Mezcal Secrets with Mezcal Expert Miguel Angel Quiroz

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This month at Capella Ixtapa we are celebrating a very traditional Mexican plant – agave.  Throughout the Month of Agave we are having agave related activities; we are hosting mezcal and tequila experts, who share their secrets about these two popular spirits, we offer tequila and mezcal tastings, margarita making classes, tequila and mezcal pairing dinners, exhibitions, and more.  Sommelier and mezcal expert Miguel Angel Quiroz from Ixtapa Zihuatanejo was kind enough to take a couple of minutes after his guest appearance at our events last week, and we chatted about agave and mezcal.

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Miguel Angel, can you give us a short history about mezcal?  

Mezcal is a prehistoric drink, produced from cooking and fermentation of agave.  Its origins are in the American continent, our ancestors were fermenting the drink, but it wasn’t until the Spanish colonies arrived that we learned the distillation technique brought from Spain.

How many varieties of mezcal exist? And what is its relation with tequila?

There is three types of mezcal, white or young, reposado and añejo (like in tequila).  Mezcal and tequila have a lot in common and at the same time very little in common.  Both are obtained from the agave, but from different types;  tequila is produced from one single kind of agave (tequilana Weber or agave azul), while mezcal can use more than 20 different kinds of agave except for azul or tequilana Weber, which is exclusive for the creation of tequila.  Both are harvested in a similar way, they are cooked, fermented and distilled.   Today, due to its international popularity, tequila has become more industrialized, while mezcal is still artisanal in its produtcion.  The cooking of agave for tequila is done in steel ovens and the cooking for mezcal is done underground in clay ovens with mezquite wood logs.

How would you define a good mezcal?

A good mezcal can be identified just by looking at it: shake the bottle to check for the formation of bubbles, or “pearls”; the finer these are the better the quality, and if they last longer it also means it’s a high quality mezcal.  On the palette a good mezcal should be balanced, elegantly smoked, and with an interesting spectrum of smells.  I recommend you to taste it with small sips (we call them kisses) and find the different aromas and flavors that it offers.

Capella Ixtapa Sommelier Lucian Mocanu and Mezcal Expert Miguel Angel Quiroz at our Month of Agave Festival

Capella Ixtapa Sommelier Lucian Mocanu and Mezcal Expert Miguel Angel Quiroz at our Month of Agave Festival

What is the story behind the Mezcal worm?

The worm was frequently used in the first days of Mezcal mostly to give it an identity of its own and to generate expectation among consumers, today less and less mezcals use the worm, partly because the spirit is already perfectly recognizable by the consumers.  The myth that if mezcal doesn’t have a worm than it isn’t mezcal is completely false.

Can you tell us some other myths and rituals of Mezcal?

There are two most common myths about mezcal, but both are false; If it doesn’t have a worm it’s not a good mezcal; and If you eat the worm you won’t get drunk.
One of my favorite rituals is savoring the mezcal: Drink it by kissing it, little by little, with thirds of orange and worm salt.

What are the most traditional and what are the new trends in enjoying Mezcal?

The most traditional way to drink it is to have the entire glass in one sip.  But as I mentioned, these days it is suggested (and I recommend that as well) to enjoy mezcal little by little and savor it, try to find all its flavors and aromas, with the thirds of orange or even with bitter chocolate.  If you want to pair it with food, try it with typical Mexican snacks – they go along perfectly!

In your personal opinion which region in Mexico produces the best mezcal?

I think the best mezcal for each person depends on their tastes, but without a doubt Oaxaca is today the largest and most important producer of great mezcal in Mexico.  Personally I love the ones from Oaxaca and Guerrero.

Which are your favorites?

I like Mezcal Katrina, which is a mezcal from Guerrero and it’s created with 3 different agaves, it is an intense, elegant and delicious blend.  From Oaxaca I like Mezcal Amigos Reposado with 9 years of aging in glass containers.  This is a reposado with a very crystalline look, a strong smoke and very interesting overall.  As a digestive I would recommend you to try Mezcal Amigos Añejo, aged 3 years in cherry barrels with delicious notes of fresh red fruits.

