Discovering Mexican Cuisine With Capella Pedregal’s Marco Bustamante

Mexican Cuisine with Marco Bustamante

When hearing “Mexican food” people usually think of tacos, guacamole, nachos, tortillas and street food; but Mexican food is so much more.  Eager to discover more about Mexican cuisine and to share with you the principles of cuisine at Capella Pedregal, I spoke with our Food & Beverage Manager, Marco Bustamante.

Mexican Cuisine with Marco Bustamante

Marco, how would you define genuine Mexican cuisine? 
Here at Capella Pedregal it is important for us to show our guests that Mexican food is so much more than just Tex Mex or Tacos.  Although that is a part of the culture, there is so much more to it.  Mexican food is very fresh, diverse, and a source of amazing ingredients and spices.  It is hard to define Mexican cuisine as one style only because in every state or region of Mexico you will find differences in style, ingredients and culture.

What are the origins of Mexican cuisine and are they still evident in Mexican food that we eat today?    
Mexican Cuisine is the fusion of Native Mesoamerican cooking with Spanish.  Regionally you will see influences as well.  A perfect example of native fusion food is Mole.  Mole is a native sauce made from pureed chiles, which has been present in Mexican cuisine since pre-Hispanic times, but has slowly developed into what it is today.  Here we showcase the sauce in a dish of Blackened Mahi-Mahi with Green Mole, Celeriac, Horseradish, Pistachio, Cucumber and Meyer Lemon Slaw.

Which ingredients are the basis of Mexican cuisine today? 
Basic Mexican ingredients are tomato, cilantro, chilies, spices, corn, plantains, … The list can go on and on because it really depends on what region of Mexico you are in.  The principles of cuisine at Capella Pedregal are to offer artisanal, local, fresh and superb quality food.  Our team of chefs is constantly searching for the best produce and working with regional farmers to bring the ingredients to Cabo and offer them in our restaurants.

All of the restaurants at Capella Pedregal are based on a “Farm to table and Sea to table” concept.  Can you tell us more about how you choose produce for the hotel, where does it come from?
We work with farmers and distributors from all over Mexico to bring us Mexican ingredients.  Locally we personally selected our fisherman that deliver fish to us to ensure the best quality.  We work hand in hand with farmers from Miraflores and Southern Baja to develop new products, define picking times and visit the farms to gather creative ideas.  Additionally we are bringing products from all over Mexico; for example artisan smoked chiles from the market in Oaxaca, vanilla beans from Veracruz and chocolate form Merida.

What is your favorite Mexican dish? 
I love to eat and make ceviche!  They are simple to make but very diverse and complex in flavor.  My favorite Mexican dish that really changed the way I think about Mexican cuisine is Blue Corn Quesadillas with Oaxaca Cheese and Squash Blossom, which I first tasted 6 years ago in Mexico City.

Thank you Marco!  You have me ready to eat!
Thank you, it is always my pleasure!

Fishing With Chef Yvan Mucharraz And Chef On The Water Team

Chef On The Water

It doesn’t happen often that I get up on Sunday at 5 am, but this Sunday I knew it was going to be worth it.  Capella Pedregal’s Executive Chef Yvan Mucharraz invited me to join him and the team of Chef On The Water for a fishing trip.  Chef On The Water is a reality TV show, where selected chefs from Los Cabos and La Paz are challenged to catch the fish and cook their catch.  Excited to see what the day and the ocean would bring us, and to be part of behind the scenes of a reality TV show, I was up early, eager to join the adventure!

At 6.30am Capella Pedregal’s deep-sea fishing vessel, Auriga, was waiting for us at the Cabo San Lucas Marina.  The morning was still dark, but Chef On The Water hosts Mike and Charles, the show’s crew, Chef Yvan and I, and our fishing guides were ready to go.  We passed Land’s End and headed toward the Pacific side of Baja California Sur, where the captain knew a great fishing spot with Marlin, Tuna and Mahi Mahi.  After about 45 minutes of traveling at speeds up to 32 knots, we came to the stop.  Chef Yvan sat in the fishing chair and the show was on!

We didn’t have to wait long!  By 8.30am Chef Yvan had already caught 12 Mahi Mahi! With such success, everyone joined in on the fun.  Chef Yvan, Mike and Charles kept pulling Mahi Mahi on board.  By the end of the day the total count of Mahi Mahi caught was more than 40!  Much of the bounty was catch and release, but select specimens were kept so that Chef Yvan could prepare them for the show.  Everyone agreed- it was a fantastic fishing day!  In fact, Chef on the Water said this was their best fishing day in more than a year!

