Getting To Know Mexican Wines With Miriam Vazquez

Mexican Wines

When thinking of Mexico, most people think of our beaches, sun, arts and crafts, tacos, tequila, … not many know that Mexico is getting more and more famous for our excellent wines and renowned vineyards.  The wine culture is growing nation wide, and I thought August, the time of wine harvest, would be the perfect time to talk about wines with Capella Ixtapa’s Food & Beverage Manager, Miriam Vazquez.  Read our conversation about Mexican wines and food pairings she and our Chef recommend for summer and fall.

Mexican WinesMiriam, can you share with us some insights into Mexican wines?
Because of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo’s tropical climate, our guests tend to opt in more often for tequila and mezcal, but they do love a good glass of wine as well.  Some of Mexico’s best-known wine varieties are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo and Tempranillo.  In the last few years, especially in the tropical areas like Ixtapa, refreshing and light white fruity wines and rosès have become popular.

What are your favorite Mexican wines this summer?
At Capella Ixtapa we have an extensive wine list.  Among the Mexican wines I’d highlight two of them; one is Madero 2V, from Casa Madero, which is aromatic and fruity, and perfect for pairings with salads and fish.  The other favorite this summer is Gabriel from Adobe Guadalupe, which is intense, well balanced and is wonderful for pairings with selected dishes and cuts that we offer at A Mares restaurant.

What is your guiding principle when selecting wines for our wine cellar?
We are always looking for young, fruity and light wines; and from there we complement the selection with wines that can satisfy even the most demanding palate and pair with complex dishes.  Of course wines that are best enjoyed in the warm climate of Ixtapa are always a priority.  Seasonally we add new wines that will perfectly accompany new seasonal dishes on our restaurants’ menus as well.

Mexican Wines

Which food and wine pairings do you recommend at Capella Ixtapa’s restaurants this fall?
I would recommend the Short Rib of A Mares, a delicious dish cooked slowly in its own juice, and accompany it with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon by Casa Grande.   Or taste the complexity of Chardonnay from the same vineyard, together with seafood offered at the Seafood Market.

How do you enjoy wine?
For me personally the best way to enjoy a good glass of wine is during dinner, on a very nice evening, and most important: good company.

For more information on Capella Ixtapa’s restaurants and reservations please visit our website.

2nd Annual Food and Wine Festival at Capella Pedregal

Food and WineFestival Capella Pedregal

We are about three months away from Capella Pedregal’s 2nd Annual Food and Wine Festival, A Taste of Capella, but the preparations for it are already underway!  This upcoming July 10-13 we will be hosting renowned Chefs and lovers of sun, fun and of course, fine eating.

During our four day gastronomic festival you will be able to meet, interact with and enjoy exquisite cuisine by acknowledged culinary masters, among them Chef Kent Rathbun of Abacus, Chef Dean Fearing of Fearing’s, Chef Tim Hollingsworth of French Laundry, Philippe Schmit of Philippe’s, and our own Executive Chef, Yvan Mucharraz and Pastry Chef Lauren Sung Wong Tee.

Last year’s Food and Wine Festival was an amazing success.  I can still remember some of the fantastic dishes we tasted, and how fun it all was; it felt like visiting the chefs at their summer home, having fun on the beach while cooking, grilling and tasting amazing food, wine and spirits under the stars.  I can only imagine what surprises are in store for guests this year!

Food and WineFestival Capella Pedregal

Marco Bustamante, our Food and Beverage Director, and a curator of the Food and Wine Festival, A Taste Of Capella, explained that this year the guests will be able to participate at a wine reception with the celebrity chefs at the El Farallon terrace, attend cooking demonstrations, partake in a Tequila seminar, enjoy a barbecue party, attend a gourmet five-course dinner and attend an after-party with the featured chefs!  All in just a few days!

In the following weeks I will be talking with each of the Chefs about their plans for the event—and of course I’ll share it all here.  If you have any questions that you would like me to ask our Chefs, please leave a comment below!

To learn more about the event, and see the special Food and Wine Festival Package we have prepared for the occasion, please visit our website.

Concluye el Festival Gastronómico de Capella Pedregal

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El 14 de Julio del 2012 marcó el final de la primera edición de “Taste of Capella” en Capella Pedregal. Durante cuatro soleados días los huéspedes fueron parte de catas, demostraciones de cocina, cenas, fiestas en la playa y una Cena de Gala de clausura, todo mientras disfrutaban del resort y esas vistas infinitas del Océano Pacífico. Tuve la suerte de participar, y como todos los invitados, me fui con incluso una mayor apreciación del vino y la comida.

