Mexico

Las Calandrias Resort and
Bacardi Rum Fuel Day One!

Obviously, one of my favorite things about travel is eating and drinking – and we embarked on that endeavor within an hour of
landing in Mexico. Fellow L.A.-based spirits writer Dan Dunn and I joined Joe Gerbino from Bacardi U.S.A. at the airport and piled into a chauffeured van. We set off to the Bacardi Distillery, a couple of hours south of Mexico City - but not without filling our bellies with an authentic lunch along the way, just outside the town of Puebla.

The brick and stone building houses an eclectic mix of painted ceilings, religious trinkets, brightly colored linens and every cut of steak you could wish for making Las Calandrias Hotel, Spa & Restaurant is an exclusive resort off the beaten path AND mecca for meat-lovers’ Mexican delight.

The servers even present raw steaks tableside prior to ordering to help guide the selection process, and peacocks make like ‘living art,’ decorating the gardens just outside the window.

We sampled 3 varieties of Mexican salsa followed by meat-stuffed empanadas and ceviche as a first course - but don’t think for one second we didn’t kick things off without a rum-based libation!

In the U.S., a lot of hoopla is made about the “right” way to make cocktails, in recent years. While consistency and adherence to tradition are important, I also enjoy the freedom of a drink maker comfortable enough to turn out a great libation without getting uptight about it!

This mojito is a good example of that. The barman eyeballed Bacardi rum, yerba buena (a type of Mexican mint), sugar and lime juice, served it in a Rocks sized glass (versus a tall one) and it tasted simply and deliciously homemade. No pomposity, no frills, slightly rough around the edges – rather perfect.

Next up, I opted for Rib-Eye Tacos which were so delectable I worked to finish all 4 on the plate despite feeling well satiated half-way through. Apart from being succulent little morsels, the juicy meat and house made corn tortillas doubled as vehicles to get more fresh & spicy green and red salsa into my pie-hole!

Another round of mojitos and our driver got us back on the road toward the distillery hooting “Viva Mexico!” before our food comas took effect.

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