Chef On The Water After we returned to the hotel, Chef Yvan prepared two amazing dishes; “Chilpachole Style” Seafood Stew with Chickpeas, Fennel and Leeks; and Blackened Mahi-Mahi with Cucumber Slaw, Red Beet, Pistachios and Green Mole, which we savored at Don Manuel’s, while exchanging more fishing stories.

The Chef on the Water episode will air in November 2013, and you all will have the chance to vote for your favorite chef and dish.  You know who is my favorite!

For the updates on Chef On The Water and other events and happenings at Capella Pedregal and Cabo San Lucas, please connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

Descubriendo Los Vinos Mexicanos

Mexican Wines

Cuando la gente piensa en México, vienen a la mente nuestras playas, sol, artesanías, tacos, tequila… pero no muchos saben que México está adquiriendo cada vez más reconocimiento por su excelente producción de vinos y renombrados viñedos. La cultura vinícola está creciendo alrededor del país, y he pensado que Agosto, la época de la vendimia, sería un momento perfecto para hablar de vinos con el gerente de alimentos y bebidas de Capella Ixtapa Miriam Vasquez. A continuación un extracto de la conversación donde ella y nuestros chefs me recomiendan vinos mexicanos así como su perfecto maridaje tanto para verano como otoño.

Mexican WinesMiriam, nos puedes compartir un poco de tu conocimiento sobre los vinos mexicanos?
Como Ixtapa Zihuatanejo tiene un clima tropical, nuestros huéspedes tienden a elegir más el tequila y el mezcal, pero siempre disfrutan también una buena copa de vino. Algunas de las variedades de vino más famosas de México son el Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo y Tempranillo. En los últimos años, especialmente en zonas tropicales como Ixtapa, los vinos refrescantes y afrutados como los blancos y los rosados se han vuelto muy populares.

Cual sería tu vino mexicano favorito de este verano?
En Capella Ixtapa tenemos una extensa carta de vinos, entre los vinos mexicanos, resaltaría un par: el primero el Madero 2V, de Casa Madero, el cual es aromático y frutal, y perfecto para maridar con ensaladas y pescado. Y el otro sería el Gabriel de Adobe Guadalupe, el cual es intenso, bien balanceado y maravilloso para maridar con los platillos y cortes selectos que ofrecemos para cenar en nuestro restaurante A Mares.

En que te basas para seleccionar vinos para nuestra cava?
Siempre buscamos vinos jóvenes, ligeros y frutales; y partiendo de eso, complementamos la selección con vinos que pueden satisfacer hasta los más exigentes paladares y desde luego maridarse con platillos más complejos. Desde luego los vinos que se disfrutan más en un clima cálido como el de Ixtapa son siempre una prioridad. Dependiendo la temporada agregamos algunos vinos que acompañen a la perfección los cambios de temporada que nuestros restaurantes tienen también en sus menús.

Mexican WinesQue platillos y maridajes recomiendas este otoño en los restaurantes de Capella Ixtapa?
Recomiendo ampliamente las costillas de A Mares, un delicioso platillo cocinado lentamente en su propio jugo, y acompañarlo con una copa de Cabernet Sauvignon de Casa Grande. O probar la complejidad del Chardonnay de la misma vinícola, junto con los mariscos ofrecidos en nuestro Mercado de Mariscos.

Cómo te gusta disfrutar tu vino?
Para mí personalmente, la mejor manera de disfrutar un vaso de vino es durante la cena, en una hermosa velada, y lo más importante, excelente compañía.

Para más información sobre los restaurantes de Capella Ixtapa así como reservas, por favor visita nuestra página web.

 

 

Old World Spice And Wine At Capella Singapore

Meryem

This August, it’s all about spices at Capella Singapore.  I am very excited as we prepare for the Old World Spice and Wine Tasting Experience happening from the 29th of August through the 1st of September.

Meryem

One of the things I am looking forward to is to try the cuisine of our guest chef, Meryem Cherkaoui.  Chef  Cherkaoui  is a Moroccan chef, who has spent many years in France perfecting the exquisite French cooking techniques and incorporating the flavors of Moroccan cuisine.

Having visited Africa once on a holiday, I can well attest to the vibrant flavours and aromas that arise from all the exotic spices used in their cooking.  As such, I am truly anxious to savor the flavors of Morocco made with the intricacy and delicacy of the French kitchen.

Old World Spice And Wine Event At Capella Singapore

The other person I am very excited to meet at the Old World Spice and Wine Tasting Experience is Nora Gasparini, a perfumer who specialises in creating bespoke perfumes and fragrances for people.  Nora is based in Bali, which is home to the exotic scents also used by prestigious beauty brands such as Hermes and Dior.  I was thrilled to learn that she was no stranger to these exclusive spices and also uses them in her work.