Saboreamos asombrosas creaciones gourmet de parte de los chefs Kent Rathbun, Kevin Rathbun, Johnny Iuzzini y el Chef Ejecutivo de Capella Pedregal Marco Bustamante, todo maridado con excelentes vinos y licores. La cocina local de la Baja y productos cultivados orgánicamente inspiraron a los Chefs a crear platillos verdaderamente exquisitos.

Después de pasar cuatro días con nuestros Chefs e invitados al festival, my mente está aún llena de imágenes y memorias de sabores magníficos que nunca había saboreado antes, mi cuaderno de notas está enriquecido con numerosas recetas y tips de cocina, y mi cámara llena con miles de imágenes, no estoy segura de cómo comenzar o como plasmar toda la experiencia. Creo que la mejor manera de describirles el evento es mediante imágenes:

Algunas de las palabras más mencionadas durante el festival fueron: ostras, ceviche, erizos de mar, caviar, almejas chocolatas, mariscos, pescados rey, panceta de cerdo, ‘carnitas’ costillas cortas, chicharrones, tacos (hechos de cualquier manera posible), postres, mango, maracuyá, piña, exótico, aguas de frutas mexicanas, margaritas Capella, cócteles, vinos, tequila, …

Para finalizar me gustaría darle mi felicitación a los Chefs y nuestro equipo culinario por esta experiencia maravillosa, y así mismo, a todos los invitados y huéspedes por ayudarnos a crear esta maravillosa experiencia. Espero que nos puedan acompañar de nuevo el próximo año; ¡ya hemos anunciado las fechas para el próximo Festival Gastronómico “Taste of Capella”! Anoten en su calendario Julio 10 al 14 del 2013 ¡en Capella Pedregal!

Chef Kevin Rathbun Plans A Visit To Capella Pedregal


I am counting down the days until July 11, 2012, when our Food & Wine Festival, A Taste Of Capella, begins.  In the last blog posts I talked with participating guest chefs Kent Rathbun and Johnny Iuzzini.  Today I continue my interviews with Chef Kevin Rathbun.

Chef Kevin Rathbun

Greetings Kevin!  The Food & Wine Festival is right around the corner!  Can you share with us what the guests can expect from the event?
I think that the guests that are attending will have an awesome time, my brother  (Kent Rathbun) and I seem to step it up every time were together, call it sibling rivalry if you like, or brotherly love.  Working with the products of the region and Capella Pedregal’s Marco Bustamante will be exciting.

What will you personally be preparing at the festival?
I’m planning to BBQ some local oysters for the beach dinner and to use some local seafood for the gala dinner.

To which part of the event are you looking most forward to?
I’m looking most forward to meeting new chefs and to howling at the moon- whichever comes first!

How would you describe your cuisine?
My cuisine is a melting pot of foods I love, spice and bold flavors.  I love the flavors of the Southwest and the Deep-South as well, grilling meats and shellfish with exotic accompaniments comes to mind.

Where and how do you get the inspiration when creating new dishes?
Traveling from place to place and eating new and exciting foods is a prerequisite in our business, reading blogs, food magazines and experimenting is what it’s all about.

Chef Kevin Rathbun Food 1

What is your favorite ingredient to cook with? Do you use any Mexican spices or ingredients in your day-to-day cooking?
My favorite ingredients to cook with are many, I’m from the Midwest so beef, corn and tomatoes are a must.  I love cilantro and chile of all kinds.  Spice of life I’d have to say.

Do you like Mexican food?  If yes, what is your favorite dish?
I love Mexican food, it’s in my wheelhouse, I love the bold flavors, colors and depth of deep Mexico, can’t wait to be there.

Do you have any Mexican dish on the menu at your restaurants?
I have many dishes on the menu that have influences of Mexico from a Green Chile Lobster Taco with Cascabel Cream to Hot Smoked Copper River Salmon with Habanero Creme Fraiche.

Have you been to Cabo or Mexico before? What do you like best about it?
I’ve never been to Cabo, but I recently did a private dinner and Horst Schulze [Capella Hotel & Resorts Chairman and CEO] was attending.  We spoke about how delighted he is with Capella Pedregal and how I better bring my wife because it’s such a magical place!

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Thank you Chef Kevin Rathbun!  I look forward to tasting your dishes in a few shorts days!

El Chef Kevin Rathbun Planea Una Visita A Capella Pedregal


Cuento los días hasta el 11 de Julio del 2012, cuando nuestro Festival Gastronómico, A Taste Of Capella, comience. En los anteriores posts de este blog he platicado con los chefs invitados al evento Kent Rathbun y Johnny Iuzzini. El día de hoy continúo mis entrevistas con el Chef Kevin Rathbun.