These sound amazing, I can’t wait to try them! For the end, can you tell me are all mezcales done in an artisan way?

Yes, until today all mezcals are created in an artisan way – and I hope it stays that way [smile].

Thank you very much Miguel Angel!

It is my pleasure!

The Legend Of Tequila

Celso Flores El Jimador

There are as many legends of Mexico as there are Mexicans and lovers of this beautiful and rich country.  There is one legend though, that Capella Pedregal’s sommelier Ernesto Mendoza loves to share the most: the legend of tequila.

Celso Flores El Jimador

During a recent tour of the Capella Pedregal wine cave and spirit room, Ernesto shared the story with me:

Many centuries ago, there was a big thunderstorm in Mexico and a lightning bolt hit an agave field, completely destroying the plants.  Once the storm had passed, the farmers went to survey the damage.  They discovered a syrupy liquid remaining at the core of the plants.  One of the farmers tasted it, and finding it sweet, decided to collect the liquid from the plants’ charred remains.

Time passed and the farmer went to check out his agave liquid stash.  Foam had formed atop the liquid, which the farmer discarded.  He then tasted the fluid again and discovered it now possessed a richer and stronger flavor.  The farmer found it so delicious that he drank some more.

Legend says it changed his personality, which led others to believe that it was a gift from the goddess Mayahuel, a symbol of ancient fertility and drunkenness.  This drink was then reserved for the lords and priests for use in different religious events and festivities.  As the drink grew in popularity it began to be known as Tequila, the town where this gift was first bestowed.

Don’t you just like this legend of tequila?  I have already marked my calendar for my next meeting with Ernesto, on which he promises to explain me all about the tequila varieties and other important elements of savoring this popular Mexican drink.

 

“El Jimador” – a man at the agave field: by Celso Flores via Flickr

La Leyenda Del Tequila

Celso Flores El Jimador

Hay tantas leyendas en México como mexicanos y amantes de este hermoso y rico país. Sin embargo, hay una leyenda que le encanta compartir a el sommelier de Capella Pedregal Ernesto Mendoza: la leyenda del Tequila.

Celso Flores El Jimador

Durante un reciente tour por la cava de vinos de Capella Pedregal, Ernesto compartió la historia conmigo:

Hace muchos siglos, hubo una gran tormenta eléctrica en México y un rayo cayó en un campo de agaves, destruyendo completamente las plantas. Una vez que cesó la tormenta, los campesinos fueron a hacer recuento de los daños. Descubrieron un liquido tipo jarabe en los restos del núcleo de las plantas. Uno de los campesinos lo probó, y lo encontró dulce, decidiendo recolectar el líquido de los restos carbonizados de las plantas.

El tiempo pasó y el campesino fue a checar su reserva de agave líquido. Sobre el líquido se había formado una capa de espuma, la cual el campesino desecho. De nuevo probó el líquido y se dio cuenta que ahora tenía un sabor aún más rico y fuerte. Lo encontró tan rico que bebió un poco más.

La leyenda dice que le cambió la personalidad, lo cual hizo que otros comenzaran a pensar que esta bebida era un regalo de la diosa Mayahuel, un símbolo de milenaria fertilidad y embriaguez. Esta bebida fue entonces reservada para la nobleza, los sacerdotes, y para su uso en diferentes eventos y celebraciones. Al aumentar la popularidad de la bebida, se le fue conociendo como Tequila, el mismo nombre de el pueblo donde este regalo fue otorgado.

No te encanta esta leyenda? Ya marqué en mi calendario mi próxima reunión con Ernesto, en la cual prometió explicarme todo sobre las variedades de Tequila y otros importantes elementos necesarios para saborear esta popular bebida Mexicana.

 

“El Jimador” – a man at the agave field: by Celso Flores via Flickr

Summer In Ixtapa

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Have you seen the amazing “The Shawshank Redemption“ with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman?  In the movie the leading characters framed Ixtapa as the perfect getaway: a warm place where they can leave behind all their unhappy memories.  I can guarantee you, the movie doesn’t lie, Ixtapa truly is a dreamy place for relaxation, and one of the most sought after destinations for all seeking to escape the daily routine and modern life stress.