What is particularly exciting about Nora is that, in line with the gourmet spice and wine event, she is bringing a selection of spice infusions created from edible spices.  Imagine being able to create your own special perfumes from ingredients in the kitchen!

One of the main highlights in the series of events is the Old World Spice and Wine Tasting Experience taking place throughout the grounds of Capella Singapore on Saturday the 31st of August from 11:30am to 5:00pm.  Chef Mereyem, together with the chefs at Capella Singapore, will be creating different stations featuring tapas made with spices from various parts of the world.  These tapas will also be paired with a selection of 26 rare Old World wines.

To add to the festivities, Nora will also have a station set up where she will be able to do personal consultations on creating unique scents and perfumes for each person.

Old World Spice and Wine at Capella Singapore is definitely an event to look out for.  I am eagerly waiting in anticipation for all the four days of exciting and epicurean adventures.

If you are interested in learning more about the event, please contact The Knolls at +65 6591 5046 or email knolls.singapore@capellahotels.com.  Hope to see you there!ND

The Grill Room: A Transformation

The Grill Room

I will never forget the preopening phase of Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown and all the incredible work that was put in to creating this magnificent property.  Being a food and restaurant lover, I was also interested in the creation of The Grill Room and how exactly the designers would transform an empty space into an ultra-luxury restaurant.  I began to take short videos of the construction back in December. Each week I would take another video in the same place and throughout the different spaces so I would be able to create a time lapse when The Grill Room was complete.  Never could I have imagined that the space would turn out as spectacularly as it has!

The Grill Room

It is great to now see The Grill Room (and The Rye Bar) bustling with action from locals and visitors alike.  Executive Chef, Jakob Esko and his skilled culinary team are spinning out local contemporary American dishes and specializing in, bone-in meats and side table preparations that have to be experienced.  I can’t wait for you to have a taste for yourself!

But in the meantime take a look at what went into creating this signature space:

www.thegrillroomdc.com
Reservations: 202-617-2424

Getting To Know Eric Guth, EAM of Food & Beverage

IMG_8890 2

Not too long ago, the team here at Capella Singapore welcomed our new Executive Assistant Manager of Food and Beverage, Eric Guth.  He hails all the way from France, a fairly long way from our little island here in Asia.
Just recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to have a chat with him and to find out his thoughts on working in Asia.

What do you like about working in Asia?
I’ve always wanted to come out to Asia!  My Grandfather and Uncle had visited and experienced the culture and would return with such amazing stories.
Now that I’m here I have to agree.  Asia is truly a continent of opportunity and it’s growing very fast, especially economically.  The countries and people here are creative and competitive and there are so many different cultures, each with their own special traditions which are reflected in their food, beverage, art, architecture and so on.  It is a very different experience altogether!

What was your biggest “surprise” coming to Asia?
Everything was surprising!  The smells and the sights – it’s a completely different environment from home.  The Asian way of life is always bustling and always alive.  You can go out at any hour of the day, even in the middle of the night and you can still find a café or eatery that is open and bustling with business.
I was also surprised and impressed by the Asian people.  Culturally they are very caring with a strong sense of community and tradition.

What do you find most interesting about Singapore?
I think Singapore is exciting because the entire city itself is so multi-cultural and cosmopolitan.   It’s amazing how fast the people here adopt different cultures from the rest of the world.  Moreover, everything around here is so organised and efficient.

You are the Executive Assistant Manager of Food and Beverage, so I have to ask, what is your favourite local cuisine?
Something I’ve noticed is that Singaporeans love their food.  I think it’s amazing how some of the local hawkers (non air-conditioned food centres) here have been in operation for two or three generations.  They cook from secret recipes that have been passed down through the generations.
My favourite local dish would have to be Roti Prata (an Indian fried flour-based pancake that is cooked over a flat grill. It is usually served with a vegetable or meat based curry).  I find Roti Prata is absolutely fascinating because of the way it is made – when it is fresh, it has many layers, almost like a puff pastry.  Plus, you get to eat it with your fingers!
The other cuisine I really enjoy here is Chinese food, which I feel is an extremely refined cuisine because it is very product driven and there is a large variety.  I love the simple dishes such as a steamed fish with a good soy sauce.  Soy sauce, I have to say, is a lot like wine; not just because it’s made from fermented beans, but because it is so nuanced!  Different flavours and ingredients and mixtures produce different consistencies and grades of soy sauce.

What is it like being the EAM of F&B at Capella Singapore? 
It’s amazing and exciting. The hotel itself is a landmark with its amazing architecture and concept.  Rarely do you find a beautiful stately colonial building blended so nicely with modern architectural curves and designs.
More importantly, I believe that the people who work here and the quality of the product that we offer here are really great. Capella Singapore has got unbelievable potential and I’m proud to be part of the best hotels in Asia.