Saludos Kevin! El Festival, A Taste of Capella, está a la vuelta de la esquina! Nos puedes compartir que es lo que nuestros huéspedes pueden esperar del evento?
Creo que los huéspedes que asistan tendrán una experiencia maravillosa, mi hermano (Kent Rathbun) y yo parece que nos esforzamos más cada vez que nos toca cocinar juntos, llámalo rivalidad fraternal si quieres, o incluso amor fraternal. Trabajar con los productos de la región y con Marco Bustamante (chef ejecutivo) de Capella Pedregal es muy emocionante.

Que es lo que tú personalmente prepararás durante el festival?
Estoy pensando para la cena en la playa hacer a la Barbacoa algunas ostras locales y utilizar mariscos locales para la cena de gala.

Que parte del evento esperas con mayor expectación?
Lo que más me causa expectación es conocer nuevos chefs y aullar a la luna, lo que sea que suceda primero!

Como describirías tu cocina?
Mi cocina es un crisol de la comida que a mi me gusta, especias y sabores fuertes. Me encantan los sabores del Suroeste y el Sur profundo de Estados Unidos, cortes a la parrilla con mariscos y exóticos complementos me vienen a la mente.

Dónde y cómo obtienes la inspiración para crear nuevos platillos?
Viajar de sitio en sitio y comer nuevas y emocionantes cosas es un pre requisito en este negocio, leer blogs, revistas de cocina y experimentar, es ahí donde está el secreto.

Cuál es tu ingrediente favorito para cocinar? Utilizas algún ingrediente mexicano en tu cocina?
Tengo muchos ingredientes favoritos, soy del Medio Oeste Americano, así que las carnes, el elote y los tomates son un básico. Me encanta el cilantro y toda clase de chiles. Debo decir que llevo una vida picante.

Te gusta la comida mexicana? Si es así, cuál es tu platillo favorito?
Me encanta la comida mexicana, es parte de mi día a día, me encantan los sabores fuertes, los colores y el México profundo que refleja, no puedo esperar más a estar en México.

Tienes algún platillo mexicano en el menú de tus restaurantes?
Tenemos muchos platillos en nuestros menús con influencia de México, desde el taco de langosta con chile verde y crema de cascabel al salmón de río ahumado con crema de chile habanero.

Has estado en Cabo o México anteriormente? Que es lo que más te gusta?
Nunca he estado en Cabo, pero recientemente cocine una cena privada a la cual asistió Horst Schulze [Presidente y CEO de Capella Hotel & Resorts]. El me platicó lo contento que está con Capella Pedregal y que lo mejor que podría hacer es llevar conmigo a mi mujer por que es un lugar mágico!

¡Gracias Chef Kevin, Espero en pocos días poder disfrutar sus platillos!

Food & Wine Festival Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

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At the end of March Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo played host to the 2nd annual Food & Wine Festival: 32 Tastes. 1 History. 1 Soul..  Three full days of activities, celebrity chefs, culinary presentations, food & wine tastings, brought together food lovers from all over, to enjoy the flavor and soul of Mexico.

Capella Ixtapa hosted two Food & Wine events, which I was excited to attend.

First there was a delicious Chocolate Tasting with Jose Ramón Castillo, a Chocolatier and TV host.  Jose Ramón created a magnificent chocolate sculpture that still stands in the hotels reception area (the whole room smells like chocolate!).  Meanwhile, guests had the opportunity to create and taste chocolate bonbons.

It was a great presentation- not only delicious, but informative.  Some of the interesting facts I learned include:
-  The word chocolate comes from the Aztecs, they called it ‘xocolatl’, and they used to drink it spicy.
-  In Mexico we have two kinds of chocolate, the tropical one from Tabasco, and chocolate from the heights from Chiapas.
-  95% of chocolate that you can buy in the store is not from pure cocoa: to buy the real (and best) chocolate always check the back of the package: make sure it includes cocoa butter!
-  Not only can chocolate be enjoyed with cava, champagne, but also along side an artisan beer, tequila or mezcal.

Next we moved into Capella Ixtapa’s Terrace Bar and joined Mark Oldman for a Tequila Tasting.  Did you know that you should enjoy tequila as wine – by sipping it?  Mark revealed that today 75% of people drink tequila in a margarita, 15% drink it as shots, and 10% sip it (however, this number is growing).  Tequila can even be paired with food.  For example, Mark recommends having tequila añejo with some light food, like ceviche, to complement the flavor.

Tell me, do you love chocolate and tequila as much as I do?  Please leave your comment or any questions below.  Our Chefs and Sommelier will be happy to provide an answer for you.