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23rd Dinner Club – Mexico: Summary


It had been quite some time since our last gathering and we had all been dying to get back into our dinner club meetings.  One of our members had been out of town for most of the summer but she was finally back and we were raring to go!  As soon as we had all gathered and the conversation starting flowing it was though no time had passed at all. 
Our Mexico dinner club gathering started out where you might expect – with tequila!  But maybe not in the way you would expect.  M2 had appetizer and cocktail duty and decided to go with a more traditional way of drinking tequila.  It was in a shot glass but was a nice tequila appropriate for sipping and was accompanied by another little glass of Sangrita, a sweet and spicy chaser.  
There are various recipes for sangrita but hers was based on citrus and hot chilis.  Unfortunately, I can’t drink tequila but I did sip the sangrita and it was really great!  I could actually see adding it to a Bloody Mary to make sort of a Mexican version of that drink.  The tequila was served along with Queso Fundido, basically a Mexican fondue.  M2 combined three versions in one pan.  The common element was the cheese but each section had it’s own star ingredient:  chorizo; mushroom; and poblano chile.  Served along with small pieces of tortilla it became a finger food.  Each of the different ingredients provided a different character or you could combine them for all kinds of tastes sensations. 
We lingered over appetizers for quite some time but eventually made our way to the table.  M had been wanting to make Carnitas, that lovely and fragrant shredded pork dish, and that’s where our theme for this month started.  Her version was a little different than what I’ve had in the past.  It had lots of orange in it, was amazingly fresh and spicy tasting at the same time.  She’d made pickled jalapeños and carrots, guacamole and had tortillas to accompany the meal.  
I had been assigned salad and decided to go with something that I hoped would really provide contrast to the carnitas, Berza con Cilantro, or basically a Mexican version of coleslaw.  I really liked this slaw and loved it piled on top of the carnitas in a tortilla!  It started with thinly shredded cabbage as most coleslaw does, then added onion, and cilantro to the mix.  But what really made it stand out, in my opinion, was the dressing, which was a lime vinaigrette.  It was so refreshing!    
R had the side dish and had decided to create her own version of tamales.  Using a basic recipe for the cornmeal she then added nopales, cactus leaves.  She had created quite a large pile of them – very ambitious for such a labor intensive item!  She wasn’t that pleased with them but I thought there were a really great idea. 
We spent some time combining the various items in different ways to come up with all kinds of taste sensations. 
Along with the dinner were more tequilas.  M had three more to offer in addition to M2’s bottle.  Those drinking tequila spent some time comparing and contrasting the various types with each other trying to decided if repesado or anejo was their favorite and why. 
After the meal we spent a little time lingering at the table before K assembled our dessert.  She had originally had one idea and then about a week before our meal, switched ideas and we are glad she did!  Not that the first idea would have been bad, just that what she brought was so good!  For dessert she’d made Mango Sorbet – simple, tasty and heavenly.  It was the perfect light ending to our meal. 
As with other cuisines we’ve encountered there was a very common element in many of our dishes.  Citrus was present in nearly everything:  the Sangrita used both orange and lime juice; the carnitas used an entire orange; the coleslaw was heavily influenced by lime juice; and the sorbet also included lime juice as an ingredient.  It’s fun to see how local ingredients really enhance and influence local flavors. 
One Comment
  1. anjali permalink
    03-Jan-2007 2:56 pm

    I would love to join the cooking club……can I? thanks, anjali

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