Our eternal summers make Ixtapa a perfect destination to visit all year long, but summer in Ixtapa is particularly special.  The weather is warm, but not brutal, and the tropical rains and showers from our rainy season usually happen after sunset or during the night, refreshing the whole ambiance and making it perfect to enjoy the evening.  Due to the tropical weather, the surrounding fields and mountains are filled with bright green colors, blooming trees and multicolor vegetation.

During the summer days I recommend lounging at the pools, be it one of the infinity pools at the resort, or your private plunge pool in your hotel room.  I also love to stroll through the town and market.  Of course there is plenty to do nearby as well, from a visit to the nearby fishing village Barra de Potosí, or exploring the historic streets of Petatlan, a picturesque town with gold market and an outstanding church.   

Rainy evenings at Capella Ixtapa are perfect for becoming a tequila connoisseur during a tequila tastings with our Sommelier Antonio Ochoa.  You can also learn to make our signature margaritas or learn to cook your favorite Mexican dish.  My ultimate favorite for a rainy evening is a visit to the spa!  I could easily fall asleep on the table listening to the relaxing sound of the rain.  But if you are feeling more active, you could even learn how to give the perfect massage with our Spa Massage Classes! 

There really is so much to do during the summer in Ixtapa and especially at Capella Ixtapa. To find out more about upcoming events and activities follow me on Twitter @CapellaIxtapa or like us on Facebook.com/CapellaIxtapa.

Verano en Ixtapa

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¿Has visto la maravillosa película “The Shawshank Redemption“ con Tim Robbins y Morgan Freeman?  En la película los personajes principales enmarcaban Ixtapa como el perfecto sitio para escapar: un cálido sitio donde pudieran dejar atrás todas sus infelices memorias. Te puedo garantizar, que la película no miente, Ixtapa es verdaderamente un sitio soñado para relajarse, y una de los destinos más perseguidos por aquellos que buscan escapar de la rutina diaria y el estrés de la vida moderna.

Nuestros eternos veranos hacen que Ixtapa sea el destino perfecto para visitar todo el año, pero los veranos en Ixtapa son mis favoritos. La temperatura es cálida, pero no de manera brutal, y las lluvias tropicales y lloviznas durante nuestra época de lluvias usualmente ocurren después de la puesta del sol o por la noche, refrescando todo el ambiente y haciéndolo perfecto para disfrutar de la velada. Debido a este clima tropical, los alrededores de Ixtapa están llenos de tonos de verde, arboles floreciendo y una vegetación multicolor.

Durante estos días de verano les recomiendo relajarse en las piscinas, ya sea en alguna de las “infinity” del resort, o en tu propia piscina de inmersión en tu habitación. También me encanta dar un paseo por el pueblo y el mercado. Desde luego hay bastantes cosas que hacer muy cerca, desde una visita al pueblo pesquero de Barra de Potosí, o explorar las históricas calles de Petatlán, un pintoresco pueblo con un mercado de oro y una maravillosa iglesia.

Las tardes lluviosas en Capella Ixtapa son perfectas para volverse un conocedor de Tequila durante nuestras catas con nuestro Sommelier Antonio Ochoa. También puedes aprender a hacer tu propia margarita o aprender como cocinar tu platillo mexicano favorito. Pero mi favorito para las tardes lluviosas es ¡una visita al spa! Podría fácilmente dormirme en la cama de masaje escuchando el relajante sonido de la lluvia. Pero si te sientes más activo, puedes incluso aprender como dar el masaje perfecto con nuestras ¡Clases de Masaje en el Spa! 

Hay de verdad mucho que hacer en Capella Ixtapa durante el verano. Para saber más sobre eventos próximos y actividades, síguenos en Twitter @CapellaIxtapa o danos “me gusta” en Facebook.com/CapellaIxtapa

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.